11 Tips for Ordering and Using Business Cards, Bookmarks, & Postcards

by | Writing | 12 comments

“Never forget that you only have one opportunity to make a first impression—with investors, with customers, with PR, and with marketing.”
— Natalie Massenet


I purchased business cards, bookmarks, postcards, posters, car magnets, a banner, and book-related giveaways. In Part 1, I share general tips for all these materials and specific tips for business cards, bookmarks, and postcards. The rest I’ll cover in Part 2.

General Tips:

  1. Start saving for a marketing fund even before you sign a contract. You’ll be glad you did.
  1. Order your materials about 4 months before your book releases. First, set what part materials will be of your marketing budget. My materials were about 17%. The rest covered:
    • events
    • giveaways
    • ads
    • website design
    • a writers conference
    • travel
    • postage
  1. Join writer loops’ and save emails about good places to order materials. For Calculated Risk, I decided on one recommended vendor where I could design and order everything, except my book-related giveaways, online from one place.
  1. Purchase only business cards and bookmarks when your materials fund is small. 
  1. Order quality materials if possible. I have a cache of bookmarks and business cards. Most of the authors chose a decent level of quality. The low-quality materials standout among them. In a bad way.

Your low-quality business card will stick out in editors’ caches of quality cards. Click to tweet.

Your low-quality bookmark will stick out in readers’ caches of quality bookmarks. Click to tweet.

  1. Choose to print on only one side if you need to save on cost. In my cache, several authors chose quality, but the one-side option. If you can’t afford at least one-sided quality business cards and bookmarks, use tip 1 for your next book.

Specific Tips for Bookmarks, Business Cards, Postcards:

  1. photo


    Choose a finish on which ink doesn’t smear. I chose 14 pt. gloss (AQ) coated paper. Sign your materials. Readers like signed things. Some authors in my cache did this.
  1. Buy a Sharpie Ultra Fine Point. Choose a color that fits you or is from your book cover. Make it your “signature” color. Then sign everything with that pen. While watching a Netflix movie, I could sign 100 items.


  1. Include only one link on your materials: your website (and maybe your email address). Make sure your website has:

1. social media buttons on every page

2. your embedded blog

3. a contact-you page

This removes clutter from your materials and drives people to your website, where your book page with buy buttons resides.


Business Card

10. Put your book cover(s) on all these materials.

  • Also, a professionally taken headshot, especially on business cards, helps people remember you.
  • For your materials, use the same headshot as you use on your website, social media, blog, and author page banners. This consistency helps people feel like they know you.
  • Some conferences offer low-cost, professional photo sessions.


11. Include your book cover, endorsement, blurb, and all ordering information (especially ISBN and release date) on your postcards. Acquisition librarians and bookstore managers appreciate such post cards for ordering your books. I used my postcards also for my launch party invitations.

What tips do you have for acquiring and using these materials?

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  1. Susan J. Reinhardt

    Thanks for the tips, Zoe. I’m going to link to this post on 12/19/14. 🙂

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Hey, Susan, how nice. Thanks for letting me know.

  2. Jane Foard Thompson

    This is new territory for me (except for business cards) so I’m saving this for (hopefully not -to-distance) future reference. Thanks for doing all the work!

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Jane, I’m certain you’ll need these before you’ll know it. Keep working on that pre-Columbian.

  3. davalynnspencer

    When I do a book signing at a book store, I give bookmarks away to everyone who walks in – whether they are there for my signing or not. Always gets a smile.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Davalynn, your comment came at the perfect time. My first book signing for Calculated Risk is tomorrow. I planned to meet people who walk in and give them a bookmark and ask if they’d like to sign up for the drawing of my giveaway basket of book-related goodies. Your “Always gets a smile.” Was what I needed to hear.

  4. Elaine Stock

    Excellent advice, Zoe. I’m bookmarking this page.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Elaine, did you intend the pun about bookmarking the tips on bookmarks. Whether you did or not, thanks for stopping by and encouraging me.

  5. Sandra Ardoin

    As usual, Zoe, this is all excellent advice.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Sandra, thanks and see Sharon’s tip after your comment. It’s a good one.

  6. Sharon

    Great post, Zoe. I’m an author’s assistant. She makes sure we put a return address on the postcard (usually vertically beside the blurb on the back side). That way when people move and it’s undeliverable, the postcard is returned to us and we remove the person from our list. It saves a lot of postage and print costs over the years.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Sharon, first I want to say what a dream it would be to have an assistant. I’m sure you are much appreciated. Second, what an excellent idea to include the return address vertically on the postcard to keep address records straight. Thanks for sharing.

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