Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Presenting A Professional Image – Part 2

Carlie Cullen has agreed to share her thoughts on the business side of writing. It is something that many people struggle with, and unless you can master at least the basics you won't get far.

In Part One, I wrote about attitude and how some writers don’t present themselves to beta readers and editors in a professional manner. I also mentioned in passing how we need to market ourselves and network. In this post, I wanted to share something I learned from a good friend of mine, Beth Hautala.


I follow Beth’s blog and some months ago she posed a question about whether or not writers should have business cards. This simple question really got the grey matter in gear and I gave it serious consideration.
I procrastinated a little on this point, swaying first one way then another until I decided to go to FantasyCon UK last September. When I looked at the website and saw the sort of people who would be attending, the proverbial light bulb illuminated in my brain.

If I wanted to network with industry professionals and make a favourable impression, I needed something for them to remember me by. So I decided to get some business cards printed.
Around the same time, I was looking for an avatar that was memorable (for all the right reasons), eye-catching and something I could relate to that would also signify my genre of writing. I wanted something I could build my brand around. I began searching free images on the internet and found the beautiful lady that now adorns my blog, Twitter and Facebook accounts. I also had the same image printed onto the business cards.

At FantasyCon, I met agents, publishers and other writers and began handing out my cards. Without exception, everyone favourably commented on the amazing image on my cards; it stood out! Most of the cards I received were bland and uninteresting – there was nothing in them to connect to, nothing memorable – so it begs the thought, is that person as unmemorable as their card suggests?

Something as simple as a business card can make such a huge difference as to how you, as a person and a writer are perceived. Do you want your card to fade into the background amongst a pile of other non-descript cards, or do you want to make a statement? Do you want to be remembered? You can still present a professional image with a card that pops.
I was so glad I made the decision to get cards printed and to go for a design that singled me out from the crowd. A few publishers and agents actually commented on how few authors actually took the trouble to get cards printed, let alone ones that made such an impact. They told me it was a professional way of approaching my ‘writing business’ and wished more writers would adopt that kind of attitude.

You never know when an opportunity to give out your cards will present itself. Book fairs, local book shops (especially if they have a book signing), writing groups, and conventions are all fertile ground for networking and getting your name known. Recently, at a restaurant I was talking to my companions about my novel and a complete stranger came over and started talking to us about it. Apparently, they love books in the genre I’ve written my novel and asked if I had any information on it. I handed her my card and she asked for a couple extra to pass to friends. Hopefully, this chance meeting will result in a few fans for my novel – who knows?
So, from something as simple as reading Beth’s question, I have now created a brand for myself, one that, even now, attracts comments on Twitter and Facebook, but above all, a professional persona as a writer. For less than £10.00 (US $16), I had 250 cards printed, full colour, printed one side, with a layout designed by me exactly as I wanted it. A small price to pay considering the impact – wouldn’t you agree?

Footnote: Since having the cards printed, I’ve had 100 postcards printed as well. One the front is my lovely lady, the title of my novel, name and contact number (all in full colour) and on the back (black on white printing) is a synopsis of my book along with further contact details. Something else with my brand on that I can hand out – and the real good part . . . they were free when I placed a new order for business cards!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us Carlie!


  1. Great idea, Carlie. I love the design.


  2. Definitely, definitely, definitely... I must find my old avatar