Calling Cards

Unlike movies, books aren’t advertised on TV and radio, except on rare occasions.  So the responsibility for advertising my books falls on my shoulders.  Although an engineering student, I studied advertising and media at college.  I learned about the all-important “opportunities to view.”  Essentially, for an advertisement to work, it must be seen several times before the viewer remembers the product and this excludes all the times the viewer misses the advertisement.  So the ad has to be run dozens of times before it has an effect.  That’s a lot of advertising dollars that I’m not willing (or able) to foot, but that doesn’t mean I don’t advertise my work and myself. 

My short stories and articles are my advertisements and they work in two ways.  First, these stories and articles work for me as a calling card.  They remind people that I exist and I’m still doing that writing thing.  If they read one of my previous books, then maybe it’s time to check out another.  Second, my stories and articles operate like a “try before you buy program.”  People can sample my work without laying out a penny.  This is an important consideration if the reader is going to invest their money in a writer they’ve never tried before.  People get to read my work and if they like it, hopefully, they’ll go out and get my books.

This isn’t to say that my primary reason for writing stories and articles is mercenary.  The fact that they work as calling cards is an added benefit.  I write what I write because I want to.  The stories and articles flex my writing muscles.  The workouts they provide keep me trim.

There’s an added benefit of writing and selling articles instead of paying for advertising, too.  The magazines are paying me for my work.  They are paying me to advertise my current book or next book.  I couldn’t ask for more.  J

Now, writing short stories and articles doesn’t work for every writer.  Personally, I find it easy to write them, but I know a lot of novelists who find it impossible.  But every writer needs a calling card to help promote his or her work.  Mine is stories and articles.  What’s yours?

Simon Wood

4 thoughts on “Calling Cards

  1. Corn

    Calling cards? Hmmm…I’m always on the side of being unorthodox and standing out from the crowd:

    1.Have you tried bookmarks, preferably magnetized, with an intriquing paragraph or a few sentences on one side, the name of the book on the other, link to bookselling site somewhere on there if there is space.

    Tip: Keep it suspenseful, leave them hanging… and leave a few anywhere where people are bored silly and likely to pick it up. Doctor’s offices. Laundromats. Etc.

    2. BUMPER STICKERS with title of your book, hopefully a catchy one (Example: Do It Yourself Brain Surgery – By….Name of author) which are large enough to hand out to people at convetions, book signings,etc.YOu can “stick” them to your car with magnets so you can interchange them when you put out a new book and.. VOILA…your car is your billboard. My bumper stickers say “I BUY BOOKS” and that pretty much does the job. The calls keep coming,the books keep coming (see my Blog)

    3. Grab as much of the web as you can with links about your book. Use RSS feeds. Subscribe to them. Use keywords that get people to find you when they do searches. It is an art in itself.

    WHich reminds me.

  2. simon


    I’m glad you’re enjoying Accidents. You should splash out on Working Stiffs, too. It’s very good. (That’s my ad by the way).


  3. Pari

    I can tell I’m far older than you are, Simon. I think of “opportunities to view” as “frequency.”

    My calling cards? I think I’ve got several. Those posts on various listservs count–though I post because I’ve got something to say, not because I’m trying to advertise.

    I write nonfiction features for various publications — and, here, too, the “ad” is fairly subtle, but I think it helps increase visibility.

    My websites, this blog . . . along with printed materials such as bookmarks, postcards. Also, I created a brochure that goes into more detail about me and my writing. People seem to like that quite a bit.

    I guess I have a lot of calling cards — some cost me in time, others in dollars . . . all, I hope, work toward the successful goals.

    BTW: I WISH I’d taken a couple of classes in marketing/media — all my knowledge comes from OJT.


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