Best practices for Business Cards

one of my first business cards. This was before I published my first novel. Hubby designed it on vista print.

Are business cards really a thing anymore? With the digital age do I really need one?

The answer for writers is a resounding yes. It’s necessary to provide information for both prospective publishers, agents, fellow-authors and potential readers.

Business card musts

They need to look professional and give the right information. Most business cards at a minimum should have your name, email, website, and social media links.

Adding a headshot puts a face with the conversation that led to the card being given.

Blank space on the back of the card is awesome. It leaves room to write a note reminding the receiver why they have it. For example: send them your guidelines. Call them about the XYZ group. Send them your manuscript ASAP

My most current card.

Additional items:

Theses are your personal preferences, only choose one or add the addition to the back of your card so it is not cluttered. But then you lose the blank space.

A tagline.

Your author tagline, not your present book. The one you use on your website. The thing that defines what you write. But it isn’t necessary.

Links to your latest books. (This might require a larger card that folds.)

Text code

My agent offers a free video course if you text a specific number on his card.

I’ve seen some HQ codes to take you to an author’s website or a free download offer.


This is not as common because you gave an email which is most publishers preferred way of communicating. The blank space on the back of the card is available to jot it down if it is requested by specific people.

Phone numbers are an option too. Your agent may hand you a business card with a phone number. Your email is the best substitute for a phone number. Again use the blank space on the back to offer it to those who need it.

Design your cards and order a reasonable amount

Order between 100 and 250 cards from or a local printer. Look for the best price before agreeing. Yes, you can make your own. But be sure you use business card stock. There are templates online. You may find that 100 is too many if you don’t attend conferences or do book events. Think about where you will be handing them out before ordering. I have a friend who gives them to everyone he meets. He goes through several hundred cards a year.

Reorder when you must

I always have cards left over when I update to new ones. You might prefer to be all out before you update or reorder. I don’t like writing new info on a card, so, I’m fine with creating a new card and reordering before my supply is gone.

Keep your business card as clean as possible.

Don’t try to fill every space or use graphics that cover the whole surface. Simple is better. If you have a photo make it a professional shot that is current. (within the last few years.)

A photo helps those you meet with at conferences and other events remember who you are.

The colors on your card should be readable. A simple font or if you prefer a more artistic font be sure it’s not too busy or too strange. Those are hard to read. Make sure the color ink is legible on a card’s color background.

White letters on a yellow background are hard to read. While black on white is always a good choice. If you have a website try to match the colors on your cards to the theme on your website or blog.

Glossy vs matte finish depends on your theme and color choices. I prefer a matte because it is easier to write on notes on the back.

Think about what you write and choose a theme that fits your genre. Westerns might have a cowboy hat or boots as a watermark or in the corner. Historical romance might have a parchment color background. A thriller writer might have artistic black on white that pops but is still readable. Regardless of your genre, a clean plain card is an excellent go-to design.

Look through the business cards you have on hand and see which ones catch your eye and why. Ask the printer you are using for suggestions. They are happy to design them for you. Vistaprint has templates to choose from and a spot to design it before ordering.

Last piece of advice

Proofread your card. Have a few other people look at it too. If there is a typo it will go to print that way. You don’t want the expense of reordering because you missed an error. Even if a printer does your cards be sure to read through it carefully. They usually have a disclaimer that they are not responsible for errors once you approve the card.

What are some things you’ve discovered as you created a business card?



Ten Point Checklist for Conference Attendees

conference word cloudThis week I’ll be attending Write to Publish, the writer’s conference I’ve attended every June for over a decade. Today I’ve decided to post a conference checklist. Thought you’d find it helpful.

  • Business Cards

Take 50. You may not use them all but you won’t run out. Give them to the people you have appointments with and exchange them with those you network with at the conference.check list-tiny


  • One sheets (sell sheets) of the novels or books you are pitching. One sheet per book. You can also create a sell sheet of article ideas you have. Present these at your appointments with an editor.


  • Clips- photo copies of your published work. This gives editors a taste of your writing experience. Or have copies of your completed short stories, articles and devotionals to share during your appointment if requested. Samples of your best work can lead to a request for your stuff.

    clip and samples-2

    I carry my clips and samples in a three ring binder with plastic sleeves.



  • Fresh notebook or laptop. Whether you prefer to take notes with pen and paper or on your PC be sure you have enough paper, extra pens and the power cord for your laptop. If you have a larger laptop like me, you might prefer to leave it at home or in your room. It gets heavy and cumbersome to tote. I can check emails etc. on my phone so I opt for pen and paper.



  • Pitch cheat sheet. I hate memorizing a pitch. I get frustrated and nervous. A cheat sheet helps me remember my pitch just before my appointment. I may not say it word for word but at least it’s fresh in my mind.


  • Pictures and names of agents, publishers and editors I want to meet. I may not get an appointment with them but mealtime is a great time to pitch your stuff. If I have a picture I might recognize them in the cafeteria or in the hall.


  • Proposals and manuscripts are optional. Most editors and agents want an email version. Having a copy or three is good if you plan on getting input from freelancers or participating in critique sessions. Have copies of the first chapter of your book. If an agent or editor marks it up or takes a copy, you have more clean copies.


  • Clothes for conference. Being sure you have all your outfits and all their components is important. I once forgot to change out of my sports bra. A pink sports bra under dress clothes was …I made an emergency run to a nearby Walmart to buy a new bra. Another year I bought a sweatshirt because the temp dropped. Be prepare for any contingency. Wear comfortable shoes if the conference you’re attending is on a large campus. Blisters and limping are just oh so fun when you’re trying to get all you can from a conference. Lots of people wear tennis shoes at these events. So, leave your classy uncomfortable footwear at home. If your conference has a formal dinner then pack dress shoes for that event only.

    black open toe

    Leave your uncomfortable shoes at home.


  • Double check your spending budget. There will be lots of books and CDs available for purchase. Decide what you absolutely must have. If it exceeds your budget copy down the title and purchases them later.


  • Be sure to have registration confirmation, hotel confirmation and if you’re flying tickets, boarding passes and proper ID.


  • Books for sale. This is my first year to bring my novel for the sales table. Only bring a reasonable amount. If you’re flying you’ll be limited unless you shipped them ahead. Even though the conference has hundreds of attendees they are not going to all buy your book. You will be in competition with lots of other authors along with myriads of craft books. Better to run out than haul boxes back home. Have lots of bookmarks or postcards available so interested readers can take them home and order your book later.secret-charades-front-cover


What items would you add to this list?


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Why Professional Headshots

cindy huff 2016If you follow me on Facebook, you’ve noticed I’ve changed my profile picture. I also posted two photos for my friends to help me choose which will go on the back of my novel. Headshots are essential if you take your writing seriously. It identifies you to future readers. So, it needs to be excellent quality. Whether you are traditionally or self-published, you need a professional headshot. Even if you haven’t gotten one item in print yet. Why would I need a photo if no one knows I write? To ask is to answer.

Business cards

You need it for your business cards so publishers, editors, agents and fellow writers can more easily connect. We all remember faces before we remember names. As I’ve mentioned in past posts, you will need business cards for conferences. But don’t wait until the last minute to get them. That might mean no photo which is not a good idea.cindy 2016

Publication pics

You need headshots for publications who want the photos of their authors with the article. Even e-zines request headshots. Selfies are tacky and scream amateur. It is better to send no photo than a selfie.  The photo embeds in people’s brains. They may be attracted to your book because your photo looks familiar. Torry Martin has funny photos. Comedians can get away with a bit of silliness. If comedy is your brand of writing, by all means, have a silly photo. Even that needs a professional hand to make it shine.


Your professional pose will appear on all your social media. Make sure it’s your best. Skip the “model” poses. You know what I mean. My six-year-old granddaughter strikes those poses the minute grandpa gets out his camera.

I once receive a business card from an up and coming writer with an odd photo. She was leaning sideways and her hair drooping in that direction. Her head at an awkward angle. Someone else noticed the photo while I was flipping through the business cards I’d received at the conference. They asked if the person was mentally challenged. So sad. Her latest photo is top-notch and speaks confident writer.

Update your photo

Over the course of my writing career, I have had five photos. The first one appeared in a column I wrote for the newspaper. I couldn’t find a copy to post here. That was back in the 90s before we had digital cameras.  It was face forward from the neck upward. Not very flattering if I recall. But face forward for a thumbnail picture is probably the best pose. The paper’s photographer took the picture and the paper chose the pose. Probably why I didn’t care for it.


First photo taken by Hubby


Years later I needed a photo for an article. Here is the one my hubby took. He takes great landscapes and tries to make sure the lighting is good when he photographs family members. This was taken with a simple digital camera. Not bad and I could crop it as a headshot pretty easily. It appeared on my Facebook page when I first got an account. Not professional but at least I’m dressed up an smiling.



Second semi-pro photo

The second picture was taken by a young lady just getting into photography. Like the first—no touch ups and easy to crop. This replaced my FB picture and was the first pose on my blog. (If anyone knows how to delete old profile pictures permanently so they don’t reappear when I post my blog or Goodreads reviews on social media, message me.)

Small head shot of Cindy Huff

Cropped professional shot


My third headshot was done by a pro. He canceled his day of appointments and forgot to tell me. So, when I called and said I was waiting at his studio, he came and took them anyway. The happy ending is he gave all the proofs to me for free for the inconvenience he caused. There was no touch up here either.

My most recent headshots are below. These are my two favorites from my professional photo shoot. These have been touched up.


I have all the rights. This is important. I can make a zillion copies, place them on anything I want. They are mine and not the photographers. These photos will be used for whatever advertising my marketing people will deem prudent.  Retail store photographer or those studios who focus on graduations, family photos come with watermarks. Legally I can’t make copies. Have you ever tried printing copies of your kid’s senior picture and found it less than satisfactory? Walmart and the like won’t reprint photos that are watermarked. Legal issues again.


These photographers want you to come back to them for copies. Copy sales are part of the meat and potatoes of their business. And there is nothing wrong with that. But for my purposes, the cost of purchasing additional pictures or working with their copyright license doesn’t work for me.

All Rights

I paid for my photo shoot, two photos, and touch-up from a very reputable photographer. He was so fun to work with. He tried a variety of poses and took several snaps to be sure he got the best picture possible. (Side note: Be sure to check references before taking the time and paying for the photo shoot.  And get quotes from more than one photographer.) He made sure the pixelation was suitable for any enlarging or reducing.  I can crop it to any size I want. I want to keep clear of violating any copyright issues, even by accident.

My photos span about 12 years, and I imagine I will be doing a few more updates before my career is over.

Headshot part of brand

DiAnn Mills mentioned in a conference class on social media that our headshot is part of our brand. She’s always wearing a turtleneck in her poses. I am not sure what my brand is. Notice in each photo I am wearing a different color. But, all of them are flattering. Flattering is always good. Some authors create a persona for their headshot. If they write westerns—a cowboy hat.  And as I mentioned silly poses for comedians. Jennifer Hudson Taylor writes Highland fiction so her back cover pose reflects that. Until I can wrap my head around the nuances of branding, I’ll probably stick with a professional pose with (hopefully) a confident smile.


DiAnn Mills shrunk (1)

DiAnn Mills



Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor


Do you have any tips about headshots or a fun story about your photo? Share it in the comments. I am confident there are things I have yet to learn about it.