Book postcards are an excellent way to make new connections and promote your book. You can use them in a variety of settings:
- Slip a postcard into your ARCs or any other copies of your book you give away
- Hand out postcards like you would business cards at conferences and networking events
- If you have access to table space at an event, put out a stack of postcards
- Keep a few postcards in your bag and give them to anyone who expresses interest in your book
- Include postcards in any mailings or giveaways you do
Postcards help people remember your book later, when they have an opportunity to search for it at the bookstore or library. I always appreciate receiving postcards at conferences. The event itself is usually so overwhelming, I don’t follow up on new connections until I get home. By that time I may have met so many writers I can’t keep them straight in my head. A book postcard goes right into my to-do pile — exactly where the author wants it.
If you’re new to book postcards, here’s a brief list of content you should include.
A crowded design feels unapproachable. White space gives readers’ eyes and minds room to absorb the information on your postcard. It also makes your card look more professional.
It’s tough to strike a balance between fitting your content into the available space and giving it enough room to breathe. Hire a professional designer if you can. If you have access to the designer who handled your book cover design, consider contracting with them for a postcard that matches your book’s aesthetic. The web app Canva offers a free DIY option.
Whatever you choose, remember you’ll be spending money to print your postcards whether you have a good design or not. Make it worth the investment.
Include a prominent, high-quality image of your book’s front cover on your postcard. Nothing prevents two books from having similar or even identical titles. The full aesthetic of your book will help make a unique impression and ensure readers find the right one.
Call to action
Determine the purpose you want your book postcard to serve. Some authors use postcards to drive book sales. Others use them to promote events or make themselves available for speaking engagements. Your card’s purpose determines its call to action.
Don’t assume people will know what you’re asking them to do. Spell it out in plain language. For example:
- “Invite me to speak at your next book club meeting”
- “Order your copy of [book title]here:”
- “Book me to speak at your event”
Make this information easy to find. If your call to action includes a URL, use a short and memorable one. See mine below for an example: you’re looking for something easy to type. You might even consider creating a QR code that will automatically open the page when a reader scans it with their phone. Remove any barriers to people completing your call to action.
Book title, author name(s), and ISBN
Your book’s title and author information can be tricky to read in a small cover image. Include this information in your postcard’s text. Find an unobtrusive place to list the book’s ISBN as well. Librarians and booksellers will want it but as an everyday reader I also use ISBNs to confirm I’ve found the correct book/edition. Like your call to action, this removes barriers between your book and its audience.
Blurbs and awards
If your book has any notable awards or accolades, include them on your postcard. Likewise with relevant speaking credits if you’re trying to book speaking gigs. Use excerpts from your blurbs to drum up excitement, especially if someone high-profile gave you a blurb. These give you lots of credibility and set you apart from the crowd with only one or two short phrases.
Short description or summary of your book
You probably have a short description of your book prepared already. These descriptions go into your book’s metadata — including your ISBN record — and onto its back cover. I simply copied and pasted this text onto the back of my postcard.
If you’re short on space, use a condensed version. Consider leading off with a high-impact quote from one of your blurbs. Fiction writers may be able to repurpose portions of their query letter or pitch. Non-fiction writers should focus on what need their book will fill for readers. In as few lines as possible, convey what your book is about and why people should read it.
A way to get more information
Even a larger-format book postcard offers limited space to get your message across. Always give readers a way to contact you or find out more.
If you include your author website and email address, your postcard can double as a business card. This will let you avoid handing out multiple items to the same person. Just make sure your website has links to your social media accounts and your email newsletter signup in addition to information about how to buy your book.