Playing Cards

I've had agents say, "Don't bother to give me your card, I'll just throw it away." Uh, geez, thanks, but polite, professional courtesy would be nice even if you are going to throw it away. So some agents don't want cards. I've had other agents not want to give out a card, hording them as though Clooney might walk in at any time and beg for the whole lot.

uh oh. I've said that very thing to authors at conferences. Miss Snark was not trying to be more hostile and curmudgeonly than normal but oh well, not the first time.

I throw away the cards that come with query letters too. Why would I keep it? So I can call you up next year and tell you I've been ruminating about your tome, and I clearly made a horrible mistake by passing, and oh hope hope hope it's still available. Chances of this happening approach zero.

At writing conferences everyone knows the agents by face and name, particularly smaller ones. We know NO ONE. If I keep your card I still won’t know who you are. If you send me a query, your cover letter reminds me we met at a conference, and probably I still won’t remember you if it’s more than a month since the conference.

If you become a client I'll have all your info on my data base including the name of your cat. I still won't need your card.

If you have cards (and you should), use them with other writers or give them to people who ask for them. Handing them to agents or editors who don't want them is just throwing money away.

As for giving you my card, I've been less than willing to do that too. Why? It has my phone number and email on it. I generally do not put those on form rejection letters. Yes, you can find it if you look but I like to make it just a bit harder to get a hold of me if you think I'm dead wrong about not taking on your magnificent work of art.

I don't hand my cards out at conferences. I hand out my address.

I may have to rethink this strategy since it clearly sounds from this Snarkling’s email that it's perceived as rude hostile and well....snarky.


James Goodman said...

Perhaps you could have some cards made up specifically for conferences. They could have just your name and address on them and perhaps a nice semi-snarky quote (I wouldn't go full snarky lest you risk giving away the anonimity you have here).

There are some great companies out there that practically give away business cards. Take Vista Print for example. They give you a couple of hundred cards for free. Well...mostly free; they charge shipping and handling which comes to like four bucks if memory serves correctly.

Maria said...

You could have business cards for conferences--that have your name and address and a big bold, NO EMAIL SUBS. :>) Cards REALLY help writers. I put notes on the back--such as what the agent wanted mailed--synopsis or not, 3 chapters vs entire manuscript--and yes I have been asked to send the entire manuscript at conferences. Every single agent has a different "industry standard..."

Miss Snark said...

Ok, you've persuaded me to change my snarkly ways. I will get cards printed for conferences. And I will take writers' cards and NOT reveal the squalid truth.

You've been most helpful beloved Snarklings.

Elektra said...

I think, instead of cards, we should all hand out wallet-sized photos with our contact info on it. It would be so much more practical. Nobody would forget who the card belongs to. People like 007 could decide whether they'd buy your book or not. Who needs a photographic memory when you've got an actual picture?

Miss Snark said...

Elektra, will it surprise you to learn that people DO send me query letters with attached photos?

How about when I tell you they look like photos from a 70's high school yearbook more often than not.

There's a publisher who prints author photos in their catalog. I've never pitched a project to them. Any marketing department so witless as to print those photos in a catalog designed to boost sales is not a team I want to work with.

If it wasn't so sad, it would be funny.
Well, ok, it IS funny.

Elektra said...

Ah, the dreaded 70's photo. I thank God every day I never had to suffer through such embarrassment. Or the gravity-defying hair of the 80's. Perhaps, to save us all some mortification, we could inculde pictures of our dogs instead.

E. Dashwood said...

There is the suggestion in some books about nonfiction proposals to include a photo. Seems it's helpful to your platform if you don't have an empty eye socket or a too crooked smile.

Mad Scientist Matt said...

I'm not sure about that, e. dashwood - I think having an empty eye socket covered with a patch would definitely help your platform if your book was on piracy. Since I've been working on a book on cars, I'm planning to wear my grease stained coverals for an author photo. Don't worry, I don't plan to send that in with the querry letter, or write the letter in motor oil.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Didn't I just read somewhere, maybe here, that for nonfiction projects your looks actually matter, since you are expected to do a lot of reads and such?

Anonymous said...

Miss Snark,

I'm a recent devotee and have spent many hours lately reading your archived posts instead of writing.

Anyway, I just recently signed with a wonderful agent (who knows, it could be you (bg)) and have been debating the merits of a business card. Do I need them? And what would I do with them if I got them?

Elektra said...

It was 007, Bonnie

G. Jules Reynolds said...

Sharon: This isn't MS advice, of course, but as someone who's been to conventions, my opinion is: get cards. And get cards specifically for writing contacts. (This one I need to start walking the walk on -- I always end up digging out one of my regular business cards and writing my personal email on the back.) I write genre YA, and I've met some amazing writing buddines and crit partners at genre fan events of various sorts. You can rip off a piece of the program and dig around for a pen to write your email with, but the card is faster, easier, and more professional.

As for what you do with them: same as with any business card... hand 'em out. Artfully. Only I'm bad at that, and generally only remember to give them out when people give me theirs or ask for mine, so I'm not the person to help on that.

I would say give them to people you've at least talked with one-on-one or in a small group, though, people who'd have some reason to remember who you are. I was on a panel at a conference once and went home with, like, ten random cards of people who were in the audience. I'm sure they're very nice and I'm glad they enjoyed the panel, but I remember none of these people, and I have no idea why they gave me their cards. *shrug* Unless I've gotten to talk to someone or they've at least told me they're looking for a crit buddy/webzine article on Snowball Earth/fellow etching appreciator, I won't know what to email them about.

Maeve said...

Lisa Jewell offers this as serious advice (!!!) to the novelist seeking an agent:

"If you're attractive, it wouldn't do any harm to send a photo as well. (But just one small one - don't overdo it!)"


Bella Stander said...

Looks shouldn't matter at all when you're submitting a query or manuscript. The writing must speak for itself. Hardly anyone knows what Thomas Pynchon looks like and people still read his books. (Though not me; I threw in the towel with V way back when & never tried again.)

Personally, I find photo business cards icky & unprofessional. I've only met one person who uses them and he's...well, a bit icky & unprofessional.

Another Miss Snark fan,

Bella Stander

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