Dear Miss Snark,
Writing conference season (in my neck of the woods) is approaching. What is your opinion on business cards from writers? I have business cards, but it’s all the info from my day job. That information is irrelevant and not the contact info I would use with an agent anyway. Should I go to my local Kinko’s and have some cards printed up with my name and address?
How important are business cards? Will having them or not having them make a whit of difference? Will I seem like a pretentious poser if I have them? Will I seem like a complete nitwit if I don’t? Is this in the same category with the stamp obsession?
Lounging Labrador sends her regards and a half-chewed slipper to Killer Yapp.
Killer Yapp accepts with pleasure and wonders if the toe was there when it got sent?
This is covered in the Snarkives but it bears repeating. Business cards are a networking tool for your conversations with other writers. Don't give them to agents, or editors. Yes, we take them. Yes it appears we put them in our card case. Don't be fooled. It's the first thing I throw away. I don't even take them home. They hit the trash bin in the hotel room along will all the other useless crap I don't need.
Here's why: first I don't keep a card file anymore; I keep everything electronically. Second, I don't keep names and addresses of writers until they are at the "we want to offer you a contract stage". Until that point, I have your query letter, and I keep it in a file. NO agent I know keeps writers' cards in a rolodex. If they keep them at all, they are in a box somewhere with other junk.
However, for the other writers you meet at this conference, cards are a good idea. I beg of you: avoid cute. Avoid logos of feather pens and colored art and photos. Please please please make this straightforward information. Name, email, phone. Your city and state if you want. Website. NOTHING else. No motto, no slogan, no nothing. Those things scream "amateur".
When someone gives you a card, you write on the back of it why you got it. When you give someone a card, you make a note on the back of it to remind them you met at this conference and you both are looking forward to reading Space Ark (in other words, the venue and reason you were in contact with this person).
Don't buy 1000. Chances are good at least your email will change before you use anywhere near that many.
Don't make them yourself. (Don't give me grief about this. The only people who should make their own business cards are graphic artists and they generally know how to get them professionally produced anyway). Really don't make them yourself if you want to save money. There are a LOT of places that do template business cards very inexpensively. Homemade cards scream "amateur".
Don't include them in your query letter. I throw them away. I throw away a lot of what you send anyway, and it offends my preference for living lightly on the earth to see this kind of thoughtless waste. Don't do it.