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book equals business card illustration

I can’t believe I have to write this blog post, but there is so much bad advice out there, so let me get to it:

You don’t need an Author business card for your book.

Yes, of course, you can have a business card for you. That would make sense.

But what makes no sense is to have a business card just for your book.

If it is confusing you as to why anyone would have a business card for their book, then you are a reasonable person, and you can stop reading right now. The rest of the blog post will just tell you what you already know.

But there really are people who write things saying that book business cards are crucial.

No.

If anything, your book is your business card (in a manner of speaking).

Maybe your book can tell people how to get out of debt. Maybe it teaches them how to be a more successful blogger. Or maybe it gives them a step-by-step guide for expanding their company.

Whatever the case may be, as an Author, you aren’t really selling your writing. You’re selling a solution. As a result of the book helping other people, it raises your own profile and increases your reputation.

To put it bluntly, your book is a marketing tool for you, not the thing you should spend time marketing.

When you think of it that way, it’s clear you don’t need a different business card just because you wrote a book.

Only professional writers need writer business cards. Know what they call them? Business cards.

In this post, I’ll explain how you can make your book into your business card.

Don’t Sell Your Book. Let Your Book Sell You.

If you’re an Author, you have a message to give to readers.

Your book is a promise to readers that your message will make their lives better.

That’s why readers pick up your book. They expect you to fulfill that promise. They expect you to give them the specific knowledge, insight, or solutions they need to solve their problems.

Your audience cares about your message, but they don’t care about your book. A book just happens to be the way you’re getting your message across.

That means your book’s value is in its ability to reach people, not in sales.

Here’s the truth: most non-fiction Authors don’t earn a lot from book sales. More often, their success comes from the things a book gets them.

Having a book raises your credibility and authority, and it’s a way to make yourself more visible. It might help you get more clients, speaking engagements, or consulting opportunities.

While your book may have immediate results, it’s best to think of it as a long-term investment. It’s much more valuable than sales figures let on.

Of course, you can make money from direct sales of your book. But if you’re making money indirectly through these other avenues, it means you’re using your book the right way.

You’re using it as a marketing tool to find other sources of revenue.

Most Authors aren’t out to win literary prizes. They’re out to make an impact. If you think of your book—instead of the ideas or skills—as the thing you’re selling, your impact will be much more limited.

Your book should be all about your message, and people should be able to immediately see what they’ll get out of reading it.

mini books in a hand illustration

If you’ve done that well, then you won’t need a separate business card. Your book is your business card.

How to Make Your Book Into Your Business Card

Step 1. Hone Your Message

Focus on your audience. Who are they, and what can you do for them?

You have to be crystal clear on this before you do anything else.

After all, your message is what you’re marketing.

Think about how you decide to buy a book. Do you care what the Author wants? No. You care about what the book will teach you.

Ask yourself, Why does my book matter to my audience?

Or, if you’re having trouble answering that big question, break it down into these three questions:

  1. Who is your reader? Be specific here. The most effective Authors are clear about their “microtribe,” or the limited group of readers who will champion the book and share it with others. If your audience is too broad, your message probably won’t hit home.
  2. What problems is your reader experiencing? Maybe you want to write an empowering or inspirational book. That’s great. But if you don’t have a clear idea of the problem first, you won’t know how to empower or inspire your reader. Every reader will buy your book because they want it to help them with something. So what’s that something?
  3. Why am I the person to help them? There are thousands of books on personal finance or nutrition or whatever your subject may be. Why should this reader trust you to help them? Do you have special insight? First-hand experience? A good track record?

Remember, your message is your product. Make sure it’s as good as it can be before you start spreading it.

Step 2. Write a Laser-Focused Book

Keep your message at the heart of your book.

As you dig into the writing, stay 100% focused on your audience and their needs.

You can’t fake your way into a good book. Either your ideas will help someone or they won’t.

If you plan to use your book as your business card, your book needs to be as tight as possible.

Why? Because people will judge you. They’ll judge what you know, what you’re telling them, and how well you helped them.

Keep your expectations realistic, and zero in on what you really want to say.

For more on the book writing process, see this post.

Step 3. Choose Your Book Title & Subtitle

If your book is your business card, your title and subtitle are your taglines.

Your title is the most important marketing decision you will make during this whole process. That’s because it’s the first thing that readers learn about your book.

Within a second, they’ll make a judgment about whether it’s worthwhile.

Maybe they’re right; maybe they’re wrong. It doesn’t matter. If your title doesn’t catch their attention, they won’t ever read the book. It may sound harsh, but it’s the truth.

A good title is short, memorable, and informative.

It always reflects the core message. If a reader has to ask what your book is about after hearing the title, go back to the drawing board.

Read this post for a more in-depth explanation of how to come up with a strong title.

Don’t rush this step. A good title won’t make your book a bestseller, but a bad title is sure to make your book flop.

Step 4. Produce a Fantastic Book Cover

Even if we know we shouldn’t, everyone judges books by their covers. It’s a fact.

If your book’s cover art doesn’t draw people in, they won’t even pick it up, much less buy it. Humans are visual creatures, and images have a strong pull on us.

That’s actually good news for an Author. It means that you have a prime opportunity to snag readers’ attention. If you get your cover right, you can stand out from the crowd.

Your book cover should be attractive. That’s a given.

But it should also show people who you are. I don’t mean literally. Your Author photo will do that for you (more on that in a second).

When a reader sees a cover, they should immediately get a sense of the genre, subject matter, and tone of the book.

For example, if you’re a comedian and you’ve written a hilarious memoir, the cover should send happy, funny signals to the reader. You don’t want something black and somber.

Think about an actual business card. The design conveys something about you or, at the very least, your company. People make assumptions about you based on the logo, colors, font, cardstock, and layout.

The same goes for a book cover. Make the most of your opportunity to send the right signals.

Step 5. Make Sure It Looks Professional Inside and Out

If you want all the positive things a book can bring, it has to be professional inside and out.

You’ll lose readers the second they open your book if you don’t polish every aspect of it. A bad interior says, This person only looks good on the surface.

One of the biggest keys to professionalism is editing. A book isn’t finished until it has been edited multiple times.

If your book has careless mistakes like typos, missing punctuation, or confusing sentences, no one will take you seriously.

Don’t do it yourself. No matter how good an editor you are, you won’t catch all your mistakes. All good writers have good editors.

Second, consider your book’s interior layout. What font will you use? How big should the margins be? Where do the images go? How much space should there be between the lines? How will I break up chapters and subsections?

This might all seem simple and petty. In fact, it’s neither.

Book design is one of the hardest graphic design jobs possible. Text looks basic, but it actually takes a lot of skill to design a page that keeps readers reading.

Certain fonts can give readers headaches, and certain types of line spacing can break readers’ train of thought.

It’s worth hiring a good designer for your book layout. After all, what good are a fantastic cover and strong content if readers can’t stand to look at the pages?

Step 6. Put the Perfect Author Photo on the Back

Like the book cover, your Author photo is a chance to signal to your readers who you are and why they should listen to you.

Keep your Author photo consistent with the tone of your book.

If you’re a Fortune 500 CEO writing about entrepreneurship, don’t use a candid photo from a day at the beach with your kids. You might think it makes you more approachable, but it’s not sending the right credibility signals to your audience.

It would be more on-brand to have a headshot that conveys approachability in a more professional way. For example, look at Scribe Author Joey Coleman’s promotional photo.

joey coleman author image

It’s a clear, well-lit photo that conveys expertise and professionalism. But he still seems approachable because of his smile, clothing, and posture.

Also, notice that his photo pairs well with his book cover. They form a consistent Author brand that supports Joey’s message: spend time on the customers that want to do business with you.

You and your message are the product you’re selling. Don’t underestimate the power of your Author photo to send signals to readers about who you are and what you have to say.

Step 7. Give Readers a Way to Connect

Assume that the people who connect with your book will want to connect with you personally. Make it easy for them.

If you have an Author website, include the URL both on the inside and back of the book.

Readers and potential clients will have an easy way to contact you if they want to use your services.

If you don’t have a website, then include some other contact information: social media links, email address, phone number, or your company website.

Remember, you aren’t out to sell books. You’re out to make connections that can lead you to new opportunities.

Step 8. Publish the Book and Order 50 Copies

When I said your book is your business card, I wasn’t being literal, but you can use it that way.

You can keep a book with you at all times and be ready to hand it out.

As an Author, though, your book is the best thing you can give someone if you want to convince them that you’re credible, professional, and able to follow through on large projects.

Your book is proof that you have a clear message and that you’re worth doing business with.
If you’re only focused on sales, book giveaways close doors. Every free book is one you haven’t made money from.

If you think of your book as a marketing tool, though, giving books away opens doors. It tells people that you have important things to say, and you’ve got the skills to do it.