Last week we covered some key aspects of the one sheet. Two readers brought up a couple of really good questions so let’s start there before we move on to business cards. (Click here to read part two.)
Thanks for the helpful information. I looked at your site. Some of the examples had backgrounds, others did not. The background ones seemed more cluttered and hard to read. May have been because they were in a small format and not what will be seen on an actual 81/2×11 sheet of paper.
My question: Do you find a one sheet draws more attention with or without a faded background picture. Or should we keep it simple as you suggested in your article without the background to detract from the written material? And if no background, are you suggesting we us graphics and our photo? Will that not also look cluttered?
Janice K. Olson
Janice, this is a great question. You’re right about trying to look at those one sheets in a smaller format. The backgrounds tend to look darker. The key is to do a test print. Often I find the screen version may look darker but the print version is lighter. I always ask my clients to do a test print. Then I can make adjustments for them, if needed. So if you keep an eye for that, either way can work marvelously. Using a background image that’s low in contrast and soft will screen back well, giving you an attractive appearance without the busyness.
It’s really not an issue of one being better than the other. Better to do what you’re comfortable with and can feel confident about in pitching to agents and editors. In other words, if doing the background image seems cluttered to you, go without it.
And add graphics sparingly. Sometimes we can wind up having so much fun with our layout that we keep adding. Just like in writing, if you can take something out and it still stands strong, you most likely didn’t need it.
I have a question related to the one sheet photos. It seems a little - funny - to put a picture of oneself at the top of the page. But, then it seems odd to put it near the bottom too. I can't figure out where it looks best! Is it possible to put a picture of oneself as a child? LOL! I took some of my best pictures then. Or is it best to put a picture- for instance a historical photo - at the top to emphasis the genre one writes? The closer we get to the conference, the more I find I don't know and the more nervous I become.
Donna Alice Patton
Donna, this is also a great question. First, relax and try not to stress over this too much. Remember that God is in the mix too. Do your best, then let him do the rest.
Now, I wouldn’t recommend you put your picture first. You’re already sitting there with that editor or agent. Seeing a picture of you first isn’t really necessary. Start with your story and that historical photo that suits your theme. Put the picture of you at the bottom, side, or even on the back with your bio. Your photo will do its work if/when the editor or agent takes the one sheet with them, which I’ve found many of them do. Then they have a constant reference and connection to who you are and a reminder of your meeting. However, don’t take it personal if they don’t take your one sheet. Even those single sheets of paper can add up quickly and create extra weight in a bag or suitcase.
You asked about using one of yourself as a child. I would only suggest doing that if you tie it into your story or your writing in some fun or quirky way. If you write children’s books, go for it! What fun you could have with that. Then just be sure you tie your bio to it in some way as well, like how your first stories bloomed in your childhood garden. Just understand that the visual identification can be of great help as you make connections. Perhaps you can add your business card to your meeting which has a recent and professionally done picture of you.
And onward to…
The Business Card
Most of what I’ve covered for the one sheet applies to business cards as well. These are basic design concepts that apply across the board. And even more so for the business card, because it’s a very small area of advertising designed to impart your most important information.
When I first started attending conferences, I found it odd that writers would include their picture. Now I understand how beneficial it can be in the connections we make and helping agents and editors remember who we are. They meet with so many people over the course of three days. A picture is a great way to stay in their memory. I do recommend you spend the money, if possible, on a professional photographer. In fact, each conference, a photographer is contracted for this very purpose. And at prices you just can’t beat. Take advantage of this opportunity. Trust me, even cropping a family portrait will still scream family portrait. It’s not just the quality, but the pose as well that can make a difference. If money is an issue, exchange services with someone. Ask around your church, or perhaps you have a family member or friend who does photography as a hobby. Just try to make sure it looks as professional as possible.
For your business card layout, you need your picture, which should be a high resolution image—around 1mg or more—your name, email address, phone number and your web address, if you have one. Optional but helpful tidbits are a tagline and a blog addy. Don’t use a tagline just to have one. If you’re not sure yet what genre or style you plan to write, better to leave this off. And if you’re not a consistent blogger, better to leave this off for now as well.
Use a good card stock for your printing as well. Here are some online printers that offer good service and competitive prices. I’ve worked with most of these and have found they’re all pretty good. And they have templates to step you through your business card design without additional charges—a great alternative if you can’t afford a designer.
Printing for Less
Next week we’ll finish up our exploration into conference materials preparation with any questions you’d like to leave in the comments section and touch briefly on colors, continuity, and making choices now that will fit neatly into your marketing materials for the future. Please feel free to check out my design page for samples of business cards. See you next week!