Four Fearless Ways Authors Can Use a Simple Postcard to Boost Sales

Great publicity for around $50


Melissa Gouty

3 years ago | 4 min read

Book cover art as postcard promotion

You spent hours deciding on your book cover. You may have paid to have it professionally designed. You might have done it yourself, playing with color, font, spacing. Deciding how big to make your name.

But no matter how it came to be, your book cover is the best way to promote your work.

Use the high-definition digital file of your book cover to create a postcard. I use a traditional 4" x 6", but you can go bigger if you choose.

I use a two-sided card so that I can print information on the back about where the book can be purchased, but I always leave space for a handwritten message.

Promotion doesn’t have to be expensive

Most small press and self-published authors have limited budgets. We don’t have hundreds of dollars to spend on marketing and advertisements. Most of us promote our work on a “shoestring” budget…narrow margins to say the least.

A simple picture postcard is an affordable, effective marketing tactic that won’t break your bank.

Postcards can be designed and purchased everywhere. Years ago, I started using Vistaprint, so it’s my “go-to service,” but lots of other companies exist. Here’s a list that might be helpful. Don’t forget to check with your local print shop, a move that saves you shipping costs and supports a nearby small business.

Custom-printed postcards are inexpensive. Five hundred cards can cost around fifty bucks, and there’s a lot you can do with that many postcards.

1) Inserts

Postcards were designed for brief written messages without an envelope. Authors can make good use of them by writing to their buyers and inserting a pretty postcard with a note in between the pages. It’s a great technique to surprise, inform, or delight your buyer.

Your message can be anything you want it to be. “Thank you’s” in various forms are always nice. Try “Surprise! Thank you for reading my book!” or “From an author to a reader. You’re the best.” If you can do a teaser of your next book, do it. “If you’re enjoying this, you’re sure to like my next book, …..”

My choice is to do a little marketing.

In my very best handwriting and my favorite blue ink, I inscribed cards with this note:

“The nicest thing you can do for an author is to leave a review, recommend her work to others, or buy a copy of her book for someone you love.”

I hope it’s a gentle nudge that will increase future sales.

2) Mailers

If you’re old-school like me, you have a Christmas card list. If not, you probably have a long list of contacts. Access those addresses, spend an hour or so putting them on postcards, and send them out snail mail to remind your friends and family about the release of your book.

You’d be surprised how much a hand-written missive means in this modern time when everything else is fast and easy, electronic and temporary.

3) Eye-grabbers at local venues

No matter how big or how small your town is, you probably have places you frequent. A local coffee shop, your hairdresser, a boutique, or a favorite restaurant.

Any of them might be willing to put a stack of postcards on their counter, in their restrooms, or on their tables. Increase your odds by supplying a cardholder or plastic easel to display your cards so that the shop owner doesn’t have to.

You can even use “guerilla marketing” tactics, like leaving a postcard on a restaurant table when you walk away, putting one on a chair you’ve vacated, or sticking one in the corner of a mirror in a dressing room or bathroom. Leaving a postcard on a retail store counter won’t hurt anything. At best, someone will pick it up. At worst, a clerk will toss it — but not before reading it.

You can’t sell books if people don’t remember the title or your name, so any kind of publicity is helpful. Think of it as building your brand. Visual repetition works. People who see your book cover several times in multiple places will remember your name and/or the title, and they’ll be more likely to purchase your work.

4) Banners, collages, and arrangements

Five hundred cards may be more than you need, but the price break between 250 and 500 is nominal, so it’s worth spending $9.00 more to get 250 extra cards.

Make use of your investment by creating your own unique displays for book signings or speaking engagements.

  • Buy a couple of dozen clips or clothespins. Get several yards of ribbon, clothesline, or twine. Clip a postcard every four to six inches on the ribbon. Drape the postcard pennant around the front of your signing table. Depending on your setting, you might be able to wrap the string around a column, lay it along a shelf, or display it across a wall.
  • Using a poster board or foam board as a foundation, arrange and layer postcards in an interesting shape. Make a repeating pattern, cut into various shapes or letters, and create an artistic design using nothing but postcards of your book cover.
  • You know those long plastic cardholders inserted into floral arrangements? Buy several dozen (around 50 for $8.00). Insert your postcards and make arrangements by putting them into bud vases, jelly jars, wine bottles, or whatever container you happen to have. You can clip the holders into different lengths so that your cards are showcased at different levels. For an even cheaper alternative, buy wooden shishkebob sticks (about 100 for $4.00) and tape your cards onto them with packing tape.

Publishing, publicity, and the resourcefulness of writers

In today’s crazy publishing world, authors have to learn to promote their work on a shoestring budget and still be able to compete with the onslaught of new books coming out each day.

A simple picture-of-your-book-cover-postcard is a fearless — and affordable — way to market your work.


Created by

Melissa Gouty

Award-winning teacher, entrepreneur, and writer. Marketing manager in the HVAC and Plumbing industries. Author of The Magic of Ordinary, a memoir of a "Daddy," his daughters, and the power of one good man to change the world.







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