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Friday, December 30, 2011

The Real Thing Is TaDa! Greeting Cards


Thank Yous, Greeting Cards, and Networking


I spent years in the retail industry. During that time, I marketed my own stores among about a thousand other things. Thus, when I read anything about retailing, I prick up my ears. It is an especially important topic these days because retail reflects the economy (and for authors, the economy reflects how well our books will sell).

Anyway, the LA Times (Nov. 24th, Business Section) ran an article cleverly titled “An Industry in Need of Sympathy.” They were talking about greeting cards, of course! And paper thank you notes. They attribute their slide in sales to electronic greetings, but note that American Greetings reported an uptick after a long period of poorer and poorer sales.

I’ve been recommending cards and thank you notes for authors (and general marketing/networking) for a long, long time. Maybe someone has been listening. Don’t get me wrong. I do a lot of gratitude messages and thank yous on the Internet, too, but there is nothing like a real paper card with a real personal message and a real handwritten signature. If you want your thoughtfulness to be remembered, send something made of paper. Use a stamp. And, yeah, a little ink.

That principle was what guided Magdalena Ball and I when we decided to publish our Celebration Series of chapbooks, too. We figured that cards could be given an upward nudge in terms of quality by including real poetry, not the sugary stuff that sometimes doesn’t suit the occasion and never appeals to literary types, in any case. We designed our chapbooks in a size that would fit into greeting-card size envelopes you can buy at Staples and priced them in the greeting card price range of $6.95. A different book celebrates different gift-giving (and card-giving!) holidays like Valentines, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas, even one that celebrates women that could be given to them on their birthdays. Those who would like to know more about our concept can learn more at

By the way, our chapbooks use artwork by Vicki Thomas, Jacquie Schmall and May Lattanzio that is just as beautiful (and quite a bit artier!) than your run-of-the-mill greeting card!

In The Frugal Book Promoter I advise authors to keep a top 50 list of their most treasured contacts. To keep in touch with them throughout the year. So what would be wrong with supporting two declining industries (greeting cards and publishing!) and sending them a real thank you note occasionally, or a real book. Maybe even a real book of poetry!

A final note to retailers: Hallmark recently did a study. They learned that 20 paper cards are sent for every e-card. I often don’t open e-cards because I fear viruses or phishing scams (they have been perpetrated on us that way, you know!). So, retailers, don’t give up on your card lines yet! In fact, for real value you might consider a very nice line of poetry chapbooks at a $7.00 pricepoint.
Carolyn Howard-Johnson's FRUGAL book for retailers is A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques launched at the National Stationery Show at Javits Center. Because she is the author of the multi award-winning how-to books for writers,The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't and The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success, retailers will also find essentials of writing for blogs, Web sites, and newsletters on this blog. She is the author of an award-winning novel, This Is the Place; and other fiction and poetry. She blogs on better writing at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor blog. Find her tweeting for retailers at @frugalretailing . If your followers at Twitter would benefit from this blog post, please use this little green widget to let them know about it: