Monday, July 19, 2010

Welcome Debut Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor!

Missy, here. And I'm very excited to introduce you to my good friend and fellow blogger on the F.A.I.T.H. blog (another of my group blogs), Jennifer Hudson Taylor! I just finished Jennifer's debut novel from Abingdon Press, Highland Blessings, last week while at the beach (a rogue wave nearly ruined it, but I could still read the warped pages!). And it's so, so good! Great story, great writing. You don't want to miss this book! So I'm thrilled to have Jenn here today with advice for attending conferences. She specifically mentions ACFW, but if you're going to RWA National, you still have time to prepare!

So, here's Jennifer...

With the ACFW Conference coming up, author business cards tend to be a huge question for some. My advice is to provide a different set of cards for the conference for peers, editors and agents than you would for the general public—your readers. With today’s software and technology, this shouldn’t be much of a problem.

The reason I say this, is because you are networking with potential co-workers and colleagues. They need to connect with you, an image to remember, a way to contact you later—and you don’t want them getting lost in the flow of your general email box with all your other correspondence, potentially missing out on an email that could change your near future—getting you off unpubbed island. For this reason, I also recommend setting up two emails, one for general correspondence that you can promote online to readers you’ve never met, and one you never promote online, but reserve for professionals in publishing industry.

In the World Outside of Publishing

The purpose of business cards is to promote your business--the company for which you work. There is usually a small graphic for your logo and a tagline that will explain what kind of products and/or services your company provides, and your professional title will give people an idea of how you fit into that business.

If you are an author, forget the info above.

Be willing to change your mind-set.

Switch gears now.

The Author World

If you are an author, you ARE the business. The author is the company. Therefore, you are going to promote yourself. Your logo is your photo.

Your products are the books you write, and keep in mind that this changes as new ones are released.

Your service is the genre you write. Therefore, you need a tagline that promotes what you write--your genre or subgenre.

CBA Authors

Because the Bible calls us to be humble servants, Christian authors worry that they are exalting themselves when they promote themselves and/or their work. We worry what others will think. We worry if God will be pleased or displeased. We never want to give the impression that we are exalting ourselves.

How can people hear about the message in our books--the stories and the help that God has given us to share with others, if we don't step out in faith and promote ourselves and our work?

You can be humble and still promote yourself. Give God the glory for all your work. Never forget who is helping you along the way. Remember who opens those doors for you. Be patient and kind to others, even when you're feeling tired. This is being called to humbleness. It is beyond putting our name and face out there to promote our books--the very gift that God has given us. Yet, without a photo, people don’t have a face, a mental image that will give them a connection.

So don't be afraid to use your photo on your promotional materials. People want to connect with you. They want to know who you are and that includes what you look like. It gives them a mental image to go by and it makes them feel like they know you better. Don't worry that you aren't supermodel material. If you want to be real to people, you can't be flawless. If you want to be humble, be yourself.

What to include on an Author's Business Card at a Writer’s Conference

1. Email Address

Your business card doesn't need to have a postal mailing address. Save it for the sell sheets and the book proposals. Provide your email address so they can contact you and connect with you after the conference. Most people prefer email—preferably a different email from your general email.

2. Your Photo

This helps people remember that interesting conversation they had with you so that it doesn't blur into the thousands of other conversations they might have had at the conference. Also, nothing is worse than looking for a 20-something person who no longer exists because someone hasn't updated their photo in 20+ years. Remember, use an updated photo. Think of it as another a humble experience to help you age with grace.

3. Website or Blog Url

Give people the ability to find out more about you if they are interested later. That way you're not trying to give out too much information to people who don't want it. Writing conferences can be overwhelming so try not to overload others with more than they can handle or need at the moment.

4. A Tagline

This will serve as a quick reminder of what you write without going into a detailed summary blurb. Besides, you might have written many different books, but what category do they all or most fall into? Use that if you don't have a creative tagline.

5. Your Name and/or Pen Name

If you write under a pen name, feel free to promote it, but use your real name. An editor or agent doesn't want to go around calling you Bob if your real name is Ben. Even if you don't mind, it will make them feel awkward when they discover their mistake. Help them out. They have to remember a lot of people with many different names and faces. Anything you can do to stand out from the crowd without annoying them will be a huge help and a great benefit to you.

6. Genre or Subgenre

If it isn't clear in your tagline, mention the genre or subgenre you write in. Be brief. If you write in more than one genre, simply list them. Don't worry about long explanations. Save it for your proposals.

7. Phone Number

List at least one phone number in case an agent or editor does want to call you for some reason--or maybe another author. Don't worry about listing all your numbers between your home, cell and work. Use the one that is less likely to change and where you will most likely be reached. This is one item you will want to omit on your general business cards that you hand out to readers and people who do not personally know you.

Some people will try to be creative with their business cards. If you can do it tastefully without making it look too busy--go for it. If you already have a customized website and/or blog, I recommend using a graphic or background that will match your online presentation since that is how most people will look you up--online.


Thanks, Jenn, for the great advice!

Jenn works full-time in addition to her writing, so I’m hoping she can drop by soon. In the meantime, have some nice strong Starbucks Sumatra coffee along with my fav Italian Sweet Cream creamer. Oh, and your choice of Splenda or real sugar. :) Also, I can’t resist a “Hot Now” sign at Krispy Kreme! So help yourself and dig in! And while we're hanging out, what's some of your best conference prep advice?


Jennifer Hudson Taylor is the author of historical and contemporary Christian fiction set in Europe and the Carolinas. Her fiction has won awards in the American Christian Fiction Writers' Genesis Contest. Her debut novel, Highland Blessings, was released May 2010, and the sequel, Highland Sanctuary, will release October 2011. Other works have appeared in national publications, such as Guideposts, Heritage Quest Magazine, Everton’s Genealogical Publishers, and The Military Trader. Jennifer graduated from Elon University with a B.A. in Journalism. When she isn't writing, Jennifer enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, genealogy, and reading. She resides with her husband and daughter in the Charlotte area of NC.

You can find her online at


  1. Coffe pot's found and brewing!
    (Someone swiped it over the weekend.)


    Business cards and one sheets are exactly what I am working on at this point--so timely. Thanks for the advice.


  2. Hi Jennifer:

    I enjoyed “Highland Blessing” and look forward to the sequel.

    About promoting yourself as a Christian, I have two quotes:

    For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? 1 Corinthians 14:8

    Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Matthew 5:15

    One question: Is your skirt a genuine Tartan and if so, what clan is it? : )


  3. Jennifer, I never thought about having two sets of business cards made. And I never thought about placing my photo on my business card.

    Thank you for the great advice. I look forward to reading your books.

    By the way I love genealogy.

  4. Welcome to Seekerville, Jennifer. What a gorgeous cover, and you look gorgeous in your regale.

    Thanks for being in Seekerville today and sharing your promo tips.

    Thanks for the java Helen!!! I brought bagels. Hey did everyone see the coupon for a free McDonalds smoothie in the Sunday paper. They are yummy but not exactly low carb.

  5. Very informative post. Thanks for sharing. I'm ordering my business cards online this week.

    One trick I picked up through the years at ACFW is if your business cards are blank on the back, print out your current WIP's 25-word pitch onto clear address labels and stick them to the back.

  6. Popping in before I head to the office.

    Helen, I wish you the best in your preparation. I have a couple of new sell sheets I want to create on some new book proposals.

  7. Hi Vince, nice to see you over here on Seekerville! As for the skirt, the one in the photo is a generic tartan. I'm allergic to wool (and so it seems everything else) and so I couldn't have one of my own tartans. Most authentic tartans are made of wool. I'm looking into having Fraser or MacGregor tartan custom made for me in cotton. My clans surnames are Fraizer (Fraser), Gregory (MacGregor), Galloway, which is a sept of MacFarlane Clan. My husband's clans are Campbell, Henderson, and Grant.

  8. Renee,

    You're welcome and I love genealogy, too. I recently started a new genealogy blog at Our Carolina Roots. I also do a Carolina Scots-Irish Blog, but I don't update them as often as Jennifer's Writing Blog. I love blogging, but often have to force myself to ignore the blog to get some writing done on my manuscripts!

  9. Lisa, That's a great idea. I call that the TV pitch.

  10. Excellent post! I never thought about making two sets of cards, but you're right! It's genius. :-) I hope I get to read your book someday! I LOVE the cover.

  11. Jennifer,

    Great tips and they just show this aspiring writer how much is involved in the actual business of writing.

    Just wanted to say that I LOVED 'Highland Blessings'. Particularly appreciated the historical setting and the way your writing brought it to life. And really, what's not to love about a brawny and tenderhearted Highland warrior? It was such a great read.

  12. Good morning, all! I see Jennifer's been here for an early visit before work. Welcome!

    And Helen has served the coffee. Thanks, Helen! :)

    I'm still a bit groggy. Had one of those toss and turn nights where I couldn't get a story idea out of my head. I lay in bed for probably two hours or more before finally falling asleep. Strange night!

  13. Good morning, Vince! Glad to see you. Thanks for sharing the verses. I especially love the first since I don't think I've ever seen it before. I'm one of those who finds self promo difficult, so I really appreciate the verses and reminder!

  14. Renee, thanks for stopping by this morning. Or should I say last night? I'm assuming you weren't up that early. :)

    I love genealogy, too. I've never done anything seriously with it, but what I have done has been so fun. And a family member on my grandfather's side had a small book published about the McConnell family tracing all the way back to Scotland and Ireland. I really need to get on ancestry .com and start digging!

  15. Tina! I wish I had known that yesterday. We went and got a smoothie for the first time last night. I got the berry berry. Yummy!

    I think I'll have to go dig in the recycling bin. :)

  16. Hey, Lisa! Thanks for sharing that tip. I've done that a couple of times! I've also done it when I had a new release and didn't have time to re-print my cards.

    I also used those clear stickers on freebie bookmarks that Steeple Hill sent me which gave me promo materials for just a few dollars. :)

  17. Jessica, I'm with you! I love Jenn's cover. It's beautiful!

  18. Thanks for sharing the great advice, Jennifer. Right now, I've only printed up one set of business cards to take with me to conferences, and I've never thought of having a second set made up for readers. When (not if) I ever get that elusive contract, that'll be something I'll consider then. Thanks again for pointing it out.

    I'm getting ready to start your new book this week, and I can't wait! (I didn't want to start it until I knew I'd have time to read it through once I was hooked.)

  19. Amen to that, Kav!! That brawny but tender Highland warrior drew me right in! (big sigh) :)

    Okay, my very own brawny but tenderhearted... chocolate lab is staring at me begging for breakfast. (Did you think I was going to talk about my brawny but tenderhearted hubby? Gotcha!) ;) Gotta go feed the doggies and will return asap!

  20. GREAT article! LOVED meeting Jennifer and getting some great tips, especially on that hot topic, promotion.

    congratulations, Jennifer!

  21. I never thought about using the two business cards either (though I haven't needed quite yet).

    I think I'm in trouble today. I figure I'm probably going to spend the entire day thinking of a tagline. :-)

  22. Okay, dogs are happy now! And I now have coffee, so all is well in the world.

    Good morning, Dianna! You know, I wish I'd had Jenn's advice early on. I gave out the same business cards for years before it hit me that I don't particularly want my phone number and email address floating around out it the world. Thankfully, I set aside an email addy to put in the books and on my website before my first book came out. It's really nice to have that separate so I can keep up with reader emails.

    Of course, I guess anyone can get any information online these days! :)

  23. Good morning, Patti! Thanks for stopping by.

    Walt, great idea! You need to come up with one today and share it. :)

    Would anyone like to share theirs?

    Mine is Faith, Family and Finding Mr. Right.

    Anyone else??

  24. Hey, great post. Awesome hints about business cards. Very helpful.

  25. Fantastic on so many levels. Thanks Jennifer for stopping by. Always something splendid to share on Seekerville.

    Congratulations on your book. Beautiful! And agreed - you are lovely! Too fun! does beautiful work at inexpensive prices. Highly recommend. They print both sides for very little extra.

    If you have 2 sets (LOVE that idea) get a bag or purse with 2 distinct sections so it's easy to remember which set of cards is where. You want to appear (!) like you know what you are doing and don't want an awkward moment if you fish out the other card for that particular person.

    I'm new to the writing world, but have started and run 3 successful businesses.

    RIGHT ON to the advice and quotes here. We promote ourselves to get His message out there.

    The Lord will set up the divine appointments. It's up to us to show up prepared. :) This has been true in all our businesses and has been true with the latest one, my book.

    Besides, it's such an adventure! Have a great week everyone!!!

    Thx Missy for inviting her!

  26. Great advice, Jennifer, especially regarding two sets of business cards and two e-mail addresses.

    I loved Highland Blessings!

  27. Hey, Lynn! It's good to see you here this morning.

    KC, I love Vistaprint! I get my postcards and business cards done there. Once you get on their mailing list, they'll send free offers every week. I always order the freebies and just pay for postage. So I can get a bunch of business cards and post cards for about $10. Thanks for mentioning them!

    LOL, about knowing which pocket which card is in! :) Yes, it's good to be prepared! I was at the grocery store once checking for my books, and I ended up talking to a cashier who wanted to order my new book. I dug and dug, but all I had with me was one of my Mary Kay business cards! I felt so dumb for not having the right promo stuff with me. Now I keep bookmarks in my purse and in my car.

  28. Missy, the only tagline that I've thought of so far is

    "Inspiration from Japan's Christian century to ours."

    It's not quite up to the standard of one of my personal favorites (Romance with a kick of wasabi), but it's a start.

  29. Love that pic of Jennifer!!!

  30. I like it, Walt! Thanks for sharing.

    Anyone else???

    Hi, Tina! Thanks for dropping by.

  31. Wow, you folks have been busy! Thanks so much for stopping by.

    Kirsten, I'm glad you enjoyed Highland Blessings!

    Dianna, I hope you have lots of uninterrupted time! I'm trying to read a novel right now and I'm getting all kinds of interruptions.

  32. Kav, Thank you for your review and I'm so glad you enjoyed Highland Blessings! When I first wrote Bryce as a character he wasn't so tenderhearted, I realized I needed to make him more likeable. Thank you for letting me know I achieved that.

  33. Walt, I think your tagline makes one stop and think. I never thought of Japan as having a Christian century, so I think you'll get some people reflecting on that and draw curiosity.

  34. KC, Thank you! I also use Vistaprint. I've found them to be an excellent resource and very affordable.

    And yes, Missy, Thanks for inviting me! I'm enjoying Seekerville! Everyone here is so welcoming and full of ideas.

  35. Thanks for the advice. By the way, your book cover for Highland Blessings is beautiful! :)

  36. Hi Missy:

    My tag line is:

    Romantic vitamins for the soul.

    I’ve never used it since I don’t have a WIP ready to show. (I use a version of this on eHarlequin in my signature.)

    About business cards:

    I’ve had many different business cards since I’ve run many businesses at the same time in the past. I found it best to make each business card a different color (or texture or shape) so you can tell immediately which is which without reading the card in front of the client.

    I agree with Walt. My favorite tag line, (ever since I first read it), is also Camy’s: “Romance with a kick of wasabi.” And I have no idea what ‘wasabi’ is! The line is just unforgettable.

    If you write Christian fiction, I have this question for you:

    Do you think God wants shy missionaries?


    P.S. “Highland Blessings” has one of my favorite heroine’s, ‘Akira’. Even on a book’s page, she lights up the stage whenever she enters a scene!

  37. Thanks so much for the helpful post. I'm close to working on my one sheets and updating my business cards so this is perfect!

  38. Love, Love, LOVE Highland Blessings! It is the kind of book I would love to write. Sigh worthy, indeed.

    Great info on business cards. I'm bookmarking this one for future reference.

  39. Jennifer, I have a genealogy blog I call Family Treasures, but like you I don't always have time to update it.

    I'll go and check out your blog.

  40. I'll insert my own experience with business cards.

    I got mine from Vista Print. Free.

    (fine print--free is about six bucks. Free just isn't as free as it used to be)

    For this 'free' price I got 500 business cards. Very pretty.
    Also, as far as I can tell, a lifetime supply. I give out a dozen or two a year. Let's say two dozen. Let's for reasons of easy math, say 25.

    500 divided by 25 = 20 years worth.

    So, here's the deal on buying for free a 20 year supply of cards.

    You need to get VERY NONSPECIFIC.

    I wanted to load a book cover on my card. Except...what book do I still want on there 20 years from now.

    Phone number? No phone number?
    What do I include.

    It took me about...oh...five years to finally go ahead and get the free cards. That is some major procrastination going on there.

    I just ended up going really GENERAL.

    A card with a red rose on it. How romantic, huh? I'm not probably going to change with the romance so that's good.

    One of Vista Print's standard freebies.

    Mary Connealy

    Romantic Comedy with Cowboys

    That's it.
    If I want them to have more--a phone number for example--I write the number on the blank back of the card.

    I also bought some business cardstock at WalMart and made my own for those five years it took me to decide.
    That was okay, too.

    One other glitch. Somewhere in my house is a small box containing about 425 business cards. I haven't seen that box for three years. Rats.

  41. ooooh, Lisa! I like the label idea. Very cool. On clear adress labels.

    I could handle that.

    If I could just find that box of cards. :(

    Have I mentioned I'm a little disorganized???

  42. One other thing, a publicist gave me her card once and it had a little square cut out of it, sort of standing on one point, like a diamond. About 1/2 inch on each side so quite small.

    It was really cool, though an otherwise simple card. I asked her about the hole and she said (wearing her publicist hat, I figured???) that it made the card feel different. Had a tactile difference to it than other cards and made it more memorable.

    It seemed strange to me and yet all these years later I still remember her cut-out card.

    Of course I don't remember her name, or have the card anymore (that I can find). So maybe it didn't work.

  43. The only tagline I can come up with to date is: Arresting Romantic Suspense.

  44. Great post, Jennifer and so helpful.
    Congrats on your book. I can't wait to get a hold of it. Highlands? Sigh. Definitely holds a place in my heart already.

    I just had new business cards made in May and am tickled that I met your checklist of 'needed' items.

    Unfortuantely, the best lessons are those we learn through experience. One thing I'd add to your list is to make sure the font/print isn't too small or difficult to read. (You might have listed that and I'm having short-term memory loss at the moment ;-)

    congrats again.

  45. It took me a year to figure out my tagline
    "Stories of hope and healing, peppered with grace and a dash of humor"

    Love it, though. :-)
    Goes well with my name.


  46. I'm back from an eye appointment for my son. No glasses needed! :)

    Angela, glad you dropped by!

    Vince, I love the idea of different color cards! I never thought of that. Also, I like your tag line. I was also thinking "Romance...vitamins for the soul" or even "vitamins for the romantic soul" would be fun as well. :)

  47. Cindy, I'm glad this was good timing for you!

    Sherrinda, I'm glad to hear you loved it as well. It was a great beach read!

    Renee, I'll have to check your blog, too.

  48. Mary, Mary, Mary. I sure missed you last week while I was out of town. I didn't laugh nearly enough. :)

    20 years of business cards. What a deal!


  49. Mary, You are so funny! If you saw my office, the place where I'm supposed to be writing, but rarely do--you'd think I'm the most unorganized writer in the world. But every stack of "stuff" has its place.

  50. Kirsten, I love that tag line! Thanks for sharing.

  51. Pepper, that's perfect! You have such a great name. You can do all kinds of cool things with it. :)

    Great point about the font on cards. I'd also add to make sure you space it out enough. When I had new cards made minus my phone numbers, the cards looked really empty! I hated those things. And I had 1000 of them! Still have about 975 that will probably end up being thrown away. :)

  52. I've had business cards made with book titles and covers, but they got outdated before I gave them all away. (I hand mine out about like Mary does!)

    So with my most recent order (from Vistaprint), the cards have the photo I use on my blog and website--the front porch scene, which is pretty much my brand. I think I also put my tag line. And website and email addy. And I think I also put my personal blog.

  53. Jennifer, welcome to Seekerville! I love North Carolina! We visited there for the first time last Easter and fell in love with the Charlotte area.

    Great advice about the business cards. I printed my own for years and did exactly what you said--two different cards, one with just an e-mail address for handing out at conferences, etc., and one with full contact info that I saved for editors and agents.

    My last batch was ordered from Vista Print, with just my e-mail address, Web site, and blogs. I figure if people can't contact me via e-mail, they don't need to find me very badly.

    Oh, and like Mary, I also have a few hundred commercially printed cards from a few years ago that are completely out of date and will NEVER EVER be used up. The things we learn the hard way!

  54. Welcome to Seekerville, Jennifer!! I am just itching to read Highland Blessings since I have heard really good things about it.

    Thanks for the great blog today, too, because you reminded me to write a sticky note about getting business cards for ACFW -- thanks! See you there, I hope?

    Missy, thanks for inviting Jennifer!


  55. Hey, Myra, when you get that close again, you need to come see me! I'm only a couple of hours from Jenn! :)

  56. Julie, I was excited to have her! Thanks for stopping by. I look forward to seeing you in September!

  57. Hey Jennifer and Missy! It's about time to start putting those business cards together for conference, great info!

  58. Hey, Kimberly! Good to see you. Are you all packed to move yet? I know you don't relish that part.

  59. Cindy, Thanks for stopping over here after visiting my Writing Blog!

    Sherrinda, Thank you! I loved your review, too!

    Renee, I'd love to visit your genealogy site.

  60. Cindy, Thanks for stopping over here after visiting my Writing Blog!

    Sherrinda, Thank you! I loved your review, too!

    Renee, I'd love to visit your genealogy site.

  61. Pepper, great point. I've seen so many people extend cards all the way out as far as their arm will go to try and read it. Having been nearly blind my whole life, even before reading glasses, I can sympathize.

  62. Pepper, I love your tag line! Very creative.

  63. Vince, great point about shy missionaries.

    One of of my co-workers accused me of being just like Akira. I do have a Scots-Irish temper. With a family full of redheads, I had to survive somehow!

  64. Myra, Missy's right, you'll need to visit us next time. I work in uptown Charlotte and live north of the city. I'd love to show you all the sites as native NC.

    Julie, Yes, you'll see me in September! I'm registered and I've booked my flight to Indianapolis. I'm ready!

  65. Jennifer,
    I didn't know you lived near Charlotte. Very cool.
    I lived there for 4 years while my hubby attended RTS.
    great city.
    I grew up just up 77 (first exit in Va) ;-)
    I'm guessing you live near the lovely Lake Norman? or Davidson?
    Small world :-)
    There are a lot of Scots-Irish around that area of NC/VA

  66. Mary and Missy, you two need to be passing out your materials! Don't you carry them everywhere you go? Even the waitresses and the people in the drive-thrus get my promotional stuff. What I don't pass out, my MIL does for me.

    I was afraid she was going to get kicked out of the mall in Winston-Salem. My husband told me she gave out bookmarks to every store in the mall. That's a pretty large mall! She's been a wonderful advocate for me.

  67. Pepper, Yes, I'm in Dale Earnhart country--Kannapolis! And I'll be at the Loch Norman Highland Games in April. I grew up further north in Greensboro, NC.

  68. Jenn, my hubby does the promo like your MIL! It's embarrassing sometimes! :)

  69. Okay, I've been wrestling this tagline business all day. Didn't have one. Been trying to create one.

    Will some of you tell me if this is too trite?

    Writing from the heart in the heartland.


  70. Popping in to say hello! Great advice for promotions, Jennifer.


  71. I like it, Helen! You might want to consider using an ellipses in the middle.

    Writing from the the heartland.

    Or would it be:
    Writing from the heart...from the heartland.

    Just minor word change maybe??

    Nice work, Helen!

  72. Hey, Pammy! I'm glad you could stop by. :)

  73. First, I want that Highland garb.

    Oh my stars, stinkin' adorable!!!

    And this is top-notch, good advice. Solid. What a simple thing, but so easily overlooked. You rock, girlfriend.

    Going to order my cards ASAP.

  74. Hi Jennifer,
    I'm stopping by late, but wanted to send my congrats on your second release. Love your pic!

    Great info today. Thanks for sharing.

    You're so right about a writer's struggle to self-promote! It can be tough, especially if you're not a salesman-type personality. I enjoyed reading your good advice.

  75. Missy:


    I've been debating about the 'if' and 'from' part.


  76. Hi, Ruth and Debby, It's wonderful to hear from you both! And thank you, I'm excited that the sequel, Highland Sanctuary, will be released next year! Now I have to hurry to finish it and meet my deadline.

  77. Jenn, you are a wealth of knowledge. Thanks for sharing only a smidge of what you know :-)

  78. Love Jenn's advice. Always spot on.