Among the things I decided I needed for my upcoming first-ever trip to the Romance Writers of America national conference: business cards!
I’ve never had business cards that meant anything to me before. Technically I have business cards for my day job, though I haven’t had occasion to give a single one out in the nearly ten years I’ve worked there, and they’re not much to look at anyway. (I think I dropped one in a fishbowl at a coffee place once, but didn’t win anything.)
The cards for my glamorous romance-writing job, I decided, would be different. They would be pretty. They would be interesting. They would tie into my “brand,” whatever that is. I think it has something to do with my website.
Anyway one of my favorite elements of my website is the Olde-Tyme writing on pinkish paper, and I resolved to work that into my business cards somehow. Not the actual specimen that’s on my website, since that’s somebody’s journal of his sea voyage, and not very romantic. What I wanted, I decided, was a fragment of a Regency-esque love letter.
So I made one up. I riffed on an actual passage from A Lady Awakened. It’s fairly late in the book; the hero and heroine are marching off on an industrious errand of do-goodery, and he reflects:
If someone had told him, that first day in church, the course things would take between himself and the woman across the aisle, he should have roared with laughter until he slid right out of his pew and was ejected from the premises. If he’d been told to anticipate seduction he should have imagined himself the seducer, gradually coaxing her to loosen her stays and let down her hair and learn to give over to pleasure.
I switched it from third person to first, tweaked it a bit, and added some love-lettery sentences with words like “dissembler,” just because I really like words like “dissembler.”
Then I typed it up on a pinkish background in the free graphics program Inkscape, using the free Byron font (so it looks like Lord Byron actually wrote it! Pretty hot!). Inkscape let me tilt it and crop out an appropriately-sized rectangle, which I then opened in the not-free-but-we-already-owned-it Microsoft Digital Image Suite.
In MSDIS, I fixed the exposure to make the writing look a bit older, not so crisp. Then I added that cream-colored swatch where my name would go, and saved it as a .TIFF file, which is what Office Despot, my printer of choice, prefers.
Then I hauled the file on a flash drive up to my local O. Despot (I could have done this online, but I had a coupon for $10 off an in-store purchase) and used their computer and their handy interface to add the text: my name, my genre, and my e-mail. I deliberated and decided against spelling out my website address: I wanted to keep the info minimal and I’m gambling that in this day and age, anyone who sees email@example.com will deduce that there is a http://www.ceciliagrant.com.
So now I have 250 of these things in a box. I’ll take a bunch to Nationals and swap them for other people’s cards, and if these people are anything like me, they can spend some time looking at the fragment and trying to figure out what the whole letter would say. Then ideally some people will look up my website and go, “Aha. Olde-Tyme writing on pinkish paper, just like the business card. Now I don’t have to be confused about whose website this is.”
And maybe, just maybe, if the passage I quoted survives copyedits, some people may eventually read my book and get a little tingly sense of déjà vu. Kinda cool to think about.
Business-card holders: Do you like your cards? Did you design them yourself? How did you arrive at the design? And have you ever dropped one in a fishbowl and won something?
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