Answer the Question “What’s your Book About?” Using Story Cards

Admit it. Pretty much all writers get asked the question, “What is your book about?” Me, I begin wishing for a memorized tagline while trying to respond and sounding stupid in the process. Probably, most of our responses run thus:

“Er, well, it’s about this guy who saves the world from this demonic guy … Scratch that, it’s about a boy who travels to another world and realizes he’s from that world and that he’s the only one who needs to kill the bad guy … it’s actually about a kid who’s the chosen one, and there’s lots of other stuff I can’t tell you because SPOILERS.”

Ooooh. Impressive. And I’ve read too many books like that. Cliche? BAM!

I think we’ve all been there.

answer-the-question-whats-your-book-about-using-story-cards-tea-with-tumnus

Last week, I was mulling over this universal problem and came up with a solution. Probably the easiest and most efficient solution is that I come up with a tagline and memorize it, but that’s boring. I wanted to be fun and creative and … more professional, I suppose.

I decided to make some business cards.

So maybe they’re not exactly business cards, but they look very similar. The idea is to make some cards on which is printed a couple sentences about your book—a well thought over, brief synopsis that will make people want to read your story—and keep them with you: wallet, pocket, purse, etc. That way, whenever someone asks you what your story is about, you’re ready. 

And the best part is, you don’t even have to talk! Introvert bonus! Of course, that’s only if they don’t ask more questions about it, but when they do, that means they’re genuinely interested and probably don’t mind if you ramble about it for ten minutes, which is doubly awesome. Just make sure they’ve read your story card first.

 

Below are several tips on how to create your own story card using a pencil and paper, PicMonkey, a local printing shop, and a dose of easiness and your own unique creativity.

 

Step 1: Come up with a tagline

This is probably one of the hardest things I as a writer have been faced with, besides writer’s block, killing a character, or losing 30 pages to the dreaded delete key. A tagline is basically a very short synopsis, usually one sentence long, explaining what your book is about. I won’t be giving tips on writing a tagline here, but my friend Hannah Heath has a whole post on how to write a logline (another term like “tagline”) which I found to be extremely helpful. Also, if you want a bit of a longer tagline, which is what I went ahead with, you can write a short jacket blurb around 50-60 words and 1-3 sentences long. Hannah also has a good post on how to write a jacket blurb (just keep yours short enough to be readable on a business card-sized card).

 

Step 2: Sketch how you want your card designed

This is probably the most fun part. You can design it any way you want. I made a really quick rough sketch of how my story cards will look like:

IMG_0234

As you can see, my tagline is going to be on the back of my card, but depending on your preference and how long your tagline is going to be, you can put it on the front or the back. You don’t even need your blog info, I just put mine there for fun (and also so that I could forward others to my blog. Extra bonus!).

 

Step 3: Design it on PicMonkey

I LOVE PicMonkey. I use it to design all the graphs I make for my blog and editing my photography. I highly recommend it. Designing your own story card is super easy. I’ll just create my own and walk you through the steps. You don’t have to make yours exactly the way I did mine, as this is just an example.

First, choose custom design and choose the 4×6 canvas:

PicMonkey Step 1

From there, rotate it (unless you want it upright) and resize it to pixel dimensions 1050 x 600. It took me a while to figure out the right pixel dimensions to find a business card template when setting up to print.

Here’s the finished front:

ULTIMATE STORY CARD.jpg

You can use your own site/blog logo or any picture you want by clicking the butterfly and clicking “add you own” at the top. You can also use a variety of fonts. It’s actually pretty easy and it looks so good when it’s finished!

ULTIMATE BACK CARD.jpg

Now I design the back. This is where the whole reason for the card is put: the tagline/card blurb. My inward writerly joy is bubbling over with how it turned out!

Notice that I left room on the sides of the card. When you put this design onto a template creator on the custom business card site you’re using, there will be lines that cut across the top, bottom, and sides. After several situations of trial and error, I just made sure everything fit inside those invisible lines.

 

 

Step 3: Print it

There’s lots of different ways to print business cards. I decided to go a cheap route and get 25 for $5.24 at Overnight Prints. Designing it was fairly easy; all I had to do was upload an image, make sure the words and picture fit in snugly inside the red box, and then go from there. But the shipping is very expensive with that site, so beware. Using the cheapest shipping, it took a few weeks to even get my cards in the mail, but when they did, those problems jumped out the window and didn’t get hurt; I’m very happy with the way they turned out:

story-card-for-nw

 

What do you think of this idea? I’d love to hear your feedback and any other inspiration or suggestions! I hope this activity could solve some knee-knocking problems some writers encounter upon being asked what your story is about. Of course, this was just for fun; I agree that memorizing a quick tagline is more efficient, but I must say it’s not as impressive or sharp as those little cards.

Good writing to you.

 

 

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7 thoughts on “Answer the Question “What’s your Book About?” Using Story Cards

  1. This is such a good idea! I’ve had opportunities where people were interested and if I had had something like this, they would have been happy to take it. It makes you look on top of it/professional and it’s also great for networking and little by little getting word out. Besides, it’s a lot easier for people to remember when they have a physical card to keep. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  2. This is a great idea! And quite stylish, might I add. “What’s it about?” has got to be the writer question all writers fear. I caught myself asking people this a few months ago and felt instantly guilty.

    Like

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