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Old 12-30-2012, 05:18 PM   #1
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Character trading cards

I heard about these in romance writing circles -- printing up and giving away "trading cards" for the major characters in a book. Romance authors said they got a positive response from the fans.

Lately I've been thinking about how to implement that for my hard fantasy romance -- without actually printing any cards, since I'm on such a tight budget. (and distributing them would be a PITA) Making electronic cards is simple enough. Posting them is simple. What I've been wondering is: what's the draw?

All I can come up with is: the art, and then possibly curiosity about the book in a distant second.

Any thoughts? Any romance authors who've done the trading card thing?
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Old 12-30-2012, 05:36 PM   #2
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Have you considered bookmarks? You can get 250 bookmarks printed for about $30. Put a few in bookstores and libraries; ask friends and family to do the same where they are.
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Old 12-30-2012, 05:49 PM   #3
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Yes, I have bookmarks. Could certainly do a set of those, one for each character, though the physical dimensions are rather limiting.
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Old 12-30-2012, 06:10 PM   #4
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Cards or bookmarks for each character for an author who isn't well-established with a reader following seems like overkill to me.
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Old 12-30-2012, 06:23 PM   #5
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Cards or bookmarks for each character for an author who isn't well-established with a reader following seems like overkill to me.
Yes, unfortunately I think it works the other way around: only someone who's already read and admired your books is likely to appreciate them.
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Old 12-30-2012, 06:46 PM   #6
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While bookmarks are nice, and I do collect some neat ones, if the writer is not moving books, then they are spending more than they are taking in.

I am not sure about trading cards for characters, sort of reeks of comic book gimmicks. I suppose though, it really depends on your audience and what they like, or want...

What I have noticed is that a lot of these gimmicks came from the vanity publishers many years ago and have now moved into the self publishing markets. The problem is, if the writer does not have a large enough sales following to justify the additional cost of these gimmicks, then the writer is slowly or perhaps quickly moving into the red.

I think I would prefer to spend my money on good cover art, professional editing, and such to make the book the best it can be, if I went self published.
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Old 12-30-2012, 09:00 PM   #7
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Personally I think the idea is a neat one, and I'd consider doing something like that for my stories if I had the chance. Then again, it would also make some sense for the type of story. Hadn't thought about doing it for romances, and would probably only do it for main characters. Don't have any actual experience in it, but the idea is intriguing.
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Old 01-15-2013, 06:24 PM   #8
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If you're going to a convention, they are definitely worth considering. Readers collect these...whether or not they've read your book. The last convention I went to had a contest where if readers collected so many (kinda like a scavenger hunt), they were entered for some big prize. It brought readers to my table to talk to me and even led some to buy my book. Many wanted me to sign the trading cards. Plus bloggers ask for swag from authors all the time, so it's an inexpensive way to get your name--and book--before a reader who might not have heard of it before.
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Old 01-16-2013, 07:10 AM   #9
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The first time I went to RT Booklovers' Convention in 2011, I brought home around 35 cards. Last year, I brought home close to 400.

I've used them to promote my books at RT both years, but they are specifically for the books. I want to say I've seen about a 50/50 mix between characters or books only, overall.
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Old 01-16-2013, 11:05 AM   #10
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Have you considered bookmarks? You can get 250 bookmarks printed for about $30. Put a few in bookstores and libraries; ask friends and family to do the same where they are.
Is there a site that does that? I would love to have more info/a template.
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Old 01-16-2013, 11:42 AM   #11
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My cover designer has started doing trading cards and whilst they look very pretty (and she creates the design for a very reasonable price) I just don't think it's worth it for me - yet. Maybe if I start to make decent sales and start going to conventions.

She does character banners for websites as well. I'm in two minds about that. I had a look through stock images and it is SO HARD to find a photo of someone who looks just like your character. I'm not sure if it would ruin the image the reader creates in their mind. Or am I over-thinking it? Is it just a fun thing to include on my website?
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Old 01-16-2013, 07:42 PM   #12
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It might be a nice thing to do in conjunction with some other writers, so each card has the same stats on (and people can play top trumps with them!). A bit of cross promotion for the authors, so readers are tempted to pick them up even if they haven't read all the books. Probably more likely to do well at a convention than anywhere else, though.
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Old 01-16-2013, 07:44 PM   #13
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My impression is that the reader excitement over trading cards has pretty much crashed these days. They were an interesting novelty a few years ago. After a lot of authors started making them for every character the idea they would be genuinely collectable sort of went away.
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Old 01-16-2013, 08:38 PM   #14
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My impression is that the reader excitement over trading cards has pretty much crashed these days.
Crashed and burned. The packs of professional printed ones aren't even worth the RRP these days, and you can pick up boxes (with 100 or 200 packs in them) for the same price as you could have gotten a few packs ten years ago. The market is dead.
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