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HUG A GREETING CARD WRITER DAY!

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 She had Bette Davis eyes like no one else!  And here’s what she had to say...

                           

Acting should be bigger than life. Scripts should be bigger than life. It should all be bigger than life.

 

Everybody has a heart. Except some people.

 

Hollywood always wanted me to be pretty, but I fought for realism.

 

We're all busy little bees, full of stings, making honey day and night. Aren't we, honey?   All About Eve (1950)

 But this she’s gonna have.  I’ll tell ya that!                                                        The Catered Affair (1956)

 

Let me see... what is it you call your job?  Oh, yes.  Public relations.  Sounds like something pretty dirty to me.                                                                                                       Hush Hush...Sweet Charlotte (1964)

Freelance Writing For Greeting Cards 

And Alternate Products

© Sandra Miller-Louden 1991-2009

All Rights Reserved.

Courtesy of www.greetingcardwriting.com 

 BUT FIRST...A WORD FROM OUR SPONSORS...

     Adagio Teas     BeadRoom.com     Netflix, Inc.     Utrecht Art.com Gifts button

This is the fifth update of my famous tipsheet on freelance greeting card writing. 

As you read it, keep in mind this tipsheet is more than enough to get you started in the world of writing verses for greeting cards.  It will also sustain you through your early sales.  The information contained here is certainly more than I had when I started writing verses in 1986, with two children under the age of four.  During those years, I had no more than 20 minutes a day to call my own, no instant online networking at my fingertips and definitely no verse-writing mentor to guide me over the rough spots.

In those early years, there were also very few articles on greeting card writing. The single book on the subject available at the time certainly didn’t reflect the freelance realities I experienced.  The information there talked about selling rhymed, metered verse.  I was selling humor.  When humor was mentioned, it was referenced totally within the sphere of gags and jokes.  My editors wanted—and were buying—real life humor...the kind that commented on situations we all experience and understand.  It was basically the difference between the “seltzer-in-your-pants” vaudevillian jokes and the fact-based comedy of a Mitch Hedberg, a Wanda Sykes, a Lewis Black.

In addition, the conventional advice always included submitting work to the companies considered “the big kids on the block”—the ones everyone knew—the ones where competition was fiercest.  I was learning the ropes with the mid-size and smaller companies—working with editors, tackling assignments, meeting deadlines.  Going to the more accessible companies soon had me on a first-name basis with most of my editors who knew—and trusted—my work.

When one makes inroads as I have in this field, you tend to slip and fall in the ruts.   I was no exception.  The first four years were pure trial and error—mostly error. This tip sheet—and, if you’re so inclined to purchase them, my books and online courses—will save you those four years of missteps and put you on the fast track to selling your greeting card writing work.

So, without further ado and limited fanfare:

THE GREETING CARD WRITING TIP SHEET
© 1991-2009 Sandra Miller-Louden

Below is information on the world of writing greeting cards, that includes a tip sheet, selected company names and addresses and updated information on the status of my book.  Information on my online greeting card writing classes (plus various other writing genres), verse critiquing and mentoring services, as well as relevant links will now be found on separate pages linked directly from my home page.

I’m confident you’ll find this tip sheet both interesting and helpful.  Remember that greeting card writing is a very personal, me-to-you genre that differs from other writing areas in that it involves three people (instead of the usual writer/reader relationship)—the person who sends the card, the one who receives it and that anonymous third person—you, the writer—who writes sentiments for others that they may be unwilling—or unable—to express themselves. As a greeting card writer, your words will be present at all life’s important stages and rites of passage, annual events, seasonal celebrations and those spontaneous, “just because” occurrences when only a greeting card with a personal message—and a pretty picture—will do. 

Greeting card writing is also one of the most fun genres around—and that’s a vital factor in this genre—having fun. This is writing where the acronym W.I.S.H.™—Write It Short, Honey—will serve you well. Short, immediate, pithy—each word matters, every word counts.  No fudging.  No padding. No bursting at the verbal seams. If there’s one word above all others I use to describe greeting card writing, it’s SPARKLE.  And in this genre, “Sparkle Sells!”

You should look at greeting card writing as a supplemental income.  In other words, if you have a day job, don’t abandon it.  Greeting card per verse payments average between $25-$200, with $75-$100 being the most common.  It’s the perfect extra income for people who need a creative outlet or want to stay at home with their children while earning a second source of money. Among my students have been retirees, high school students, stay-at-home parents, English teachers, nuns, professional writers and a United States Marine.  In short, everyone relates to a greeting card.

Most people think the pay rate sounds too good to be true.  While the pay is excellent compared to other genres, that does not translate into “easy writing.”  As in any genre, there are certain, specific ways a greeting card writer must think in order to be successful in today’s market and this is what I stress—teaching people to think as a greeting card writer has to in order to sell in today’s marketplace.

In 1991, I developed my greeting card writing class at Community College of Allegheny County (Pittsburgh).   Even though my course was non-credit, Pennsylvania rated it “occupational” rather than “recreational” since my students consistently sold their work.  In 1998, I wrote Write Well & Sell: Greeting Cards, that went through five substantial printings, plus some emergency “half-printings” along the way.  It has become a word-of-mouth classic and sells for surprising amounts on eBay and online-bookstore used book sections.  (An update about my second edition has been posted on a special page on the site, linked from the home page). During 1998 as well, I began teaching on the internet which opened up my course to students across the country and around the world.  (Currently my courses—not only for writing greeting cards, but also writing quizzes, book reviews and eulogies can be found at: www.writerscollege.com.) 

After over 23 years writing greeting cards, I’m still excited about this genre.    First, it is writing that can be done with even small amounts of time—waiting for a doctor’s appointment, stuck in traffic, over a sandwich at lunch.  Second, it virtually has no start-up cost (Remember, this tip sheet is free. Armed with just this information, some ambition, a dash of perseverance and a way with words—the sky’s the limit!) and very low upkeep. Finally, compared to other writing fields, greeting card writing is still relatively untapped for the freelancer—unclogged by the competition that jams most of today’s magazine, newspaper and blogosphere writing.

 

 

TYPES OF GREETING CARDS:


TRADITIONAL: Traditional cards are those using rhymed, metered verse.  The number of lines in the verse is generally divisible by four.  Traditional verse is often done by a company’s in-house staff; although freelance work in this area has increased over the past several years.

CONTEMPORARY PROSE: Sometimes called “conversational prose” or “soft social expression,” these cards sound as if someone is talking.  The voice is soft, gentle and realistic. Non-rhyming, it can be a phrase, single sentence or as long as 32-40 lines.  Freelance work is actively sought for contemporary prose.

STUDIO OR HUMOROUS:  These cards reflect current trends, foibles, frustrations and shared experiences. They are either written in a snappy, cutting edge style or in a cute, pun-filled voice.  Humor is always needed from today’s freelance writers and it is, by far, the most popular type of greeting card on the racks today. Almost every company includes in its lines some kind of humorous offering.

ALTERNATE:  The alternate card uses both contemporary prose and humor to get its message across. These cards carry themes such as coping, single parenting, surviving chemo, job loss, terminal illness, pet-sitting thank you, death of a pet, etc. Alternate cards are very fluid, expanding with the times and events of the nation and world surrounding us. Freelance contributions are actively solicited here as well.

MORE PERTINENT INFORMATION

The way  I began card writing—which I talk about in my book—was by flipping through a mail order catalogue that sold greeting cards and simply sending in a batch of ideas to the editor.  That’s what I now refer to as pounding the pavement.  When a writer scouts out companies and editors on her own, she learns by doing...a method I stand by as one of the best and most enduring.

In harmony with that individual effort, there are other avenues available today.  Most companies today—large and small—have websites (something that obviously didn’t exist in 1986) and the savvy writer should also pound the cyber-pavement by seeking out companies through their websites.  Often their creative guidelines are located right on the site, saving everyone valuable time in requesting them.

Addresses included in my book are revised as I receive the updates from companies or from past students who have written for guidelines—by way of an addendum added to your order. The complete name and address list I provide to students who enroll in my classes includes between 70-80 companies and is updated approximately every three months.  Besides this active list, there are informational asides that include companies recently requesting removal, companies no longer in business and targeted companies particularly suited for the beginning writer. This is the most complete, accurate list of greeting card companies around. (I have often seen internet lists that list companies not in existence since the early 1990s.) 

By whatever means you obtain company addresses, you should then send for guidelines from the companies that interest you.  Always remember to include a long (#10) SASE (self-addressed, stamped envelope) with your request.  (Note: if you’re a greeting card artist or photographer, the same procedure applies).  Some companies will send their guidelines via e-mail; always check first to see if a company has a viable website—it’s probable their creative guidelines will be  available there.

While you wait for the guidelines, there are important things to do—gather supplies, set up your home office, study the racks and spinners, read books on card writing or take an online greeting card writing course.   Once your guidelines arrive, follow what the company wants.  A good set of guidelines should contain specific information, which I carefully outline in my book.  Consider the guidelines as a writing blueprint meant to direct and polish your submissions.

Below is  everyone’s favorite part—those free company names and addresses—to get you started on your adventure writing greeting cards.

 

Designer Greetings

250 Arlington Avenue

Staten Island,  NY  10303

 

Ephemera

P.O. Box 490

Phoenix, OR 97535 (This is Phoenix, OREGON)

www.ephemera-inc.com (Prefers emailed submissions—for complete guidelines, visit site).

PLEASE NOTE: NOVELTY BUTTONS, MAGNETS, STICKERS.  NO—NO—GREETING CARD COPY!  CUTTING EDGE HUMOR, SATIRICAL, IRREVERENT. RATED “R.”

 

Gallant Greetings

4300 United Parkway

Schiller Park, IL 60176

 Kate Harper Designs has asked to be removed temporarily as they have overstocked with copy.  

 

Nobleworks

P.O. Box 1275

Hoboken, NJ 07030

Needs:  Edgy, irreverent humor for seasonals and everyday. 

 

Oatmeal Studios

P.O. Box 138, Dept. SML

Rochester, VT  05767

ATTN:  Dawn Abraham 

 

P.S. Greetings

5731 North Tripp Avenue

Chicago,  IL  60646

ATTN:  Art Director 

So, how exactly does one go about finding smaller and mid-size greeting card company cards?  Here are a few tips:

 1.  Begin your search by going to various niche retail places such as craft stores, convenience stores, any chain with the word “Dollar” in it, restaurant gift shops, book stores and pet shops, just to name a few.  Unusual places, such as hardware stores or home furnishings, will sometimes have a spinner as well.

 2.  Always turn the card over to see who publishes it.  In many cases, besides the company’s name, will be a website.  Write it down and visit the site.

 3.  Keep a record of what companies you find in which locations.  If you can’t find a certain company you’re looking for, contact that company via its website and ask for a list of zip codes where their products are offered.  Most companies have such a print-out and don’t mind sharing it, as long as you identify yourself as a writer.

 4.  Write to every company you find, asking if they accept freelance submissions.  Remember that just because a company isn’t listed in any “official” list doesn’t mean that writing needs within their company don’t occur.

 5.  Finally, make it your goal to find at least one “new” company per week—meaning a company you weren’t previously aware of.  Get to know these companies as if they were your neighbors; know the occasions they publish and the type of cards they offer.  By doing this sort of homework up front, you will find—and sustain—writing work.  

Have You Ever Wondered...

...What if a company steals my ideas?
...What if I inadvertently steal someone else’s ideas?
...What if I can’t draw?
...How can I possibly come up with so many different ideas?
...What are the big mistakes beginning greeting card writers make?
...What are some of the most common reasons a card idea won’t sell?
...Are there certain puns that will never sell to an editor?
...Why is Writer’s Block the biggest hoax ever foisted on writers?
...What is First Sale Syndrome and why is it so dangerous?
...Why is sending only your very best work not always a good idea?

If these questions—and others—buzz around your brain constantly, you need quick, reliable answers.  These answers, plus loads of other vital information, can be found in Sandra’s online courses—and later this year, in her completely revamped book on greeting card writing.


Although we’ll be updating the link below, feel free to read what’s posted about Sandra’s second book, A Few Choice Words: Short “Do-Able” Writing That Sells!

Click Here

 
 

 

 

   

 

 
 
Send mail to sandra@greetingcardwriting.com with questions or comments about this web site.                                                                        
 

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