Okay, ya’ll know me. My Seekerville blog posts are fast and furious and they usually deal with some issue that I’m trying to research for myself. And, unfortunately, the post itself tends to be quite messy, thrown together like most of my cooking. I’m sorry about that. I just came off a 4 week babysitting gig because the daycare lady was in the hospital. Thankfully, she’s on the mend and back at work, but I’m still a bit discombobulated.
But, anyway, tacked on to the end of my babysitting day, I’ve been involved in getting the ACFW Conference, ACFW Consignment bookstore, and ACFW Storyfest rolling the last few weeks. One thing led to another and my thoughts ended up on retractable vinyl banners.
Are you thoroughly confused yet? lol
Well, it happened like this. I’ve been meaning to get a retractable banner for awhile now. I just kept putting it on the back burner. I need one for when I go to local book signings close to home. And even further afield. Authors who plan to sell books at the ACFW Consignment bookstore in St. Louis can purchase advertising space and can use a retractable banner. So, I was thinking I might need to get a banner before then. In the meantime, ACFW staff designed some eye-catching banners for Storyfest, and well, I had a blog due and decided some of you might be as intrigued about what makes a good banner as I am.
I asked around and got some really eye-catching banners to share with ya’ll. I’ll be honest. I don’t think I’ve seen a BAD one yet. And since there’s nothing new under the sun, I found this great article of 9 Tips on Creating a Unique Retractable Banner. I’m going to just hit the high points, but I’ll share the link to the full article for you to really dig into. The author did such a good job of outlining everything and it’s worth a read.
I probably could have just sent ya’ll to his article, but there aren’t any examples, and since that’s the main focus of today’s blog, well, here we are.
One of the first questions he asked in his article was what do you want your banner to accomplish?
Well, for writers, most of the time we’re standing right there by our banner, right there with our books. We want people to come over and look at our books, engage with us, hopefully BUY a book or two, and last, but not least, sign up for our newsletter. Maybe even follow us on SM.
What do you want on your banner?
Top billing should be your author name, which is YOUR logo. Like Pam Hillman with Author underneath that. Or, even better, be more specific. If you have a tagline, use that. Mary would use “Romantic Comedy with Cowboys”. For my banner, I would probably put “Historical Christian Fiction.” Leaving the word “author” off completely.
C.F.E. Black has “heart-stealing fantasy” and underneath that “fast-paced science fiction”. So perfect for her brand.
Generally, most people will know that you’re an author by the piles of books around you, but sometimes at festivals and local events, they don’t always grasp that. They just think you’re selling books. More than once, they are surprised to find out that I AM the author. So spelling out on your banner that you’re an author is a good thing.
At the bottom, you’ll want to include your website address, maybe even a QR code. If you want to use your banner to point people to your presence on Social Media, the best way to do that would be with QR codes. If you plan on having a giveaway for people who sign up for your newsletter, follow you on FB, IG, Twitter, etc., having those QR codes right there would make it so easy for them to pop it in. However, you don’t want to get too crazy with these links and QR codes on a banner. It’s probably enough to just send include your website. For newsletter signup, you could provide a QR code right by your guestbook and those who are IT savvy could just sign up right there.
You want your banner to state who, what, and where (where being your presence on the internet). You’re not wanting to point people to your house or a storefront, so don’t put a physical address (unless you DO have a storefront), a phone number, or even your email address. If they need to get in contact with you, your website address is the best way. Or, through Facebook these days.
We’ve covered who and where. Let’s talk about what… as in your brand. Decide what color schemes, fonts, and images go with your brand. All the author banners I've included in today's post do a good job of staying on brand. Davalynn Spencer writes
Western romance set along the Front Range of Colorado's Rocky Mountains. Her banner reflects that. C.F.E. Black, and Linda Kozar's banners are perfect representations of the type of books these authors write.
A bit about Banner Size, Vendors, and Pricing. Retractable banners range from 2’ x 5’3” to 2.9” x 6’9” tall. Go as big as you can afford. Almost all venues can handle something as tall as 6’. Remember that you want to catch a reader’s eye from a distance, and you need your banner to stand out above the crowd.
VistaPrint and Banners on the Cheap are two vendors I’m familiar with. Prices can range from $50-$180 and most of these quotes include the retractable stand that comes with your banner. If you’re not in a hurry for a banner, get your design ready, keep an eye on prices and you can sometimes cash in on a great deal (as low as $50) with VistaPrint.
Less is More
I think we’ve all heard the less is more mantra, and we take it to heart. 99% of the time, I agree. Notice the examples I’ve shared today. They DO follow this pattern. But Linda Kozar broke the mold and went with a collage of her books as the background on her banner. (Pay no attention to Linda and all her author friends photobombing her banner! I see you Kathleen Y’Barbo. And you, too, Janice Thompson!) And it totally works for Linda’s bright, fun, contemporary style. And if you visit her website, she’s staying on brand as well. You’ll notice that even though the background is busy, it doesn’t intrude. It enhances! While you don’t want to put too much text on a banner, the book cover collage doesn’t FEEL like text. It sort of blends into the background. Linda put a banner swatch across the middle with her name and headshot in her signature pink and the entire thing pops. (Now I want to do a banner swatch… Hmmm.)
Building on the paragraph above, a bit more about color. Look at Linda’s banner again. Bright pinks, reds anchoring the top corners of her banner, pastel blue. On brand. C.F.E. Black, again, staying on brand with black, brown, tan, a hint of fire. ACFW’s Storyfest banner which is not an author banner, but promotes the Storyfest Reader’s event is also on brand: black and gold.
Sometimes it takes a few books, a few years to reach a color scheme that really works for you, but once you do, use that to your advantage.
We’ve covered a lot in today’s post, but there is so much more in the article referenced, so feel free to dig deeper into the topic there. Staying true to your brand is so important.
Also, you want an evergreen banner that you can use over and over again. So I wouldn’t include dates, locations, or words like “new release” or “local author” on your banner.
A special thanks to authors C.F.E. Black, Davalynn Spencer, and Linda Kozar for coming to my rescue and providing their banners for this blog post.
CBA Bestselling author PAM HILLMAN was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In those days, her daddy couldn't afford two cab tractors with air conditioning and a radio, so Pam drove an Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn't mind raking. Raking hay doesn't take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making up stories in her head. Now, that's the kind of life every girl should dream of. www.pamhillman.com