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Greeting Card Writing Information
by Sandra Louden

Card writing is a supplemental income job in a work-for-hire (or freelance) capacity; greeting card verse pay averages between $35-$150, with $50-$75 being the most common. By "verse" I'm not necessarily talking about rhymed, metered, traditional poetry, although many of my students have sold in that area. Most freelance contributions today involve conversational, contemporary prose or humor.

 It is 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. I was in the exact same situation in 1986, when I began writing greeting cards.

This isn't a "get rich quick" scheme; greeting card writers don't even "get rich slow." What we do do, though, is earn extra money, get experience dealing with editors, deadlines, assignments, etc., & have fun while doing so.

I've taught my card writing class at Community College of Allegheny County (Pittsburgh) since 1991 & the State of PA rates my non-credit class "occupational" rather than "recreational"--even though it is non-credit, because my students go on to actively sell their work. Some even start their own card companies based on their exposure to this exciting industry. In my own experience of writing cards, I've gone on to be published in many different areas, including magazines & newspapers.

Greeting card writing 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. It has virtually no start-up costs and low upkeep compared to other writing fields. It is still virtually an untapped field for the freelancer, unclogged by the competition in magazine or newspaper writing.


Writing For Greeting Cards And Other Related Products

Short Stats:

Over 7.4 billion cards were sold to Americans last year; approximately 235 per second.

 - Estimated U.S. Retail Sales = $6.85 billion dollars; about $217.21 spent per second.

 - About 1/3 of these are written by freelance writers.

Types of Greeting Cards

 Traditional: Traditional cards are those using rhymed, metered poetry. The number of lines is generally divisible by four. Traditional verse is often done by a company's in-house staff ; however, there has been a recent upsurge in freelance contributions in this area.

 Contemporary Prose: Also called "conversational prose," these cards sound as if someone is talking; the style is soft, gentle and realistic. Non-rhyming, it can be a phrase, single sentence or as long as 32 lines. Freelance work is actively sought for contemporary prose.

 Studio or Humorous: These cards reflect current trends, foibles, frustrations and shared experiences written in a snappy, "cutting edge" style. Humor is always needed from freelance writers and it is by far, the most popular type of greeting card on the racks today.

 Alternate: The alternate card uses both contemporary prose and humor to get its message across. These cards carry themes such as coping, single parenting, terminal illness, being fired from a job, smoking, the environment, etc. Alternates are very fluid, expanding with the times and events of the nation and the world surrounding us. This category also uses freelance contributions.


Getting Started In Greeting Card Writing

Study the most recent copy of The Writer's Market published by Writer's Digest Books, found in most reference sections of the library. It contains a separate section for greeting card publishers & although small, is generally accurate.

Send for guidelines from the companies that interest you. Remember to include a long (#10) Self-Addressed, Stamped Envelope. (SASE) If you're an artist or photographer, the same procedure applies. Study the most recent Artist's & Graphic Designer's Market or The Photographer's Market; also do an online search for card companies. Many have their artist's guidelines right on the site to save you sending for them through traditional mail.

While you wait for guidelines, there are certain, important things you should do, including gathering supplies, setting up your home office, studying the racks, reading books on card writing or even taking the greeting card course I offer through Community College in Pittsburgh, or take my online course at Writer's College

Once your writing guidelines arrive, follow what the company wants. A good set of guidelines should contain very specific information, including rate of payment, whether payment is on acceptance or publication of the idea, what occasions the company publishes, specific examples of the type of cards they publish and also directions on sending. While most companies still prefer snail mail submissions, many accept faxed or e-mailed work now.

Besides covering the above points in detail, I've written a book that teaches you how to think as a successful greeting card writer. It's how you must think in order to sell today. Based on a freelance career of almost 15 years, a decade of "live" teaching and a pioneer in teaching on the Internet, my book, Write Well & Sell: Greeting Cards guides you through card writing with hands-on exercises, lively examples and personal advice you will not find anywhere else.

It also answers common questions of freelance card writers, including:

  • What are the 6 biggest mistakes beginners make?
  • What are the 8 primary reasons a card idea doesn't sell?
  • What are 10 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 Your Very Best Work " not always good in card writing?
  • What if companies steal my ideas?

few addresses to get you started:

Blue Mountain Arts, Inc.
Dept. SL, P.O. Box 1007
Boulder, CO 80306-1007
ATTN: Editorial

Duck & Cover Productions
P.O. Box 21640
Oakland, CA 94620
ATTN: Jim Buser

Leanin' Tree Publishing Co.
6055 Longbow, Box 9500 West
Boulder, CO 80301

Laura Leiden Calligraphy Inc.
P.O. Box 141
Watkinsville, GA 30677

Oatmeal Studios P.O. Box 138, Dept. SML
Rochester, VT 05767
ATTN: Dawn Abraham

Renaissance Greeting Cards, Inc.
P.O. Box 845
Springvale, ME 04083-0845
ATTN: Verse Editor

 You may also want to consider subscribing to your industry magazine, Greetings etc. which is an excellent source for companies, new trends and products, etc. E-mail me for more details.

Copyright 2001 - 2009 Sandra Miller-Louden

Sandra is an award-winning writer and her writing accomplishments are too numerous to mention here in detail. Her work has appeared on Live! With Regis & Kathie Lee, and her publishing credits include Writer's Digest and many other top notch magazines. Her book  Write Well and Sell: Greeting Cards is one you will find very helpful. Sandra has helped many writers learn how to write and sell to the greeting card market. 

Sandra teaches an online class at Writer's College (
http://writerscollege.com) and is also Vice-President and Coordinator of an Online Learning Center for BizyMoms.com, (http://www.bizymoms.com) where she teaches a 4 week course in writing cards.   

To find out more about Sandra, her classes, and to find out how to get your copies of her books drop by
Greeting Card Writing Dot Com, Sandra's website.


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