Self-Printing Promotion: Fun with VistaPrint


(Before I start this post proper, I want to say that I’m not trying to be an advertisement for VistaPrint. It just so happens that they are the company I used because I find them cheap and cheerful, and they have international sites. I also like how once you order something from them, they send you a voucher for 25% off your next purchase, and they’re always throwing in little freebies. But they’re the only ones I have experience of; I’m sure there’s loads more. Do tell me if you know any other good ones.)

Printed materials can be very useful when promoting your self-published book, so long as they look professional, contain all the relevant information and get into the hands of the right people. There’s no point leaving a stack of postcards on the counter of your local butchers, for instance, if your book is about vegan recipes.

To help promote Mousetrapped, I made myself book launch invites that doubled nicely as bookmarks, postcards and posters. I also produced an ‘info page’ to include with complimentary copies of my book so potential reviewers, stockists, etc. would know what it’s about without having to read through the whole thing.


I like things that match and as all three things were going to make an appearance at my book launch, it was important they all looked related to it each other, i.e. part of a brand. Online printing services are usually DIY with lots of templates, clip art, etc. but it’s not always possible to get the same scheme on a postcard as it is on a business card, so the best thing to do is make one yourself.

This is the MS Word template I started with: page 6 of a summer newsletter.

  1. Pick through your MS Word or iWork Pages document templates for something that looks snazzy. I choose page 6 of a newsletter template from Word, pictured above.
  2. Add pictures and text of your own and remove any elements of the document you don’t need. Change the colors and fonts to match or at least compliment your book cover.
  3. Save as a PDF document. You now have yourself a snazzy scheme.

…and this is what it looked like after I added text and images, moved some stuff around and made the blue more ‘Mousetrapped’ blue:       my info sheet.


Using the method above, you can make matching JPEG’s for use in your smaller items, like postcards and invites. Simply save the PDF as a JPEG and upload it to your online printing site as your own image.

I used the same scheme to make this, which I used for both my invites and my postcards.


I personally found the following items were invaluable:

  • Book launch invites. I left these in a stack on the bookshop’s counter, dispersed them amongst family and friends, pinned them to notice-boards and tucked them in books.
  • Postcards. With my book’s cover on the front, a small blurb about it on the back and space to write an address, these postcards were both adorable and functional. I tucked them in books, handed them out on the day of the launch and sent a packet of them to friends of mine in the U.S., Austria and New Zealand. Global domination and all that.
  • Posters. I used the exact same design as the invites to make approximately A3-sized posters. These were hung around the shop the day of the launch.

My invites/book marks.

You might also consider printing:

  • Business cards. Handy for passing to booksellers, etc. and for reminding yourself several times a day that you are a proper writer.
  • Address labels. Saves you writing a return address if you’re selling your books through a website, or if you just want to tell everyone at the TV licensing office that you’ve written a book.
  • Fun stuff: mugs, tote bags, pens, memo pads, fridge magnets – the list is endless. I haven’t done this because I’m afraid if I start I won’t be able to stop…


Including shipping, my printed materials cost around:

  • €90 for 250 invites
  • €25 for 5 posters
  • €21 for 100 postcards (special offer).

Other than free books I’ve given to reviewers and as prizes in giveaways, this is the only money I’ve spent promoting my book.

See all my self-printing posts.

Read about Mousetrapped, the book I self-printed.

Next up on Self-Printing Promotion: Complimentary Copies (Friday)

4 thoughts on “Self-Printing Promotion: Fun with VistaPrint

  1. Marcus says:

    Hi Catherine,

    Are review copies (journalists/bloggers) and complimentary copies (anybody who might get the word around) the same thing in this case?

    I’ve been wondering how many, and to whom, review copies are worth sending to. Do you ask first if the person is seriously interested?

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      Hi Marcus,

      I’m actually doing a post just about review copies, etc. on Friday so tune in for that! I’ll be talking about how to send them out, who to send them to, etc.

      For the purposes of this blog though, yes, “complimentary copies” is any book that’s floating around out there that I gave someone for free, including review copies.

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