How to Break Into the Greeting Card Industry

13 June 2016

By Christine Edwards –

Making extra income doesn’t have to take hours away from your leisure time. In fact, if you have a way with words, you can make as much as $75 in as little as half an hour.

The greeting card industry is enormous and boasts billions of dollars in sales annually. Greeting card companies are always on the lookout for the next best idea and pay contributors very well. The pay scale ranges from $75 to $300 for a few heartwarming, romantic or funny lines. This makes greeting card writing one of the best-paid gigs for clever writers. 

Anyone who has ever stood in a greeting card aisle and thought, “I could write a better card than that,” is welcome to send submissions to the dozens of card lines looking for freelance writers.

There’s some basics that writers should know before pitching their ideas to card publishers:

1. Artists and writers are hired separately.

A writer’s input on artwork may or not be solicited. Don’t send your artwork unless it’s expressly permitted in the publisher’s submission guidelines.

2. Shop markets akin to your writing.

Blue Mountain Arts creates poetic cards. Smart Alex creates racy humor cards. Peruse the company’s current line so that you don’t accidentally submit a raunchy birthday card to a devoutly Christian publisher and get yourself blacklisted.

3. Track markets and submissions. 

Refrain from simultaneous submissions of card ideas. Feel free to submit rejected content to similar markets once it’s returned to you. Create a spreadsheet to help you keep track of when and where you sent each submission. Number your card ideas to make them easier to track.

4. Less is more.

Writing cards isn’t rocket science, but it is a distinct style of writing. Use words sparingly and intentionally. Cards are written in a conversational tone, not glittering Elizabethan prose. You should write greeting cards as if you are talking to your best friend, spouse or grandma, but not at the same time. That may make for an awkward card.

5. Broad approach has greater reach.

Not everyone has had a Persian cat named Pocahontas recently pass away. However, there are many people who have recently lost a beloved pet. To those card buyers I send my condolences, because it’s awful to lose a pet. To card writers, I offer a piece of advice: Keep your ideas broad enough that they appeal to a large market, but narrow enough that they feel genuine to readers.

6. Request writer’s guidelines or research them online.

Each card publisher has distinct tastes and submission preferences. In that way, they are very similar to literary agents and publishers. Take the time to do your homework. Many card publishers post their submission guidelines on their sites. Some will send their guidelines and current needs if you request them. This is the preferred method, because it clues you in to what they are shopping for in their next line.

7. Follow the publisher’s submission format.

Greeting card publishers do not subscribe to a specified submission format. In this way they are akin to literary agents and publishers, but that’s where the similarities end. Greeting card submissions are much shorter and far easier to compose than queries. This doesn’t mean writers may fling grammatical caution to the wind. Be sure to follow the format so your submission isn’t tossed. If the submission guidelines don’t specify a format, the one provided below is acceptable:

OCCASION: Birthday
OUTSIDE TEXT: Place outside text here
INSIDE TEXT: Place inside text here
OUTSIDE IMAGE SUGGESTION: Place any art ideas here

Marilyn Dunroe, mdunroe@gmail.com, 321-321-3321

8. Search for additional markets.

Check the backs of the cards being sold in your local chain and specialty stores for publisher info. Most cards are imprints of American Greetings and other large publishers. They occasionally hold contests, but hire staff writers to create their content. Smaller publishers are more apt to accept unsolicited submissions.

Card writing is a great way to earn extra income from the comfort of your home for the small sum of your clever quips. Ready to get started? Good. Here’s a list of card publishers that accept submissions from freelance writers:

Oatmeal Studios: Style: lighthearted humor

Blue Mountain Arts: Style: poetic heartfelt verse

Calypso Cards: Style: modern, sassy (offers a line of divorce cards)

Smart Alex: Style: controversial and crude humor

BIO: 
Christine Edwards was once an educator, but always a writer. One day, she realized she wanted to make a career change. It took her a solid year complete the transition from teaching to writing full-time, but it was worth it. Today, she is a freelance writer with several magazines and newspapers in her local area, a professional blogger and a greeting card author. Christine shares helpful tips with aspiring writers on her blog: christinedwards.blogspot.com.

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