I’ve been selling customizable business cards for several years now at Retropolis and The Celtic Art Works. Customers would click on a sample image and be carried over to the Zazzle site, where they could edit the text on that card design to their own specification. The system worked pretty well, and a lot of people bought their business cards that way; but I’ve always thought it could work better.
After I built the Pulp-O-Mizer I could even see how it might be better: if all the possible background images were available in menus, and the whole user interface worked a bit more like the Pulp-O-Mizer, I figured that the process would not only be more fun, but more engaging. Customers would be able to try out all sorts of possibilities… so they would. They’d be more likely to buy their cards once they’d invested their time in them. It could work out better for all of us.
But it wouldn’t be a small job, and I’d need a fair-sized block of time to work on it.
As it turns out, the job took about a month.
It’s alive! Alive, I tell you!
So today I’ve unveiled the Business Card Construction Kit at Retropolis. (It’ll show up soon at The Celtic Art Works, too; but I’ve included all the Celtic art backgrounds already.)
The Business Card Construction Kit includes much of what the Pulp-O-Mizer does, but it also does more. You can design a business card in either horizontal/landscape or vertical/portrait shapes; you can have images and text on both the front and the back of the business cards; you can select any colors you like for your text; you have over 250 background images from which to choose, along with a wide variety of typefaces; and I’ve made innumerable little improvements to the user interface and user feedback.
It’s a pretty nice system!
Over 250 background images
The background images are divided by subject and style; in addition there are separate menus of images for the front and back of the cards. (That’s because the card stocks are usually coated on just one side, so an image that works well on the front may not look as good on the back of the card.)
There are a lot of Retropolis images, of course, but I’ve included all the old Celtic card backgrounds from The Celtic Art Works, and then added a lot of new border designs and images in that style. And I can continue to add more designs and styles as time goes on.
Many text controls, typefaces, and selectable text colors
Both the front and back of your business card can have up to six different areas of text, each with their own controls.
The color selector is something that I decided to leave out of the Pulp-O-Mizer, but it makes a lot of sense here.
And because there are so many typefaces available in the Business Card Construction Kit I’ve given you a second menu, which you can use to filter the typeface list by font type: Serif, Sans Serif, Hand Lettered, or All.
Save, export, and share your card designs
In order to save, move, or share your card designs, you get the same options as you do in the Pulp-O-Mizer. You can save and load locally, or you can export your card data as a block of text that can be imported into the Construction Kit on another device or browser.
There’s also a menu of example designs that you can load, and learn from, and even use as the basis for your own business card.
So that’s what I’ve been working on. I think it’s a much improved system for buying your customized business cards, and it’s designed to grow, as well. Give it a spin!
Well, it was uphill all the way for our first stretch goal, if by “uphill all the way” we mean up and down and up again; but we finally made it, and we’ve got just over a week left to hit the second stretch goal.
If we get there, this is what happens: I have the funds to arrange a Kirkus Indie review; and everybody who pledged over $50 will get a memo notebook with the Patently Absurd cover art on its own cover. These are nice little notebooks, as I can tell you from my personal scribbling experience.
It’s a harder goal to reach, at $1900, but we may have the urgency of the project’s end on our side. It’s coming up!
So if you have friends or if you see strangers who might like the book, this is the time to tell them all about it wherever you find them: on Facebook or Twitter, or at your own blog, or at GoodReads or LibraryThing or, in fact, anyplace at all.
It’s the larger pledges that will benefit from this stretch reward, so I’ve added a new set of ten “Collector II” rewards at $65. They’re just like the original Collector rewards except that they cost a bit more. That’s so you early adopters have a reason to look smug. If you need one, I mean.
(For the rest of you, that $65 gets you a signed, printed advance copy of Patently Absurd; a matching eBook of the same; an eBook edition of The Lair of the Clockwork Book; a pair of custom bookmarks; and a signed hardcover copy of Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom; plus a memo notebook, if we hit the second stretch goal.)
In other news, today I should see my third proof copy of the book. The last one was pretty great, but I’m still fiddling with color profiles for the cover.
Back around the middle of July, the relentless T-Shirt engine of the Pulp-O-Mizer sputtered and failed.
I looked through it. I discovered that figuring the problem out was going to be both complicated and time-consuming. Then I just threw a tarpaulin over it and kicked it a couple of times. I had a lot to do, right then, and I was going to have to postpone the whole thing until my eyes had uncrossed and I could give it some thought.
That happened this morning. I wish I could say that I’d been brilliant, but the sad truth is that I tried a gazillion little changes and, once I got it running again, I had no idea which one of them did the trick. Or if it was all of them.
But it works now. Huzzah!
Once again you can get a custom T-Shirt with your very own Pulp-O-Mizer image on it. Just… don’t ask me how I did it.
First off, great news: the Patently Absurd fund drive met its primary goal on Day 3. That’s really unexpected, and welcome, believe me.
But it’s not over yet. In order to set an attainable goal for the project I moved some pretty important things out to stretch goals. We’re looking at the first of those right now.
What we’ve done
With the primary goal behind us I’ll be able to send advance copies off to book reviewers and the book buyers for some local bookstores. I’ll also be able to meet some other pre-production expenses, like ISBNs and some setup fees at Ingram. (Ingram Spark will be one of the two printers to produce the final books.) Review copies will be going out to trade publications like Booklist, The Library Journal, and Locus.
What we need to do
But there are a couple of other trade publications that are missing from that list. That’s because Publishers Weekly and Kirkus charge fees to review independently published books. They have their reasons. The barrier to self-publish a book is very low, now, and if they take everything… well, everything is a lot, these days. So one can see their point, even if it seems like there might be a better way to deal with what’s now a flood of indie books.
So, at the moment, we’re looking at the first stretch goal for Patently Absurd. At $1400 (just $200 more than the primary goal) I’ll be able to arrange a review for the book at Publishers Weekly. To celebrate, all Kickstarter backers who weren’t going to get a Lair of the Clockwork Book eBook will get one; and everybody who’s getting a print copy of the book will get a pair of custom bookmarks with art from my books.
Those are small bonuses, but it’s just another $200, right? And we have 27 days left to go.
The Kickstarter project for Patently Absurd is now live and it’s eager to talk to you. You can meet it here.
Tell your friends, your families, and strangers on the street.