Romance Trading Cards – Who’s IN?

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Download RTC Templates

Join the Web Tutorial on Romance Trading Card Templates and GIMP: March 5, 7-9pm EST – Link will be here. DM on Twitter or e-mail for Password.

A chat on Twitter (#romancetradingcards) quickly converged into a fun promotion idea for RT 2011 and RWA 2011. It’s simple — authors print romance trading cards with their heros and heroines and readers can collect them all.

As the questions about design and standardization are beginning to gather so I figured it was time to gather everyone together.

So far, we have this quote from GotPrint if we want to standardize on size. I’ve used them before and found them quite reasonable and user-friendly, but always open for any other vendors with better pricing if you know them:

Standard size & printing: Trading Cards from GotPrint

Other ideas:

  • Cover on one side
  • Character stats on other – Height, age, description
  • Best lines
  • Similar border or logo on backside to unify cards – i.e. knotwork design


So here’s a starter for discussion. These are rough prototypes only. Do not use these files to create your cards. I can provide the layered, high resolution files for use with Photoshop, Fireworks, or another imaging program once the design is finalized.

I tried to choose a neutral border that still felt romance-y. Keeping in mind that this needs to look good with historical, paranormal, contemporary, etc. I went with a border that looked like a pewter frame. The border and the lettering for “Romance Trading Cards” below will hopefully unify the design. The back will be the book cover.

This was a quick job so cropping and other details may be asymmetical. I’ll fix in final version. Actual print size is 2.5 x 3.5.

What do you think?  (I’ve finalized the design with a genre specific color scheme as suggested. Download RTC Templates)

Note: You don’t need special art for the backside. It can include part of your cover (if that’s allowed) or just stats and info like on baseball cards.

An alternative example from author Moira Rogers, independently created here.

Who’s Participating in Romance Trading Cards:

The author listing has been moved to:

And the ideas are flying as well. For example, we may have a listing at RT so readers will know who to seek out for cards. Keep those ideas coming! Who else is in? (Comment below and I’ll gather names and post above)

Remember hashtag #romancetradingcards if you’re following the discussion on Twitter.


  1. Megan Kelly
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 00:47:04

    What a cool idea!

  2. JohnD
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 02:49:30

    That’s a pretty good design, actually.

    With sports trading cards, usually the front is an action scene. So one option to take with the cards could be to have a picture of the author “in action”, writing (ot typing) at his/her writing area.

  3. Jeannie Lin
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 02:51:02

    Hi Megan!
    Isn’t it cool what the collective hive mind can come up with? So..are you in? 🙂

    P.S. Oh yeah, each author is responsible for formatting and printing their own cards. Or roping in someone to do it for them.

  4. Jeannie Lin
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 02:53:42

    Why thanks John!

    Ha! That’s funny with the action scenes. Maybe we need a series of “author” trading cards. Except, I don’t know if I dare reveal scenes of my writing den of iniquity to anyone.

  5. JohnD
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 03:10:59

    Are these going to come with stale chewing gum as well?

  6. Ella Drake
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 07:27:12

    Oh, I love!
    Quick thought. Maybe the border could be a different color depending on genre?

  7. C.M. Torrens
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 07:33:10

    That’s an awesome idea! Love the design of the border too. Romancy but not genre specific. Very nice.

  8. Jeannie Lin
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 07:38:54

    Ella – I thought about that. It wouldn’t be too hard for me to play with the color saturation and change the border color. Wonder what the others will think?

  9. Keri Stevens
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 07:47:21

    I’d love to participate for RWA!

  10. Keri Stevens
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 07:55:36

    Also, I know nothing about design and am as visually oriented as a stick. Seriously–when I draw a hangman game, people think we’re down for tic tac toe. SO–Design-wise, this is already gorgeous. Just tell me what to do!

    Now I must hunt down hot Grant goodness and copyright-free Delia…

  11. Jeannie Lin
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 07:58:51

    Hmmm….yeah, I’m thinking some authors might just need a little assistance with the graphics. Once the design is final, it shouldn’t be too hard to follow the standard

  12. Vicky Dreiling
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 08:24:07

    Jeannie, will you include me for RWA? Thanks!

  13. Jeannene Walker
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 08:32:42

    Awesome idea Jeannie. Who would’ve thought? Can’t wait until I’m a pubbed author to join the fray.

  14. Jeannie Lin
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 08:34:13

    Jeannene – I know! Can’t take credit though. It was the collective romance consciousness

  15. Ann Lethbridge
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 08:35:36

    Fun! I’m up for RWA!
    Ann Lethbridge

  16. C.M. Torrens
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 08:48:05

    You might need different stats for different genre. Like you have in the example, Class:Warrior/Noble, etc, could be changed to Occupation: Steelworker/Chef for contemps. or Race?: Shapeshifter/Ghost etc for para? Just some ideas.

    I won’t be going to RWA, but I love this concept.

  17. Jeannie Lin
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 08:51:49

    C.M. – I like that one!

  18. Elaine Golden
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 09:08:49

    Love the idea andwouldlove to do for my trilogy. Would need to get approval from Harlewuin especially if a border gets added to their iconic cover. Ant idea of cost? not going to RT but def going to RWA.

  19. Maddy Barone
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 09:13:20

    Very cool!

  20. Jeannie Lin
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 09:23:03

    Elaine – I’ll post some basic costs up above. It’s approximately $30 for 200 double-sided glossy cards. The big hit is actually shipping so you can up the card count for just a little more. You don’t need to border the cover either as we can print the cover as is on one side and then have the character information on the other side. I think for Harlequin we do need permission if we wanted to cut up and take just part of the cover.

  21. Crista McHugh
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 09:31:48

    I’d be game for RWA. Please let me know when everything is finalized and if you’re going to be doing any kind of advertising, I’ll can help split the costs. I think the RT ads for June or July are due very soon (like in a week or so).

  22. Jeannie Lin
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 09:32:48

    Crista – I’ll add you in for RWA! No ads are planned. Way too late for that already. This is more of a grassroots/guerilla marketing sort of thing. 🙂

  23. Elizabeth Essex
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 09:38:30

    Yes, please! I’m in for RWA.
    This is a brilliant idea!
    Let me my share of coast, what I need to get to you in terms of copy and art etc.
    Cheers, Liz (Elizabeth Essex)(Who is just beginning to figure out this promo thing!)

  24. Jeannie Lin
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 09:54:46

    Elizabeth – AWESOME! By the way, it’s up to each individual author to write their own copy and print their own cards so there’s no money that needs to be sent to me. I’ll try to get the templates done ASAP so people can start putting them together.

  25. Victoria Janssen
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 10:06:42

    Cool idea!

    I could be in for RWA.

  26. Jeannie Lin
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 10:13:01

    Victoria – I hope you are. You’ve got some colorful characters!

  27. FredTownWard
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 10:37:32

    Let me repeat my usual plea for all the deltiologists out there: MAILABLE post cards, but another idea has occurred: do it as part of assembling a collectible trading card game, something like:

    Romance: The Kissing.

    Of course you’d have to figure out a whole system of powers, levels, and vulnerabilities:

    Smoldering, Percent of Time Spent Shirtless (mostly for male characters), Irresistable Eyes: (blue, gray, blue gray, gray blue, etc.), Breast Size (for both male and female characters), Secret Pain (what triggers it), etc.

  28. Elaine Golden
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 10:42:29

    Would be nice to group by genre (paranormal, historical, etc) then offer a master list that participants know which ones to look for. Like a scavenger hunt. Love this! I’m in!

  29. Louisa Edwards
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 11:19:43

    I’m in for RWA! I’m a little confused, though–are we each designing independently, like Moira? Or all using the pewter frame approach? I like the idea of linking them with a logo.

  30. Jeannie Lin
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 11:24:55

    Louisa – We’re looking for a unified approach like the frame. However, what goes in the frame is all open to you. Some people have art, some people will have all text, etc.

  31. Christy Reece
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 11:30:29

    Oh, I love this idea too! Brilliant! I’m in for RWA! What do I need to do?

    Thank you!

  32. Jeannie Lin
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 11:34:03

    Christy–Yay! Romantic suspense for the win! I’ll have downloadable templates and some instructions written up by end of today.

  33. Eileen Dreyer
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 11:36:57

    Jeannie–Count me in for RT and RWA. I think it’s brilliant. I also really love the idea of differing colors for genre. If we’re just sticking to romance, what about:
    Green-historicals(I get first choice ;-}),
    Red- erotic
    Black–romantic suspense
    Blue- contemporary
    Pink-women’s fiction
    Orange–fantasy(no, you guys can’t have green. I already glommed it)

    When we’re at the big signings, we could each have a sheet of paper with the other authors’ names(they don’t have to be there) to collect.
    Can we FB or tweet about this yet, or do you want to wait til it’s more firm?

  34. Jeannie Lin
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 11:40:01


    Great to see you. Tweet away and I’ll try out some color frames as well as a genre label on the cards. Definitely the key to this is for us to support each other at signings. Since it now looks like an RT and RWA event, people will have more chances to collect them all.

  35. Kris Kennedy
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 11:46:47

    I’m in for RWA! Cool idea. I like the border you came up with, and agree about keeping size/border consistent across all.

    So, quick ques: we each find the graphic imagery we want to use on the front of our card, correct (The image above the text of Attributes, Weaknesses, etc?) (And of course, we take care of the cover (or other) image we want to use for the back.)

    If so, any suggestions on where to find graphic images? Do they have them at GotPrint? Or, any thoughts on where to find elsewhere (at least a template to begin) ? This isn’t my area of interest, so I’m kinda clueless.

    Should be fun!

    (I like the author-at-work card too, JohnD. 🙂 I like the idea of having special powers….)

  36. Laura Wright
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 11:50:02

    LOVE this!! I’m in for RT!!

  37. Jeannie Lin
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 11:50:14

    I think I’m going to have to write up a tutorial with some suggestions…thinking…thinking…

    I often take for granted my measly Photoshop skills. Want to make this as easy as possible for people to do, but you do need to enlist someone with imaging ability.

  38. Kris Kennedy
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 11:58:53

    That’s totally fair. We need to be able to provide, and therefore create, the image we use. I’m willing to learn a new skill set 🙂

    So, it sounds like, with Photoshop, you don’t even start with an image you then tweak, but you build from the ground up, huh? Hm…

    I’ve got Pixelmator (for Mac, unopened) and Photoshop (completely unused, but I am 99% sure I’ve got it….) I’m sure I can figure it out, if I can just get started.

  39. Delilah Marvelle
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 12:13:19

    What a freakin’ cool idea!!! Count me in for RT and RWA!!!

  40. Ella Drake
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 12:30:41

    Quick note about genre, if we separate paranormal & fantasy then that leaves Futuristic/SF in a no man’s land. Could maybe leave it that big catchall FF&P?
    (technically, paranormal is fantasy anyway. Right?)

  41. Stefanie Sloane
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 12:34:13

    Hi Jeannie,
    This is so awesome. Please do count me in for both RT and RWA, and let me know if you need any help.

  42. Jeannie Lin
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 12:41:24

    Ella – Good point — Let’s keep those together. And purple is a better color than orange.

    Red- erotic
    Black–romantic suspense
    Purple–fantasy, futuristic & paranormal (I’ll make 3 separate templates w/ same color cause that label is too long to fit)
    Blue- contemporary
    Pink-women’s fiction

  43. Anne Marie Becker
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 12:46:39

    Jeannie – love this idea! If I have a cover in time, I’d love to be on your list of RWA participants.

  44. Jeannie Lin
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 13:35:02

    Wow…so awesome to see the excitement. Welcome everyone. I’m trying to keep this rolling and juggling the day job as well, so will be out for a bit.

    Anne — Definitely! I hope the idea gets kicked off and hangs around for a bit.

  45. Lisa Hendrix
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 13:38:27

    Jeannie — The costs at appear to be quite a bit lower. Quote I got was $25 for 500 (14pt, glossy, color both sides).

  46. Jeannie Lin
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 13:40:07

    Lisa – Lovely!!! I was also counting shipping in my estimate, which I know can vary.

  47. Rita
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 13:47:56

    I’m in for RWA if I don’t have a cover i’ll make sometihing up

  48. Jeannie Lin
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 13:48:58

    Rita – That’s the spirit! Maybe you can push for a cover too? 🙂

  49. Kate Pearce
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 13:51:52

    Awesome idea!
    Jeannie I’m in as long as someone techy can help me because I’m terrible at that part. LOL

  50. Erica O'Rourke
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 15:18:12

    This is fabulous! If you’re willing to take YA authors, I would love to participate!