Monday, May 7, 2012

For Writers

This is for those of you who have an undiscovered genius for penning the short stuff. I wrote this article several years ago when I'd had a few greeting card sales and thought it might just be the thing for me. Um - that didn't turn out to be the case and my own undiscovered genius is still trying to bust her way out of the shoebox under the bed. Poor thing. I'll keep coaxing her but in the meantime we both hope you find the following helpful.

When the greeting card editor came back to me within a few days stating, I’ll take two of these, I almost fell out of my ergonomically correct office chair. I’d been struggling for a while, trying to find my true writing niche and decided to take a crack at greeting card verse. I soon found out what a handful of words could do. Was this the niche I’d been looking for? I calmed down and did a little reconnoiter. I was hoping that sale wasn’t some kind of fluke, so I set out to perfect my technique. Here’s what I found out.

Think Three

When writing greeting card verse, there are always three people involved, the writer, the buyer and the receiver. And guess who’s not the important one? Yeah, the writer. You have to be invisibly brilliant in determining what person A, would like to say to person B. One way to do this effectively is to role-play. Imagine your grandmother. Perhaps she’s a genteel lady who loves hearts and flowers on her birthday or maybe she’s the life of the party wherever she goes, you know, a real firecracker. Think of the kind of card your Mom would give to her mother. My mother, for instance would give a genteel card. Think of your various relatives, jot a few verses, and see where it takes you. That’s a good start.


Keep it short. Short verse usually packs the most powerful punch. This is especially true for humorous cards. People expect it when shopping in that card display. One trick I’ve discovered is to take an everyday occurrence, like a kid shouting, “Mom, have we got milk?” and chopping off the first three words. Look familiar? How many take-offs have you seen on that Got Milk? phrase, one that’s been around for years? I sure wish I’d been the genius to put those two words together with a celebrity and a milk mustache! In the same vein, short, funny greeting card verse packs that kind of punch. Try listening to your own family and friends for common phrases that you could turn into hilarious greeting card verse.

Do Your Homework 

This is vital. Go out into the marketplace and check out the competition. Plan on spending some research time in the greeting card aisle of your favorite grocery store, drug store or gift shop. There’s a whole lot of talent out there, but there’s no reason you can’t add yours to the mix if you feel a pull in that direction. Discovering what appeals to you, as a buyer of greeting cards, will help you in your quest to become a writer of greeting cards. Absorb the whole concept of the cards that catch your eye. Look at the artwork or photos, inside and out. Maybe the sentimental cards are more your style; let the poet in you flourish. It could be the wisdom of a lifetime will flow from you in greetings to graduates, those who grieve or are retiring. If you love holidays, greeting card writing could be the lucrative niche your looking for. Pull out the shoeboxes of holiday cards (the ones partying it up with your genius) that you can’t bear to part with and study them. Do your homework, and then get to work.


Words to money, greeting cards are among the highest paying form of writing you can do. I know of one woman who was paid one hundred and fifty dollars for a two-word greeting card. Do the math. Pretty neat, huh? Well, yes and no. You can beat your head against the wall for hours or days coming up with those two perfect words, ones that will match the idea in your head, and then you’ve got to find the right market. What you can do here is tap into that research you did in the card aisles. Flip those cards and note the publisher, then use your Internet search engine for their website and write for guidelines if they’re not posted.
Greeting card writing can be fun, put a little jingle in your pocket, and make somebody’s day. Try it!

Image: Free Digital Photos


  1. Jennifer Brown BanksMay 8, 2012 at 6:02 AM

    Thanks for these useful tips, Susan.
    They came at a great time for me.
    Can you recommend any card companies that have been particularly good to work with for your readers?

    Much appreciation.

  2. Hi, Jennifer. I sold my cards to Gallant Greetings I almost sold to Oatmeal Studios And of course there's Blue Mountain Arts which pays the best of all, but competition is brutal. I've entered their poetry contest many times, but got bupkis. Gotta keep trying, though, right? Thanks for your comment!

  3. Jennifer Brown BanksMay 10, 2012 at 7:05 PM

    Thanks, Susan.

    As for Blue Mountain Arts? I can relate. Many years ago, they expressed interest in a few of my ideas. I even got "pre" contracts. But after awaiting a long review period, they were ultimately rejected. Go figure?!