Sandra Miller-Louden's

Greeting Card Writing Dot Com



Issue #4

By Sandra Miller-Louden 

Dear Sandra: 

Dear Sandra:


I have a quick question for you. Living where I do, I find myself writing in isolation most of the time. What suggestions might you have for the isolated writer in regard to reaching out and finding other writers? I know the internet is one way. I appreciate anything you can suggest. 


Mary Kaczmarek

Attica MI




Hi Mary.  That's a question many people living in isolated areas would appreciate having an answer to.  First, there's always the library.  I'm in the process of moving to a country locale and yet one of the first things I've already done is introduce myself at the local library.  I offered to give some free talks on writing.  They were very receptive to this and really had a need for a creative galvanization.  While you may or may not want to give talks, the point is to contact the nearest library and ask if they have a writer's group.  If they don't, volunteer to start one.  After the library, try a nearby bookstore. From national chains to independently-owned bookstores, owners and managers are eager to have any type of program that emphasizes reading and writing.  Book discussion groups, as well, often have budding writers who inhabit them.  In general, groups meet twice a month or monthly.  It's tougher, I agree, when you live in a rural or remote locale, but certainly not impossible.   Good luck.


Hi Sandra:

I've come up with 23 messages so far, but have yet to submit any of them.  I find many of them are actually applicable to more than one occasion.  How do I say on the index card that the message is generic and it's up to them to use it for any occasion?  Or should I put an example greeting anyway (e.g. Happy Birthday) and let them change it to whatever they want?


Ever Olano


 Great question, Ever.  For generic friendship verses, you can label them "General Friendship."  If they're humorous verses, you can also use catch-all phrases in your heading, such as "Just Because," "Just For Laughs" or "Just For Fun."  The editor will get the idea.  Anytime you have a more specific occasion in mind, you'll want to use some sort of tag line - a generic line that immediately tells what the occasion is for.  "Happy Birthday to a terrific brother"  could be your tag line—or at the end of the verse, inside...”Have a great birthday.”  These are just two examples.  As you get more experience, you'll work the occasion more subtly into the verse:  "Since you're a year older..."  or  "Don't worry about aging..."  Again, if it's a friendship card and is "just because" you'll want to mark it as such.  However, be aware there are many subsets that collectively often get grouped under friendship, such as "Miss You,"  "Sorry I Haven't Written,"  "Please Write," etc.  You'll want to specifically put "Missing You" as the card subject on the top of your index card if the verse has that angle to it. 



Hi Sandra:


As I wrote my letters asking for guidelines, I wondered if there was any difference, from the company's point-of-view, between sending a letter, an email or just printing the guidelines off the website. It seems if I just print the guidelines, then I have no idea what their response time is, so I can't use that to judge whether or not I want to submit card ideas.  Also my name wouldn't have been before someone's eyes, even for the brief time of a guidelines request, if I print off the web. On the other hand, maybe guideline requests are annoying to the card companies??? I just wasn't sure. 


St. Louis,  MO



 Great question, Anne and one I’m sure others have wondered about.  Actually, if companies have their guidelines posted on their site, it shows initiative from the writer to simply take the guidelines off the site.  When submitting your first batch of work to a company, you can use a sentence to mention you perused their site, found it interesting and also printed the guidelines.  While it's true you won't have a sense of how long it took them to send the guidelines, the bottom line is they were organized enough to post the guidelines and that in itself gives you an inkling they considered the contribution of their writers/artists/photographers important enough to slot specific space on the site for the guidelines.  I'd request guidelines from those companies whose guidelines are readily available and just print out the others.  Good point. 



Dear Sandra,

One question I had was about submitting on 3x5 index cards.  The options available -- dragging out my old typewriter, hand printing my ideas, or buying a software program that would allow me to use index cards with my printer -- did not appeal.  I finally hit on the idea of buying 90 to 110 lb. weight paper, typing in several copy ideas per page, and using the paper cutter to get my 3x5 inch cards.
If there's a better idea, I would love to hear about it.  If buying a software program would make it much easier, I am open to the suggestion.



Your idea sounds like a solid one to me, but look at 65 lb card stock paper first...that may be the closer approximation to index card thickness.  I personally use my old typewriter, but that's from a long-standing habit.  Perforated index cards for use in a printer are quite expensive and come 10 to a sheet.  Hand-printing is time consuming and a daunting task when having so many other options available.  So, it looks as if you're hit upon a happy medium.  Good job.  Let me know how it works.   

Dear Sandra:

I recently completed your Greeting Card Writing Course and just had a quick question. I sent a batch of greeting card submissions (different ideas) to two separate companies.  The first replied quickly, letting me know they were
not interested at the moment, but I have yet to hear from the second. Is this a good sign or a bad one?  Do you think it would be appropriate for me to send them a quick note asking if they've reviewed my work?
Meg Corcoran

In general, this tends to be a good sign, although, of course, it varies depending on the company.  In many companies, ideas have to go through a screening process and your ideas will be read by several editors.  Ideas will often be looked at with an eye toward existing artwork the company has in its files or toward artwork the company plans to commission from its freelance artists.  Too, ideas are judged by how they'll fit in existing lines and how their customer base will react to the idea.   Some companies wait until they collect a bunch of work over a period  of several weeks, then only go into a meeting to decide which will make the cut and which won't.  So, you see, there are many factors going on once that batch of ideas arrives at a company's mailbox--traditional or cyber.

You want to wait at least 12 weeks to inquire about sent ideas from any company.  Once you've worked with a company, you'll have an idea of your approximate wait time and after that has passed, if you haven't heard, it's acceptable to drop a quick note or e-mail.  Remember to reference your code numbers and the date you sent the material. 

Dear Sandra:

Is greeting card writing just writing the verses (words only) for a certain subject say "sympathy," for example, or do you compose a whole card picture and all?
Lizabeth Martin

Your question goes to the heart of a process I talk about in my book & teach in my courses.  Sometimes one just writes the verses (if the words stand alone and no visual description is required); other times, if your verse is based on a visual treatment, you would need to describe that visual so an editor would understand your concept and hopefully purchase it.  You don't want to submit an entire package--verse & visual--unless specifically asked to do so.  This is a common misconception.  My article on The 3 Common Myths Of Greeting Card Writing is due to be published soon by Byline Magazine.  You'll probably find it very helpful.

Hello again Sandra!

I now have both your books and have just finished reading through the first one.  One questions:  When submitting ideas to the various card companies, is it prudent to send the same group of ideas to more than one company, both of whom may have the same or similar needs?
Loren L. Burns

Hi Loren!  You may send the same group of ideas to different companies with similar needs--BUT not at the same time.  This is known as simultaneous submissions, which is generally considered a big no no.  (There are exceptions, but these must be worked out with individual editors...more on that in a future column).  Multiple submissions, however, which is sending different ideas to different companies at the same time, is not only a good idea, but a must if you're going to sell with any regularity.

Hi Sandra,  
 I submitted some ideas to card companies however, it was before the postage increase and I was wondering if I would still get them back or would I have to write to the card companies requesting my ideas be returned to me along with an SASE that has the 37 cents postage? What should I do?




It's best, as soon as you hear of a postal increase, to just go ahead and include the increase on the SASE, since turn-around time for companies is imprecise.  Generally companies will put the extra postage on because they figure people forget.  However, to be safe, you might try contacting them via e-mail and explain that you neglected to affix the extra postage to your SASE.  Ask them how you should proceed.   Include your full name and city/state in your inquiry for easy reference.  This is a good time to reiterate that planning ahead and taking into consideration that there will be lengthy waits in turn-around time, will avoid these situations.   



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