Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cracking the QR Code for iPhones

So these things you've been seeing around are square and sometimes look like flowers. Sometimes more like puzzles. Sometimes more like computer chips. What the heck are they?

Even if you know what they are, you may not have figured how you can use them in your promotion. So here’s the scoop:

They’re called quick response codes or QRs, for short. They are a kind of barcode, but they impart tons of information. They’ll take you to a Web page, play a video, make a call—it’s the author’s (or retailers’) choice. The first time I saw one was in a restaurant. The tent card on our table offered a discount to anyone who signed up for their club right then and there using their quick response code, which, by the way, looked more like a Rorschach test. I wrinkled my nose and shoved my palms in the air. My daughter laughed, pulled out her iPhone, waved the camera part over the code like a wand (you need to have one of these gadgets to make a QR work!). And hocus pocus! A coupon. The next time we eat at Fratelli’s we get $10 off of our meal. Easy.

Well, you know me. I’m thinking Book Fairs. I’m thinking Trade Shows (Like Book Expo America). I’m thinking Book Signings. I’m also thinking paperless (because I’m green) and Web site traffic (because I market)!

You can put QRs anywhere, from your business cards to your ads to the poster you use at book fairs. I'll even be putting one on the cover of my next how-to book for authors.
The LA Times reports that some folks have them tattooed on their bodies. Really avid authors could do that alongside their book cover image. Ahem!

QRs can lead your reader (or prospective reader) to how-to videos that also entice them to read your book. Or lead your seminar students to recommended reading lists. Retailers everywhere are using them. Macy’s. Starbucks. Even ReMax. Best Buy is plastering them on the cases and boxes of the electronics they sell.

QRs aren’t all that new. They were invented in the 1990s, but their use has doubled in the last year, probably because they are so accessible to smart phones now.

Now, if we could just pass our little phone wand over them and get someone to transfer our data from our old computers to our new ones at no charge and fast. That would be magic!

It would also be magic if you e-mailed me ( with ideas you have for using QRs in book marketing. C’mon. Be a sport. Share!

The leading maker of codes is Scanbury. Related to them is a program called Scanlife ™ ( . You can read even more about them at Tony Eldridge’s marketing tips, . And you can get free codes made at 
Unfortunately, Blogger won't accept my new code (it isn't jpg, etc. ), but if you'd like to see how it leads you to my writers' resources pages at, e-mail me at with QR code in the subject line.  I'll send the cute little thing back to you. You'll see what it looks like, learn about the process, and--at the end--find the most amazing collections of writers' aids you've seen in a long time. (-:


Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor . If your followers at Twitter would benefit from this blog post, please use the little Green widget to let them know about this blog:

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