As an author, when you’ve got a new book releasing, you want to shout it from the rooftops! These days, for all sorts of converging reasons, that increasingly means the metaphorical, digital rooftops of Instagram, Twitter, and other online forums. This requires a familiarity with book promotion graphics.
By nature of what we do as writers, it can be easy to forget that visuals are incredibly powerful for promotion and delivering messages. But their power can’t be ignored:
- Visuals with color increase readers’ recall and attention spans by 82%
- Facebook posts with graphics perform 37% better than posts with just text
- People can process images significantly faster than they process words
But it’s a rare author that’s a graphic design expert—I’m certainly not! And you don’t have to be, either. Fortunately for us, there are excellent tools available that simplify the design process and allow any author to create excellent graphics to promote their books with minimal stress.
For the purposes of this post, I’ll be focusing on Canva, a free design tool that I rely on for do it yourself book promotion.
Step One: Gather Your Graphics
The first thing you’ll need is a high-res (high resolution) image of your book cover. To really max your optics, ask your publisher or cover designer if it’s possible to get elements from the cover image too—especially the background.
You can also get creative with this if you like, and create some additional images inspired by your book. For example, for my most recent novel, I collaborated with a talented artist to create an illustration of a fictional creature from the world I created for the story.
Step Two: Take Inventory
What kinds of graphics will you need for your campaign? Each social media channel has different optimal dimensions, as does your website, your newsletter, and other channels you might wish to include!
For me, this list of graphics tends to look something like this:
- Twitter header
- Facebook header
- LinkedIn header
- Twitter post graphic
- Facebook post igraphic
- Instagram post graphic
- Stories graphic
- Newsletter graphic
Luckily, most of these are universal enough that design tools like Canva offer easy grab-and-go presets for these dimensions—just browse the library or search for what you need.
Now, upload your book cover, elements, and any other graphics you want to work with and you have everything ready at your fingertips.
Step Three: Set Your Templates
Your promotion graphics will likely be an opportunity to not only show off the cover of your book, but also key supporting teaser or blurb text.
Start with one of your larger dimensions, or one that you feel is particularly important for your campaign—I often start with my Instagram template since the images are the full focus in the feed. Then:
- Consider the rule of thirds. It’s tempting to center the elements of your design, but in fact, it’s better to divide your designs into thirds. Once you see it, you’ll recognize what’s made so many other pro-level images you’ve seen look so polished.
- Keep text short! You want it to be skimmable at first glance. An elaborate, dense quote of praise does you no good if no one takes the time to read it.
- Know your color codes. In design, color consistency is everything. Pick colors that complement your book cover or author brand (the dropper tool is great for this), but once you choose them, note those HEX codes and use the exact same hues everywhere.
- Use templates. Canva (and other graphic tools) offer templates for all sorts of purposes and dimensions. If you’re not sure what to do, pick one that speaks to you and stay as close to the original as possible.
For me, a tried-and-true formula has been book cover on one-third line, and a brief review quote centered on the other one-third line. This will still look pretty flat, so this is where having your book cover elements on hand can be a game-changer. Use it (or a zoomed-in segment of it) as the background to the image.
Step Four: Adjust for Other Sizes
Once you have the first version how you like it, you can copy and paste those elements over to the others and quickly have a consistent look to your graphics with just a few tweaks to account for each one. Don’t overthink it! You want your book promotion to be quickly recognizable across all channels.
Step Five: Create Your Collections
There’s one thing left to do. Now that your template is set for each channel you wish to use graphics on, you’ll want to create variations of each to feature different teasers or quotes. In Canva, you can simply create copies of your first graphic in each version of it for as many different variations you want to create. Easy as A-B-C.
Your Book Promotion is in Your Hands
Graphics are an important part of a book launch campaign, but you don’t have to be a graphic design expert to create some stellar visuals. The right tools, an understanding of a few key design principles, and a couple hours. Then, trust your gut, have some fun, and don’t be shy about pulling out a trusty template.
By day, E. J. Wenstrom is a digital strategy pro with over 10 years at communications firms. By early-early morning, she’s an award-winning sci-fi and fantasy author of Departures and the Chronicles of the Third Realm War novels. She believes in complicated characters, terrifying monsters, and purple hair dye.