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a:The Graphic Details


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Pencil-by-Wimena-Kane-525x394.jpgNo matter who publishes your book, your obligation to promote it is inescapable. Every author would rather be writing than promoting so it’s important to make your time flogging your book count. Also, if you’re like me, you try hard not to lose money writing, and that means outsourcing as little as possible. Because social media platforms are the predominant cost-free methods available to us, creating eye-catching graphics is a skill we’d all be wise to optimize.

Luckily, I truly enjoy making graphics, and when I have time or am procrastinating writing, I volunteer my services to friends. Over the years, I have learned a thing or two about promoting books using images, and I’m here to share them with you.

Keep it simple. Eye-catching graphics are not complicated; they are clean. How do you make a clean graphic? Someone who has studied graphic design could explicate the principles, but since that’s not me, I can only tell you what I try to do: create a mood and showcase the cover. If you’re lucky, your cover and title already convey genre and mood. The job of the graphic is to amplify that or to suggest what reading the book would be like. It’s spin, it’s fantasy, it’s advertising. For two friends, I used Canva (https://www.canva.com/) to create two distinct moods. For Jessica Strawser’s upcoming release I echoed the water motif on the cover; it didn’t need more.

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For Amy Sue Nathan’s book, I picked up the beach motif and used a less stuffy font appropriate to the tone of the story.

Sonja-WU-Graphics-2-300x300.png

Limit the text. The primary purpose of a graphic is to get attention. The secondary purpose is to convey information. If you try to convey too much, however, you’ll muddy the waters and fall short of both goals. People are scrolling, they are distracted, they are eating lunch and will swipe past a wordy graphic. If you are promoting a giveaway, say “giveaway” and not “enter the first giveaway for my new release.” A brief quote, even a single word (“Extraordinary!”), gets the message across better than two-sentences. If you want to include a link to your website or the book’s page, make it small and stick it in a corner. Links are already in your post, right?

Make your cover the star. Whatever background you choose, ensure it does not compete with your cover. If you’re not sure whether it does, try something different. The graphic on the right really makes my friend Kelly’s cover pop while also signaling the story’s light-hearted mood. Compare that to the background on the left with similar colors, but busier. Your eye bounces around all that citrus instead of landing solidly on the cover.

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Make it 3-D. Flat covers are so 2018. Why not show what your book looks like in paper, or on a e-reader or phone? I use http://diybookcovers.com. In seconds I can generate an image and upload it to Canva.

Use high quality photos. Most of the time, Canva’s library of free photos is all I need. If I fall in love with one of the upgrade photos, I pay a $1 a piece. Here’s another tip: sign-up with Adobe Stock (https://stock.adobe.com/ ), download ten beautiful photos for free, then cancel the subscription. Sneaky, huh? Remember that you don’t need to use the whole photo; you can zoom in and use just the sky, just a shoe, or part of a face. In that case, high resolution matters, unless blurry is point, which it can be.

Take your own photo. Bookstagrammers have made this into an art form but there’s no reason you can’t give it a shot (pun intended).

  • Natural light is best even if it’s dim—your phone camera will adjust.
  • Create a mood with objects but don’t go overboard; simple is still best.
  • Leave room for text if you plan to add it.

Ready for my cunning e-reader photo hack? Those 4 x 6 postcards/bookmarks you had made fit perfectly onto a Kindle, as you can see here.

Sonja-WU-Graphics-5-225x300.jpg

Pressed for time? Use Instant Mockups. BookBrush (https://bookbrush.com ) is a great resource when your publisher forgets to tell you your book is on sale—today only. All you do is upload your cover then choose the scene to display it on. The quality of the end product isn’t the best, and you might see the same mockups used by others (like someone wearing your dress to a party!) but nothing is faster. I used BookBrush to make this, adding the text in Canva.

Sonja-WU-Graphics-6-300x300.png

Now it’s your turn: what resources do you use to create book promotion graphics?

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About Sonja Yoerg

Sonja Yoerg grew up in Stowe, Vermont, where she financed her college education by waitressing at the Trapp Family Lodge. She earned a Ph.D. in biological psychology from the University of California, Berkeley and wrote a nonfiction book about animal intelligence, Clever as a Fox (Bloomsbury USA, 2001) and four novels: House Broken, Middle of Somewhere, All the Best People, and the upcoming True Places (1/19). Sonja lives with her husband in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

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