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Making the Most of Canva: 7 Design Ideas for Authors


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So much is expected of authors these days: not only the writing and editing of our work, but also promotion, speaking, social media, newsletters…the list goes on.

One efficiency tool used by many authors to help with promotion and social media is Canva, an online graphic design tool that can be used either on a computer or via an app on your phone. The benefits of Canva are endless: designs are professional-looking, easy to create, downloadable, and entirely customizable. You can mix and match designs (copy & paste is your friend here!) to achieve precisely the design you’re wanting. Canva also has an incredible “Help Center” full of design tutorials and content suggestions.

Most Canva design tools are free to use, though an upgraded “pro” version is available for $120/year for anyone desiring premium content. This gives you access to more fonts, branding kits, scheduled social media, and more.

Below, I’ve listed several design ideas for authors looking to get started with Canva. Or, for those of you already using the tool, perhaps something below will spur a new idea!

Canva design idea #1: E-books

This design idea is great for social media to advertise and promote that your book is available in e-book format. Simply choose a design template that you like (try element keyword searches like “kindle” or “ebook”.) Then, upload an image of your book’s cover and overlay it onto the template.

Don’t forget to utilize Canva’s resizing tool, too: it can quickly resize images to fit Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and so on! No need to recreate the image every time.

In this image below, as indicated by the red arrow, I’ve overlaid my book’s cover onto a “blank” e-reader. I can then download this image and use across any social media.

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Canva design idea #2: Audiobooks

The process for this is almost identical to the above, however I used the keyword search “audiobook.” Remember, as you look through Canva’s image results, try to choose ideas that are aligned with your social media or brand aesthetic.

Also, for both e-books and audiobooks, don’t forget that by posting promotional images, you also need to include purchase links so your followers can buy what you’re promoting!

In this image below, as indicated by the red arrow, I’ve overlaid my book’s cover onto a “blank” phone screen, which is situated next to a pair of headphones. I can then download this image and use across any social media.

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Canva design idea #3: Press kits and speaker resumes

Press kits make an excellent addition to your website, so event organizers can quickly access key information about your work, location, social media reach, etc. Similarly, speaker resumes are beneficial if you’re seeking speaking engagements or want to partner with a speaker’s bureau.

Thankfully, Canva has countless templates for this. Whether you’re going for something edgy, whimsical, basic, or anything in between, you’re bound to find a design you like. Below are a few screenshots to give you an idea of Canva’s offerings in this space.

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Canva design idea #4: Graphics for websites and newsletters

Hate pulling together imagery for your website and newsletters? You’re in luck: Canva can do so much of this heavy lifting for you. Below is an image I pulled together for a Writer Unboxed post about Social Strategy; I also loaded this image to my website as guidance for aspiring authors.

Creating this design in Microsoft Paint or another tool would have been terribly time-consuming, but I was able to make this image in just minutes with Canva. And all fonts, colors, and icons were completely customizable, as well as the sizing of the various elements.

At the bottom of the image, you can see the countless other image options that Canva suggested. The hardest part about this design was simply picking my favorite!

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Canva design idea #5: Author tour schedules (virtual or in-person)

Whether you’re planning to do a virtual or in-person tour, readers love knowing where and when they can find you. You want this list to be eye-catching and on-brand (your events are meant to sell books, after all!) Here, Canva can easily help you with a professional-looking image.

Below is a screenshot of a few templates. I used the keywords “tour schedule,” but feel free to try others, like “agenda” or “calendar” or “list of dates.” If you find a template you’re not wild about, but it has elements you like, create your own by copying and pasting the elements you like.

Once you have your design, size it to your desired platform (e.g. Instagram) and post away.

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Canva design idea #6: Bookmarks

Going to an event soon? A great promotional idea is to create bookmarks, which you can design on Canva – even with QR codes for easy purchasing! Here’s a bookmark I designed in Canva. I’ll be bringing a couple hundred of these to a conference session later this year.

(FYI – I created the QR code for free using a tool available online. There are plenty of QR code generators online!)

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Canva design idea #7: Conference or speaking presentations

Last but not least: presentation material. Gone are the days of Microsoft Powerpoint. Canva has a slew of presentation templates. I often mix and match (then I standardize colors across all slides so no one knows my little secret!)

Another perk to Canva for presentations: no need to download these files onto a USB or email them to yourself. So long as the venue has Wifi, you can simply log into your Canva account and present straight from Canva’s website.

Below is an example from a presentation I gave last year on Social Strategy.

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Authors, do you love Canva as much as I do? What additional design ideas would you add to this list?

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