Updated: Aug 29, 2021
So, you’re writing a book, have written a book and are about to publish it, or have published and just want to up your marketing game. This article will help you utilize one of the most powerful marketing tools available to authors: marketing graphics. It will also offer recommendations for design tools that will help form a cohesive look and feel for your business.
What are marketing graphics? They are visual aids that allow you to define your brand, communicate pertinent information about your products, and of course, help you sell your merchandise/services. Specifically, they can include logos, fonts, book covers, product/service pictures, reviews/ratings, advertising hooks, pricing, promotions, and other important details.
Common uses are for brand and product launching, rebranding, promotions, giveaways and contests, good old-fashioned “nudging” (remember, potential readers are born every day!), and other announcements.
To make this as useful to authors as possible, the following is organized for someone just beginning their writing and publishing journey. Included at the end of the article are links to sites you can hire graphic designers and specialty artists for all your visual marketing needs. For the DIYers, a short list of free software programs is included, as well.
Writing/Author Announcement - This may catch some of you by surprise, but simply letting the world know you are writing or beginning your author career is an important first step. Here is the announcement I made shortly before I published my debut novel (my real name has been redacted.)
Author logo - This graphic is important for your author brand. It should suit the genre of writing you will be be publishing in. To get some ideas, take a look at the logos of existing successful authors. Note: Both my author announcement and author logo were created using Canva, a design program used by many authors.
Take note of the font used for my pen name on the logo, as it was carefully chosen to appeal to my readers and easily identify the genre of books I write in. Although I have started with a romantic suspense novel, I plan to write in a broader range of contemporary romance, which this logo works well for.
Book cover - This will make or break your book and will also cause you some of the biggest headache in determining what is best to represent your story. Although you can do this with the help of templates from most of your publishing platforms, consider investing in a designer to take care of this instead. This image will not only be on your book but will also appear on your marketing graphics such as cover reveal, launch day announcement, and promotions and giveaways.
Cover reveal - Often a multi-day event, many authors ‘tease’ their readers by offering glimpses of their book covers months, weeks, or days before the book’s release.
Launch day - When authors hear of launch days, most will tell you it is the official day that their books are offered for sale to the public. However, they can encompass other scenarios as well: book versions, websites, series box sets, new pen names, et cetera. Make sure your graphics clearly show what you are launching. Here is the graphic I used when launching my website. I used the occasion to offer a giveaway.
(A quick note on the hair: I'm transitioning to my natural silvers. You can see my journey here!)
Giveaways/Promotions - As an indie author, you will give a lot of your books away. ARC and beta readers, bookstagrammers, contest and giveaway winners, as well as readers downloading on free promotion days are just a handful of those who will receive them. You want to present the information on how to sign up or access the deals in an attractive, persuasive manner, using marketing graphics.
This 3-day free Kindle promotion graphic garnered a lot of downloads when I posted it across several social media platforms.
I love my book cover but even I don’t think it was the main selling point of this promo graphic.
It may seem like a lot more work than you bargained for, but the returns are well worth the efforts for most authors. To assist you with the process, I’ve compiled a list of some programs, both paid and free, that will fulfill most of your graphic design needs. If you prefer to hire someone instead, I’ve listed a few places to find those professionals.
Graphic Design Programs
Canva: A common design program authors use to keep costs down by creating their own marketing graphics. Canva offer some images for free (check out their free vs. paid subscription plans) but you can also check out Shutterstock, iStock, PixaBay, or other royalty-free image providers (read license agreements carefully!) One of the useful features of Canva is that they offer blank templates for most of the major social media sites, such as Facebook posts or website banners, Instagram stories or reels, and Twitter posts. This will help you avoid unpleasant formatting issues and ensure your graphics look their best on each platform.
BookBrush: This program offers free and paid versions and was created to assist authors with their marketing needs. Fairly easy to use and worth a look.
Pixlr: This free editing software lets you remove backgrounds, lighten/darken individual pixels, and “repair” parts of images, among many other options. There are a few different versions, so make sure you find the one that offers what you are looking for.
Adobe Spark, Illustrator, and Photoshop: Most of these programs are what many graphic designers, book formatters, and some savvy authors use to create high-quality digital art. Getting the hang of using layers can be tricky, but if you have the time, money, and skillset to learn, they offer a high return on investment. Note: Adobe Spark is free to start.
Gimp: Another graphic design program that allows you to work in layers. It’s free!
Pablo: If you are a ‘simplicity is best’ type of person, give Pablo a try. It is free and very user-friendly, allowing text placement over images in record time.
Snappa: Although free and paid users are allowed access on Snappa to the same templates, graphics, and images, free users are on a 3-designs-a-month download restriction.
Graphic Professionals-for-Hire Sites
Fiverr This is a well-known site to hire individuals for everything from developing a marketing plan to creating book covers. I have had varying results on this site, and a few vendors who disappeared after receiving payment without delivering the job. Fiverr only refunded my money in the form of a site credit, so caveat emptor. Still, there are some truly talented individuals at all levels of skill who can provide affordable products and services (some starting at $5, as the name suggests.)
99Designs The Vistaprint-owned graphic design service has designers for almost anything you can dream up: websites, clothing and merchandise, book and magazine covers, logos, and even packaging and labels. They offer a “contest” approach by allowing different designers to submit their interpretations of your design request and letting you pick the winner. You have 7 days of back and forth collaboration until you either select your design or receive a full refund (as with all the listed programs and sites, make sure you read their policies before placing an order.)
Upwork is a job marketplace that allows skilled workers be matched with client’s looking for those skills. You can find graphic designers at various budget and skill levels and hire them on a job/hourly basis.
As you can see, there are plenty of options to help ease the marketing load off both indie and traditionally published authors who still find themselves responsible for the majority of this critical aspect of their author business.