Last month, I kicked off this series sharing how I’m using social media to promote my debut book by talking about my social media calendar. I originally envisioned the next post would be about how I use a particular platform, but I realized there’s another important factor to cover first:
In this very visual world, it’s important to be able to create graphics that catch the eye as people are scrolling through endless posts. And this is true not only for Instagram, which is a visual platform, but for Twitter as well. Posts that include images generally have higher engagement.
So how do you create those graphics?
First of all, take amazing photos and videos! If you are an experienced photographer/videographer, that will take you a long way. In all honestly, photography is not my strength, and I’m continually getting inspiration from others on how I can improve my photos. I tried to stage gorgeous photos of books for a while and decided to just give up on that–because it wasn’t my strength. When I’m posting a review, my go-to is now a basic photo of the book with something semi-related to it.
On the video side, don’t be afraid to splice videos together. You don’t have to get a whole video all in one take. As I have a Mac, I use iMovie to edit videos, and when appropriate, I add captions since the default is often for them to play without sound.
One extra side tip: get a stand! I take most photos and all videos with my phone these days (although I do still have a nice digital camera), and the stand is so valuable. I can position the photo exactly where I want it and avoid any shakiness. It’s especially helpful if I’m taking photos of myself and want to set a timer. If you watched my ARC unboxing video (link here), I used a stand for all of that and then edited it in iMovie.
You’ve probably seen posts on social that include multiple photos in a grid format. I created the one to the right using Pic Stitch, a free app that allows you to make photo collages and export them as jpegs. There are a number of these apps out there, and you can select the one that works best for you. Note that if you’re pulling images off the internet instead of using your own photos, be sure they are royalty-free.
Pixelmator has been one of my go-to graphics apps for years, and it would probably still be my favorite if I hadn’t discovered Canva (more on that below!). I actually didn’t start using it to create graphics for socials but to make books for my kids every year, and it has the easiest features for removing photo backgrounds of any app I’ve found. (If you have other app suggestions for this, please tell me in the comments.) I use it for other things as well at times, but that’s probably the most relevant here. Once you remove a background, you can export the image as a PNG and add it to whatever other graphic you’re working on.
Book Cover Mockups
Want to make your book cover 3D? Or put it onto an e-reader or phone? Or make a collage of it on multiple formats? There’s an easy app that allows you to upload your cover image and select the format, then it spits out a PNG or JPG file for you to download. And it’s free! It’s located at http://diybookcovers.com/3Dmockups/.
It seems like everyone in my debut group was using Canva before me, and once I actually signed up, I was blown away. It’s a free service that curates templates, royalty-free images, and graphics for basically anything you could want to design. Not just social posts but flyers, postcards, bookmarks, and so on. You do have to keep an eye on which photos/templates are free versus part of the paid plan, but there are plenty of free options. I’m not ruling out signing up for the Pro version at some point, but for now the free version has worked just fine for me.
I’ve used Canva to create the following:
- Twitter and LinkedIn headers
- Debut week graphics for #the21ders
- Teaser quote graphics for Instagram
- Graphics for books read on my Kindle, since I don’t have a book to photograph. This includes #the21ders ARCs.
- Character Corner graphics for my newsletter (next issue 3/24; sign up here!)
- Highlight graphics for my Instagram profile
- Cover reveal graphic!
I definitely noticed a bump in engagement once I improved my graphics. They are still a work in progress as I continue to learn.
Do you have any tips on making graphics that catch and keep attention? I am always looking for more ideas!