Mission: I’ve always loved those social media posts that are a quote taken from the book over an awesome image. So I decided to put my designer hat on and see if I could make a few for my adult paranormal romantic suspense novel, Death’s Dancer.
Time: 1+hour. Ok, let’s be real, 2+
Step one. Get a Canva account. Finished!
It’s about that easy. Ok, so there are a few more things that will come in handy.
- For one, having a good source for free stock photos is way better karmically than stealing them off the internet. Seriously people. There are so many awesome sites that feature gorgeous photos you can use with (or without) attribution. There is no need to use something that may belong to someone else who doesn’t want it used without permission. Just because someone else already tagged it on Pinterest, doesn’t mean it’s a proper use. Try Unsplash, Pixabay (which also has great free stock video for use in book trailers, but that’s another post) or Pexels for starters.
DO READ THE FINE PRINT. Some require you to attribute the artist somewhere, which as an amateur shutterbug myself, I think is just right thing to do in any case. Some have restrictions on use (like you can’t sell it) I’m not responsible if you get busted for snatching a picture and printing it up on pillows for sale at society9 or wherever.
- You will also need quotes. This was the hardest part for me. I asked my editor and a few readers if there were any lines that stood out, because I’m terrible at this part. I looked for lines that I thought defined my characters, or took an ordinary situation and gave them a twist. You could also do inspirational quotes from authors or, stuff your dad says (but that’s already taken) or whatever..
- Take all of that to Canva and create a free account. Fair warning, the free stuff on Canva is a gateway drug to paying them for cooler stuff. But at a buck or two extra for stock photos, layouts and additional fonts, it’s not the worst investment you could make, especially if you really like this stuff and get serious about it. Just don’t get carried away. I’m serious.
- Pick the social media template (I used the square for IG and Pinterest) scroll through the free offerings until you find one you like (or pay for one, big spender) and tweak away. I find Canva has just the right amount of options (fonts, colors, and elements) to be creative without getting lost.
- Once you get into this, you’ll find can design a lot of stuff on Canva: FB/Twitter headers, newsletters, postcards, etc..
Here’s a few tips:
- Go for pretty good, not perfect. But beware, design can be total rabbit hole. I suggest setting a time limit, or locking up your inner perfectionist. Just throw up a few quotes over a few pretty pictures and see what sticks. Keep the ones you like and move on.
- Simple is always better. Pick clean images without a lot of noise or contrast (though you can do some image tweaking Canva easily)
- Don’t get all matchy-matchy. You can get lost in the rabbit hole of stock photos looking for the perfect representation of your heroine. THERE BE DRAGONS… I found it was a lot easier when I avoided looking at people, and found images that matched the mood, or an inanimate object in the book. Peonies appear a few times in Death’s Dancer, for example, which led me to sexy photos of flowers in general. Spend a little time brainstorming after you have your quotes. Think of it like the game Taboo. Can you find images that indirectly clue the viewer in to the scene without using the obvious choices?
- Tweak away. The canva designs are pretty basic. What makes them great is you could plug in your image and quote and get a pretty decent image without changing a thing. BUT, you can personalize them a lot just by changing the fonts, sizes, colors and adding filters. I often play with the orientation of my stock images as well: by flipping them horizontally or vertically, you can really get a lot of milage out of the same image. (Another reason to limit use of “people” pictures)
Note: Of course could also do all of this yourself in Photoshop or GIMP, but I’m NOT a graphic designer. I work much better (and faster) taking an existing design I like and tweaking to personalize it. Plus, I figure if you’ve got those kind of design chops you probably don’t really need this tutorial do you?
So now time to put my money where my mouth is. Here’s what I came up with during naptime (approx 1.5 hours)
Note: I already had a Canva account and had asked for quote suggestions, so that helped speed things up.
Is this a kissing book?
I tried to stay away from swearing and sexy-times for these because both taken out of context rapidly loose their draw, but the first quote is one of my favorites. The second might be a bit busy with the font choice, but meh, I liked it. You decide. The second two are quintessentially Azrael.
That’s it! I can already see a few things I’d tweak at the first opportunity, especially once you look at them in thumbnail size (and down the rabbit hole she goes!) Overall, not too shabby for a first run at it. Give it a try and tell me what you think in the comments.
I’d love to hear any special tweaks you discover, or tips you might have, or your efforts: drop them below!