Canva for Authors: why bother?

When my first book came out, I expected the publisher to do the marketing. (Ah, baby author me was so naive!). Turned out that was wrong. Where were my lovely marketing graphics that I could share on social media? How come other people got photos of their book covers on bus stops and on billboards? What was going on?

Eventually, I figured out that those cool images of your book on a billboard were mock ups and I found out how to make them. You used to have to either use Photoshop or fiddle around using different sites that dropped your cover image into different backgrounds. The websites were great, but the range was limited, so you saw a lot of authors using the same backgrounds.

The other thing about that first book was that the cover was … interesting. It wasn’t in keeping with the romcom market and it looked like someone had made it in Word. (They honestly hadn’t – the main image was hand drawn, but it still looked … not great). I showed it to a graphic designer friend who was so offended by it that he offered to do the cover for my next book for free (which he did, and it was beautiful). I learned at that point that sometimes the professionals might not actually be great at everything. Somewhere along the line, I decided I was going to teach myself graphic design.

I started off using PicMonkey (which is brilliant but pricey), but they started charging for their free tier, so I moved over to this shiny new platform called Canva. I’ve been using Canva for 7 years now and it’s become better and better. I had so much fun playing with it, that I even signed up for a Canva Pro subscription (even though I didn’t really need to), because I got so much value from them that I wanted to support them.

I started this with the question ‘why bother’? The answer is ‘because you have to’. If you’re really lucky, you’ll get some fun promotional graphics sent to you from your publisher around when the book first comes out. After that, their focus moves on to the next book and the next book after that, so if you need anything more – like different ads, or some printed merch (like bookmarks) you need to do it yourself.

I use Canva for book covers (I love doing those), Twitter graphics, Facebook images, little video ads, book trailers, cover reveal images, TikToks … all sorts. Eventually, I decided I’d record myself making things and put those on YouTube, so that you can make these things too.

If you want to know more, check out my channel. Here’s a video on how to use Canva to make a book cover reveal image:

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