Marketing through eye-catching visuals is nothing new. We live in an online world full of photos, videos, and color, and we feel compelled to share what we like with others on our social platforms. Whether you prefer Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest, image is king. A great image that speaks to people will get shared and there goes your marketing, all by itself. But the hard sell, even a book cover, isn’t necessarily what people share. They may be glad to know your book is out, but they probably aren’t going to push it on their friends and connections for you.
So how do you figure out what to post for sharing and how to create it? What to share is the tricky part. One social media expert ranks these five types of images as best for social sharing: Quotes, How-to’s, Infographics, Checklists, and Quick Tips. This makes sense because rich content — info that really helps people do something, learn, or feel better — is what people are searching for online.
How does this help sell your book though? Quotes from reviews or even from your own book can be incorporated into the image. Be original. Find a reason for someone to like your book; make them laugh, cry, be intrigued, or gasp with delight.
One great resource for creating images, whether tweaking photos or making designs from scratch, is PicMonkey. The basic service is free. Use your own photos or stock photos or a blank template, add text, and be sure to point people back to your website or blog for more information. They have templates for square, portrait, landscape, Facebook cover, and more. You can pay extra for fancier fonts and textures and really go to town.
I’ve been experimenting with the site for about six months now. The only downside to PicMonkey is that you have to save your image to your computer. Once you close the window, it’s gone. Once you’ve saved it and shut it down you can’t edit it any more. (I find it helpful to save a background sometimes, as I did with my new Facebook cover below. I went back to PhotoShop to add the book covers but the background was a snap with PicMonkey. Honest, it’s fun and easy. No design degree required. The checklist image above took me about five minutes to make.)
Check out this great tutorial about PicMonkey and social media sites.
Okay, great, so you’ve created some images. Maybe they are inspirational quotes from your favorite writers. Maybe they market your book with a photo of the setting. Or announce a sale like this one for PLAN X, or simply entice somebody to read more on your blog. Now what?
Using whatever social media you are comfortable with, post, hashtag, and go. See what works and what doesn’t. If you can add Google Analytics to your website, you can see where clicks come from and what is working.
Paid advertising offers more risk but potentially a much wider audience outside your usual tribe. When advertising on Facebook you can add up to five images for a campaign and Facebook will initially send them all out to your targeted audience. Whichever one performs best, that is, gets liked, clicked, and shared the most, will then be sent out over the others. When I was advertising for my new novel this image turned out to be most successful, and I almost didn’t use it. (Dogs, what can I say?)
A trick with Facebook ads is to not use the book cover itself as once again it seems too pushy. Try to be friendly and enticing, you want people to click, share, like. This small image was successful, I think, because it fit nicely on mobile devices. You could see the whole thing on your phone. More and more marketing is done on mobile, so make it smallish and mobile-friendly.
Social media change every day. Now you can promote your Pins on Pinterest, your tweets on Twitter. Decide what you do best and do it there. If it isn’t working you can always move on. There’s always another day to market your book. J Have fun.
Lise McClendon is the author of eleven novels and a partner in Thalia Press. As a traditional author she published two mystery series with New York houses. Since 2009 she has published five novels through Thalia including this year’s The Girl in the Empty Dress. She also publishes thrillers as Rory Tate. Her website is LiseMcClendon.com.