How to Create Beautiful Graphics for Book Marketing Using Canva

How to Create Beautiful Graphics for Book Marketing Using CanvaPhoto by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

I’ll level with you — I know next to nothing about marketing. I became engaged in the activity not out of interest, but because I had no choice. I’m a self-published author, and in this industry, the difference between a bestseller and a flop lies not in the content, but in the marketing.

Over the past two years, I’ve kept aside my inborn introversion and forced myself to emerge from my shell. I’ve done live interviews, engaged with dozens upon dozens of influencers, and become as active on social media as I can possibly be.

The ltter is where I’ve found the most engagement, at least immediate. And it is there that I’ve learned a valuable lesson — give the average person a choice between seeing and reading, and they’ll always choose the former. This observation is backed by statistics:

  • Posts on Facebook which contain images get 2.3x more engagement than ones which don’t.
  • Tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than the ones without.
  • When people only hear information, they retain 10% of it three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with it, the same people retian 65% three days later.
  • 32% of marketers believe visual images are most important for their business. Blogging comes second with the support of 27% of marketers.

These are but a fraction of the number of statistics out there. They all drive home the same point, that visual content beats out its textual counterpart by a mile. This was a problem for me, because I had no idea how to create graphics. Thankfully, I stumbled upon the answer soon afterward.

Marketing is a brutal affair, at least for me. And since there must be others like me, I assume there are many who find it difficult. Today, I present you with the result of two years of struggling and experimenting, so that the graphics creation part of your marketing battle will be taken care of.

Preliminary steps

The application I use to create graphics is Canva. It’s a useful tool which comes packed with a ton of handy features, including thousands of free images, a staggering selection of font styles, different preset canvas sizes for different social media platforms, thousands of icons and numbers, and so on.

Apart from the canvas itself (that option comes with the premium version), you can resize and customize anything you see. That includes text. You can provide different effects pertaining to shading, hue, transparency, depth, color, line height, letter spacing, and whatever else you can think of.

Canva does have a premium version, which comes with even more high quality images, effects, the ability to resize your designs after you’ve created them, and so on. But I’ve never used it, because I’ve never had to. And I never felt like Canva was holding out on me, that I was missing out.

Please note that this article has two limitations:

  • I use Canva on my laptop, because it’s easier and more practical that way. It does have a mobile application, but its interface is different. The exact steps I lay out here won’t be applicable there. The general directions, however, will.
  • Canva also allows you to create short videos and animations. However, I’ve never used them. I’ve only ever created images. That feature of Canva is thus beyond the expertise I can provide.

That said, let us begin.

Step one: Select a primary social media platform

This is important because the blank canvas you’ll use to create your design must be of a certain size. Canva comes with preset sizes customized to the ideal size demanded by various social media platforms, so that no part of the image gets cut when posting to those platforms.

My primary platform is Instagram, so I simply search instagram and get the size. You can, of course, create your own sizes. But once created, only premium members can resize the canvas. There is a workaround — pasting the saved canvas as an image onto the new canvas and widening the image accordingly, but then you run the risk of the image borders getting cut.

Step two: Create a free account on Canva

This is the homepage of Canva on laptops:

Image for postScreenshot courtesy of the author

On the top-right section of the screen is a rectangular purple icon with the words Sign up. The registration process is quite simple. If you wish, you can sign up with your Facebook account, your Google account (this will link Canva to those accounts), or your email.

I used the email option. That’s also the only option highlighted in purple, so it appears Canva itself wants users to select it. Once you do, you’ll simply have to provide a username, your email, and a strong password. Canva will then ask you in which capacity you intend to use it (i.e., student, teacher, researcher, etc.). Choose the option relevant to you.

At one stage in this process, Canva will ask you whether you want to add others to your team. You can skip this step if you want by clicking on the top-right icon on that screen. Then comes the screen in which you’ll be asked to create your first design.

You’ll also see a confirmation link in your email. Click on it and you’re good to go. All the formalities are now complete.

Main steps

Now we come to the major steps. These broad steps are applicable to both the desktop and the mobile versions of Canva. If you have skill in designing, you’ll have an easier time. However, even complete amateurs such as myself can follow them.

Step one: Create design

If you’re using Canva for the first time and have just made it past the registration process, you’ll find yourself on this screen:

Image for postScreenshot courtesy of the author

If, for whatever reason, you’ve lost this screen, don’t panic. Simply navigate to Canva’s homepage, log in (if you’re not already logged in), and you’ll find yourself here:

Image for postScreenshot courtesy of the author

On the top-right corner you’ll see a circular icon. That’s your profile. I haven’t uploaded my picture to mine, so it just says CG (my initials). To the left of your profile, you’ll find a rectangular purple icon which says Create a design. All you have to do is click on it.

Regardless of how you got to the create design screen, you can search for the social media platform on which you shall post the design. In all likelihood, you’ll see more options than you’ll know what to do with. Type in only facebook, and you’ll see this:

Image for postScreenshot courtesy of the author

Select the one you need to move on to the next step. Alternatively, click on the search bar but don’t type anything. Instead, scroll down to the bottom. The second to last option should read custom size. Click on it. You’ll be asked to enter the width and height of the canvas you need.

The values can be entered in centimeters, millimeters, inches, or pixels. The default unit is pixels, but that can be changed from the dropdown to the right of the height field. Whichever method you choose to enter the dimensions of your canvas, you’ll now have to actually create your design.

Step two: Fill up the canvas in one of two ways

The first method is to create the design from scratch. You’ll see this screen:

Image for postScreenshot courtesy of the author

From the column of tabs on the extreme left, you’ll have to choose a background. This can be done from the Background tab or by choosing a free picture from the Photos tab and resizing it to fill the canvas. Or, if you already have a picture you’d like to use as a background, go to the Uploads tab, upload the picture, and finally insert it. Then you can resize it as required.

Then you have to insert whatever other photograph you need. For a self-published author such as myself, this usually means inserting a picture of my books, and often myself. After that you’ll have to insert appropriate text to convey whatever information you want to convey to the audience. This can be done from the Text tab. For me, this usually involves details about a book’s release, discounts, deals, and so on.

You can spruce everything up by using shapes and small designs from the Elements tab. You can find numbers, icons, logos of major companies like Amazon, and more. You can also find frames. You have to insert a frame, then drag a picture onto it. The picture will adjust to the frame.

This is an example of a design I created using this method:

Image for postImage courtesy of the author

The second, far simpler option is to use a template. The first option requires o

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