Author, Author Toolbox, Marketing, Publishing, Quotes, Writing

What I Learned About Marketing Images

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When writing snuck back into my life there was no turning back for me. My kids were both busy doing their own things and I had lived through things that I still needed to sort through. Those who write know that the act of creating is cathartic, and for those who don’t, let me just say that even non-writers can get something out of making sense of the world on a written page. So, what does this have to do with marketing, you might ask? Stay with me…

Because I was older when the perfect project came to me at the ideal time, there was (and still is) a sense of urgency in getting the whole thing out into the world. For what I had to say, and because I had so much to learn about the industry, it was clear to me early on I needed to self-publish. Self-publishing has its own set of challenges, which are ever-changing and fluid, but the community is so supportive and helpful that I have learned a ton from those who took the leap before me. For writers who like to maintain control of their end product, it is the only way of doing business in my mind. This was the most important component of my decision to Indie publish when I was planning the Power of Four series.

When I had completed my first draft of Sea of Dreams, I was a forty-something college student working full-time. I had taken a required class, which was taught by a soft-spoken and talented graphic designer. The course required that we create bookmarks for a series of books, and my teacher allowed me to use the books I was envisioning for my series, even though they were only “real” in my mind. This was the best exercise that I could have done for myself at that point. Going through that process allowed me to think about how each book was going to connect to the next, yet remain true to their individual stories. A semester or two after I took that class, I had a vision of what I was shooting for, and was ready to pull together a cover with my former teacher.

So if you have stayed with me, here is where I get to the point. For my first book, I thought long and hard about marketing, knowing full well the weight of it would be on my shoulders. I decided early on that I would need images other than my book cover to post on social media, as you can tire out an image quickly when sending out your message. I provided my designer 4 quotes from my book, and he went to work providing 4 different sizes for each of them, along with a bookmark, Facebook and Twitter banner. When book 2 – Winds of Change came along, we produced the same package of images and away I went posting them on my website, social media channels and on posters. In planning for book 3 however, we were looking at ways to reduce his workload and my cost, so I thought about the images he was producing vs the images I was actually using for my marketing, and here’s what I realized:

  • Consider the end medium – What works on Twitter, doesn’t always work on Facebook, and may not necessarily look right on Instagram. Each site has their own way of showcasing and sizing media. For instance, Twitter’s images show up as a rectangle, whereas Instagram’s are a square. Make sure that you let your designer know (or keep in mind when creating yourself) what you will be using the image for, that way, they can give you exactly the size that will look right for whatever you are posting it to.
  • A greater number of images doesn’t always equal more value – For my first 2 books, I had all my images made into 4 different sizes and shapes. When planning for book 3 my designer and I decided we would both be best served to narrow down the images and focus on the ones I used the most. We decided that all my slides would be done in a 1×1 and a 2×1, which gives me a square and a rectangle. Which takes me to…
  • Beta test your images – Through my scheduling software (I use Buffer.com), I posted the 4 images on all of my accounts simultaneously, each grouping about 5 minutes apart. I then logged on to all of my devices (Kindle, Nook, Smartphone and Laptop) and viewed how each of the images looked on the various social media accounts, on the multiple devices. I took notes, and what I found at the end of it was that I really only used 2 of the sizes for all of my needs, which allowed me to greatly reduce my costs. I do want to mention that when I did this, I let people know that I was doing a test and why they were seeing so many images come through their feeds.
  • Cut the fat – While it is really nice having a suite of images to use for various marketing needs, it is not nice to spend money (or time) you don’t need to. So, don’t create images unless you have platforms to post them to. Once you have your accounts set up, website rolling, whatever you have in mind, then you can start dabbling in images. Start with the free ones first, you would be amazed just how many wonderful images there are out there that are royalty free. Pixabay and Pablo by Buffer are two of my go tos. There are several authors I know who also use Canva for their aesthetics.
  • Printed media – For my first book, we did bookmarks for Sea of Dreams. When Winds of Change came out, I was so busy I didn’t realize I had a bookmark image and never ordered them. While they are beautiful, I will probably never order them since I am on to the next book now. I could have used that money elsewhere, so pretty irritated with myself! With book 3 we got smart, one side has the Playing with Fire image, the flip side promotes the entire series. So now, I can just order one bookmark and supply any purchase with something that matches. Perfect!

It is never too soon to think about the images you use, how you will use them, and how they will ultimately represent you. You are not only promoting a book, you are also promoting yourself as the creator, so you need to be sure that all the images you use are representative of the brand you are building. Think about your posts, what is the message you are trying to send? Perhaps there is a photo you can take yourself or a Giphy that you can attach that gives that extra oomph to what you have to say, but that still ties into your overall vision.

The last thing I would like to leave you with if you haven’t already done so is to consider splitting your promotional author self off from your personal self. That way your opinions on non-book related topics don’t morph into the area you are selling your product. Your author pages should be used for book-related activities and announcements about what you are doing, and your personal accounts can still include cute puppy pictures and recipe shares. I feel it is a good idea to keep the two separate, if nothing else, it provides a barrier between the public at large and the ones you love.

Happy Marketing! XO

 

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