DIY Graphic design and stock photos for marketing
You have to know how to work a little bit of graphic design magic here and there for your promotions.
Giveaways, flyers, bookmarks, and promotional posts will all require some sort of graphic with your cover art on them. Since most of those things let the cover art do the talking, you are still utilizing professional design. In some cases, you will contract a professional again, but in many of them, you can put together an attractive looking graphic.
Know when to contract out. Your cover design? That’s a huge deal and not a promotional graphic for social media. I’m only talking promotional graphics here for DIY. There are super talented people out there when you need them. If you are running an expensive marketing campaign and can’t DIY an advertisement, contract a talented individual.
Fiverr. When I needed graphics that I couldn’t design (my subculture symbols) I went to fiverr, and contracted a designer to make black and white vectors (images that don’t lose shape or quality when they are expanded).
I applied filters to the vectors to make them my own. I edited black and white vectors (images that don’t decline in clarity as they are resized) by adding color and putting my own artistic edge on the logos.
I now have 11 symbols that are the answers to my Powers and Personality quiz.
My logo artist was Scorpion 6. You can find their page here: https://www.fiverr.com/scorpion6/make-any-kind-of-logo-design?extras=575669
When working on your own graphic design:
Use vectors when possible: Vectors are black and white images that don’t loose their shape as you make them bigger, and using vectors will help you make a high wuality design.
Make sure that words are legible. Words need to pop, and they can’t be grainy, distorted, or too neon. I like to add shadow filters to mine to create a shadow underneath the text. Sometimes, you can use a box as a strip to put words in front of.
Pay attention to centering words. Always align text to the best of your ability. Turn on a grid if you can.
Always use high quality graphics. You need high resolution for your background. Sometimes, a desktop wallpaper search will heed fantastic results, and other times, you will need to find sites that have free stock photos. If you’re an Indie author on your first book, you don’t really have the money to be paying for graphics. You also don’t want to be stealing anyone’s work. Where can you find stock photos that are free? This blog post from Bootstrap Bay is a great start: 21 Amazing Sites With Breathtaking Free Stock Photos.
Have someone look it over. Not sure if writing is legible enough? Ask someone their opinion. You’ll get better as you go, and with feedback.
I use Inkscape for graphic design.
For the purposes of simple marketing for my book, I downloaded Inkscape for free, and use its filters to alter text and design. It was intuitive and I only looked a few things up. If you have no idea where to start, perhaps I can help!
As far as Inkscape goes, here are some tips:
You will need to navigate these 5 tabs on the top menu to get around.
Learn the following tabs first:
File: The file drop down will help you export your file so you can use it as an image.
Edit: Edit will help you select each layer so your file exports properly.
Layer: Each image you paste will be on a layer. New layers are automatically on top of the first layer. You can add layers and name them appropriately, as well as move images or text to specific layers. (top menu) Select “layer”, select “layers” to show the layers.
Hide the layers by toggling the eye:
By moving certain parts of your design to different layers, you can isolate them to edit them, which you will find adds a lot of ease to your design. I made 11 (22 with the results pages) similar graphics, and by moving the different pieces to different layers, I could change them easier.
Text: You will need to highlight the text to apply each additional change. Try shadow filters on your text to make the graphics stand out from the background. Avoid streching the text when possible, because it can look distorted. Change the point size instead.
Filters: filters and fonts are a lot of fun, and filters are honestly how I design everything. You can apply filters to anything by selecting the graphic or text you want, and then selecting a filter from the drop down menu. I made my ink drip cityscape by use of filters. I’ll explain how to layer next.
Layering text: I set up my text plain without filters, copy it, and then use a filter on the plain text (box 1 with filter). After my first plain text gets a filter (box 1 with filter), I paste the original text over it as my second text box (box 2 plain). Now, I layer the second text box (box 2 plain) on top of the filtered text (box 1 filtered) for a special effect.
Remember that your new text will automatically layer over your last text box, so copy and paste in the order you want. You can remove filters by use of the filter drop down menu.
To save: Inkscape saves as an internet file until you export it to a .png. Save your internet files (.svg files) in a clearly marked folder so you can find them later for small changes. You will have to export your design to make it an image and not an internet file. You can export as a PNG, which is an image file that can be opened pretty much anywhere.
To export: (top menu) Click edit, select all (to get every single layer). (top menu) Now click file, export. If you run into issues where nothing shows up in your exported file, change the export type to “drawing”. Always check the file name before exporting to a location, because Inkscape might revert to an older file name. I learned that the hard way with my symbols.
Common promotional materials:
Bookmarks. I gave away bookmarks for newsletter signups at events. I recommend Gotprint. Download their template and design off of that. This took me hours to design my first book mark, but it was worth it.
Book Banners. I suggest looking at other book banners in your genre for inspiration to your layout.
I used vistaprint for my banner. My referral link is here: http://vistaprint.extole.com/s/7bbs7?share_id=6298106424574296510
Merchandise. This is a seperate topic that I am currently working on and will have up during the first week of December, so subscribe and check back!
Graphic design will be trial and error at first, but you will need it for the many promotional opportunities of an Indie Author.
If you enjoyed my Dear Author post, please add my book to your amazon wish list so it shows up in Amazon emails to current subscribers! It’s free to you, and a huge help to me! (and only takes 3 clicks!)