We're writers so our default way of exploring and understanding the world is through words.
They may well judge you by your book cover, your Twitter images or your Instagram channel first, and THEN read what you have to say.
In today's article, Dr Rachele Baker explains some of the ways that you can use image marketing to attract readers to your books.
What attracts people to buy your book?
What is the first thing people react to when they see your book on a bookstore shelf or online? Your book cover.
Your book cover image, its colors, and the emotional reaction it elicits in people is an excellent example of visual storytelling.
People’s emotional reaction to your book cover will determine whether they read the title, pick up your book, and open your book to explore it further.
We are writers. Our craft is telling stories and creating strong mental images with our words. But if we do not utilize the power of visual storytelling to market our books, our books may not reach the readers we desire.
Obviously, your book cover design is crucial to the success of your book. But what about after your book is published?
What can you do to get your book into the hands of readers?
There are many opportunities to harness the power of visual storytelling to attract readers to our books including:
- BookBub display ads
- Facebook and Instagram ads
- Facebook parties
- Joint promotions with other authors
- Author book giveaway swaps
- Newsletters, and
- Social media posts
The key to successful book marketing with these various methods is using focused, high-quality graphics to capture readers’ attention and get them engaged.
Visual images are powerful. They can captivate you, make you happy, make you sad, or make you angry. Pictures and images can remind you of things you experienced in the past.
The massive numbers of people on Instagram and Pinterest speaks to the power of visual images.
Combining relevant visual images with compelling text to engage an audience is a skill and art form known as graphic design. Key elements of effective graphic designs for visual storytelling include image quality, relevance, colors, fonts, overall balance, and message.
The graphic design for your marketing images should be consistent with the genre of the book. For instance, colors such as red can be associated with passion, anger, or danger. Blues and greens can evoke calm feelings.
All aspects of the graphic design should work together to allow readers to see and feel what your book, article, or event is about before they have even read one word of the description. An effective graphic design will draw people in and make them want to learn more.
Graphic designs should tell a story that supports your goal – whether your goal is to attract people to your Facebook party, get them to click on an article you wrote on your website, or get them to click over to your book’s page on Amazon.
Here are 7 ways to use visual storytelling to market your book.
#1: BookBub Display Ads
A wonderful alternative to the extensive submission requirements, approval process, and high cost of BookBub Featured Deals are BookBub CPC (Cost Per Click) and CPM (Cost Per Thousand Impressions) display ads. These display ads are found at the bottom of each BookBub daily email.
BookBub CPC and CPM ads do not have to be submitted for approval, can be quite inexpensive to run, and can produce very good results in terms of both exposure and sales.
Since BookBub CPC/CPM ads are quite small (300 pixels by 250 pixels), only a small amount of text can reasonably be used, so the message should be brief but compelling.
BookBub provides a DIY “Build New Creative” option, but I do not recommend it since it only allows for 10-60 characters. Uploading your own custom graphic design allows for much more flexibility in both design and message.
#2: Facebook and Instagram Ads
Both Facebook and Instagram can be powerful venues for visual storytelling. Facebook has over 2 billion monthly users and Instagram has over 800 million monthly users.
Since Facebook has purchased Instagram, you can simply check a box to run your ad on both Instagram and Facebook when filling out the form to run an ad on Facebook Ads Manager. Facebook and Instagram ads do have to go through a review process, but most ads are reviewed within 24 hours.
Facebook requires that ad images have no more than 20% text. If your ad image has more text than they prefer, Facebook may not approve your ad or they may show it to fewer people.
Facebook provides a useful Image Text Check tool so you can upload your proposed graphic design and see where it falls within their parameters.
After you upload your proposed graphic design, Facebook will classify it as:
- Image Text OK: Your ad will run normally;
- Image Text Low: Your ad's reach may be slightly lower;
- Image Text Medium: Your ad's reach may be much lower; or
- Image Text High: Your ad may not run.
A very exciting tool for visual storytelling to help your book get more exposure and sales is Facebook Carousel Ads.
Carousel Ads allow you to showcase up to ten images or videos within a single ad, each with its own link. Readers swipe through each image like a slide show.
For instance, Carousel Ads could be used to present each of the books in a series, or perhaps the first three books of a very long series.
Carousel Ads could also be used to create a brief visual story with three or more images incorporating key plot points from your book, similar to a book video trailer but without the time and expense involved in creating a video.
#3: Facebook Parties
An inexpensive way to market your book with visual storytelling is by hosting or participating in an authors’ Facebook party. Readers and authors love Facebook parties! In the fall of 2017, I founded an authors’ joint promotion group called Authors Of Books For Dog Lovers Joint Promotion Group. Last December, we decided to have a Books For Dog Lovers Christmas Party on Facebook.
You can host a Facebook Party by yourself to launch a new book, or you can team up with other authors and have a themed party such as a Spring Fling or Summer Party. Facebook parties are easy to set up on your author Facebook page, but they do require a lot of work to organize and promote.
For our Books For Dog Lovers Christmas Party, each author contributed two prizes to be won during their 15-minute time slot at the party and another prize to go towards the Grand Prize.
Authors’ prizes included copies of their books (e-books, signed paperbacks, and/or audio books) and other items such as calendars, tote bags, dog toys, and Amazon gift certificates.
Each of the participating authors was encouraged to post a photo of their dog prior to the event introducing themselves and their dog and letting readers know that they were looking forward to the party.
The participating authors created graphics with fun questions and games for readers to engage in during their respective time slots at the party.
In the introduction post for each author at the party, readers were provided links to purchase the authors’ books, sign up for authors’ newsletters, join authors’ Facebook groups, and/or Like authors’ Facebook pages.
If you are interested in hosting a Facebook party, someone with good organizational and graphic design skills will need to organize and promote the event.
Participating authors should be encouraged to invite all their friends on Facebook and to share graphics on social media that you provide them with information about the party.
A successful Facebook party can provide you and your book with a lot of exposure and encourage people to purchase your books, sign up to your newsletter, Like your Facebook page, and/or visit your website.
#4: Joint Promotions With Other Authors
I first became interested in joint promotions with other authors after reading something by Nick Stephenson about this. He was enthusiastic about how teaming up with only one or two other authors for joint promotions could double or triple your reach.
Joint promotions are another inexpensive but powerful way to market your book with visual storytelling. I founded my joint promotion group Authors Of Books For Dog Lovers as a way to market my book Dog Health Care: 7 Simple Ways To Keep Your Dog Healthy.
Before I approached an author with an invitation to join my joint promotion group, I checked to make sure that dogs were featured in their books. I checked their books’ Amazon Best Sellers Rank to make sure that their books were selling well. I checked to see that they had an active Facebook page with a good number of followers. And I checked their website to make sure that they had a nice website with a prominent email list signup form.
When I was running this group, I created a dedicated landing page for each month’s books called Books For Dog Lovers. I also created a Meet The Authors page for anyone wanting to know more about any of the authors. Each author’s brief bio on our Meet The Authors page had a link for readers to sign up to their email list.
A week or so prior to the beginning of each new month, I created several graphic design mockups showcasing the upcoming month’s featured books so that the authors in my group could choose their favorite. The most popular graphic was then displayed in each of the participating authors’ newsletters that month. Authors sent out their newsletters on whichever day of the month they preferred.
I also provided the authors in our group with graphics to feature on social media each month to help drive people our Books For Dog Lovers landing page.
I kept a daily Excel spreadsheet of the number of visits to our landing page, the number of click-throughs to our books’ Amazon pages, the number of books sold, and conversion rates.
Above is the graphic that I created for our April joint promotion. I tied in April’s Drop Everything and Read month-long celebration of reading with our book cover images and a photo of a girl enjoying reading in a sunny meadow. The graphic conveys a sense of how reading can be enjoyable, peaceful, and fun.
#5: Author Book Giveaway Swaps
A very simple and inexpensive way to market your book with visual storytelling is to do a book giveaway swap with another author. Each author agrees to feature one of the other author’s books as a giveaway prize. This is easy to do on Facebook.
Simply post the author’s book cover on your Facebook page and announce that you are having a Guest Author Book Giveaway. Readers just need to comment on the post for a chance to win.
Let readers know that you will randomly select a winner on a certain date (the next day or in a couple of days). In the same post, you can include a brief bio of the author you are hosting and their book’s description.
Readers are always eager to win free books. Book giveaway swaps draw attention to your Facebook page, get readers excited to engage with you, and help to market another author’s book. The other author will do the same for you and your book on another day.
We all know that an author’s most powerful marketing tool is their email list of subscribers. These are readers that are interested in us and our work. We build trust and loyalty with our email list subscribers over time as we provide interesting and valuable information to them in our newsletters.
Our newsletters present another opportunity to market our books with visual storytelling. We can include images of our books and let our readers know about our books on sale. And we can also provide them with information related to our books that they will find helpful or interesting.
For instance, since I am a veterinarian, I often include articles about dog and cat health care in my newsletters. I may write a brief article that is found exclusively in my newsletter. Or I may include the first few paragraphs of an article and add a “Keep Reading” button at the bottom so that readers will click to go to my website to continue reading the article.
I think that it is important to share something of ourselves with our readers to build connections with them. So I usually start out my newsletter with a paragraph and a photo about something that I did in the past month like visiting my local Farmer’s Market, going on a wine country tour of various wineries, visiting a specialty cheese shop, or going to a local festival.
#7: Social Media Posts
No matter how you feel about social media, it is a huge part of life these days, and you should make sure that you have a presence there. Here again it is important to share something of yourself, and not just talk about your books. People will tune out quickly if all you do is try to get them to buy your books.
Your posts on social media present another opportunity to build relationships with readers over time so that they are interested when you do let them know that you just published a new book or that you have a book on sale.
Visual storytelling is key in social media posts. Readers skim through their social media feeds quickly, only stopping when something catches their eye. The quality of the graphics that you post on social media will determine whether people stop scrolling to read what you have to say.
In conclusion, there are many opportunities to utilize the power of visual storytelling to build relationships with readers, get them to engage with us, and, ultimately, get them to purchase our books. The key to successful book marketing with visual storytelling is high quality, compelling graphic designs.
Have you had success with any of the examples given above or with another visual book marketing strategy? Please leave your thoughts below and join the conversation.
Dr. Rachele Baker is a veterinarian, author, and graphic designer living in California. She creates custom designed graphics for authors to help them market themselves and their books. Please visit her online business Indie Author Ad Design for more details.
You can subscribe to Rachele’s monthly newsletter for exclusive content, updates, and occasional giveaways by clicking here.
If you are a dog lover, you will love Rachele’s book Dog Health Care: 7 Simple Ways To Keep Your Dog Healthy. Check out Rachele’s articles about pet health and resources for pet lovers on her website Rachele Baker, Veterinarian and Author.