Visual Marketing for Your Books

Yesterday, August 1, was the 40th anniversary of the launch of MTV. Back in 1981 Music Television (MTV) debuted on a cable channel initially only available in New Jersey. It eventually changed the way music was consumed in the pre-Internet era. It quickly became a vital part of the music industry and worked its way into pop culture.

A number of years ago, many authors began using video trailers as a part of their marketing efforts. (I wrote about this phenomenon in February 2011 here.) But that has somewhat waned as other forms of visual media replaced it. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and now TikTok are dominating the visual medium.

It is all quite confusing. But, more and more, it is becoming evident that an effective way to reach new readers and influence buyers of your book is to incorporate various forms of visual marketing in what you do.

I’m, by no means, am a graphic designer or entirely competent. But you can, and should, consider finding good people to help you along the way. (There are more than 40 listings in the “Design and Production Services” section of The Christian Writers Market Guide.)

In the meantime, at the very least, you can do a few simple things:

Be sure to include an image at the top of your blog posts (like the one you see above). We use bigstockphoto.com for ours. There is any number of other options, some free (like Flickr or Unsplash or Pixabay) and some paid.

Have fun with the occasional infographic. You can create one using a service like Infogram.com. Think of something related to your novel or your nonfiction group and play with the templates available on the site. They have a seemingly endless supply of templates if you upgrade to their pro account. (They have an entire YouTube channel to help you step through the how-tos.)

Canva is a well-known and often-used resource for creating original-looking visuals. You can choose and adapt templates that are developed to fit the social-media platform where you will be using them. For example: If you have a chapter on saving money in your book, create a Facebook post that only has the words “Will You Save Money Today?” and a link to your site. Using Canva, you can make something look attractive. Then have that link go to a page or blog on your website with a free “Ten Ways to Save Money Today” pdf in exchange for the visitor’s email address. (If you don’t like Canva, try Visme or Crello.)

Another idea is to pull pithy quotes from your book and create a shareable visual. This is a way to get your words out there without shouting, “Buy my book!”

But what about video? Is that passe or still effective? Depends on what you are trying to accomplish. Joanna Penn has a great article you should read: “Video Marketing for Authors.” You can do everything from a piece where you talk for 90 seconds about your book to teaching modules; you are only limited by your time, budget, and creativity.

Should you try to use TikTok to promote your book? Some say no. Some say “Why not?” Only you can decide. But familiarize yourself with it first. Learn from what works. Then read a great article from Kelly Schuknecht, “19 Ways to Promote Your Book on TikTok.”

Your Turn

How have you effectively used visual media to market your ideas and your book?

16 Responses to Visual Marketing for Your Books

  1. Gene August 2, 2021 at 4:12 am #

    Never use TikTok unless you want the Chinese to have all your personal information off your phone. They’ll deny it all day long, but the app is a back door to your entire life. I am a longtime military intelligence professional. Trust me.

    • Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D. August 2, 2021 at 10:01 am #

      Gene, thanks so much for that valuable information!

    • Wendy August 3, 2021 at 9:57 am #

      Thanks for the information, Gene. Someone close to me works for Big Tech, and it’s telling that he won’t use social media sites; he says it’s all “data mining.”

  2. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser August 2, 2021 at 4:28 am #

    I guess it really had to come,
    and so I’ll take a look.
    What the heck, it might be fun;
    MTV for books!
    There’s a garage band down the street
    that served only to annoy,
    so maybe I should set a meet,
    and take them in employ.
    And then there’s Captain Video,
    the kid who just walked out of school
    ’cause he’s buried deep in Vimeo
    and the stuff he does is kinda cool,
    so maybe local expertise
    can make publicity a breeze!

    Do check out Vimeo (www.vomeo.com); they even allow free video creation using stock or self-generated templates.

    Adobe also has free video-making software (https://www.adobe.com/express/create/video), called Adobe Spark, which seems quite capable and flexible.

  3. Jeannie Delahunt August 2, 2021 at 5:38 am #

    Thank you for this information, Steve, I’ve been wondering about this and hadn’t a clue where to start.

    Also, I love your poems, Andrew – I envy your ability.

    Thank you Gene for your feedback as well – good to know.

    Awesome, blessed day to all!

  4. Kristen Joy Wilks August 2, 2021 at 6:36 am #

    Great thoughts! Wow, can’t believe MTV is that old. Not that I was allowed to watch it, ha!

    So, one of the genres I write are RomComs and they lend themselves well to short, funny videos. For 5 of my books a friend and I worked to make a short book trailer that teased the plot of each story and showed the tone of the piece. Our first attempt was a bit rough as I had to learn not to cram tons of words onto a slide, but eventually we got pretty good at it. Our latest was for Yellowstone Yondering and it turned out really well. It is also a great exercise in finding the fun things about your story that you can share in only a few words. There are links to them on my website if anyone is curious. At the very least, we had a lot of fun and got to find some great photos of Scottish terriers and grizzly bears!

  5. Kay DiBianca August 2, 2021 at 7:37 am #

    As an author, I don’t care for the saying “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Maybe we should change it to “A picture can promote a thousand words.”

    • Beth Peltola August 2, 2021 at 1:49 pm #

      Added to an appropriate picture, that would make a super social media tile for a book launch. 😀
      “A picture can promote a thousand words”

  6. Sharon K Connell August 2, 2021 at 9:16 am #

    Thanks for all the information, Steve.

  7. Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D. August 2, 2021 at 10:02 am #

    Thanks for this treasure trove of information, Steve. I use unsplash all the time. My web designer said that blogs with pictures, especially those with photos of people, get a lot more notice.

  8. Kayleen Reusser August 2, 2021 at 1:06 pm #

    Due to the advice of Penny Sansieveri of Book Marketing Tips & Author Success podcast, I created 3:30 min vids of each of my books to add them to the respective Amazon pages. Unfortunately, Amazon only accepted 1 of the 9. I have no idea why — same length, basic same content outline. Has anyone else tried this?

  9. Tiffany Price August 2, 2021 at 2:29 pm #

    Great information, Steve! I have recently posted on TikTok a video of me opening my books for the first.

    A few happy tears escaped while viewing the cover for the first time. I linked it up with music that suited the moment and removed my voice (as my words were quite shaky). I timed the video so that I turned the book around for the audience to see the cover at the same time the music peaked. I was surprised at how many views and comments it got. People clearly had left TikTok to go view the book on Amazon, and that’s a win.

    Thanks for this information- technology continues to evolve, but it can be used to an author’s advantage!

  10. Stacy T. Simmons August 2, 2021 at 2:34 pm #

    Thank you for all the wonderful information. It’s hard to believe MTV has that long of a history. It seems like some short years ago, A Flock of Seagulls, were rotating on a stage and singing. : )

    I recently shared on social media via video about my upcoming debut novel, it was a fun way to share it with people.

  11. Wendy August 3, 2021 at 10:03 am #

    This is helpful, Steve–thanks for sharing.

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