Getting Graphic

The word “graphic” comes from a Greek word that means “writing, drawing.” Graphic representations are visual, symbolic, illustrative …  and written. Graphic descriptions are vivid, detailed, descriptive, illustrative. Do you see a connection here?

Authors who wants to sell their books (as I suppose most authors do) will draw more attention to themselves and their books if the package (author and books) is attractive.

I’ve talked before about what an important job book covers have. Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, points out that:

A book’s description is the “first and foremost concern” of the blogger and book reviewer known as “The Picky Girl.” Still, she thinks twice before accepting or buying a book with a bad (or cheap looking) cover. “I wonder what other areas lack quality and refinement,” she says. 

Like Picky Girl, Naomi Blackburn, one of the world’s top Goodreads reviewers, founder of the group The Sisterhood of the Traveling Book, and author of the business advice column The Author CEO, selects books based primarily on their description. But Blackburn, too, passes on books with bad covers. “If the cover seems to be nothing more than a catalog photograph with block lettering, I bypass it,” she says. “If the author didn’t care enough to dedicate time/effort to their cover, I wonder how much time they put into the book itself.”

Graphic designer and author C.L. Smith lists (and goes into detail about) some important guidelines in his article 14 Tips for Good Kindle Cover Design. These do not apply exclusively to Kindle/e-book covers. If you’re concerned with making that first good impression, it would be well worth your while to read the full article.

But wait! There’s more!

Your book may or may not be your first introduction to a potential reader. Your social media presence is important, too. It’s your cover, your first impression space. Do you have a good-looking icon/profile photo? Does your header/cover photo (the “graphic page title”) take advantage of the space to promote your brand or your books? Does it carry your logo or your tagline?

Identities with generic icons (Twitter’s “egg” anyone?) and/or headers produce the same question as books with low-quality covers: I wonder what other areas lack quality and refinement?

Can you imagine Target’s social media pages without the familiar red-and-white icon or heading? Apple without an apple? Coca-Cola without the bottle of coke and a smile? Toyota without their (okay, what IS that?) icon and “Let’s go places” tagline?

“A strong visual brand helps you connect with your community and effectively convey your brand’s personality.” (4 Ways Visual Design Can Improve Your Social Media Marketing, by Zach Kitschke via the Social Media Examiner)

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“Whatever our objectives are for marketing ourselves (establishing a reputation as an industry expert, selling a book we’ve written, or finding a new job are just a few ideas that might apply), our personal brand can help us familiarize our target audience with the facets of our character that make us an appealing investment.” (Many Platforms, One Voice: How to Maintain a Consistent Social Media Persona, by Steve Glauberman via the Content Marketing Institute)

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“Due to the rapid growth of social media, consumers are exposed to a barrage of Tweets, “Likes,” texts and messages on the Web and on their mobile devices. With the need to read or view images in seconds — as well as on smaller screens — graphic design plays an increasingly important role not only in building brand awareness and recognition but in merely attracting the user’s attention.” (The Importance of Graphic Design in Social Media by Elle Smith via Small Business Chron)

Look at social media pages.

Search for “images for social media headers.”

Think about your brand’s personality — What colors define it? Pick out a “brand font.” (Remember to make sure it’s commercially licensed and readable!) Choose a style (medieval? retro? futuristic? something else?).

Then what? Use them together every time you create new marketing materials. Consistency is important. It’s noticeable. When your particular brand appears across the internet, people will recognize you.

So if you’re not artistically talented (do your Photoshop or GIMP skills mimic the quality of your favorite book covers, social media headers, marketing materials?), where do you go?

There are loads of websites that design packages for you to use or custom-made graphics.

If you prefer doing it yourself, be sure the images you’re using are 1) legally licensed, 2) not popular stock images—you don’t want your cute-girl-with-a-ponytail showing up on a dozen other covers— and 3) following the 14 Tips for Good Kindle Cover Design.

Or, if you’re on a tight budget, you could look into hiring dirt cheap affordable freelancers from sites like Fiverr, FiverUp, GigBucks and the like. Caveat: be careful. Research the site, research the artist. Like any other business, you want to make sure they’re reliable.

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Do you pass over books with poorly done covers?

Do you ignore social media connections with generic graphics?

What do you struggle with as an author? Reader? 

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