FotoJet, an Online Collage Maker, Graphic Designer, and Photo Editor

Visuals are an important aspect of building platforms. Think about it. What is more likely to catch your eye on Twitter or Facebook? A few words and maybe a link, or a strong image that conveys a message?

There’s a reason for the idiom, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

With that in mind, I recently had the chance to try out a new graphics platform, called FotoJet. The folks at FotoJet were kind enough to give me a premium account so I could test out all their features. As a side note, you can sign up for a free account and use most of the features. But if you do choose to upgrade to the Plus account, for $4.99 per month, you get access to more editing tools and more content (templates, fonts, etc.).

I wasn’t sure what to expect. The first thing I heard about FotoJet was that I could use it to make posters. And that’s possible. It’s also possible to create collages, invitations, flyers, cards, and magazine covers, which you can download and print on your own. But it turns out to be a very useful tool for creating social media graphics.

What I ended up doing was creating an image for I Know Dino’s Instagram. Here’s the final result:

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Indie Author Marketing Guide: A Primer to Social Media

By geralt [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

By geralt [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Social media is a big part of indie author marketing strategies these days. But for those just starting out, it may seem daunting. When I first began using social media for platform building, I felt slightly overwhelmed. But now, after lots of practice and just incorporating social media into my daily routine, I’ve come to embrace it. And instead of seeing it like a chore, I see it as another way to connect and interact with people, and I’ve been able to build real relationships through it.

Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way. (And if you want guidance on how to overcome the feeling of being overwhelmed, read Your Writer Platform’s “Are You Building Your Writer Platform at Gunpoint?“)

Don’t use social media just to sell books

Kristen Lamb’s “Social Media, Book Signings & Why Neither Directly Impact Overall Sales” goes into depth on why this is not a good strategy, but basically you don’t want to spam people/just make noise, and you will not develop any real relationships this way (meaning, you won’t attract real fans).

Rachel Thompson suggests spending more time online finding people who may be willing to review your books, and she gives a list of suggestions in her article “Why ‘Read My Book!’ Doesn’t Work…And What To Do Instead

Focus on one or two platforms first, then build from there

Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Pinterest. Google. Youtube. Goodreads. LinkedIn. Tumblr. The list goes on and on. You can be active on all these channels, but it’s probably best to pick one or two and work on growing an audience there first. Every social media channel works a little differently, caters to a different audience, and has savvy users who expect others to use the network a certain way. The Book Designer’s “Do You Make These Online Marketing Mistakes?” offers tips, such as establishing one audience per channel and using landing pages.

Social Media Just for Writers also recommends researching your target market and then choosing your social media platform based on that in “How to Stop Wasting Time and Focus Your Book Marketing.” For advice on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and YouTube, read DBW’s “The Book Marketing Social Media Hierarchy: Which Sites to Use for Which Purposes.”

Business Insider broke down the demographics of some of the social media platforms. According to them, the 45- to 54-year-old demographic is growing, “27% of 18 to 29-year-olds in the U.S. use Twitter,” LinkedIn and Google+ are mostly male, Pinterest is mostly women on tablets, and Tumblr is mostly teens and young adults.

Eventually you can expand into other platforms. For a case study on why, read Kate Tilton’s “Why I Use Different Social Media Networks (And You Should Too) by @K8Tilton.”

For help determining which platform is best for you, read these articles:

Strategize how you will build your platform

Erindor Press’s “Platform Building Primer” is a good start, and advocates setting expectations and figuring out the best way to share content, either via blogging, email newsletters, or something else (and you can use social media to promote that content).

The Loneliest Planet shared a post, called “One Writer’s Platform (Part 2) Events and PR,” which goes over techniques of marketing offline (such as doing public readings and lectures) but also adds that it’s worth taping these performances and uploading them to Youtube to share.

Use lots of images/visuals

People tend to engage more with posts, tweets, etc. that are visual. According to Rebekah Radice’s “5 Steps to Get Massive Engagement With Your Visual Content,” “43% of social media users share pictures.” She recommends having consistent colors, using templates, appropriate fonts, and to create infographics, images, and videos.

Build Book Buzz recommends creating different types of images, including picture quotes, tipographics, and infographics. For tips on how to actually create these images, read Social Media Just For Writer’s “Writers: Use Visuals to Market Your Books.”

Make use of social media tools

Here’s a list of resources, along with helpful tips and links to additional tools:

Keep up to date on new platforms and tools

Lastly, the social media landscape is constantly changing, so it’s good to stay up to date. One example of a relatively new tool/platform is Aerbook, which according to PW turns social media into a virtual bookstore. Earlier this year, Social Media Just for Writers wrote about how indie authors can use Aerbook, which allows you to share previews and even sell ebooks on social media networks, as well as see analytics on your shares.

According to the article, there are three product plans to choose from:

Aerbook Retail is free, no credit card required. It gives you the social look inside the book, email capture popups within the sample, stats on how the book is used, and the ability to share the link and also get web page widgets that launch the Aerbook. This plan lets you sell the book directly through Aerbook, and our service earns 15% of the purchase price after credit card fees are deducted.

Aerbook Plus gives you everything Aerbook Retail delivers, plus lets you add links to other retailers, like Amazon, iBooks, or even your own purchase page. Aerbook Plus is $49 per year.

Aerbook Flyer includes everything above, but there’s no direct sale through Aerbook’s commerce service. You’ll add links to other retailers. Flyer also lets you do book giveaways, and includes 500 directly delivered, complete books annually. Flyer is $99 per year.

Got any social media tips? Please share in the comments!

Editor’s note: This post was originally published September 2015, as part of the Indie Author Marketing Guide series.

Photos, Stickers, Animation, and More : A Collection of Visuals for Authors

By davitydave from San Francisco, CA, USA (Wedding Cake  Uploaded by Mindmatrix) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By davitydave from San Francisco, CA, USA (Wedding Cake Uploaded by Mindmatrix) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

When it comes to marketing, visuals are all important–both online and off.

Photos

Photos are great for blogs as well as for books. Make sure you have the rights to use those photos. That’s where stock images come in handy.

GIFs

Just for fun, you can reverse GIFs with this handy tool.

You can also make stories out of GIFs. BoingBoing talks about novels that are comprised entirely of GIFs, and The Verge shows examples of James Kerr’s GIFs that repurpose Renaissance paintings.

Designs

For icons, animations, fonts, and more, check out Pixel Buddha.

For fonts, see “Not Sure What Font Looks Best for Web?” on Design School.

For fun dongers (unicode characters that form an emoticon), see Donger List.

Interesting Visuals

As Wired reported, even screenshots play an important role for people. Here’s a list of examples of visuals that have made an impact:

How Tos and Tools

To turn photos into line art:

To remove borders on a video:

To create your own animations:

To make your own stickers:

How to Create a Fixed Format Ebook (Part 2): Adding Images

fixed_format_sigil

In my last post on creating fixed format ebooks, I covered how to set up your files in Sigil so that ereaders and tablets know to treat your ebook like a fixed format ebook. This post I’ll talk about how to treat images in picture ebooks. Continue reading

Pinning on Pinterest

Pinterest can be a powerful social media marketing tool. Since this is a blog about publishing, and social media is both a form of publishing and a huge part of marketing in the publishing industry, it seems relevant to share what I learned from a webinar on Pinterest, presented by Entrepreneuress AcademyContinue reading