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Canva for Authors

Free Book Marketing Tools for Authors: Canva

Canva for Authors

Today’s independent author is responsible not only for writing great books but doing their own marketing as well. Increasingly, that includes creating the images and creative assets needed for marketing activities. Images are required for social media posts, graphics are needed for web ads and banner swaps, and every book cover is an image. Back in the old days (read: 2 years ago) you had to learn Photoshop or know someone who did or pay someone to create these images and assets for you. Fortunately, that is no longer the case! Now we have cool book marketing tools like Canva. Authors, think of Canva as an online, easier-to-learn, version of photoshop.

Authors, think of Canva as an online, easier-to-learn, version of photoshop

This article will show you how to use Canva to create your own book marketing images. We will use step-by-step instructions, and short videos of the actual Canva interface to teach you how to create the images you need to promote your books. Canva can be used to create all kinds of images, but we’ll focus on 3 main use cases to keep it simple:

  • Social Media Images
  • Banners / Ads
  • Book Covers

Signup for Canva

If you have a Canva account, skip to the next part. The signup process is pretty simple. Head over to and signup using a Gmail address, Facebook or the old fashioned way by entering an email and password. Once you have signed up, Canva will try to walk you through the interface. Go ahead and click, skip, or play with Canva to bypass this. On to the next section!

Using Canva to Create Social Media Images

Social Media is a great way to keep up with your readers and fellow authors. Creating images is a vital part of keeping your social media accounts active and making your profiles look professional. You need cover images, profile pictures, promotional images, and engagement images. Canva can help you create all different kinds of imagery for your social accounts, but for this tutorial, we’ll show you how to make an image for an engagement post. Engagement posts, are quick posts to keep your followers engaged and active. It’s important to keep your audience engages so they are at the ready when you launch a new book and need them to spread the word and drive sales of your novel. Coming up with new engagement images can be a struggle. Canva is here to help!  We’ll start by creating a basic engagement post. The image we are going to create is based on the Instagram template in Canva, but it can be used on any social media site like Facebook or Twitter.

  1. Open Canva
  2. Click the Green button in the upper left-hand corner that says Create a Design
  3. Scroll to the template category called Social Media Posts
  4. Choose the template Instagram Post. This will open up the editing view for your image.
Create a Design in Canva

One of Canva’s biggest selling points is that there are templates already setup for you to use. Canva calls these Layouts. Once you select a Layout, the template will appear in the main work area. Then you can customize the text by clicking on it and overwriting the template text with something your readers will appreciate. In the example below, we’re creating an image that thanks our readers.

  1. From your open Instagram design, click Layouts from the left-hand menu.
  2. To select a layout click on the thumbnail of that layout (scroll down to view more options).
  3. Edit the text by clicking directly on the text. Change it to say what you want to your readers. In our example, the text says “Thanks for being a Reader!”
  4. Click the Download button in the upper-right-hand corner of your screen to save the image to your desktop.
Create an Instagram image in Canva
Create an Instagram image in Canva

That’s it, you are done! Easy, right? You can use the same basic steps to create all kinds of social media imagery for all social media platforms.

The next step is getting the image out of Canva and onto social media, Canva offers a direct download, or the ability to post directly to social media sites. We’ll cover all the exporting options at the end of the article.

Using Canva to Create an Ad / Promo Image

Sometimes you’re directly marketing your book to a new audience with the goal of selling it. These opportunities come in a variety of forms. Maybe you are doing a newsletter swap with another author. Maybe you are paying to run an ad on a blog. Or, better yet, maybe you are running Facebook Ads! In all of these cases, Canva can help you create the appropriate ad images. For this example, we will show you how to create a Facebook Ad to promote a book, but you can use the same basic principles to create any banner ad or promo image.

  1. Open Canva
  2. Click the Green button in the upper left-hand corner that says Create a Design
  3. Scroll down to the bottom and you’ll see templates for Ads
  4. Click on the first one, which is Facebook Ad.
Creating a Facebook Ad Image in Canva
Creating a Facebook Ad Image in Canva

Now we are in the editing screen and we are ready to make our ad. This is a little trickier than engagement imagery because, with this ad, you want to promote a specific book. We will need to import images and move them around.

  1. From the Facebook Ad Template, click Layouts
  2. Choose a layout by clicking on the thumbnail of that layout
  3. Click uploads from the left hand menu
  4. Click the green button that says upload your own images
  5. Locate your book cover on your computer and upload it (in a pinch you can right-click, and download the book cover from Amazon to your desktop)
  6. The book cover image should now be in your uploads library
  7. Click the book cover from your uploads library to add it to your design
Setting up our Facebook Ad, and adding a Book Cover

Okay, now we have our Layout built and our book cover image added to the project. Let’s edit the ad until it looks the way we want it to.

  1. Click on the background image of your design to select it
  2. Drag the background image down and out of the way
  3. Move the book cover image to the side so it’s in a good place
  4. Drag the background image back into place
  5. Looking good so far! Almost done!
  6. Click on the text to edit the Title of the Layout and change the default text to your book title
  7. Replace any extra text with a one-line summary of your book
  8.  All Done!
Editing Your Facebook Ad with Canva

A quick note on the text. Facebook will reject your ad if there’s too much text on it, and readers don’t react well to text-heavy ads. Making the ad look great is more important than making the ad accurate! In our example, we have the text “A Story About The Wild” for Jack London’s Novel, White Fang. This does not do the book justice at all, but looks good, so we go with it.  If you want to experiment with different fonts or colors simply duplicate the ad in the same Canva Project.

  1. Make sure you are still in your open Canva Project
  2. Click the duplicate icon on the right-hand side of the ad, it looks like this: 
  3. Change the font or color of text to experiment
  4. Repeat!
Duplicating your Facebook Ad and Changing the Font

Using Canva to Create your Book Cover

In our experience, it’s always best to hire a professional to get your cover designed. HOWEVER, if you are going to do it yourself, Canva is a great way to go. Click create a design, and scroll down to Blogging & Books. Select eBook to start creating a cover.

  1. Open Canva
  2. Click the green create a design button
  3. Scroll down to Blogging & Books category.
  4. Select eBook to start creating a cover.
  5. Note: The ‘Kindle Cover’ and ‘eBook’ templates in Canva are exactly the same.


A Quick Note on Book Cover design

A good book cover tells the reader a little bit about the book and entices them to read it. The goal is to create a visually engaging image that is a nod to the plot contained in the book itself. Book covers that try to summarize the plot by adding all the elements of the story to the cover generally fall very short of this goal. For example, let’s say your book is a fantasy book that has a female Vampire, a Castle, sword-fighting, a few chapters on a sea voyage, and a love interest. Not all those elements need to be on the cover. In fact, the best covers pick just one or two elements of the plot to feature on the cover. It’s far more important that your book cover is a visually appealing image than an accurate summary of the plot.

It’s more important for a book cover to be visually appealing than an accurate summary of the plot

With that out of the way, let’s design a book cover!

  1. Make sure you are in your open Canva Design for eBook from the previous step.
  2. Select a layout from the list of thumbnails at the left, but don’t worry if the picture isn’t accurate. It’s okay to pick a template that’s about fashion even if your book is about vampires, we’ll swap the images later.
  3. For this example, we’ll pick the template called A Home In Heels. It’s a very simple cover, with one image and an easy-to-read font.
  4. Since our book is about vampires, high heels aren’t right, so let’s find an image in Canva that will work for our book.
  5. From the left-hand menu, click the elements tab
  6. Select Free Photos. This will bring up a huge list of free stock photos, most of which are nature or city scenes.
  7. Locate the search bar above the photos, and use it to search for female vampires.
  8. Click ‘photos’ to filter the results by photos. Illustrations could work for some titles, but for most books, a photo is better.
  9. Once we’ve found a photo we like, click the image to add it to the editing area.
  10. Drag the image a little bit and it will snap and become the background image.
Selecting an image for our book cover

Now we need to change the text to our book title, and add our author name. Simply click on the text to edit it.

  1. Click on the text to select it.
  2. Click the ungroup button from the top menu. Note: not all layouts will require this step.
  3. For this example, we will need to move the text around because it is hiding key parts of our image.
  4. Just click and drag the text to the right spot, but keep it centered.
  5. Remove any text you don’t need by clicking on the text and then clicking on the trash can icon which looks like this: 
  6. Click on the text again to edit it. Change the default title to your book title.
  7. Edit the tagline and author name.

That’s it! You’re done. But…. let’s be honest, you’re not done. You are going to tinker with it, experiment with a few fonts, try some different images. We get it. It’s fun! We recommend duplicating the cover and playing with the design so you have a bunch of different options in one Canva project.

  1. Once you have your book cover design done, make a duplicate
  2. Click the duplicate icon to the right-hand-side of the book cover.
  3. Make any changes you want, if you mess up, don’t worry, the original is still preserved!
  4. In the animation below, we use several techniques to change the image. We change the filter, the font size, the font itself, and try a few background images. Experimentation will yeild good results if you are patient. If you are not patient, or find this process frustrating, go with the original Canva Layout, it will look great!
  5. Repeat.
  6. All your variations will be saved in the same Canva Project.
Creating Multiple Versions of our Book Cover

A Note on Canva stock images.

Canva has a ton of free images, but a lot of the good ones are premium, which means they cost money. Generally, a premium image is $1. Finding stock images for $1 is hard to come by so they are well worth the money in our view. Just remember if you find the right image and then hit download, you will get charged a dollar for all premium images in your design. As a comparsion stock images from most major websites like Getty Images or iStockPhoto will start at about $10.

If you can’t find a good image for your book cover, just use a template that’s mostly text. These book covers still look great and are a great option if you struggle to pick imagery.

Canva has a great list of Book Cover templates you can browse. All of these are editable within Canva itself.

The Last Step: Getting Images out of Canva

Alright, now we know how to make all kinds of images for our book! The easiest way to get your images out of Canva is to hit the download button and save them to your desktop. From there you can post them on social media, email them, or use them however you like.

Canva has a few more advanced options for sharing your images. If you are planning to post it directly to Facebook or Twitter, you can post directly from Canva which is a really easy way to generate social posts. You will need to connect your Facebook account or Twitter account in order to enable this feature, but it’s quick and easy to do. One note on Canva’s Facebook integration, it will only post to personal pages, so if you have a business page set up for your Author persona, you’ll need to download the image and post it to that page manually.  Additionally, you can use the Canva Mobile App (for iPad or iPhone) to access your Canva images and post them to more mobile-centric sites like Instagram or Pinterest.

Wrap Up on this Awesome Book Marketing Tool

Hopefully, we’ve shown you how to create some great marketing imagery you can use to help promote your book. Canva can help you create everything from Ads to Engagement Images to Book Covers. We think it’s a great option for Authors because it won’t break the bank and it’s very easy to learn. If you still have any questions on how to use Canva, post them in the comments and we’ll do our best to answer them!

Once you’ve mastered Canva check out these free book marketing tools.

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