6 Tips for Designing Your Own Promo

By Cecilia Lewis

illustration-of-books-pvI’ve blogged before about the importance of promotional items when marketing your book. Having small items like bookmarks, postcards, and pens, or even large items like T-shirts and tote bags, can be used for various promotional purposes. It’s important that these items look professional and fit the author’s brand, but most writers have a limited budget and can’t afford to hire a designer. In order to prioritize their spending and stretch their budget, many authors choose to design their own promo, even if they’re not experienced with graphic design. So, how can an author design their promo themselves? Here are my tips.

(Note that I am not a professional designer, and I’m sure that professional designers could do a better job at designing these materials. But I hope that sharing what I learned through my own experiences as an author will help others who need to design their own promotional items.)

  1. Be consistent

Try to be as consistent as possible with your design elements. Can use elements from your cover? Why not use the same fonts on your promo as in your book? Or the same font colors? Using the same design elements will make your brand more recognizable as yours. Be as consistent as possible with your promotional items, website, social media banners, etc.

  1. Use an image program

Photoshop is great if you have it, but there are also many free programs available that will allow you to design images yourself. A few options are Canva, Gimp, and PicMonkey. I don’t have enough experience here to recommend one or the other, but I will say that Gimp seems to have a steep learning curve, whereas PicMonkey is fairly simple, and Canva offers easy templates. Also, Photoshop Elements is cheaper than Photoshop and has an easier learning curve, while still including many of the same features. Whichever you choose, make sure it has the features you need before you start working—you’ll save yourself time in the long run.

  1. Use .png files

Try to get the elements you want to use as .png files, as opposed to .jpg. They have a transparent background, which means you can layer them over one another more easily. If you’re using elements from your cover and working with a cover designer, ask if you can have the images provided as .png files, or convert them yourself before you start designing your promo. Having the images ready to go will save you time and difficulty later.

  1. Use a stock photo site

If you’re using your cover image(s) across your promo, you probably won’t need too many new images. But if you happen to need one, there are several sites that can provide high-quality images. DepositPhotos, iStock, Shutterstock, and Bigstock are all good options that tend to have many of the same photos.

  1. Include a call to action

In marketing terms, an “action item” or “call to action” is an element that tells people how to take the next step—to purchase the book or to learn more about it. Be sure to include the link to your website on your promotional items so potential readers know how to find you. Also, consider having a QR code, so that anyone with a smartphone can scan it and go to your site.

  1. Include your social media

Be sure to point people toward your social media profiles. Potential readers might never visit your website, but they might be intrigued by your Twitter or Facebook page. Include as many ways for people to connect with you and your book as you can so you don’t miss out on an opportunity to reach new readers.


What do you think? Have you designed your own promo? What design elements do you find most effective or appealing? Which promotional materials do you prefer? Let me know in the comments!

Interested in professional editorial services for your manuscript? Check out my Services page for more information about what I offer.

This post is part of my Self-Publishing Series. For more information about self-publishing, check out the other posts in the series here, and follow the blog to see future posts!

Related Links:

-Print Interior Design Basics

-How to Prepare for Author Events

-7 Marketing Tips for Self-Published Authors

-Comparing Book Giveaway Promotions


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