Social Networking

Six Facebook Cover Creators

If you have a facebook profile, then you’ve seen the facebook “covers” -aka the banners at the top of you profiles, pages, clubs, groups, and events:

cover

If you have some graphic skills you can make your own in any art program (paintbrush, GIMP, paint shop pro, etc.) The best size to make them is 856 x 317 pixels. To upload you just go to your page, event, etc. and click on the cover image (or lack of cover image) and choose to upload your creation.

But what if you have no graphic skills? What if you don’t know how to use an art program? Never fear, there are some cool online generators you can use for free! I’m going to showcase six of them.

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Fun Photo Box

This generator has some really cool templates you can use – though to do this you need a photo of your own to insert. It can be your book cover, yourself, or one of your characters, whatever fits your page the best. To get started hit the “Get started” button:

funbox1

They have several templates to choose from – scroll down to move through the pages, then click on the one you like best: (I have zoomed waaaaay out so you can see the whole page at once). Being a vampire author, you know which one I’m going for.

funbox2

On the next page you can see the design larger, rate it, share it, or choose to make your cover:

funbox3Now you’ll want to upload your photo. Click the “from disk” button if it’s on your computer, or the “from facebook” if you want to use a facebook image (to do this you will have to give this app permission to access your facebook – if you don’t want to do that go to your facebook ahead of time and download the photo from it if you don’t have it elsewhere). Choose your image and click “open”. I’m going to use my main character Jorick for fun.

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The new page will show the photo you chose and allow you to crop it by moving the dotty line box around. When you like it press the “go” button.

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And Voila! Save your cover, then upload it to your facebook and you’re done:

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Image Chef

To use Image Chef you don’t *need* your own images, they have several on tap you can use, or you can upload your own. You can upload the finished image directly to facebook by connecting it to your facebook or you can use an email address and save it to “My Stuff” where you can save it to your computer and upload it manually (the option I chose). make the account FIRST or you will loose your design when you later try to create one!

To start out, pick your background image:

chef1

I chose sparkled because I like sparkles.
The next page takes you to the editor. It will automatically drop you down to the bottom portion, so to see your cover scroll up. I am going to zoom out a bunch so you can see the whole thing at once.:

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You’ll want to get rid of the heart first (unless you like it) by clicking first on it, and then the trash can icon. You can do this any time you need to to get rid of things you decide you don’t want.

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Now let’s add some text. Type your message into the box (it can be the name of your page, party, or event). Be sure to choose the color of your words (at the top hit the drop down arrow to get a little color palette) and your font – only the first four are available for free. If you click any after that it will just say “this feature is only available to silver members”.

When you like what you have, click add.

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You can move it, and then resize it by grabbing the corners and dragging:

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Now let’s add stickers. Choose the sticker tab, then your category and scroll through the options. When you fond one you like, click it to add it.

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You can move these and resize them just like we did the words. You can also move elements on top of or behind one another by selecting them and choosing the bring to front or send to back option:

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And of course you can delete, add more stickers or symbols, or add your own images:

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When you’re finished, either upload it to your facebook or save it to “My Stuff”

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If you save it, a new page will load. right click on your image and choose “Save Image As” to save it to your computer, and then you can manually upload it to your facebook.

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Cover Bash

First you’ll get a splash screen. read it and close it out

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Like the last one, they have image you can choose from, or you can add your own. They don’t have much in the way of backgrounds except to let you choose a color, so we’re going to try adding our own . Choose the “add image” icon and then we’re going to pick the Choose Files. A pop up opens. Navigate to the desired image and choose “open”.

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Just like the last editor, you can drag the image bigger or smaller – since we want it in the back we want it BIG.

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Now we want to add some images to it. Choose the “cover maker image gallery” button on top:

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This creates a pop up with categories. Since i have vampires, I’m choosing Halloween. To add the images you like, just click on them and then pick “insert image”. Add as many as you want, ad when you’re done click “close” in the right hand corner:

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Drag the images into the position and size you want, just like we did with the background.

Now let’s add some text

Choose the text icon, then type your message, pick your font and your size and finally insert it.

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Just as you added the background image, we can add other images. I’m going to add Jorick in for fun.

When you’re all done you can either upload it to your facebook or save it to your computer and upload manually (what I chose).

Click the S button. A pop up appears with your image. right click on it and choose “Save as”.

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Canva

This is a nicely designed site that feels very professional.

To start, click the Start designing facebook cover button

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You’ll get the option for a tutorial. To skip it, just click off to the side

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Now choose your layout. You’ll see that some are free and some aren’t. Click the one you want to use. (I’m cheap, so we’re going free all the way!)

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Now choose the background tab and pick your background. Just as with layouts, some are NOT free, so be careful.

canva4Now let’s do something with the mountains. Click the mountains and a box pops up that lets you delete them or move them or change their color. To change color click on each of the color circles and a box with some suggestions and a plus sign appears. Don’t like the suggestions? hit the + and you’ll get a color picker to choose your own color.

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We can add images too. Choose the uploads tab, then choose to upload images and pick the images you want.

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Add them to your layout and move them up or down to get the look you want.

Now time for text.

Since this design has text already, click it to edit it. A box appears where we can change the font, the color, the size and more.

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We can also add illustrations, photos, and more. I’m going for an illustration since it matches the style.

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You’ll notice some are free and some aren’t. After you find one, click it to add it and edit it just like we did the mountains.

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When you’re happy with your design, download it. You’ll have an option to save it as an image or a PDF. Choose image and then upload it to facebook.

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Profile Timeline Covers

They have a nice background selection. Scroll through the pages and choose the one you like best.

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You’ll have a pop up, close it and let’s start designing! First, let’s do our text.

There’s regular text – click the Text icon then type your text in the pop up and choose fonts and color (when you click on the color box a pallet pops up)

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OR we can choose the “styalized text” – which means a bunch of fancy fonts. The colors and input box work the same. To choose your font, first choose a category (I went with “handwriting”) and then choose your font. When you like it, choose “Add Text”

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Let’s upload an image. Hit the Upload Image, then choose whether they’re on your computer or facebook, then choose your image.

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You can resize it by grabbing the box and dragging it around.

This editor also provides it’s own “icons” to add to your cover. Choose the icon button, which will give you a pop up. From there, choose a category. When you find one you like, click it.

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OF NOTE: make sure you don’t have any items selected when you add the icon (such as your text) or the item will disappear and you will need to re-add it.

This editor has some cool filters you can use on your images. Select one and try it out by check marking different filters. When you have what you want, be sure to save your cover image:

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Picture to People

To use this one you need your own image. They have some very good instructions, but we’ll run through it quickly.

Scroll down, down, down and finally choose a filter for your picture:

picture1

Now choose an effect for your text

picture2Now let’s build it. Choose what part of your image you want to show (default is probably good). Then choose your font and type in your text. Make sure to check mark the Text over Image button if you want text.

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Now let’s upload the image

picture4You can now view what it looks like or download it. I recommend just downloading, especially in chrome.

Here’s what I got:

picturetopeople

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And if those aren’t enough to get you started, I don’t know what is.

Do you know of a better cover generator?

Categories: Social Networking | 15 Comments

My Experiments with Facebook Ads

For the past couple of months, I’ve been using the Ads feature on Facebook in a variety of ways, seeing if using it can help me grow my audience on my blog or Facebook page, or even to increase my book sales. I’m sure many of you have already utilized and come to your own conclusions about these features, but for those who haven’t, I’m presenting my findings in case you decide to try Facebook ads and want some advice or testimony before starting.

And if you don’t know much or at all about this feature, let me tell you about it. The Ads feature of Facebook is a way for people with businesses or Facebook pages to build followings and even sell their products. Setting up an ad campaign is very easy: you write the ad and then once you’ve finished, you can set a target audience based on criteria such as age range, country, and interests or hobbies. You then set for how long you want the ad campaign to run (five days, a week, two weeks, etc), and how much you want to pay. I generally recommend between ten and twenty dollars a day. As how many people you reach depends on your daily budget, this price range guarantees you’ll reach a bunch of people.

Once you’ve finished setting everything, you click “Done” and send the ad off to be approved. Usually this takes no more than a half-hour or an hour. Once your ad is approved, you let Facebook do the rest. It bases its algorithms on who it shows your ad to based on the parameters you sent, and then people start noticing it. Some, though not many, even click on it.

I ran three different ad campaigns through Facebook. Here were the results:

  1. Blog Campaign: In this campaign I gave a link to my blog. I wasn’t trying to sell anything, just get people reading. Of the nearly seventeen-thousand reached, only about one hundred clicked on the link, which led to a slight increase of readership on my blog. Didn’t get any new comments or likes or followers, but it was still a noticeable increase, small as it was. Spent a little over $41 over five days.
  2. Reborn City Campaign: This time around, I was trying to see how effective an ad campaign was at selling books, so I picked my most popular one, my sci-fi novel Reborn City, and aimed it at fans of science fiction, particularly dystopia fans. Reached a little over twelve-thousand people, but only about 140 followed the link to RC‘s Amazon page. Of these 140, no one seemed willing to pay the full price for a print or e-book copy of RC, sadly. Spent about $70 over the course of a week.
  3. The Big Birthday Sale: With this campaign, I had a bit more success than the previous two campaigns, which I did in honor of my 22nd birthday. For five days, all my paperbacks were marked down, and all e-books free-of-charge, and each day I ran a new ad campaign, each one lasting a day, advertising the sale. I also expanded the criteria to include more people, leading to buyers from seven different countries. All told, I reached a staggering sixty-thousand people and managed to sell or download nearly twelve-hundred books. Although I didn’t make as much money (especially with the e-books) it was enough to know that people were downloading and reading my books. In addition, I received a huge boost in the number of likes on my Facebook page, going from 140 likes to nearly 400, most of them from India! All told, I’m pretty satisfied with how this campaign went, spending $65 total.

From these experiences, I’ve gained some insight into what makes a Facebook ad work. Firstly, it helps to be very specific with what you’re pushing. You can’t just go “Check this out! It’s new! It’s awesome! You should want it!” You have to say more than that. For example, if you want to push your latest novel, you can say “Chester Bennett was just an ordinary teenager with ordinary problems. That is, until he met Kaylie, a girl who was born into the wrong body and is on the run from the mobster parents she stole from. The adventure they go on together leads both teens to learning many uncomfortable secrets about themselves and each other, and teaches Chester what it truly means to love in Running in Cincinnati” (and that’s just something I made up on the spot. If you want to turn it into a novel, be my guest).

It also helps if you’re emphasizing why now’s a good time to buy. This is especially helpful during a sale. If you emphasize that your books are discounted or even free and that it’s better to get the books now because of these reasons, people will take notice. Of course, there’s the downside that you might not get as much back in sales as you did in spending money on the campaign, but if there are more people reading your books because they got them at a discount price and if a good number of them enjoy the books, at least some of them will review the books, tell their friends about them, and maybe buy future copies of your work.

And of course, you need to know whom you’re selling to. The reason why my last campaign was so successful was because I made sure as many people around the world as possible with the interests and hobbies I was targeting did see the ad. The result was a huge amount of people getting my books and even liking my Facebook page. So when selling, take advantage of the parameters you’re setting for the campaign. Even look in places you wouldn’t think of looking in (like I did when I decided to target Germany, India and Japan rather than just English-speaking nations). You never know who might want to check out your new book.

Oh, and use the Ads Manager page, which you can reach by finding it on the left side of your page. If you need to make any adjustments to your campaigns (and you will), the Ads Manager will allow you to do that, so don’t ignore it!

While it may seem like putting a lot of money into something that might not yield results, Facebook ads can be a lucrative means to reach readers if you allow them. You can start slow, doing one-day campaigns and seeing what the results are, seeing what works for you and what doesn’t. With any luck, it could lead to a few more devoted readers wanting to know what happens next in your latest series or to look and see what else you have available. Nothing wrong with that, right?

What’s your experience with Facebook ads, if you have any? What tips do you have for other readers?

Also, I’m happy to announce that, like I promised in my last article, I’ve set up a page called Conferences, Bookstores, & Other Resources with links to place like the Gulf Coast Bookstore that can be of service to you in promoting your works. Included on this page are stores, conferences, and websites that have the potential to be helpful for every indie author. You can check the page out by either clicking on its name here or you can find it at the top menu under “On Marketing & Promoting”. I will be steadily adding other entries to the lists there as I find them, so if you have any you’d like to recommend, leave a name, a description and links in a comment and I will put it up as soon as possible. Hope you all find it helpful!

Categories: Author Platform & Branding, Book Promotion, Business Plan, Marketing & Promoting, Psychology of Writing & Publishing, Social Networking, Writing as a Business | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Overcoming Fear So You Can Finish and Publish Your Books

Today I was thinking of a friend who is a very talented writer but doubts her ability because of things people in her past told her.  I won’t go into specifics, but from time to time, it seems these doubts creep up on her.  I’m sure there are some triggers to it, but I don’t know what those are because I can’t get into her head.

But I was thinking that the reason some writers don’t finish a book or publish it is because they’re letting fear push them down.  They might not be aware of this.  My friend does have published books, but she’d like to write more books in a year, and I can see she’s making an effort at this.  And it takes courage when you are pushing past a barrier of “I’m not good enough” because you’ve been told you weren’t way back in your childhood through high school.

Today, I want to address some strategies to help writers who are procrastinating because of that they’re not good enough.

Fear

 Fear of rejection is a powerful one, and when it’s from someone you know and respect, it’s even more difficult.  I really think people can become paralyzed by fear if they’re not careful.  But think through the worst case scenario.  No one likes your book or no one buys your book.  That is the worst case scenario as a writer.  I don’t know if not selling any books is more of a fear factor than being told your book sucks.  You can’t have anyone hate your book unless someone reads it, which implies someone bought it, which implies you made some sales.  For the sake of this discussion, I’ll say the fear that people don’t like your book is the bigger of the two fears.

Fear of rejection is a tough one, but it is one that you can overcome.  You don’t have to be a prisoner to it.

Procrastination

I think the reason writers procrastinate is because they let fear talk them out of taking the chance.  If you never publish a book, you don’t risk rejection because you can simply say, “Well, I just never got around to finishing it and getting it out there.  That’s why I never made it as a writer.”

By not finishing the book or publishing it, you are buffering yourself from potential rejection.

“I don’t have time” Feeds Procrastination

I can hear someone say, “But I don’t have time.” This is actually a dangerous mindset because you’re setting yourself up not to finish the story.  Books don’t have to be written in one day, one week, or even in one month.  National Novel Writing Month isn’t for everyone.  Just write a little at a time.

Break the word counts up into doable goals.  This way you won’t get overwhelmed.

Strategy Tip #1: Small Steps Lead to Great Rewards

Let’s say you decide to write 200 words three times a day.  That means you will take 10-15 minutes to sit down without anything distracting you, and all you’ll do is write.  I bet you can get 200 words in that small block of time.  Then walk away and do other things.  Come back to the computer in an hour or two and write for another 10-15 minutes.  Then you repeat this one more time in the day.   By writing for no more than 45 minutes a day, you will have 600 words.  At this rate, it will take you 83.3 days to finish a 50,000 word novel.  You could potentially write 4 novels (at 50,000 words) in a year by simply writing 600 words a day.  If you want to take vacations or breaks, then maybe you’ll want to write 3 novels instead of 4.  But the reality is, it’s very doable, even in a hectic schedule to write a full-length novel in one year.

Let’s Further Break the Baby Steps Down

You could write 137 words every day of the year to make a 50,000-word novel, if you wanted to just write one book in a year.  You can write 137 words in 10 minutes or less.  You won’t make a career at this pace, but you can get the book done, and that is the focus of this post.  Overcoming fear and getting a book out because it’s something you really want to do.  Sometimes you will have to fight your fear by going slow, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  Baby steps add up.   The more you write, the more comfortable you’ll be, and the more confident you’ll become.  And, it’ll get easier to ignore people who don’t like your work.

The fact of the matter is, you will not overcome your fear by doing nothing.  You must write.

Strategy Tip #2: Put Things in Perspective.

Now, here’s how you put fear in perspective.  Read the 1 and 2-star reviews of your favorite books by famous authors.  I guarantee you, there are people who hate those books that you love.  You won’t be the first person whose book has not pleased someone, and you won’t be the last.

If it helps, I come from a family who mocked me for writing romance (aka “trash”).  I also receive comments from time to time from people who don’t like my stories for one reason or another, and if you take a look at my reviews (esp. on the books going back to 2009 – 2010), you’ll see I have a good number of anti-fans out there.

The reality is you will never please everyone.  Taste is subjective.

Strategy Tip #3: Seek Out Trustworthy and Encouraging Writers

Networking isn’t simply about selling books.  It’s also about establishing friendships with other writers who can be a huge support system.  You don’t have to go through this alone.  Local writing groups and meeting writers online can help you overcome fear by sharing common experiences with others who are in your shoes.  Non-writers mean well, but really, they don’t understand why a 1-star review stings or why an email telling you that you’re the worst writer ever hurts.  They don’t understand that our books are more than “books”.  Our books are a part of us because we created them.

Surround yourself by encouraging and supportive writers.

Strategy Tip #4: Join a Good Critique Group

The key here is to join a good one.  A good critique group will be full of writers who are honest but also encouraging.  They should tell you what is good about your story but be brave enough to tell you what isn’t working.  Feedback isn’t always pleasant, but you grow because of it.  If you have a supportive atmosphere, you can really fine tune your writing skills.  And this should help build your confidence as a writer.

Critique groups don’t have to be big.  They’re actually better off being small.  They can be online.  They don’t have to be a formal critique group.  Beta readers who are writers are a form of critiquing, too.  Thanks to the Internet, it’s easier than ever to establish this.

Remember, you want to be open to the good and the bad.  No matter how much you’ve written, there is always going to be room for improvement.  Each story you write should be better than your last one.

Strategy Tip #5: Join Workshops, Go to Conferences, and Read Books on Writing

Thanks to the Internet, you can go to conferences and workshops online now.  You don’t have to go to a physical place.   Part of workshops and conferences are networking, especially if you go to them in person, and they are educational.  These have a two-fold blessing built into them.  Not only are you learning ways to improve your writing and learning about the publishing industry, but you’re also meeting people who share your interest for writing.

If you connect with a couple of writers who are encouraging and supportive, you will probably start to feel that way within yourself.  I’m amazed at how surrounding myself with positive people makes me feel more positive, and I, in turn, can pass that on to others.  Like-minded people tend to attract each other.  Stay away from the negative as much as you can and seek out the positive.

And of course, reading books can be another avenue for improvement.  I prefer to do workshops and conferences rather than read books, but I know someone who’d rather read books.

However, I do think if you surround yourself with happy and supportive writers, it will go a long way in helping you to be positive about your writing.  When you’re positive about your writing, you’ll have a better chance of improving your work.

Strategy Tip #6: Do You Love Your Story?

Do you love the story?   At the end of the day, you are stuck with the book.  This is your story.  It’s what you created.  It is a part of you.  As long as you love it, it was worth writing.

Categories: Psychology of Writing & Publishing, Social Networking | Tags: , ,

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