You need a creative image for a blog post, your author media kit or other marketing materials.
If you can afford it, you grit your teeth, whip out your credit card and buy a pack of 10 from those pricey stock photo sites. Or you use a cliché stock photo from one of the many free sites.
Sure, you can create something unique at Canva. But if you’re impatient like I am, you don’t want to struggle with a site you don’t use often, especially when you’re in a hurry.
Welcome to PhotoFunia.com, my favorite, number one, five-star, go-to website for creating offbeat effects from a digital photo you already have, even if it’s just your head shot or book cover.
It’s drop-dead simple to use. Most images, also known as an effect, can be created in less than 60 seconds with no technical skills. And you don’t need to create an account or remember a username and password.
Just hop on over to PhotoFunia.com:
cruise through the offerings
choose your favorite image
upload your photo to insert into it
save it to a folder
It’s that easy.
Because I’m The Publicity Hound, I created this simple image in about a minute:
Choose from More Than 600 Images
This site is a goldmine for authors because, in many cases, you’ll be able to find an image that’s related to the topic of your book.
If you write about photography, you’ll find a Photography category with 37 images.
Romance novelists, choose from more than 21 images in the Valentine’s Day category and many more throughout the site.
Write murder mysteries? There’s a Zombie, a woman with a gun, a few “Wanted” posters and a slick “FBI ID.” Just insert a photo of what your FBI agent character looks like and you’ve got a fun image. You can find generic head shots of men and women at Pixabay.com, the best free stock photo site. That’s what I did when I created the image below.
If you publish art books, you have 38 choices in the Galleries category.
Write about celebrities? Choose from 24 images. My client, Rick Lenz, who writes novels with a Hollywood twist, created this image of Marilyn Monroe, who’s a major character in his book, “The Alexandrite.”
Cookbook authors, insert your head shot into a cup of latte. Or put it on the label of a wine bottle.
Need a holiday-related photo? Choose from images in the Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Halloween categories.
Even if you write fiction or nonfiction on a topic that doesn’t dovetail with any of the categories or images, you can put your head shot and book cover on a giant Times Square billboard. That’s what author Tim Patterson did with his nonfiction book Tradeshow Superheroes and Exhibiting Zombies: 66 Lists Making the Most of Your Tradeshow Marketing. He also placed the cover on a side of a double-decker red bus.
Insert Text, Too
If all you need is an unusual image that you can customize for your needs, but you don’t have a photo, you can insert text.
You’ll love the 13 animated images, perfect for sharing on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Go to the search box in the upper left corner of the PhotoFunia homepage and type “animated.” You’ll find images of:
a woman fanning herself
a photograph on fire
a woman dancing on the set up of a 1950s-style TV show
Elsewhere on the site, I found animated images of a Santa making a snow angel, and a woman holding a sparkler, perfect for the Fourth of July.
Photofunia recently added the Banksy Shredder image. It’s patterned after the stunt that Banksy, the street artist, staged when he shredded his $1.4 million “Girl with the Balloon” photo at a Sotheby auction.
Read the Terms of Service
PhotoFunia’s Terms of Service say I’m not permitted to link to anything other than their homepage. But if you go to the site and scroll to the bottom of the page, you’ll see “Terms of Service.” It prohibits you from using the images for commercial purposes. That means you can’t use the images on T-shirts and coffee mugs that you sell, or for the covers and interiors of books you sell.
I contacted them and asked if the images can be used for things like blog posts, email newsletters and marketing materials and they said yes.
I also asked them if one of my readers, Kristi Lynn Glass, could use the clothes pin image below that she created from one of the PhotoFunia effects. She added the green section at the bottom, using Canva. PhotoFunia said yes. Think of ways to use this free picture editing tool to market other products and services you sell, not only books.
If you have questions about whether you can use an image, or you have an idea for an image you’d like them to create, use the contact form at the bottom of the homepage under Support. It may take a few days before you get an answer.
PhotoFunia has apps for:
You can find those links by clicking on the Help section at the bottom.
Now go have fun with PhotoFunia! But before you leave, take a minute and share some ideas in the Comments about how you think you might like to use this fun, free tool.
Seth Godin has been a “companion” for the last 10 years, and his short, pithy, and often surprising blog posts have taught me plenty about marketing and, even more important, how to think about the connection between marketers and their audience.
Although I’m only partway through the book, I can already see that like his previous bestsellers, Godin is—once again—re-orienting our approach to marketing in the online world, bringing us right up to date with what’s working today.
It takes incisive thinking to be able state complex ideas in a short, simple way that anyone can understand, and that’s long been one of Godin’s appeals.
Near the beginning of the book, the author sets out what he calls “Marketing in five steps.”
This short list presents such a valuable conceptual overview of the marketing process, I thought it would be worthwhile to elaborate on his ideas and see how they apply to indie authors trying to market their books.
Marketing in Five Steps for Indie Authors
In the following list, I’ve used Seth Godin’s text, then added commentary to each item:
The first step is to invent a thing worth making, with a story worth telling, and a contribution worth talking about.
A book “worth making” is one that makes a unique contribution to your readers, one that delivers on what it offers. Godin mentions a “story” connected to your product (book, in this case) and this is critical to marketing. People respond to stories. Why did you write the book? How did it come about? What obstacles did you face? They all go into your story.
The second step is to design and build it in a way that a few people will particularly benefit from and care about.
It’s important to know who you are writing for, the part of the population that will be thrilled about your book. If you make those people very satisfied, the rest of your marketing will be suffused with authenticity. Your book will be grounded in the wants and needs of this audience.
The third step is to tell a story that matches the built-in narrative and dreams of that tiny group of people, the smallest viable market.
In marketing we often say we want to get into the conversation already taking place in a prospective readers’ mind. Story is what resonates, what connects us to the archetypal storylines running throughout human history. Knowing your own story, and the story behind your book, gives you the ideal insight into how to market it.
The fourth step is the one everyone gets excited about: spread the word.
After you’ve walked the first three steps, have your message and understanding of your market honed, then you can reach out through social media, launch planning, interviews, and all the other ways we bring attention to our books.
The last step is often overlooked: show up—regularly, consistently, and generously, for years and years—to organize and lead and build confidence in the change you seek to make. To earn permission to follow up ad to earn enrollment to teach.
Anyone who has run a popular blog, a long-lived podcast, a regular newsletter, or any other form of published content will tell you that only over time can you build a true and lasting relationship with your readers. Over time you deepen your relationship to your craft, and to the goals you share with your community. The ongoing conversation you have with people is a demonstration of your own commitment to your values and your willingness to be a leader.
Seth Godin always stresses the importance of being of service to your chosen community, being animated by a desire to serve.
Whether you plan to use lots of videos, Facebook Live broadcasts, interviews, written articles, paid ads, or any other form of marketing in support of your book sales, understanding these five steps will give you a firm grounding in the real connection you have with readers.
“Marketing is our quest to make change on behalf of those we serve, and we do it by understanding the irrational forces that drive each of us.”—Seth Godin
Life is a little chaotic at this time of the year for many of us, isn’t it? I am trying to finish things up for the year, do shopping, decorating, baking—all on top of my normal routine. I swear my Google Home will soon stop talking to me after the long list of demands I’ve been placing on her. “Hey Google remind me to…” “Hey Google add XXX to my shopping list…” “Hey Google what’s on my calendar for today?” “Hey Google where can I buy…” “Hey Google remember…” I wonder how I ever managed without her!
If you’re like me and talk the virtual ear off your Google Home, if she can’t answer your questions on self-publishing, check out our large articles archive sorted by topic or search our site using the Search box located in the right side panel.
David Gaughran on David Gaughran Clever Ways Authors Are Using BookBub Ads
“BookBub Ads is the platform where I’ve seen most growth in the last year, to the point where it is rivaling Facebook, especially when factoring in conversion. The amount of money I can spend effectively on BookBub — and by that I mean get an immediate return on investment — has quadrupled in the last twelve months.”
Two years ago, it was so easy to find the top Amazon.com reviewers and approach them and ask for reviews. There was software that let authors and publishers find the name and email addresses of the thousands of Amazon reviewers who had already written reviews of books in a similar vein.
I had written a self-help book for women about lowering stress, so it was easy to find the bestselling books on stress reduction and find the contact information on Amazon of those who had reviewed those bestselling books.
Then, I put together a BULK email using MailChimp and emailed THOUSANDS of reviewers all in one afternoon.
It. Was. Awesome.
Then, for some reason, in March of 2018, Amazon made a decision to hide the email addresses of reviewers on their profiles. Speculation was they did this because of the new GDPR rules and regulations but no one really knows why. This completely stopped authors from being able to email potential reviewers–even if the reviewers didn’t mind being contacted with their information public on their profile.
Does this mean it’s the end of finding targeted reviewers for books? Absolutely NOT! But it is a lot harder than it used to be.
Amazon is REALLY working hard to hide the contact information of book reviewers, and GoodReads only lets you message a few readers every day before shutting you down for the day. HOW, then, can you reach the reviewers and readers who write reviews?
That was the long, painful, whiney question I asked Debbie Drum last week on the phone. I was complaining about the lack of reviewer emails available and how easy it used to be to mass-email folks.
Now, I have to write each email individually or I get hit by Gmail or Earthlink with a blacklist mark. (I DO NOT want to be considered a “spammer”!)
Debbie has a program called Book Review Targeter that pulls data on readers and reviewers of specific books. I LOVE the idea of using software to find readers and reviewers of books written by authors in my community. There are authors out there who have already written books that appeal to MY readers. Finding readers and getting them to consider my book is SO much easier when I start by knowing my fellow authors and reach out to THEIR readers.
With this idea firmly in place, and knowing that it is no longer “cool” to mass email folks. HOW CAN I REACH THEM?
Well Debbie agreed to jump in and answer exactly that! So welcome Debbie Drum as she answers some of my biggest questions:
Amy: Debbie, is there any way in today’s world, to email readers in a way that does not “spam” them?
Debbie: The good news is YES.
When researching comparable authors to find books that have a lot of reviews online, look for bestselling books to start. When a bestselling author releases a book and they have done “everything right” – meaning
they have done the market research,
their cover is beyond professional,
their description is spot on and convincing,
and their content is killer,
then that author will probably have a lot more reviews and you will get better review response results from mass cold emails.
I would say first test out in a small segment to see if mass emailing will work for you. If it doesn’t, don’t give up. There are certainly other ways to get the reviews you need to sell more books.
Amy: So what other options do we have? That’s the next question.
Debbie: Social Media is also a great place to find reviewers. When looking for book reviewers, and influencers that can share and promote a book, I like to start with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest.
All of these amazing platforms have direct messaging and commenting components to them.
What’s so great about this? A lot of these social media platforms are listed on an Amazon reviewer’s bio page.
Not every profile on Amazon has this social data present. It’s only if the person WANTS to provide this data publicly. But it is a great place to start.
There is software such as Book Review Targeter that can pull these social media addresses, or you can do it manually. But be aware that for every 1,000 reviewers you look up, you will find perhaps 50-100 social media addresses. But that is GREAT!
Now you have 50 targeted people to contact and YOU have the upper hand. Now that you have the social links of reviewers, let’s go over some rules and what to say to get the reviewers to review your book!
Amy: What is the best way to connect with readers in this new world?
Debbie: There are only four rules to follow when it comes to contacting reviewers.
Here they are:
#1 – Be Brief
This is the most important that’s why it’s FIRST. Don’t write paragraph after paragraph after paragraph. This is a HUGE mistake. In a couple of sentences you can explain what your book is about, why you are contacting them, what they will get out of it (more about this in #3) and what to do next.
People will tune you out if you go on and on.
The conversation will continue in a natural fashion through the direct messaging channel if a good connection is made.
#2 – Add Something Personal
In this day and age, it’s OK to “stalk” your prospects. If you are contacting someone on YouTube, watch their videos and make a comment on what you like or what your favorite video of theirs is.
If you are contacting someone on Facebook, take note of a picture they posted or something you might have in common with that person.
Another thing you can do is read the review they wrote of the other book. Make a comment about their review.
The point is you want to add something personal to your message to make it stand out and not look so spammy and cookie cutter.
Does this take a little bit more time? Yes, but it will pay off a lot more than blasting the same message in 500 emails and “wasting” them to get little to no response.
#3 – Talk About benefits for THEM
Remember, these reviewers you are reaching out to are strangers for the most part. Do you think they care about why you need more reviews? Or where you are looking to take your career as an author? NOPE THEY DON’T.
What do they care about?
They care about what your book will do for them. So TELL THEM!
Instead of talking about you and what their review will do for you, talk about them and what benefits they will get out of reading your book. Your message should not just include your book description. Copying and pasting your book description will not work and it also breaks rule #1 on brevity.
Make a list of 3-5 bullet points of what outcome they should expect. Compel them to respond. The review process is a part of marketing so put on your copywriting cap to convince the reader they should spend time with YOU. Get help with this if you need it. IT’S THAT IMPORTANT!
#4 – Have the ability for them to get your book for free
The worst thing you can do is cold message someone and then ask them to buy your book. Have a way you can get them the book for free either as a PDF or with a program like Book Connect.
That’s it. Those are the rules. They aren’t that hard to follow but each one is important so make sure you follow them!
Amy: What are some other ways of getting reviews in today’s publishing atmosphere?
Debbie: You could be doing more to get organic reviews (reviews that come naturally).
Once you get about 10 – 15 reviews under your belt, that’s enough to get you enough social proof for your book to sell. With those reviews, you will get more sales and more readers.
First and foremost be sure to ask for a review inside of your book so readers understand it’s important for you to hear their feedback.
You can do more inside of your book as well.
Before you publish, set a specific hashtag for all of your book marketing. For example, one of my hashtags for a book was #readbetterfaster.
After I requested a review inside the book, I also asked my readers to use the hashtag #readbetterfaster in any social media posting they did. So, if they reviewed or said anything about my book on social media, I could easily find it and connect with that reader and either make a connection and/or ask them personally to post their review on Amazon if they didn’t already.
Lastly, I’ll give you another big tip. Amazon is now offering prime real estate for video reviews. You get the real estate as a reviewer (Hint: This is a great way to market yourself.) and your book will stand out more if someone leaves you a video review for your book or product. Video reviews will give your book extra oomph. Once you have enough reviews under your belt, try to get some folks to leave you a video review. It will go a long way!
Times are changing and as authors we have to adapt. Getting reviews is tough at first but you cannot ignore the process.
These are both excellent training programs that I’m proud to promote because I know that for the right person, they can be life-changing.
PLF is really intended for people who want to start an online business, whether it’s book publishing or something else, and it requires a pretty high level of commitment to achieve the kind of success that’s possible.
Your First 10,000 Readers is squarely aimed at indie writers, but learning how to attract and engage an audience also takes quite a commitment in time, energy, and finances to really be profitable.
The Other Authors
What about the other authors, the ones who have no interest in starting a publishing business, may not even have another book to write, and don’t have the time, money, or enthusiasm for the details?
Here’s David’s note:
I stopped watching [Jeff Walker’s] third lesson after he trashed writing books for minuscule profit, instead suggesting that we sell some course (etc.) after the book has been published, indicating that that was where the “real money” resided.
As a first-time, one-book (biographical novel) author, who is not interested in making “real money” or furthering my career, but only that my work gets read, I’m afraid that Mr. Walker falls into the Nick Stevenson mold of selling books. Unfortunately, I don’t have a “magnet book” to give away to “prime the pump” in terms of establishing my “platform”. Even if I had an extensive list, what am I going to sell these people other than my one book?
My goal is to sell my one book, which required seven years to write and two years to edit and format, made available through Ingram Spark and the usual vendors.
I’m afraid I have wasted another four or five hours of my time.
C. David Gierke
P.S. I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no answer to my dilemma. First-book indie authors, writing fiction, are screwed in terms of having their work read by the multitudes.
I get a variation of David’s question every week. Other authors stuck in the dilemma of wanting a readership but not really fitting into the mold of the entrepreneurial author that’s so widely promoted online.
We can’t repeal the laws of marketing, either. You’ll still need to find a way to get your book in front of audiences who are most likely to be interested in it.
But we also can’t mandate that every author who wants to be read turn into a social media and marketing dynamo, either. So sending them to learn from successful authors like Stephenson or Joanna Penn or Mark Dawson isn’t going to help either.
I confess I don’t have lots of good answers to this question, so I ask you:
Some great articles for you again this week. Take a look. And, with the holidays on the horizon, and all the busyness they often entail, you may want to add these dates on your calendar so that you don’t forget:
Submit your blog posts to our Self-Publishing: Carnival of the Indies blog carnival by December 15th. All the information you need to know can be found here.
Be sure to submit your e-book cover to us for our December e-Book Cover Design Awards before you begin your New Years Eve celebrations. December’s submissions will be presented in a post at the end of January. Submission information can be found here. Be sure to tell us in the Remarks field of the submission form about the significance of the image(s), color palette choices and/or name of font(s) you selected for your e-book cover.
If you have any questions about the Carnival of the Indies or the e-Book Cover Design Awards, just click on the Contact page and fill in that form, or leave a comment below.
Melinda Clayton on Indies Unlimited Draft2Digital, Baker & Taylor, and OverDrive
“Those of you who use Draft2Digital to distribute eBooks outside of Amazon should have recently received a message that Draft2Digital has now partnered with Baker & Taylor’s Axis 360 eBook distribution platform.”
Russell Phillips on Self Publishing Advice From The Alliance Of Independent Authors Book Production: How to Self-publish Large-Print Books
“I’ve released large print versions of several of my books. Most indies only have an ebook, or an ebook and a standard paperback. Having extra formats such as large print looks professional and helps me to stand out.”
Steven Spatz on BookBaby Blog Six Myths (and a Few Facts) About Traditional Publishing
“Despite the constant upheaval that defines the current publishing landscape, many authors (and would-be authors) labor under some old “assumptions” about traditional publishing that are simply no longer relevant.”
Part of any speaking gig is to be introduced. It’s the “set up” to you and your message. Wouldn’t you like it to be perfect and not have your name, title or whatever screwed from the opening of your talk? Yes, the introduction is the “opening” of any presentation.
Yet, it often doesn’t happen. Having delivered over 1,000 presentations, I’ve heard my name botched, the title of my presentation misstated or blatantly wrong, and at times, nothing like I emailed or snail mailed to the meeting planner. Of course, I smile on the outside, and cringe on the inside.
Is there a failsafe way to prevent a delivery snafu? Not always. Can you reduce the occurrence? Definitely.
Start with creating your own introduction. Keep it short.
If your name is unusual, tell them how to pronounce it in the intro (my last name—BRILES—rhymes with SMILES).
Put in pauses using an ellipsis … if you have “punch” and laugh lines.
Avoid pitching your book or consulting from the platform. Let the introducer tell them you have books available for sale after your presentation and where you will be signing them—people like signed books! As in: “Sue will be with us throughout the conference and available to answer any questions you might have. You’ll find her at a table in the registration area.” (…or in the Exhibit Hall.—It’s good to ID the location.)
If appropriate, the introducer can let them know that you are offering attendees a special discounted price while you are there. Be generous—think 10-20 percent discount OR donate the percentage to the group—many have scholarship funds, something special that would be meaningful to participants.
YOU should not be the money collector. My husband traveled with me and handled the “store.” If you are solo, mingle early and ask if anyone would love to help you at the book table. Usually, several will be delighted to be your assistant—give them a book or something else as a “thank you.”
Creating and Distributing Your Introduction
Include your picture on your introduction (a current one, please) … your introducer wants to “see” who you are.
Create your introduction in a font that is 14 or 16 point, in bold and double-spaced.
Have your introduction on your website under your Speaker tab.
Send your introduction to the meeting planner.
If the meeting planner isn’t introducing you, ask who is—call for a short hello; thank him or her for introducing you; and if you have an unusual name, go over its pronunciation.
Always have two printed copies with you at the event as a backup (one for the meeting planner and the other for the introducer). Otherwise, you may end up having something read that the introducer found online.
If you speak to different industries, you will want to tweak your introduction. I had them for associations, healthcare, corporate, and women’s groups.
It is not uncommon that the role of introducing you is handed off to someone and not a lot of thought is put into the “who” that someone should be. And sometimes, he or she is nervous; sometimes a poor reader; sometimes a winger; and it’s not uncommon for the introducer to stumble over the copy and mispronounce the simplest of names—maybe yours. More times than not, your carefully penned introduction goes missing. That’s why you carry an extra with you.
You want your introducer to be your supporter. If you have a book, be prepared to give away signed copies—your introducer, host sponsor, helper at the book table, etc. Have an extra printed copy with you. You may have handed one off to the meeting planner when you arrived, yet it can easily go missing. Whoever is introducing you will be grateful, especially if yours is missing in action—it happens!
You may want a line that will be a “tell” for you based on the audience reaction—i.e., is there laughter? In the introduction I used for my healthcare association audiences, I always included a line or two that based on the audience response, would direct me to know which “opening story” I would use.
Sometimes, I included a range of groups I had spoken to in my introduction. The purpose: to let a varied audience know that I could handle and interact with a variety of industries, occupations and ages.
The Introductions I Use
Here are three introductions I currently use for publishing related topics—each one will also have a photo at the top:
Introduction for Dr. Judith Briles
Dr. Judith Briles is The Book Shepherd® and author advocate who excels at working with authors to create books they never regret. She is the award-winning and best-selling author of 36 books, including How to Avoid 101 Book Publishing Blunders, Bloopers & Boo-Boos and Author YOU: Creating and Building Your Author and Book Platforms.
To date, her books have been translated into 16 languages with over 1,000,000 copies sold! Her books, and work, have been featured in over 1,000 radio and television shows including repeat appearances on CNN, CNBC, and Oprah. Print publications include Newsweek, People, Time, the Wall Street Journal, and … the National Enquirer!
Today, she will speak on _______________________________ .
Please welcome Judith Briles.
Our speaker today is known as a crazy book lady and The Book Shepherd®.
Judith Briles is the author of 36 books including How to Create a $1,000,000 Speech and Avoid 101 Book Publishing Blunders, Bloopers & Boo-Boos. She’s worked with over 1,000 authors and has helped create more than 500 best-sellers.
Judith Briles has spoken in front of such diverse groups as the Florida Writers Conference, the 8th Grade Class of Portola (por-tol-la) Valley Elementary School and the Tank Division of the US Army!
She’s been featured on every major TV show from Oprah to CNN to Waterloo’s public TV station and in the Wall Street Journal, People magazine and … the National Enquirer.
Her topic today is ___________________________.
Judith will be with us throughout the conference and available to answer your questions at her book table.
Please welcome Dr. Judith Briles …
You are going to spend the next hour with someone who is snappy, sassy and very savvy about book publishing and marketing. The Book Shepherd®, Dr. Judith Briles will deliver the juice to spring all authors to action to achieve their publishing goals … and that means you!
She has guided 1,000 authors to book completion and generated over 500 best-sellers. Today, she delivers ten amazing Ninja Book Marketing Tips to Soar Your Book Sales. Make sure you register for face-to-face time with her during the conference. Get her books in our bookstore.
Please welcome The Book Shepherd, Dr. Judith Briles.
Final Thoughts on Introductions
There you have it. Introductions do not need to be boring. And, you don’t want an introduction that is lengthy—remember, if there is a conference brochure, it usually has your bio info in it. And, unless you are speaking to an academic type of group, you can skip all the degrees and where you went to school. If you’ve recently been honored with a prestigious award, adding a line about that might make sense.
What to do …
Punch yours up to match your audience.
Post them to your Speaking tab on your website in both a Word document and a PDF.
Your presentation starts before you say one word. Write out what you want the audience to hear.
Welcome to professional speaking!
(If you haven’t ordered an audiobook on Amazon’s Audible, you can grab my speaking book here for free.)