Thursday, March 10, 2016

Ask PZM: March 2016 Q & A

Q:  Where on the web can I best use the cover of my book(s)?

Before I answer this question, let me say that I am assuming your book cover – whether ebook or physical book cover – has at a minimum a title and author name that can be easily read in the small photo sizes that appear on Amazon and social media sites. (An example of a book cover that might not work in the following discussion is one that uses difficult-to-read fonts.)

To begin with, I am not a big fan of using a book cover as a profile photo on social media.  Especially as an author you should use a profile photo of your face in order to help connect with potential readers (unless you are purposely hiding your identity).

This also means the profile photo should only be of you unless two authors co-wrote the book and share the social media account rather than having two separate accounts.  (In my opinion two accounts rather than one would probably be a better marketing strategy.)

There are lots of online places to use your book cover or covers:

Images on social media that display behind the profile photo such as on Twitter and Facebook. (For an example see www.facebook.com/PhyllisZimblerMillerAuthor ) You can use the site Canva to easily create these images by uploading your book cover(s) to the specific social media image templates provided.

On individual tweets or Google+ and Facebook updates. (On Twitter you have to create the text of your tweet so that there are enough characters remaining to allow attaching a photo to the tweet.)

On your email signature.

On guest posts you write for which you are allowed a profile photo and additional images.
On Pinterest where you can create a board for your book and then add pins to the board that relate to the book. For example, if you publish a book on knitting, you can use the book cover on your book’s board along with pins of different knitting projects.

·      On your website in appropriate places.  Although this seems obvious to have your book cover(s) on your author website, check whether there is more than one place on your website where the book cover(s) could legitimately be displayed.

(FYI – Because my author blog is on the home page of my author site, I do not have individual book covers displayed on the home page.  This is a decision I made for my marketing goals, particularly because I wanted to separate my fiction and nonfiction books on the same site.)

Q:  Is it okay to question the recommendations of my web developer/designer for my author website?

Absolutely!  Most web developers/designers are interested in the layout and design of websites.  They are not usually experts in the marketing of what is featured on those websites.

You as the author need to work with your web person to ensure that the site is easy to use for site visitors (called UX – user experience) and achieves your marketing goals.

Since 2008 I have been involved in digital marketing, and I constantly view websites that are not effective from the perspective of the site visitor.  This is why I co-launched on March 1st the site www.TrioGeek.com to promote the strategies of MAD – marketing, art production, development – working together from day one.


The marketing component is what you yourself need to fulfill when you are hiring a web person.  You need to consider site elements that would interest site visitors as well as resist recommendations of elements for your site that would hinder the visitor experience.  (One such hindrance example would be requiring a visitor to register and then sign in before viewing your site.)

If your web person says “everyone is doing it this way,” remember that a) this may not actually be true and b) this may not be the best for your site’s marketing goals.

In fact, when working with a web person, it is important to make it clear that you are a partner in this project.  You can provide valuable marketing and UX insights to help the web person achieve the development/design goals.  The end result must serve to make it easy for visitors to your author site to interact with that site.

And to tie this month’s two questions together, remember that search engines may bring people to pages on your site other than the home page.  This is why considering where else on your site you might include your book cover(s) is important to discuss with your web person.



Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter) blogs on book-related topics at www.PhyllisZimblerMiller.com and is the author of the Kindle ebook “Top Tips for How to Market on the Internet With Pictures.”

Read her TrioGeek origin story at http://budurl.com/TrioGeekoriginstory




26 comments :

  1. And if you can design your own website, that's even better.
    Sorry, no image for my icon. After seven years, it's now tradition.

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    1. No image for your icon is good, Alex. Tradition is good. Besides, you're the boss, so what you say goes.

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  2. I always tell people go look at other websites and decide what they do and don't like. Steal some good ideas and work with your designer to implement them.

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    1. I do the same when choosing a paint colour for a specific room. Amazon is flooded with awesome book covers.

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  3. Great advise, thanks!
    Wish I could hire a designer and a publicist, but learning is what it's all about. One day I'll get it to all come together! :)

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  4. Hi Joylene and PZM - we definitely have to be informed ourselves ... and realise/work out our likes and dislikes ... then as you say - adapt ideas for our own uses ... cheers Hilary

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  5. Thanks for the tips. I often see authors using their most recent release's photo as their profile photo. I figured it was probably clever advertising, yet haven't been able to bring myself to do it. I'm glad you don't think it's necessary. I like covers on sidebars, just like Joylene has hers! :)

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    1. Lexa --

      An important consideration in NOT changing one's profile photo each time for a new book cover is that there is no continuity in social media updates. For example, people who scan their Twitter feeds for updates may not recognize that it is you with a "new look."

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    2. Good point, Phyllis. Never thought of that. When I stopped dyeing my hair, I just assumed I had to change my profile picture. Even I don't recognize the face.

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  6. I've kept my old profile picture too long, but I've been so lazy about getting another one taken.Guess I should put that on my To Do List.

    I'm glad you posted this because it validates my decision to use my cover the way I do. Great help as always.

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    1. And you've validated my concerns by sharing that, Lee. Thanks.

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  7. Thanks for all this wonderful advice, Phyllis. It's always a help to me. Joylene, once again, thanks for being the lovely hostess! Sorry to be late to the party. :)

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    1. Karen, your supports means everything. Thanks.

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  8. Thank you for the advice, Phyllis! :)

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  9. Good ideas for using the book covers. Inspired me to crank up Canva and get creative. Thanks you.

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    1. Glad to hear that, Janet. Inspiring others is what it's all about. And now I'm inspired.

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  10. Great advice. Thanks for sharing! Really enjoyed this post. Have a lovely day.

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  11. Great advice about using the book cover for social media. Lots to think about! :)
    ~Jess

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  12. Great advice about cover pictures and marketing. I hadn't really thought about it before so now I'll go in prepared. Thanks,

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  13. There's a lot a cover can be used for. Website and blog banners, sidebar of your blog/website, promo images to announce sales which can be shared on any social media site, Goodreads, Instagram...I do do much with my images. :)

    Great advice!

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  14. Just passing through, Joylene.
    Phyllis always gives such great advice. She's a marketing maven.
    Writer In Transit

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  15. When I have a new release I use it for my profile picture for a few days.

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