I recently posted about how book teasers can be wonderful tools to help strengthen your marketing plans. They offer your readers new insights into your book, drum up excitement, and increase anticipation. And they do it all without looking like salesy, icky, spammy posts that are bound to annoy all your friends. Now we're going to talk a bit about how to create those book teasers. In this tutorial, I am going to walk you through step by step how to create amazing, eye-catching teasers using the free online photo-editing software known as PicMonkey.
A quick note about affiliate links. I love trying out new things: services, software, and various programs designed to make my life easier. And I’m more than happy to pass on my experience to you. Your trust means everything to me. I would never recommend anything I didn’t use and love myself. PicMonkey is one such service. Because I am an affiliate, should you choose to follow any of the links on this page and sign up to use PicMonkey's paid services, they will pay me a small commission.
First, we need to know what type of teaser you're going to make. Are you planning on a short teaser, or a long one? Something that gives a peek into the story, or the characters? Any character in particular? To choose, think about the message you want the teaser to give to the reader. You can choose a direct quote straight out of the book, something from the blurb, or even a generic introduction. Personally, I like direct quotes because readers love finding them in the book later on. I'm not sure why that is? I just know that every time I come across a quote within a book that I recognize from a teaser, I get a little giddy: “there is it!”
Choosing a quote.
I am going to use a quote out of a piece of dialogue from one of my Works in Progress: Ripper.
“He stabbed you?” Faith whispered as she sat on the edge of the bed. “That pencil prick cocksplat! What happened after that?”
Why this quote? For one thing, I think it's a little funny. But it does a bit more. It introduces one of my main characters, Faith, and sets up her attitude a bit: not overly lady-like. We already know that Ripper takes place in 19th Century London, the time of Jack the Ripper. And who is she talking to? I'm leaving the reader with this question. Is she talking to one of Jack's survivors? Or a potential victim?
Choosing a background image.
Next, we need to find a background image. The image can be of just about anything you want. You can choose a plain background, or one with a photograph.
I have a few sources I like to go to for choosing stock photographs. Just be sure to look for their usage license. Specifically, you want to find stock photos that come with either “Public Domain” or “Commercial Use” licenses.
One source I love is Free Images. You can search for images using keywords. In my case, I did a search for “Jack the Ripper” and found one image.
Down below the photo, you can find the link to download. You'll need to be logged in to download, but it's free to sign up.
And while we're here, note the link to the license. This is where you'll find out exactly how and where you're allowed to use the images you download from this site.
This is one reason I like the Free Images web site. They make it very easy to check the usage guidelines for every photo. Most of the photographs on this site are free for personal and commercial use as long as you are not reselling the image in any way (such as using them to create print stationery and then selling the stationery); but there are some that require attribution or a link back to the artist, so be sure to check before downloading the image you want.
Time to head over to PicMonkey.
Now we get to start the magic. Head on over to PicMonkey and get ready to create your book teaser.
Now, before we get too much further in this, PicMonkey does offer a paid account. The cost is $7.99 per month if you pay monthly, or $47.88 ($3.99 per month) if you pay for a full year. There is also a free 7-Day trial so you can test it out with the premium features before committing to a paid account. But for this tutorial, I am going to stick with all the things that you have access to using for free. The free account is more than enough to create some awesome book teasers.
Now, let's dig in.
Hover your mouse over the “Design” link until the sub menu appears.
Now, you have a choice. If you choose “Custom Size” you will be asked to enter the dimensions you want to create the graphic in (in pixels). Choosing “Blank Canvas” will start you off with a square graphic sized 2,000 pixels by 2,000 pixels. But since I want to create this book teaser to be pinned on Pinterest, I am going to choose a Template.
When you're scrolling through the templates, you'll notice some of them say “Free” while others have a small golden crown in their upper left-hand corner:
As you may have been able to figure out, any of the templates labeled as “Free” are available for you to use. Anything with a crown will only become available to you if you choose to sign up for a paid account.
So, I am going to select the Pinterest template. Go ahead and click to open that, and it will bring you to the PicMonkey Editor with your template already open and ready to go.
Over in the menu on the left, you can choose your canvas color. Since we are covering this up with the photograph I just downloaded, I can just click “Apply” to keep the white background.
Pull up the photo as an overlay.
I like pulling up the photo and using it as an overlay because I feel it makes it easier to manipulate. If you simply open the image or edit the image, that image becomes the background. And that makes it harder to do things like removing backgrounds or stretching and zooming in. Of course, it depends on the type of teaser you're making and just what you want to do with it. To open up your photograph as an overlay, click on the butterfly icon:
Then, select to add your own overlay from your computer (so you can upload the photograph you just downloaded):
Once uploaded, your photograph will appear over the background image in the editor window. You'll also see a couple of other windows appear. One of these is the layer window, which will help you keep track of the different elements you can add to your graphic. And the other is the overlay window, in which you can make changes to the transparency and color.
You'll also notice that the photograph itself has a white line bordering it. Use your mouse to grab this border and resize your photo to your liking. You can also move the photo around on the canvas. For this one, I want to really focus on that street lamp and the highlighted cobblestone, since they were both integral parts in so many scenes, both from the era and from my book.
You can still see the border outline of the photo even after it's been stretched out past the edges of the canvas. At any point, I can use these to further resize and reposition the photograph.
Now the fun stuff.
PicMonkey makes it easy to add special effects to your graphics. If you're already a pro at Photoshop, you'll be glad for the ease and speed of PicMonkey. If you're clueless when it comes to Photoshop, you'll rejoice that this is so easy.
Once my background is the size and position I want it in, I want to go ahead and flatten the image so that the overlay becomes the background:
Then we're going to head back over to the main menu and select “Effects” so we can see what's available:
Just as with the templates, PicMonkey is going to show you several options for effects that can be applied to the background of your graphic. Anything with a crown is only available to people with a paid account, but everything else is available to you for free.
Take some time to go through the different options and pick an effect you like. This is a completely optional step, so if you don't want to use any special effects, you can go ahead and skip down to the adding the text. For this teaser, Ripper happens to be a semi-dark book: lots of murder and fighting and blood. So I am going to go ahead and apply the Dark Edges effect to give my background image a slightly darker feel.
Adjusting the effects is easy. Take a look at the options panel and you can watch the image change as you adjust the settings to something you like.
Your changes stick once you click on “Apply.”
Time to add our quote.
You can apply as many effects as you like. Once your background image is to your liking, it's time to add in the text. You'll notice that the text icon in the main menu has a small icon over it labeled “new.” This means that PicMonkey has introduced new fonts recently (usually within the past 2-3 weeks).
PicMonkey has a lot of fonts available to you of various types. Try to choose one that matches your overall brand and the feeling of your book.
Now this is one of the reasons why I love PicMonkey. Even with the free account, you can choose to use some of their fonts (whichever ones they have available to you) or if they don't happen to offer one that matches what you're looking for, you can choose to use your own. If you choose your own, they scan your computer for fonts and present them all to you – no uploading required. It's as easy as opening up a document in Microsoft Word.
I am going to use my own font, Lora, which happens to be a part of my brand.
Once you click on “Add text,” the toolbox appears where you can adjust some settings. Things like color, font size, and alignment are all available for you to adjust.
Obviously, since my background is so dark, I am going to want to change the font color to something lighter. And I'm going to want to keep the quote centered on the image.
You can either type in your quote directly, or do what I did and simply copy-paste it into the box.
Just as with the photograph overlay, the box surrounding your text can be used to resize your text. You can also click on your text and move the entire box to line it up with the picture however you like.
Now, you'll notice that any other text effects require a paid account to use. This includes the drop shadow effect that would help make your letters stand out against the background.
But here is a little trick I learned. You can create a fake drop shadow still using the free account. To do this, right click on the quote, and then select “Duplicate Text.”
The new quote will be an exact copy of the old, but it will be slightly off-center. Change the font color to the color that you want to use for your shadow, then drag it over until it lines up directly over the other quote. Once it is lined up, right click again and this time select “Move Backward.” Do not click anywhere else, and do not de-select this copy.
Now, you should be able to use the arrow keys on your keyboard to adjust the fake drop shadow until it is just askew enough to help your quote stand out. I usually do two clicks down and two clicks right. Keep watching your graphic in the main window until the shadow stands out as much as you like.
If you need to, use the zoom tool at the bottom of the screen to zoom in and help keep everything aligned. If you happen to de-select the drop shadow text, you can delete the layer and start over again. The”Undo” button is also in the same tool panel as the Zoom tool, below the image.
Once your quote is ready, add the rest of your information.
Once you have adjusted your quote the way you want, all that's left is to add in the rest of the information that you need. In my case, this includes the character's name, the book title, my logo, and my name. This was all done by using the same tools and steps I described above: choosing fonts that match my book, duplicating the font to create a faux drop shadow effect, and adding an overlay from my computer to choose my logo.
All that's left to do now is to save your work. The save button is near the top of the page, above the editor. If you haven't already created a free account, PicMonkey will prompt you to create one now before it will let you save your graphic. You can use Facebook or Email to create your account.
You can make a couple last minute adjustments on the save screen, including the file quality, changing the final dimensions, and (of course) the file's name. You can also choose between a png image or a jpg image. You also have the option of saving directly to your computer or to any cloud storage you might have, such as OneDrive or Dropbox.
And that's it. Easy, right? What I like to do is sit down one afternoon and create several of these book teasers all at once. You don't have to upload or share them across social media all at once, but I like having them available should I decide to send one up somewhere on a whim.
And, you aren't limited to just book teasers. You can use these methods to create graphics to accompany your posts on Twitter or Facebook, branded images for Instagram, blog images to carry through to Pinterest. Anywhere you want to create a graphic appearance for your brand, PicMonkey can help you create it for free.
About the PicMonkey Royale accounts.
As you've seen through this tutorial, the free account that PicMonkey offers is amazing and will provide everything you need to create eye-catching graphics for just about any purpose. I wanted to take a quick second to let you know what's available should you choose to upgrade your account to a paid account (called a Royale account).
- Access to all templates, effects, fonts, and overlays.
- Access to the Hub, an online storage you can use for pictures you create in PicMonkey and preserve their layers so you can go back and edit or change them later.
- Ad-free work space (makes editing faster).
- Ability to create and save custom effects.
- Advanced touch-up tools (such as red eye reduction or blemish smoothing on skin).
And there you have it: a step-by-step tutorial on how to use PicMonkey to create book teasers. What are some things you can create with these steps? I'd love to see what you come up with!