Canva (Tools of the Writing Trade No. 2)

Canva is a DIY graphic design site that can help your writing career.

Whether you've had books published by a traditional publisher, publish your own work, or hope to do either, part of being an author is sharing your work and letting people know about you.

Many of us are introverts, though, and/or dislike or fear being “salesy.”

Social media is one way to connect with potential readers in genuine ways, and Canva offers a good tool for making your posts more engaging and fun. Canva can also help you create book covers.

What You Can Do On Canva

Canva offers a Do-It-Yourself platform for graphic design.

If you've ever seen someone post an inspiring saying across a beautiful photo of a sunrise on Instagram or Facebook and wished you could do that, Canva is one place where you can. If you want to create a Facebook ad and aren't sure how to put it together or make it the right size, the tools on Canva can help.

Also, on Canva I created this cover for my story structure book. While for my novels I hire a professional designer, I did this one to try out Canva and also to see if there was reader interest in the topic of the book before spending a lot to publish it. There has been, so later this year, I will likely have a new cover done. In the meantime, judging by sales, this one conveys the content of the book well enough.

How To Use Canva

The site provides free templates for specific social media platforms. Among others, there are Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram post templates, blog and Tumblr graphics, and ebook cover templates.

Canva also offers backgrounds, photos, and illustrations to use in those templates. Another option is to drag and drop your own images.

I created the banner on my author Facebook page using my Awakening book covers, and the banner atop this blog using Canva stock photos.

Most of the graphics for this blog were created on Canva. I plan to use the one on the right in an upcoming post. It combines three images I found when I searched for  “lists” and “categories.”

What Does Canva Cost?

You can create an account for free using your email address. As soon as you sign on, you'll see many free templates.

Canva also offers multiple photos and illustrations free. Sometimes a particular image you want will be a stock photo that requires payment. The banner for this blog includes two photos I needed to pay to use, but it was worth it to me because I really liked them.

The cost varies depending upon use. If you are using a photo in one social media post, it may cost $1. If you want to use it continuously, the same photo may cost $10.

The single-use cost of the photo appears on the left when you are choosing to incorporate it in your design, but you don't need to pay unless or until you download it for your own use. When you do, the license options will appear.

Occasionally it's disappointing to discover that a photo you loved is out of your budget for long-term use. But that's only happened to me a couple times, and given all the experimenting and free work I've done on the site, I don't mind.

Also, you can usually download a free sample of your design to try it out. It will have the word Canva written across it, but it's helpful to make sure you like what you've designed before you pay.

In the seven months I've used Canva, I've created two e-book covers, numerous blog graphics, Facebook and Twitter banners, and occasional social media posts.

All that has cost me less than $50, and I could have done all of it free had I wanted to search longer for free illustrations or photos.

I've likely only scratched the surface of how you could use Canva. If you check it out and find more amazing uses, please share in the comments.

Until Friday–

L.M. Lilly

P.S. See Your Book Will Be Judged By Its Cover for more on when to create your own covers and when to hire a designer.