Ask an Indie Author with Ashley Evercott: How do I make my book covers shine on social media?

In this inaugural post of the Ask an Indie Author feature, indie fantasy author Ashley Evercott (Enchanting Fate) takes over the blog to solve a question every indie author deals with. Take it away, Ashley!

Ask an Indie Author with Ashley Evercott

Ask an Indie Author with Ashley Evercott: How do I make my book covers shine on social media?

The new age of technology has allowed authors to market their books through social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok. These platforms can benefit authors and provide free advertising. However, as a newbie author with no graphic design, photography, or video background, it’s difficult to know where to begin.

I have also struggled with learning about this topic, but over time I have learned a few tips and found apps that have helped me make my cover and books shine on social media. Some of these tips/apps might seem obvious to those who excel in creating posts and videos already, but hopefully, they will help the new authors who don’t know where to start.

Canva

1. Canva

The first website/app that will be your best friend with creating beautiful Instagram posts is Canva. There are lots of different functions you can use to change a photo’s saturation, brightness, size, etc. You can add animation to your text and images to make your post stand out even more. There are video features you can use if you want to make a reel/TikTtok as well. You can use the free version or pay a monthly subscription for the full access to all their images, fonts, and other features. I personally have gotten by without having to pay the
subscription.

Tip #1: Download the app on your phone

If you are making a Canva post on your computer, I would advise you to download the app on your phone and look at your design from your phone. The colors will appear different on each device, but the way it’ll appear on your phone will be more important because most people will look at Instagram/Twitter/Facebook from their phones as well.

Tip #2: Study popular author posts

This may seem self-explanatory but you should look up posts other
people have made and study them, especially if they’ve had a lot of likes.
If you’re thinking of a book reveal, or book cover teaser, look up the
hashtags and study what other successful authors did. You can learn a lot about how they compose pictures, use colors, and fonts to attract their audience. Of course, you should never outright copy someone’s post.

Collage maker

2. Collage Maker: Photo Editor

This is the specific app I used to create mood board posts on Instagram. There
are other collage making apps available but this is the one I prefer, and it’s free.
You can collect photos and create an image like the one I made for Instagram:

Moodboard by Ashley Evercott
Moodboard by Ashley Evercott

Mood boards are an excellent way to show your book’s aesthetic and draw an audience in.

Reels and TikTok logos

3. TikTok and Reels

TikTok and Reels have become great ways to post about your book for free. Many authors have found success with making videos on each platform. You can make an account for both and post the same video to reach a wider audience. Although I do not
have a large following, I have found that I have a spike in reads when I post a video about my book and so I highly recommend every author to post on these platforms.

 Tip #1: Learn from the trends

As with the picture post advice, the same goes for TikTok and Reels. Study what other authors are doing and pay attention to what sounds/songs are trending. Use those to your advantage.

Tip #2: You don’t need to show your face

If you are uncomfortable with showing your face on camera and talking, you don’t have to. There are many successful videos that showcase the book alone. For example:

1. Flip through your book’s pages, post quotes from the story and end the video by revealing the cover

2. Show a variety of pretty pictures that show your book’s aesthetic, providing quotes, or draw your audience in with a hook, and top it off with a trendy song.

Tip #3: Lip sync to make relatable content

If you are comfortable showing your face but you still don’t want to use your own voice, use someone else’s! Use a sound and make it about how writing is difficult, or how your characters have a mind of their own. Get creative and make it fun.

Tip #4: Don’t always make it about marketing

An audience will appreciate your videos more if you don’t shove your
book in their faces all the time. You can make videos about your favorite
books, your favorite or least favorite tropes, or, as mentioned in tip #3,
make it about the writing process.

CapCut logo

4. Capcut

Capcut is a video app you can download on your phone and my favorite way to make special effects I cannot create on TikTok or Instagram. There are many free features and fonts available, but if you want access to all the features, there’s a monthly subscription.

Tip #1: Use the 3D zoom effect

For my cover reveal for Enchanting Fate, I used Capcut’s 3D zoom effect on my video. Here is how I achieved that:

1. Insert your cover photo. Click on the photo until a white highlight appears around the photo. Under, scroll right until you find the style box. Click it.

2. Scroll Right and you will find two zoom options. Either will give you a cool effect and you can choose which one you like best.

Capcut with the cover of Enchanting Fate
1. Click the style box
Capcut with the Cover of Enchanting Fate
2. Choose from the two zoom options

Overall, there are many apps to help you with your marketing journey. These are the free tools I found most helpful to me and I hope they will help you make your cover shine, too.

Ashley Evercott

Ashley Evercott was born and raised where it’s mostly sunny and there’s always traffic on the 91. From a young age, she has dreamed of far-off worlds and star-crossed lovers. She is proud to pen these stories to life and combine fantasy and tension-filled, clean romance. When she is not writing, she is consuming as many books as she can and daydreaming at home with her cat and supportive husband.

Ashley’s next book, Enchanting Gold: A Rumpelstiltskin Retelling, will be published either this fall of 2022, or January 2023. Follow her @ashleyevercott on Instagram for more updates.

To learn more about this author, visit ashleyevercott.com.

Paperbacks now available!

Are you as excited as I am? Paperbacks of Girl of Shadow and Glass and Girl of Glass and Fury are now available on Amazon! Order your copies here.

Signed copies should be available later this month, along with series and bookish merch. But more on that later!

For now…Yay!

Cheers,

CKB

Girl of Glass and Fury

Girl of Shadow and Glass cover reveal!

Not long ago, I made the decision to relaunch my Tara’s Necklace series ahead of book three. (No, I don’t have a release date in mind, sorry!) The first thing I did was commission brand new covers from MiblArt, and they absolutely NAILED what I wanted. The new cover of Girl of Shadow and Glass came out perfectly.

(And guess what? I think the new cover for Girl of Glass and Fury is even better!)

Each cover represents a different world in the portal fantasy series, visited by a narrator in each book. I’ll be sharing some of the new scenes from Girl of Shadow and Glass later, but first…

Girl of Shadow and Glass has a new synopsis!

Dare to dream. Live to defy.

I can’t remember the last time I dared to dream about anything—not about my future, never about love, and certainly not about the sorcery the ancestors left behind.

All that’s about to change.

Kith has spent each of her seventeen years being coddled by the wisps and semi-wisps of her world. Born physically fragile, her family, elders and neighbors have never allowed her the independent life she craves. It’s no wonder she looks forward to her brush with sorcery each morning. When she passes through an ancient gate to a neighboring world, the animal-like shadows are there to welcome her—and the shadows aren’t the coddling type.

Bound by treaty to feed and educate her, the magical shadows have become beloved teachers for Kith—until one of them makes a shocking decision. Kith must succeed at a new type of education: she must learn to run faster than a shadow or risk going hungry.

With the weight of an inter-world treaty on her shoulders–and encouragement from a young man with courtship on his mind—Kith sets out on a journey to become stronger, smarter and more independent, all within the bounds of her dying world and the body she was born with. Because as the last of her ancestors’ protective sorcery gives way, it’s no longer enough for Kith to defy the odds.

It’s time to live to defy.

Girl of Shadow and Glass cover

Isn’t it a beauty? I thought it captured the Sundown World perfectly.

You can find the new addition of Girl of Shadow Glass at your favorite retailer through this UBL (just make sure it has this cover–some retailers will take longer to update than others). Right now, it’s just $.99 USD!

Cheers!

-CKB

Horace ARC opportunity

From today through May 8, 2022, I have ARC copies available of my new adult contemporary fantasy novelette, Horace: A Sorcer World Novelette. Because this story is a newsletter subscriber exclusive, it won’t be sold anywhere.

Copies must be reviewed on Goodreads by Sunday, May 8, 2022.

Cheers!

-CKB

Book sale, this weekend only!

November 26 through 28, 2021, you can get a serious deal on my books.

Yes, that’s 2 books for 99c…total! I wanted to do a special sale for Small Business Saturday weekend, and you may never again see its like. If you’ve been thinking about starting the Tara’s Necklace series or have been meaning to pick up book two, now’s your chance!

This sale is on Smashwords only. Use coupon code AJ39W at the checkout. Find both sale books here!

Cheers to small businesses,

– CKB

Girl of Glass and Fury Launch Day!

In less than two hours, Girl of Glass and Fury arrives!

Girl of Glass and Fury Kindle Mockup

I’ll keep the price at 99c for the first week, so you can use this Universal Book Link to purchase it. Remember, if you haven’t read book one, that’s no problem! Girl of Glass and Fury takes place at the same time as Girl of Shadow and Glass (also 99c for a limited time!).

Synopsis
There are worse things than the shadows.

It’s a cruel and unjust world Finchoa lives in, and she’s determined to change it. Which would be a lot easier if not for one, massive problem: She’s a wisp.

To change the course of history, Finchoa will use every advantage she has—including her many friends. With the help of the boy she can’t be with and the friend she most trusts, Finchoa sets out to find their ancestors’ lost magic and a better future for her world. One in which her childhood friend Kith—and all the shade-children like her—will never have to choose between the dangerous shadows of the Open World and starvation.

Set in the same few days as Girl of Shadow and Glass (Tara’s Necklace Book One), Finchoa’s righteous anger grows into a force of its own, leading her out of her desert home and into a wild, new world she never could have imagined. Nor could she have dream of Arc, the mysterious soldier who suspects she’s more than she appears. And he isn’t wrong. Finchoa’s encounters with ancient magic are changing her in ways she can’t understand—yet.

With a bone-chilling jungle world full of dark surprises and a desert world mired in wicked winds, the worlds stand against a girl with the body of a ghost. Can Finchoa become what she needs to and unravel the secrets of Sundown? Or will those secrets die with her?

Review: A Trial of Thorns (Rookwood & Vince)

A Trial of Thorns (Rookwood & Vince) Review Graphic

(Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.)

A Trial of Thorns departs from its roots as a Beauty and the Beast retelling as a major plot twist plays out, dropping Aster in the middle of court fae trials to determine who will be the next king or queen of the fae. Best of all, Aster, whose character is drawn from Belle/Beauty, continues to forge her own path.

Caught in a contest of fae heirs as an unwilling champion, Aster flounders more desperately in A Trial of Thorns. And it’s no wonder: she’s in unfamiliar territory. Everything about the fae of this series sets them apart from humans, from their unearthly beauty to their superhuman abilities and lifespans. Aside from Thorn and the Forest Court, humans don’t mean much to the average fae—and are treated accordingly. Worse still, Aster’s abilities as a greenwitch and enchantress are rendered null in the Sky Court, where the only plants are contained in greenhouse.

I appreciated but did not fully love A Trial of Thorns at first (excepting the parts with the wonderful brownie Mosswhistle, who is perfect in all scenes). The last third to quarter of the book, however, is superb. The authors don’t let Aster and Thorn have a mindless happily ever after that ignores their problems. Instead, they lean in to the severe issues between humans and fae.

It’s a pleasure to see Aster not let Thorn and her other fae friends off the hook, and to take charge of her situation. The serious conversations between them are well-rendered and everything you’d want from an independent and compassionate heroine.

The descriptive writing is not as strong in this book, largely because Rookwood and Vince excel at writing about the natural world—especially when it skews toward dark fantasy. The Sky Court is almost clinical in nature, full of marble and character-less luxury (the House Hunters crowd would be unimpressed, but hey, Faolan’s got his own style). The Trials themselves are creatively designed, and reminded me pleasantly of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, with a dash of Greco-Roman mythology. Which means there’s always a clever twist for readers to enjoy. Those are my kind of trials.

I did miss the authors’ forest descriptions and the constant danger of the Folkwood. The dangers Aster faces in A Trial of Thorns come more from brutal, conniving fae plots and politics; those who enjoyed reading about Tyrion and the other Lannisters in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series will be happiest, while fans of Alexis Henderson’s The Year of the Witching will be rooting for Aster to find her way home.

A Trial of Thorns is something of a transitional book, as so many second books are (I’m looking at you, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets!), and that usual means some growing pains. But I put down this book satisfied with the direction the series is going in, happy with Aster’s evolution (get ’em, girl!) and excited for whatever happens next.

To learn more about these authors, please visit helenarookwood.com and elmvince.com.

July 2021 Updates

July 2021 Updates: The blog is back.

Hi everyone!

Apologies for the, er, absent state of the blog lately. I’ve been hard at work with revisions on the next book in the Tara’s Necklace series, and something had to give. Unfortunately, it was the blog this time (and a whole lot of tidying up!).

Reviews in Brief

Witches Steeped in Gold, by Ciannon Smart – Don’t overlook the fact that a sequel is coming! I sadly didn’t realize and expected a more satisfying wrap-up. Other than that, though, the world of dueling narrators Jazmyne and Iraya is absolutely fascinating. I found myself rooting for both heroines, knowing all the while (and anticipating that) they would one day face off. As much as I appreciated this book, I do wish it had gotten to all the good stuff faster! 

The Chosen and the Beautiful, by Nghi Vo – The author of The Empress of Salt and Fortune loosely retells Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby through the eyes of a very different Jordan. Jordan, a queer female MC who was adopted by from Vietnam, occupies a ritzy and often lonesome world shaped by magic, parties, demons and xenophobia.  She’s really the best part–and by the poignant end, I wish there’d been more Jordan, and maybe no Gatsby at all.

What I'm Reading

A Trial of Thorns, by Helena Rookwood and Elm Vince – This follow-up to An Enchantment of Thorns takes Aster to the Sky Court, with a completely different aesthetic. The writing, too, is a bit different, but a key conversation with a certain dashing beast has completely captivated me. Team Aster all the way. (Note: I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.)

What's Next on the Book Blog?

Catching up on my backlog of reviews, of course! You’ll see longer versions of at least one of the above this month.

Author Blog News

I’m still on pace to release Girl of Glass and Fury on August 21, 2021, but just barely! Expect it to be widely available for presale soon.

In the meantime, Girl of Shadow and Glass is FREE as part of the Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale (July 1st-31st). Not a Smashwords fan? You can find it for 99c at the other retailers.

See you again soon!

Cheers,

CKB

5 Awkward Situations to Make Your MC Shine

Ah, the joys of writing life! In the middle of editing Girl of Glass and Fury (an ongoing endeavor) and reading great books like The Theft of Sunlight, I realized one common thread that makes characters instantly endearing: awkwardness. A special feature was born!

 

5 Awkward Situations to Make Your Main Character Shine

Since not every character can have the same traits, I started noticing how authors get around this. Awkward situations put a chink in the armor of an otherwise confident and strong character, leaving room for them to rise above, fail miserably (or endearingly) and allow the reader to feel closer to the character.

  1. They lack experience almost everybody has

A late first kiss. An inability to ride in a world of horses. A lack of taste at a highly refined court.

These are just a few of the circumstances that make characters instantly endearing (as long as they know what they don’t know, of course). Characters in these situations allow the reader to travel along with them on their journey. As long as the circumstances aren’t pitiable (think of Daine in Wild Magic, unable to read because of her isolated upbringing), they can bring the reader closer to your main character. Heck, your readers probably root for your MC all the more.

Awkward Main Characters are vulnerable, human and relatable. With the right balance, they can walk the line between cringe-worthy and loveable, especially in a would-be romantic situation. (Think Mr. Darcy.)

  1. A new setting is a lot more complex than they ever thought

When your MC is a fish out of water, it’s the details that really count.

In Intisar Khanani’s The Theft of Sunlight, narrator Rae arrives at court to stay with her cousin. But she has another mission: after a tragedy at home, she arrives with a question about what the government is doing to track the snatchers and help recover stolen children. All of this involves more opportunities, danger and perilous politics than she ever imagines. Yet it’s the moments in which she’s drowning in lace, and the one in which she realizes just what kind of person is helping her (he’s not as savory as country girl Rae had hoped), that we feel the most sympathy for her.

Rae’s life as the hard-working daughter of a horse rancher leaves her out of her depth in the alternately fancy and gritty capital. It’s these little scenes that endear her to readers, even more than her instances of bravery and her drive to do what’s right. We all know what it’s like to make it through any number of complex hard times, only to be overwhelmed by one detail too many. Rae’s character is deeply identifiable in those moments.

  1. Everything they know is wrong

There are a lot of ways to play this one. Here are just a few examples:

  • The privileged MC learns how hard the lives of others are; is she brave/foolhardy enough to try to change it? (Thorn, by Intisar Khanani)
  • The privileged MC who plays an active role in it and must repent (The Black Witch, by Laurie Forest) 
  • The struggling MC who must realize she isn’t the only victim (The Dark Angel, by Meredith Ann Pierce
  • The history the MC has been taught leaves out inconvenient truths and puts everyone in danger (yes, it’s a plug, because it’s one of my favorite devices. I used this one myself in Girl of Shadow and Glass)
  • The seriously misjudged social situation that leads to disaster (Jane Austen’s eternal classic, Pride and Prejudice)
  • The villain isn’t who the MC—and everyone at home—thinks (An Enchantment of Thorns, by Helena Rookwood and Elm Vince)
  • The unknown villain who makes things way more serious than the (in this case innocent) narrator ever imagined (The Bear and the Nightingale, by Katherine Arden)
  • The MC who lands in a secret world (City of Brass, by S.A. Chakraborty)
  • The MC who realizes she’s not in the “real” world (Between Jobs, by W.R. Gingell doing double-duty in this post)

I’m sure you can think of even more examples of this!

  1. Their job isn’t what they thought

Your character’s job doesn’t have to say anything about them (after all, not everybody can control what they do. There’s a lot of MCs who end up as thieves). Your character’s approach to their job says a lot about them. Watching them change their views on it gives the reader a front-row seat to your MC’s inner character.

(Slight, vague spoiler ahead.)

Take Cleric Chih in The Empress of Salt and Fortune. They begin the story eager to be to the first to document Thriving Fortune, the former residence of the now-deceased Empress In-yo. Instead, Chih gets a tale of a revolution behind closed doors and all the secrets that entails.

Every character needs a flaw, a rude awakening and/or an unexpected outcome. In The Empress of Salt and Fortune, Chih thinks she has it all together until she hears more of Rabbit’s story.

Though Chih blithely tells Rabbit, the part-time narrator of The Empress of Salt and Fortune, that the abbey she comes from holds countless secrets, Chih doesn’t understand just what that means until they’re entrusted with them. By the story’s end, the pride that drove Chih to become the first to learn those secrets ends up making them shudder. As their companion, Almost Brilliant, puts it, Chih is experiencing duty for the first time.

Though the series moves away from Thriving Fortune, that telling change made me want to stick with Chih, who is a mostly passive MC in The Empress of Salt and Fortune, throughout their future travels.

  1. The unreal meets the everyday in their life

In Between Jobs, by W.R. Gingell, we see this happen in both senses: the MC’s everyday is interrupted by the unreal, and then the unreal is interrupted by the everyday.

When Pet ends up as an actual pet of two fae and one vampire who understands won’t speak English (not until he perfects it, anyway), she gets towed through the worlds Between and Behind, spots a sword pretending to be an umbrella, learns a little Korean on the fly and witnesses violent and bizzare battles she can’t understand. Being adaptable, she mostly manages to keep up, even if she can’t grasp everything she sees, and it’s interesting and hilarious to see her developing her new skills, often to the astonishment of her “three psychos.”

As fantastical (and often awkward) as that is, it’s when a policeman starts poking around that things get really interesting. Pet has to explain or redirect him from what was, until recently, unexplainable. She’s seen it with her own eyes, after all. Seeing those two (technically three) worlds constantly clashing, and watching Pet navigate it, makes for one endearing narrator and a very interesting start to The City Between series.

(Of course, you could also go the other way and have the MC blunder through the unreal. Dent Arthur Dent comes to mind.)

Have you ever put your MC into an awkward situation? Let me know in the comments below!