In order for members create strong platforms for sharing their book reviews, we’ve rounded up tips for starting a blog, bookstagram, and booktube channel. Most of these posts mention the free resource Canva as an option for creating images, and members have been wanting to know more about how to best use Canva. Here we’ll go over some ways that you can use Canva to share book reviews, create templates for other readers, and brighten up your social media feeds! (Psst: This post isn’t sponsored by Canva, we’re just fans of the tool and want to share the love!)
What is Canva?
Canva is a graphic design platform. You can sign up with a free account, and they also have a paid program that offers even more tools and assets. For book influencers, I’d recommend the free account!
When you log onto the Canva homepage, you’ll find options for creating new projects with pre-set dimensions, such as an Instagram story or a Twitter header. Use these to ensure that anything you design is the perfect fit for the platform you’re uploading it to.
Adding book covers to device images
Earlier this year, I shared tips on how to add book covers to ereaders. A few members wanted a closer look at the process I use in Canva, so let’s dive in!
From the Canva homepage, I click the Instagram Post option under the Recommended tab—or find it by typing Instagram into the search bar.
To make your picture look more seamless and natural, it’s best to mimic how a cover actually looks on your ereader. On my device there’s a black bar at the top and bottom of the cover.
Whenever possible, I screenshot the cover on my iPhone to ensure that the dimensions are a perfect fit when I transfer them to my ereader. Not everyone is able to screenshot covers on their reading device, so I’ll show you here how I add covers that I didn’t screenshot.
In the Canva design you’ve started, drag and drop your photo so that it fills the entire square. Then add the book cover.
To create the illusion of the cover being on an ereader, go to the elements tab in the sidebar and type the word ‘rectangle’ into the search bar. Add the first search result to your design. Yours will be black, but I’ll make mine purple so it’s easier to see.
Start by fitting the rectangle onto your ereader. You can adjust the height, width, and rotate until you’re happy with its placement.
Then straighten the rectangle so its parallel to the book cover. Place the book cover over the rectangle (you may need to click Position in the menu bar and move the book cover to the front) and resize until it fits within the width. The top and bottom of the rectangle should be visible and equal in size. I’ve made the design larger here for you to see.
Use your mouse to select both the book cover and the rectangle behind it. In the menu bar, hit Group. This allows you to move, rotate, and resize them together. From there, move the images to your ereader screen and adjust until you’re happy with the result!
Download your image and upload to social media!
Bookstagrammers are using tools like Canva to create sharable eye-catching recommendation lists such as talk_about_swoon’s pairing of movies with romance novels and bookstagramrepresent’s post of diverse debut novels.
You can create your own design from scratch or use Canva’s pre-made templates to get you started. I used one of Canva’s Instagram templates to inspire this scrapbook-style design featuring some of our team’s most recent staff reads.
You can use this style of post to roundup books that you recommend, or to showcase books you’ve included in a longer article that’s linked in your profile.
Your Instagram posts aren’t the only places to share book reviews. You can also use Canva to create your own custom review templates. Here’s one I made for NetGalley reviews that includes a space for a short review, star rating, GIF reaction, book cover, and a place to thank the publisher for the ARC! Feel free to use it:
Canva also has excellent templates to help you create Instagram stories that encourage engagement with your fellow readers. Here’s one I put together for NetGalley members to share GIF reactions of their NetGalley habits:
Canva is a great tool for booktubers looking to make thumbnails, which are the images viewers see when scrolling through YouTube for something to watch.
Current trends in booktube thumbnails include: eye-catching colors, text that hooks viewers, and a picture of the booktuber. Using Canva’s YouTube Thumbnail design specs, I added a library background from their Photos catalog. Then I clicked Effects in the top menu and used Duotone to create the color I wanted. From there I added the text that I wanted, playing around with different fonts and font effects until I was happy.
My last step was to add a picture of myself! In the paid version of Canva, you can remove the background from photos after you upload them to your Canva library, which is what I did here. But there are also free websites that offer the same feature!
As you can see from the examples above, Canva makes it easy to design any number of graphics that can be used on book blogs. You can create artwork for blog posts, or even a banner for the top of your blog like I did here:
Using a macaron cookie outline I found in the Elements tab on the sidebar, and Effects for a font that I liked, I was able to create a simple but clear header for my (imaginary) blog. I kept things simple with the blog’s title and a subheader to further explain the blog’s theme. You could also add a picture of yourself or more design elements!T
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Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert
Talia Hibbert closes out her stunning Brown Sisters series with a romance between a bed and breakfast owner and his new chef. Jacob Wayne does not want to hire Eve Brown, whose chaotic energy is certain to destroy his carefully organized business. But when she accidentally hits him with her car—resulting in a broken arm—he needs all the help he can get to keep things running smoothly.
Burning Girls and Other Stories by Veronica Schanoes
In the mood for short stories? Veronica Schanoes has you covered! This debut collection features 13 speculative fiction stories connected by the common theme of women seizing power and fighting their way out from the fringes of society. One tale follows a 17th-century woman seeking revenge against the person who killed her father, while another features an interesting conversation over tea with Baba Yaga.
Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi
Those looking for an emotional and moving YA book this month won’t want to miss Mary H.K. Choi’s Yolk. June has always been at odds with her younger sister Jayne, but when she learns she has cancer, she chooses to end their estrangement. Responsibility-adverse Jayne suddenly needs to step into the role of protector, helping June find a way forward as they work together to navigate what comes next.
Wild Women and the Blues by Denny S. Bryce
Denny S. Bryce’s latest is a work of historical fiction that intertwines the lives of a film student living in 2015 and a 1920s chorus girl. Sawyer Hayes is researching iconic filmmaker Oscar Micheaux, and believes that 110-year-old Honoree Dalcour will help fill in the details he’s missing. But Honoree’s story, and the secrets she possesses, are far different than anything Sawyer imagined. Read our interview with Bryce on the real-life inspiration for the book here.
Yes & I Love You by Roni Loren
Few know that beloved New Orleans reviewer Miz Poppy is actually Hollyn Tate, but they will soon. Hollyn’s boss is demanding the blog adds video content, and Hollyn decides to ask for help from aspiring actor Jasper Deares. Used to a spotlight, Hollyn thinks Jasper can help break her out of her shell and calm the fears and anxieties that keep her from showing her true self to the world. What neither expects is how they’ll fall in love along the way.
The Conductors by Nicole Glover
Nicole Glover’s debut blends fantasy with historical fiction as it follows Hetty Rhodes, a former Underground Railroad conductor. A decade after the Civil War, Hetty and her husband Benjy now live in Philadelphia and use their magical abilities as detectives. When a friend is found murdered, they must act quickly to protect their community and uncover who committed the crime.
Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas
Aiden Thomas’ sophomore YA novel is high on readers’ most-anticipated of 2021 lists after the success of their debut, Cemetery Boys. Lost in the Never Woods reimagines the story of Peter Pan: Children are going missing in the coastal town of Astoria, and it draws attention to Wendy, who disappeared with her two brothers in the woods five years before. Wendy doesn’t want to think about the past, but realizes she can’t escape it when a boy named Peter draws her back to the woods.
Gathering Dark by Candice Fox
Former pediatric surgeon Dr. Blair Harbour is out on parole and trying to keep her head down as she fights for custody of her son. But she finds she can’t say no when her former cellmate asks for help to find her missing daughter, Ada Maverick. The hunt for Ada brings Blair together with Detective Jessica Sanchez, who starts to wonder at the suspicious circumstances surrounding the murder that sent Blair to prison.
TAGS:AIDEN THOMAS, CAMILLA STEN, CANDICE FOX, DENNY S. BRYCE, FICTION, MARY H.K. CHOI, MYSTERY, NAIMA COSTER, NICOLE GLOVER, ROMANCE, RONI LOREN, SCI-FI & FANTASY, TALIA HIBBERT, VERONICA SCHANOES, YOUNG ADULT
KELLY GALLUCCI IS THE EXECUTIVE EDITOR OF WE ARE BOOKISH, WHERE SHE OVERSEES THE EDITORIAL CONTENT, OFFERS BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS, AND INTERVIEWS AUTHORS AND NETGALLEY MEMBERS. WHEN SHE’S NOT WORKING, KELLY CAN BE FOUND COLOR COORDINATING HER BOOKSHELVES, EATING CHIPOTLE, AND WATCHING WAY TOO MANY BAKING SHOWS.