Writing Hacks: Promo & Design

Welcome to We Write Fantasy, a blog written by fantasy authors for writers, readers, and lovers of all things fantastical. We live for storytelling, so please feel free to connect by sharing, commenting, or following.

Indies spend a great deal of time marketing their own work. If you don’t have a background in design or know the ins and outs of Photoshop, the work might seem more than daunting. The good news is that tech is catching up. These days, it’s as easy as an app or a few handy dot coms. Check out the promo design sites below, and up your marketing game.


I am fortunate to have a critique partner who consistently pulls quotes for me while beta reading. (Thanks, Jenn!) If, like me, this isn’t something you automatically do while writing, ask your betas to highlight a few for you. Quotes do wonderful job of giving the public an idea of what they might find inside your story, and paired with a moody image, it can really help sell the feel of your book. Make sure your quote conveys the aspects of the book your reader will be looking for (for example, don’t pull the only kiss scene in a bloody non-romance thriller) and try to keep it all “on brand” so they know what they’re getting. Once you have the quote, find your favorite site or app to easily combine text and image. Here are a few we’ve used:


Canva is a great site with free images and simple text and editing functions. Available in an app and on the web, this software lets you choose image size and style, and has options to edit font, color, and details without leaving a watermark on the final image. Below are examples of Canva edits, handy for quotes, teasers, and web banners.

I drew my sword free of its scabbard, readying my stance for the coming blow. A low laugh rumbled through the ground beneath my feet, and the hazy forms slipped into clouds of smoke. Too

Melissa Wright (2)

Vanilla Pen

Vanilla Pen is a gorgeous text app, great for short quotes and teasers. Many of their basic images are free, but custom packages are available for a fee.



PicsArt, Snapseed, Werble, and other photo editing apps

The App Store is chock-full of photo and design apps. I’ll not limit them here; feel free to take your pick and choose your favorites for what works for you. I will say my go-to for editing on my own phone are PicsArt and Snapseed, and some fun new apps like Werble, which lets you add motion to images for Instagram!


Photoshop and Gimp

Photoshop is a superior design tool–if you know how to use it. Design rookies may want to stick to the easy to use pre-set filters on the software listed above, but if you feel you can handle higher powered software, Photoshop is available as a monthly subscription service (and tutorials are available everywhere online). A wonderful free alternative is Gimp. If you’re just starting out with design, many sites offer templates to snap your cover image to 3D covers or tablets and phones. Please bear in mind when using images from the web: they must be licensed as free images or you need to pay the license fee. You wouldn’t want someone stealing your book and selling it as their own, so please don’t steal art and photos you find online (expect a future post on stock photos and art).

KoAaB layout
Promo made with Photoshop template

Hire it Done

Fiverr and Etsy

Not comfortable designing your own? Sites like Fiverr and Etsy have designers who will make author logos, book promos, and even cover art on the cheap.



The Professionals

Not everyone’s budget allows it (mine certainly didn’t starting out), but the right designer can bring your brand and promos together beautifully. Professional design fees range considerably depending on who you chose, so shop around and get the right fit for your author image, your personal taste, and your pocketbook. These designs were created by Gene Mollica Studio.


Bonus Points

Combine and Conquer

Now that you’ve got a handle on the many apps and design options available, step things up. The best thing about so many easy to reach tools, is that they can all be combined to build something better. Edit in PicsArt, add text in Canva, and then move the image with some of its friends to iMovie, Magisto, or one of the many photo and video editing apps. With a few extra steps, you can create a mini movie, book trailer, or animated promo for your unique book.

Queen teaser

Fan Art

If you’re lucky enough to have readers who create fan art for your stories, the rest of us envy you. Honestly, I’m such a huge sucker for fanart I’ve set up contests specifically to garner more. If you haven’t reached those amazing artists/readers yet, create some of your own. No artistic talent, you scream? Create a digital mood board or collage with images that “feel” like your story. Below are a few paintings by myself and some lovely Instagram artists for King of Ash and Bone and Frey.

KoAaB art by vancalibur and decapitatedbeta
King of Ash and Bone characters by @vancalibur and @decapitatedbeta on Instagram
KoAaB sketches
Character Sketches by Melissa Wright KoAaB


Frey Art by Agustina_Zanelli
Frey by Agustina Zanelli

Share a link to your favorite promos or go-to design sites below, we’d love to see them!


5 thoughts on “Writing Hacks: Promo & Design

  1. Melissa, you always find the coolest apps! I need to try like five of these now lol. Also I LOVE the KOA&B art! Will y’all ever realize the graphic novel idea? Y’all should do a Frey coloring book! Thanks for another amazing writing hacks 😀

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s