Digital Publishing · Self-publishing · Social Media

Pictures? You Can, with Canva.

One of the worst things about being a self-published author is that you have to do everything. I mean bleedin’ everything, including all those clever, specialised things that normal people can’t even understand. You either have to learn to do them yourself, or pay through the nose to get someone else to do them for you.

Nowhere is this problem more sticky than when you’re dealing with pictures, as you frequently are. You may be in the business of arranging words on the page or screen, but we live in a visual world and sooner or later you have to worry about images too. Book covers, for example: unless you’re a graphic artist as well as a writer, these are probably best left to people who have at least a vague notion of what they’re doing. And what about blogs, websites, Facebook pages, and so on? They must come complete with images! Nice, fancy images that will hold people’s wandering eyes and reel them in!

A blank screen is exactly what you don’t want. Image credit: Petr Kratochvil |

Actually, finding attractive images is relatively easy, and not necessarily expensive either. But actually using them can be tricky. How do you create a blog header or a Facebook cover? Until very recently, I didn’t have a clue.

Then I found out about a little thing called Canva.

Canva is very good news indeed. It’s free to join, and you can log in with Facebook, which spares you the trouble of having to memorise yet another password. Moreover – and a few requisite hours of turning the air blue notwithstanding – it’s actually quite easy to use. (Bear in mind that I am the kind of technologically-challenged simpleton who couldn’t use Photoshop because it made my poor brain hurt.) Not even Luddites like me need fear Canva, though. Canva is almost foolproof, or at least would be if fools weren’t so incredibly ingenious.

You only need to take a quick look at Canva’s main page to see what you can do. Social media posts, presentations, infographics, business cards, Facebook covers, Facebook ads, postcards! Even eBook and album covers, no less! Many of the designs are free, too. Others you have to pay for, but they’re not expensive. They even have photos and illustrations that you can use, and many of those are free too.

As if to prove how incredibly easy it is, even I have used it with a certain degree of success. This is the email header I prepared for the Authors Electric newsletter:

And here’s my Facebook cover:

And my blog title:

All of which no doubt look pretty basic to the trained eye, but which to me are nothing short of miraculous.

So there you go – something so user-friendly that even I can handle it, and largely free to boot! Who says you get nothing for nothing in this world, eh?

9 thoughts on “Pictures? You Can, with Canva.

  1. I love your website banner! If I ever find myself in need of an image manipulation tool, I will give Canva a try. I’ve been using Gimp, which I’ve found less than intuitive.

    I love your photo in the cover banner of your site, too! What a lovely minx you are!


    1. Thank you, Aniko! – but believe me, you’re too kind. For every good photo of me, there are at least ten duds. A little confession: I am vain enough to only ever select the reasonably flattering ones. If you ever saw one of the unflattering ones, ‘a lovely minx’ would be about the last thing on your mind…

      How are you, by the way? Long time, no speak. I hope you’re well and happy.

      1. Hello!

        I am certain you exaggerate about the ratio of flattering photos to duds, Mari! 🙂 But, thank you for not flaunting your luck at being photogenic! That is one reason I like you.

        I am doing well. I’ve returned to writing – poetry, this time! It’s a big change for me, but it feels right. I am doing everything longhand at the moment, and just enjoying the challenge of different forms. I’m amazed at the topography of my imagination; things that never combined in reality are co-located in imagination, and thus in my poems. It’s exhilarating.

        I hope you are doing well, too! You new cover designs are very slick. Do you have any works in progress (I’m sure you do!!)


      2. I’m glad you’re writing again, Aniko – and I’d love to read some of your poems (that’s if you want to share them, of course!) But, as you say, the enjoyment of the process is the main thing – and that’s something we sometimes tend to forget about.

        I’ve a couple of irons in my fire, but whether or not they’ll actually get used remains to be seen… 🙂

      3. Thank you! I’m happy to be writing again, too. I will be happy to share some of the poems with you, when I’ve got some polished. 🙂

        I’m sure whatever you’re working on will be exciting. I have Wintergreen on my Kindle. I am looking forward to reading it – soon!!

  2. Top tips, Mari – all looks very pro to me! Having no sense of my own limitations I have mocked up my own book covers, which are probably excruciating in reality. Probably just as well that I’ve refrained from self-publishing. Speaking of which, I reviewed your beautifully written story on goodreads…

    1. Thanks for the comment, Paul. I’ve seen your review – many thanks! Canva also allows you to design eBook covers, so you can try some more mock-ups if you like. Since I lack all artistic skills, this is one thing I prefer to leave to the pros, but not everyone is as incompetent as me…

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