A picture is worth a thousand sales

Okay, well probably not a thousand, but stick with me here. Pictures can tell a story. Ideally, they can tell your readers a story. And, good news, readers want good stories.

We already know that covers can sell books. By this, I mean that quality, professional covers attract readers and cut and paste, clip art covers send them running. A good cover sets the mood for your story, and ideally, gives a reader a hint of what they'll find inside.

But why stop with your cover? People are much more likely to stop what they are doing to check out an interesting picture than stop to read a 250 word excerpt or blog post. Hopefully, you know this already. Like the idea that you should always include a picture in your blog posts. And using banners and buttons for tours, giveaways and web-series to generate more buzz.

There are other ways to use pictures, and visual marketing, to attract new readers. With sites like Pinterest, Tumblr and Flickr it's easy to upload and share pictures with your readers and potential readers. And of course, social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ allow you to include pictures in your posts.

It probably isn't earth shattering news that you should use pictures. But you may be asking, what kind of pictures should I share. Here are five ideas to get you started.

1. Visual Quotes
This one is easy and a bit of a no-brainer. You start with a picture of your cover and add a quote or tag line. That's pretty much it. Here's an example for my client, Ashelyn Drake, who has a blitz going on this week for her New Adult series.
http://www.amazon.com/Campus-Crush-Ashelyn-Drake-ebook/dp/B00IK3NG0A/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1393573432&sr=8-1&keywords=campus+crush
 Now, this is really basic and I made it in less than five minutes, but hopefully you get the idea. You can use this any time you promo your book. Not only do pictures feel like less of a sales pitch, they are also more likely to be shared.

2. Excerpt Pictures
This is the same idea as the Visual Quote just with more content. The idea here is to share part of your writing in a visual way so it's easier to digest, more appealing to the reader, and more likely to be shared. Here's an example from one of our agency's clients, Rie Warren. Warning: Rie's writing is of the steamy variety.
http://www.amazon.com/Sugar-Daddy-Lowcountry-Heat-Warren-ebook/dp/B00I0WD106/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1393572512&sr=8-1&keywords=rie+warren+sugar+daddy

3. Casting Call
Lots of writers create wish lists of the actors they would want to play their characters in a movie. It's a fun exercise for the writer and helps readers picture the characters the same way authors do. So why not take it one step further and create a Pinterest Board filled with pictures of the talented actors that you feel would make your story come to life.

4. Inspiration
We get inspiration for our stories from everywhere. It can be a simple object, a place we'd like to travel, stories in the news and so much more. So why not share these with your readers. You can create another board on Pinterest, but I'm a fan of sharing in the moment. Take a picture of your character's favorite flower and post it on Facebook. Tweet a picture of the desert that inspired your setting. Don't feel obligated to set up a collection of pictures. You can have just as much impact by sharing photos in the moment.

5. Fan love
If you are lucky enough to have fans send you art inspired by your writing, you'd be silly not to share it. Whether it's a simple sketch or a bust of your main character sculpted from butter, you'd better have a picture of that up and sharing it with your social media networks. Not only is this the least you can do to thank the fan who took time out of their day to do something nice for you, it's a great way to build community and show others how awesome your fans are.

A few words of caution when it comes to sharing photos. Always get your publisher's permission when it comes to using your cover art as part of a collage or altering it for quotes. They may have specific rules on how much of the cover has to be used and what you can do with colors, shading, etc. Same thing goes with other photos. You can't just go find something on the internet and use it. Be sure to stick with pictures that are part of public domain or fall under Creative Commons usage. Other than that, have fun with it and let your imagination run wild.