People are Facebook trained to click on image links, so is your book cover clickable?
Social media has trained a whole new generation of Internet users to click on images to make their way around the Internet. Think about Facebook and how every image leads to an action. Every click leads either to bigger images or to an external site.
Think about Facebook and Google ads, and how images are used as links to advertisers pages.
For self-publishing authors, image links, such as book covers and book trailers, are now absolutely essential tools if you want to promote your book.
But firstly, what is a link?
In days past, it was a line of hyperlink text that when clicked, sent you to a new web page. It was a brilliant idea that gave birth to the Internet as we know it today. The hyperlink became the means to not only navigate the Internet but also to guide users to where you, the webmaster, wanted them to go.
The hyperlink became the most indispensable tool for online advertisers and marketers because it meant that users could be guided directly to an advertisers page or store. Think back, if you are old enough, to the early days of Google and Amazon, and you will recall how all links were written in hypertext.
The only problem was that hyperlinked text was decidedly ugly.
To give you an example of what a hypertext link looks like, here is the link to one of my books on Amazon.
So what does that mean? It’s just a line of numbers, with the only recognisable word being Amazon. It doesn’t even have the title of my book! To promote your book, this is absolutely useless in today’s world of smartphones, tablets and Facebook. Worse can be links that are extremely long.
Again, some information, but still confusing and hardly an attractive invitation to click.
Some years ago, the short link was invented to overcome the problem with text hyperlinks that were extremely long.
So to get to the same page as the link above, you can use a short link like this.
Yes, shorter, but still ugly with no information value at all. Of course, you can now use an embedded text link, which is at least better in explaining where the link will lead. So, if you would like to read The Canterbury Tales you can get an ebook copy here.
Now you have the basics, forget all about text links and use what people love clicking to promote your books – images!
Internet users today are far more likely to click on an image like the one above than on a line of text that has no meaning, or attraction.
Adding links to your images is very easy on most blogging platforms and website creators. Find your image details, which is usually a pop-up box, and add your link. I use WordPress, and the image below is of the details box of the image above. You can see that I have added a URL and ticked to have the link open in a new browser tab.
Whenever you want to promote your book, always use images with a link to where you want your visitors to go. It can be to Amazon, Apple or Kobo, or perhaps you have a first chapter available on your site, so you could add that link.
Check your website or blog and make sure all your images have links, and if possible find any text links and replace them with image links.
No matter what your technical skill, there is one image link that you absolutely need to master and use on your blog or website, if your book is available on Amazon.
It’s a little hidden, but once you find it, you will be able to present your book in the best possible way on your site. It’s what is called an embedded link because you embed a small script onto your site, and then magic happens.
You can find the instructions for adding an Amazon embedded book link here. But once done, this is what it looks like.
This has to be the ultimate book cover image link, because not only does it link directly to your book, it also includes a preview read and buy link. If you do nothing else to promote your book, add this for all your books on your blog or website.
Be imaginative with your book promotion images!
Posting your book cover over and over again is not going to be productive. So why not use your imagination and post teaser images about your book? Think about a scene in your book and add a teaser line to attract interest.
But what about using image links on social media?
Every social media platform treats images differently, and all have differing standard image sizes. For book covers, very few post portrait, so expect some cropping.
Facebook is by far the easiest platform to always have a clickable image link. Add a link to your book page from your blog or website, and as long as you have an image, it will become a link.
The only problem is that Facebook only uses squares and landscape rectangle images, which is a handicap for book covers. But a little cropping is worth it for a clickable image.
On Twitter, however, there is better news for authors and book covers. You can add your full book cover, as in the example below.
— Whizbuzz Books (@Whizbuzz) August 29, 2017
Great! But, there is one very big problem. The image is not a link. Look closely and you will find the link is only in the text, after the title and author name.
This is a huge problem on Twitter because a lot of people don’t know much about text links, which they don’t know how to use or miss completely, so the click through rate is way, way lower than for the same post on Facebook.
But there is a way. If you have a little technical ability, you can use Twitter Cards, but it requires some work on your blog or website.
Here is what a post on Twitter using Twitter Cards looks like.
— Just Publishing (@justpublishing) August 29, 2017
Now you have a clickable link image, but the slight drawback is that like Facebook, clickable images are landscape.
The one social media platform where you have no worries at all is Pinterest. Your cover images will be in portrait and clickable because Pinterest is all about clicking on images. If you are not promoting your books on Pinterest, you really should consider opening an account.
One last way to get lots of clicks – post your book trailer
If people love clicking on images, then they just adore clicking on videos! Think about what you see on Facebook and Twitter, and how popular videos are.
To post your YouTube book trailer, all you need to do is click the share arrow on your video and a link will appear for you to copy. It will look like this, but without the quotes. (I added the quotes to keep the link as text only.)
But when you post your YouTube link on Facebook, Twitter or on your blog, it will be an embedded video, which people love clicking!
Think images, think links, and think about what people love clicking
No matter where or how you promote your books, think about how you can use image links because they will gain far more clicks than an ugly text link.
We changed over to Twitter Cards on our Just Publishing Advice Twitter account a few months ago and within days, our click through rate jumped by around 300%! At present, our Twitter account is posting almost 95% image linked posts, but we hope to soon iron out the last few bugs that remain on one or two posting services that don’t support Twitter Cards.
Whatever technical ability you have, or can get from a friend, use image links to promote your books.
Think about how you promote your books currently, and how your potential book buyers and readers can get to where they can buy a copy of your book. Think about how you can attract interest, curiosity and most importantly, clicks!
Ideally, you want to direct potential readers with just one click, and getting that one click is much more likely to happen if your link is an attractive image.