How To Create a Knockout Book Promo with Book Mockups

Book Marketing

Book Mockups are a powerful, sneaky little shortcut to creating great book promos. With a basic level of editing know-how, your virtual book can be dropped into a gorgeous, on-brand setting – and get you competing with the pros!

Because I provide a set of free mockups with every premade, I want my clients to get the most out of them. This article will tell you how and where to use your mockups, and how to create a knockout piece of marketing that will get more eyes (and clicks!!!) on your new release.


  1. What are Book Mockups?
  2. Getting the Most Out of Your Book Mockups
  3. Creating a Knockout Book Promo
  4. Where to Use Your Book Promos
  5. Free Book Mockups
  6. Want a Book Marketing Package?
  7. Get Marketing That Novel!

What Are Book Mockups?

Readers – just like everyone else – like to see what they’re buying. For the modern romance author, that poses two problems.

  1. If you sell digital products (ie. ebooks), you don’t have a physical product to showcase.
  2. If you DO have a print version of your book on-hand, it can be hard to get the right look for your marketing images (unless you’re a photographer).

Enter Book Mockups, the modern author’s marketing staple.

A few examples of book mockups on a plain white background.

Book mockups are a digitally-created visual representation of your book, whether ebook or print, hardback or soft. If you’re interested in creating your own book mockups, there are plenty of book mockup templates available online, both free and paid.

Getting the Most Out Of Your Book Mockups

Nobody’s saying you can’t take your plain, unaltered book mockup, upload it to your various social media accounts, and leave it at that. There’s absolutely no harm in doing that, and it’s certainly better than not using any imagery at all. However, to really maximize your competitive edge, I’d recommend placing your mockups within a promo. This means adding a background and text, and creating a Call To Action (CTA) – just as you would with any ad. The rest of this article will cover exactly how you go about doing that, using design and marketing principles to create a standout book promo.

Creating a Knockout Book Promo

1. Getting Your Ducks in a Row

Before you start creating, save yourself a huge chunk of time by setting the parameters of your design. Specifically, grab a pen and paper and do the following:

a. Define your Target Market

By this, I mean literally write it down. Don’t just allow it to be a fuzzy idea in the back of your mind, because the more clarity you have about this, the stronger your promo will be! For example, your target market might be:

  • 18-40 year old women who like dark, steamy romance
  • 20-30 year old women who like fun, sweet romance with lots of chemistry
  • 50+ women who like family drama mixed with sweet romance

b. Define the promo’s Visual Message

Think about the target market you’ve just defined. What message do you want to send them? Are you telling them your work is fun and escapist? Sweet and soothing? Sexy and exciting? Are you promising them a tantalizing mystery? Lots of angst? Hope against the odds?

And consider the setting – do you want to convey an an urban environment, a seaside village, or is it unimportant? Without knowing this, you don’t really have a map, and your campaign won’t be as effective.

Again, writing it down will help to clarify the message you want to send.

Here are some examples:

  • Example 1. I’m promising my target market that if they read my book, they’ll get a ton of emotional drama. However, they’ll also be rewarded with an uplifting story of love and hope. I also want to convey the setting of a picturesque seaside town.
  • Example 2. I’m promising my target market that if they read my book, they’ll get angsty conflict, and a lot of steamy moments. I also want to convey the setting of Manhattan, but it’s not essential.

c. Define the promo’s Visual Mood

Now you know both your Target Market AND the Visual Message you want to send about the nature of your book, it’ll be way easier to define the ‘mood’ of your book promo. Decide where your book promo needs to sit in the following categories:

  • light vs dark
  • sophisticated vs gritty
  • soft color vs bold color

Now you’ve got some direction for your promo, it’s time to get creative!

2. Open your favorite image editor

I use Adobe Photoshop, and more recently I’ve been using Adobe Spark for social media promos. Some of the other options I’m aware of include GIMPPixlr, Microsoft Paint, and Canva. Just to clarify, I have no affiliation with any of these options, and little experience with anything outside of Adobe, so I’m definitely not the right person to recommend any one of them over another. The important thing to note is this: we’re talking about universal marketing concepts here, so the tools don’t really matter. In other words, the following concepts can be applied within any image editor. Just go with whatever you’re comfortable with!

3. Drop in Your Book Mockup

If you’ve bought a premade from me, you’ll have several mockups to choose from. If you want to create your own mockups, make sure you export them as PNG files, not JPEG files. PNG files support a transparent background, which makes them much easier to drop into any virtual setting.

4. Find Background Images

Since you’ve already defined our promo’s Visual Message and Visual Mood, you can jump right in and start looking for backgrounds. Free images can be found on websites like UnsplashPexels and Pixabay. Of course, low-cost stock images are available, too, from sites like DepositphotosAdobe StockShutterstock and more. Whatever you use, just check the licensing to make sure you have permission for use, or if you need to provide image credit.

5. Choose a Background

In most cases, your book cover will be plenty strong enough to convey the promo’s Visual Message. So all you really need to do is choose a simple background that complements the cover. For example, a background of dark silk would work great for a steamy book, while some bold, yellow wallpaper would be great for fun-and-flirty Chick Lit.

As an alternative approach, you can strongly emphasize the setting of your novel by using an environmental photograph as a backdrop. By placing a blurred shoreline, a city skyline, or a country fence in the background, you’re making the setting very clear to your target audience.

So, which method is best?

The decision, really, is yours. You can choose a minimalistic background (and let the book cover mockup do do the heavy lifting), OR you can add information via an environmental backdrop. In either case, as long as you keep referring to the promo’s visual message and visual tone, you should be fine.

A NOTE ON IMAGES: Whatever option you go with, avoid backgrounds that have too much visual information or look ‘messy’. You want the background to SUPPORT the book mockup, not compete with it for attention.

6. Choose a Call to Action (CTA)

Probably the most important element of your book promo, after the marketing imagery itself, is the Call To Action (or CTA). Make sure it stands out. Above all, keep it simple. People turn away if presented with too much information, particularly if it’s text-based, so don’t muddle the messaging. ‘Buy Now on Amazon’ or ‘Preorder from My Website’ are good examples.

7. Style Your CTA Text

Now it’s time to style the text in your CTA. If you don’t know where to start, here are some guidelines:

  • pick a font that was used on the cover, OR a font that you consistently use as part of your author brand
  • pick a font color directly from the book cover, OR from a major background element
  • keep text alignment consistent ie. all center-aligned, all left-aligned etc.

8. Bonus Tip

Never englarge or stretch any image file. This will result in pixelation. If you need a larger book mockup image, you’ll need to go back into the working file (ie. the Photoshop document) and re-export the image at a larger size. Most Photoshop template files for book mockups are very large, so this should be a pretty straightforward process.

Where To Use Your Book Promos

1. Social Media Covers

Facebook and Twitter are the big ones here. Because the orientation for these covers is landscape (ie. horizontal), there’s plenty of space for your Call To Action, so make sure the text is clear.

2. Social Media Promotional Images

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest are where most authors release their book promos. For Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, don’t forget that portrait-oriented promos (ie. vertical) take up more space in newsfeeds … so take advantage of that! More screen real estate means more time for eyes to linger on your book cover and take in your message.

3. Website Banners

Your website is your online ‘home’, so decorate it accordingly! Give your new book promo pride of place, in the homepage header of your website, plus in any sidebars. And, of course, on any landing pages for your book.

4. Newsletters

You’ll probably be using your book promo in a newsletter release (along with the blurb and CTA), but don’t forget that you can also swap out your usual header or footer for a featured book promo.

5. Email Signature

This one is often overlooked. If you use email to communicate with a lot of people, add your book promo as a small graphic with a Call To Action, just to remind people that you have a new book out!

6. Forum Signature

The same goes for forum signatures. It only takes a few minutes to swap out your normal signature graphic, but it’s a quick, easy, and highly visible way to let people know what you’re currently promoting

Free Book Mockups

These are the mockups I provide – free of charge – with every premade book cover purchase. You can do whatever you like with them! They come as 4 separate PNG files, all with transparent backgrounds, so you can drop them easily into any promotion. Any don’t worry – while the image you see below is small and compressed (to keep my blog speedy), you’ll get the big, beautiful, super high-res versions.

The free 3D Mockups I provide with every premade book cover.

Ebook (flat) – this mockup has no shadow, which makes it easy to place on flat lay (ie. tabletop) backgrounds.
Ebook (upright) – this mockup includes a shadow at the bottom, making it look as though it’s standing upright.
Paperback – a simple, upright paperback mockup, with a shadow at the base.
Hardback with Dustjacket – a polished-looking, upright hardback mockup, with a shadow at the base.

Want a Book Marketing Package?

If all this sounds like a lot of hard work (or you’d just rather spend your time writing), feel free to get in touch! I offer a Marketing Package for US$250. It includes TWO distinct promo packs, both custom-designed and formatted for multiple sizes and aspect ratios. You also get a bundle of Title Graphics to use on the title page of your book, or in any other branding.

Marketing Package for Book Covers by Angela Haddon Book Cover Design

Get Marketing That Novel!

Visual promotions are crucial, and most self-published authors have to step into the role of marketer once the final edit is done. By using book mockups in your marketing assets, your campaign will have that professional polish that appeals to potential readers.

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This article isn’t about choosing which cover is ‘prettier’ or better-made. We all know when something looks home-made or professional, Christmas-sweater ugly or tastefully elegant. When I say choosing the BEST, then, here’s what I mean: the BEST premade book cover is the one most likely to appeal to the highest number of readers who would be interested in buying your book.

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