How Wattpad helped its writers make better book covers
Wattpad is the world’s largest social storytelling platform and publishes everything from fan fiction, to sci-fi, romance and mystery/thrillers.
Every month, over 90 million people use Wattpad to write and read stories – and those numbers just keep on growing.
But Wattpad’s community of writers were hitting a brick wall when it came to designing book covers. They were either using their own editing tools, or uploading pics from their phone or computer.
This issue was quality. The writers who didn’t have great graphic design skills were losing readers to those that did.
Wattpad Chief Strategy Officer and Co-Founder, Ivan Yuen, explains, “We wanted to offer our writers a tool to help them achieve the vision of their story.
“Writers on Wattpad are creative storytellers. They use their imagination, and feedback from readers, to help craft their story. Although they are great storytellers, not all have the visual design and artistic skills to create a cover that captures their story’s themes and emotions,” says Ivan.
Wattpad knew that the perfect design solution would include templates and stock photography to help inspire better book covers. It would also need a great selection of stylistic typography, and it would need to be free of charge in order to make it accessible to everyone.
Before Canva, there were no templates so writers had to design something from scratch on their own.
When Wattpad installed the Canva Button, our team created a specialised suite of templates meaning that things got easier for its community of millennials and struggling authors straight away
Ivan says, “The biggest change has been the overall quality of book covers created. Because it’s so easy, most writers will take the extra couple of minutes to make a beautiful cover. And when others see these covers, it inspires them to create even better ones.”
Here’s How They Did It
After Wattpad integrated the Canva Button, Ivan says things improved straight away.
“Aside from improving the quality of their designs, some writers have even used it as inspiration for their writing. At times when they hit a writer’s block, they would go into Canva to test out different designs to get their creative juices flowing, and this actually helps them with their writing. I have to say, this was not something I had ever expected,” says Ivan.
Beyond designing book covers, some of Wattpad’s writers are using Canva to help them market themselves and attract the attention of the big publishing houses and studios.
To help them do this better, Canva ran a program from November 16 – 20, 2020, called Canva x Wattpad Design Week.Together, we curated a week’s schedule of written tutorials, webinars and ‘Ask me Anything’, as well as key tips and tricks to help the Wattpad community up their design game.
Canva x Wattpad Design Week was promoted to Wattpad’s writers through the Community Happenings page and attracted 80,000 reads and 603 comments.
The last day of Canva x Wattpad Design Week was the biggest day ever for Wattpad book cover designs on Canva – now that’s what we call a blockbuster.
One of Wattpad’s biggest success stories is Canadian writer and school teacher, Jess Cunsolo. Jess has amassed over 100 million reads of her first book, She’s With Me, and since then, Sony Television has optioned it for a TV show. Jess released the sequel, Stay With Me in December 2020, and is currently working on a third book, due for release in 2021.
Jess says that Canva has helped her grow her audience by helping her create better marketing material.
“A lot of people forget that a huge part of being an author is promoting yourself and your work. I have benefited from Canva by using it to not only to make catchy covers for my stories, but more importantly to market them. You only need to make a cover once, but I make graphics for self promotion all the time and Canva really helps with that, especially since there are easy templates I can make my own or use for inspiration. As an author, it makes a huge difference and helps create a cohesive brand image,” says Jess.
Jess uses Canva to design Instagram posts and stories, Twitter posts and headers, Youtube thumbnails and headers, Wattpad headers, and promotional banners she uses at the end of chapters.
When it comes to favorite features, Jess says she loves Canva’s animated Instagram story graphics. Every week, she makes a pretty animated Instagram story to announce the winners of giveaways, launch new chapters on Wattpad, and remind people to pre-order the next book.
Even as a regular Canva user, Jess says she still finds exciting new features within the platform.
“I was surprised when I discovered Canva has a huge inventory of stickers (animated and non animated). It really helped me step up my game in terms of graphics because you can search up almost anything and find the perfect sticker that suits your needs.
I was also excited when I discovered you can animate your graphic and pick the motion (fade in, neon, bounce, etc) and save it as a video or gif. That makes creating animated graphics so much easier and memorable. I use it all the time,” says Jess.
Jess says she loves Canva’s video editing capability and stock video selection.
“I used a video of a beach and typed over it using the fade in animation to inform my readers on Twitter that new chapters of my book, ‘Best Vacation Ever’ was available, and I thought it was so cool,” says Jess.
When it comes to offering advice to fellow Wattpad writers, Jess says, “Use Canva to promote yourself. At the end of your chapter, include a little banner graphic with information you want people to know, whether it’s your socials or other books you’ve written. If you’ve written a series, include the covers with a tag line for the books to draw people in. A lot of people won’t know about your other books or your socials, so you have to market yourself. It’s much more memorable for people to gain this information through a pretty graphic compared to an author’s note at the end of the chapter. Make use of Canva’s templates and turn them into your own.”
Jess is what is known as a Wattpad Star, meaning that she is one of the most influential and aspirational writers within the Wattpad community. All of Wattpad’s Stars were initially given 12 months of free access to Canva Pro. This has since been extended again for another 12 months.
To date, Wattpad authors have created 3 million book cover designs using Canva, and hundreds of thousands of designs for everything from social media posts to author bios.
Here are Wattpad writers’ five most popular designs/templates:
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