Friday, July 3, 2015

Using Quote / Excerpt Boxes by Christy Carlyle

Morgan & Therese say: Here at Author Marketing 101 we are all about recycling and reusing your work in a variety of ways to market your books. (We are Oregonians, after all. Reduce, Recycle, and Reuse are in our blood. Ha!) Our favorite Graphics Guru - Christy Carlyle - is back with her second post on how to reuse your cover art and design elements in quote boxes to build buzz and promote sales of your book. Thanks, again, Ms. Carlyle, for sharing your skills and knowledge!

Christy Carlyle says:

One of the big challenges of book promotion is figuring out how to let people know about your book without boring them, irritating them, or simply saturating them to the point that they skip any mention of your book in their social media streams because they’re tired of hearing about it. How many of us have skimmed past fellow authors’ repeated tweets about their new release?

As a writer with artistic tendencies and a former book cover designer, I know the power of combining words and images. Images are the most basic forms of information we process — symbols, logos, colors, and shapes. These aspects of graphic design can then pull us in so that we’re interested in reading more. I know I never mind seeing an appealing book cover or reading a beautifully written or intriguing excerpt from a book. In many cases, a few lines can hook me to the point of clicking the buy button.

In the last few months I’ve noticed several authors combining words and images to create what I call excerpt boxes. These simple graphic images include the author’s book cover or some aspect of their cover art and a brief excerpt. Sometimes these excerpts raise questions. Sometimes they’re just beautifully written sentences that make me want to read more of the author’s work. My anecdotal evidence tells me that these quote boxes are effective. Recently, bestselling historical romance author Elizabeth Hoyt produced several excerpt boxes prior to the release of Dearest Rogue. Each box I saw in my Facebook feed gave me a little more of the story. She didn’t simply post the same excerpt over and over but created a variety. Each snippet drew me deeper into her characters and her plot. By the time her book came out, I had to have it. Isn’t that the kind of anticipation we’d like to create in potential readers?

How can you design an excerpt box? Well, beyond Photoshop and GIMP, two programs that I’ve used to create these marketing tools are and an iPhone app called Word Swag. With, you choose a square dimension for your design such as 600 x 600 pixels, and then add your excerpt and upload and position your cover. With Word Swag, you’ll need to save your cover to your phone and then you can use it as a background image on an excerpt box. If you can obtain a version of your cover without any fonts and just the art, it will make it easier to use with an option like Word Swag.

Tips for an Effective Excerpt Box:

  •  Keep the excerpt short. More than three or four short lines and you’ll lose the effectiveness of a quick, intriguing excerpt that folks will stop and read.
  •  Use background and font colors that harmonize or effectively contrast with your book cover design or the overall feel of your book. A good rule of thumb is to choose a secondary color in your book cover design for your excerpt box background color.
  • Be sure to add your author website address somewhere on your excerpt box.
  • If your book is currently available, include a buy link when you post your excerpt box on social media. You may entice a reader into an immediate purchase!

Here are two examples of excerpt boxes.

This box includes cover, excerpt, and web address
It was created with Photoshop Elements.

This box uses a portion of the cover art and an excerpt.
It was made with Word Swag.
Why a square? Square images are favored by Facebook, Google+, and Instagram. In order to create an excerpt box for Twitter, you’ll need to create a flat rectangule in the dimensions of 440 pixels by 220 pixels.

Here’s an example of a rectangular image that would work for a Twitter upload.


A word of warning… Creating these boxes can become enjoyably addictive. Not only do they provide you with an appealing marketing tool, but they force you to pick out blurbs from your story that will capture readers. Be sure to reuse those blurbs in tweets, blog posts, or on swag you create to promote you book. Have FUN!

Fueled by Pacific Northwest coffee and inspired by multiple viewings of every British costume drama she can get her hands on, Christy Carlyle writes sensual historical romance set in the Victorian era. She loves heroes who struggle against all odds and heroines who are ahead of their time. A former teacher with a degree in history, she finds there’s nothing better than being able to combine her love of the past with a die-hard belief in happy endings. Her new series, Accidental Heirs, debuts from Avon Impulse with One Scandalous Kiss in September 2015. 


  1. Thank you so much for this, Christy. I will read absolutely everything you say about your design experience and this is such a great idea. I also really appreciate your sharing the dimensions that various social media prefer.

    1. Hi Maggie! You're so welcome. Considering you're one of the people whose publishing wisdom I listen to the most, I'm glad to offer you any bit of information in return. :)

  2. Fabulous article! Thank you for including me, Christy. (& Looking forward to One Scandalous Kiss)

    1. Thank you for letting me you use your quote box, Wendy! I loved it and all of the innovative ways you promoted Lady Vice.

  3. Thanks for the suggestion. I wound up using and love the results. Of course, I was supposed to be working on my revisions, but oh well. This was way more fun!

    1. Thanks for the comment, Elizabeth! It is fun, isn't it? Wishing you inspired revisions. I'm working on editing today too, so I feel your pain. :)