Canva 101: How to Use Canva as a Book Influencer

A desktop computer showing the Canva homepage

To help NetGalley members create strong platforms for sharing their book reviews, we’ve rounded up tips for starting a blog, Bookstagram, Booktube, and BookTok channel. Most of these posts mention the free resource Canva as an option for creating images, and members have been wanting to know more about how to best use Canva. Here we’ll go over some ways that you can use Canva to share book reviews, create templates for other readers, and brighten up your social media feeds. (Psst: This post isn’t sponsored by Canva, we’re just fans of the tool and want to share the love!)

What is Canva?

Canva is a graphic design platform. You can sign up with a free account, and they also have a paid program that offers even more tools and assets. For book influencers, I’d recommend the free account!

When you log onto the Canva homepage, you’ll find options for creating new projects with pre-set dimensions, such as an Instagram story or a X header. Use these to ensure that anything you design is the perfect fit for the platform you’re uploading it to.

You can watch their Tutorials and Courses to learn even more about using Canva!


Adding book covers to device images
In the past, I shared tips on how to add book covers to ereaders. A few members wanted a closer look at the process I use in Canva, so let’s dive in!

From the Canva homepage, I click the Instagram Post option under the Recommended tab—or find it by typing Instagram into the search bar. 

Canva homepage

To make your picture look more seamless and natural, it’s best to mimic how a cover actually looks on your ereader. On my device there’s a black bar at the top and bottom of the cover. 

Kindle showing a book cover with the black bars above and below the cover circled

Whenever possible, I screenshot the cover on my iPhone to ensure that the dimensions are a perfect fit when I transfer them to my ereader. Not everyone is able to screenshot covers on their reading device, so I’ll show you here how I add covers that I didn’t screenshot.

In the Canva design you’ve started, drag and drop your photo so that it fills the entire square. Then add the book cover. 

To create the illusion of the cover being on an ereader, go to the elements tab in the sidebar and type the word ‘rectangle’ into the search bar. Add the first search result to your design. Yours will be black, but I’ll make mine purple so it’s easier to see.

Start by fitting the rectangle onto your ereader. You can adjust the height, width, and rotate until you’re happy with its placement. 

Then straighten the rectangle so its parallel to the book cover. Place the book cover over the rectangle (you may need to click Position in the menu bar and move the book cover to the front) and resize until it fits within the width. The top and bottom of the rectangle should be visible and equal in size. I’ve made the design larger here for you to see.

Use your mouse to select both the book cover and the rectangle behind it. In the menu bar, hit Group. This allows you to move, rotate, and resize them together. From there, move the images to your ereader screen and adjust until you’re happy with the result!

Download your image and upload to social media!

Kindle with Angie Thomas' Concrete Rose on it

Kindle with Angie Thomas' Concrete Rose on it

Instagram Photos
Bookstagrammers are using tools like Canva to create sharable eye-catching recommendation lists such as talk_about_swoon’s pairing of movies with romance novels and Bookstagramrepresent’s post of diverse debut novels.

You can create your own design from scratch or use Canva’s pre-made templates to get you started. I used one of Canva’s Instagram templates to inspire this scrapbook-style design featuring some of our team’s most recent staff reads.

Canva document open showing a square design that reads Staff Reads

You can use this style of post to roundup books that you recommend, or to showcase books you’ve included in a longer article that’s linked in your profile.

Scrapbook-style design that reads Staff Reads

Scrapbook-style design showing that Kelly loved Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade and Emily Recommends Circle by Madeline Miller

Instagram Stories
Your Instagram posts aren’t the only places to share book reviews. You can also use Canva to create your own custom review templates. Here’s one I made for NetGalley reviews that includes a space for a short review, star rating, GIF reaction, book cover, and a place to thank the publisher for the ARC! Feel free to use it:

Instagram Story review template with room for the book cover, star ratings, and review

Canva also has excellent templates to help you create Instagram stories that encourage engagement with your fellow readers. Here’s one I put together for NetGalley members to share GIF reactions of their NetGalley habits:


Canva is a great tool for Booktubers looking to make thumbnails, which are the images viewers see when scrolling through YouTube for something to watch. 

Current trends in Booktube thumbnails include: eye-catching colors, text that hooks viewers, and a picture of the Booktuber. Using Canva’s YouTube Thumbnail design specs, I added a library background from their Photos catalog. Then I clicked Effects in the top menu and used Duotone to create the color I wanted. From there I added the text that I wanted, playing around with different fonts and font effects until I was happy.

Canva document open showing a bookcase tinted purple with red text over it reading "Mystery and TSwift Pairings"

My last step was to add a picture of myself! In the paid version of Canva, you can remove the background from photos after you upload them to your Canva library, which is what I did here. But there are also free websites that offer the same feature! 

Canva document open showing a bookcase tinted purple with red text over it reading "Mystery and TSwift Pairings"


As you can see from the examples above, Canva makes it easy to design any number of graphics that can be used on book blogs. You can create artwork for blog posts, or even a banner for the top of your blog like I did here:

Canva document open showing a blog banner reading Dukes & Desserts with colorful macarons


Canva document open showing a blog banner reading Dukes & Desserts with colorful macarons

Using a macaron cookie outline I found in the Elements tab on the sidebar, and Effects for a font that I liked, I was able to create a simple but clear header for my (imaginary) blog. I kept things simple with the blog’s title and a subheader to further explain the blog’s theme. You could also add a picture of yourself or more design elements!

Kelly Gallucci

Kelly Gallucci is the Executive Editor of We Are Bookish, where she oversees the editorial content, offers book recommendations, and interviews authors and NetGalley members. When she's not working, Kelly can be found color coordinating her bookshelves, eating Chipotle, and watching way too many baking shows.


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