Creating ads, social media banners and even covers is a pain point for most authors. I know I'm one of them! Luckily, there are a few services on the web that help you create your own images without the cost of hiring a professional designer. For those of us who need to save a buck at this stage of our career, these are super useful tools. I've discovered two of them that I really like: Book Brush and Canva.
Let's compare them and figure out which tool is worth your time, and maybe even your money. Either way, they work out cheaper than hiring a designer.
In this article, we'll be comparing Canva and Book Brush in the following categories:
- Graphic Design Utility
- Images and Video Creator
- Book Cover Design Utility
If you're worried that you can't succeed without a professional designer, I have good news! At the end of this article, I'll show you how my author friend Todd Brison designed a cover in Book Brush for a book that became a #1 New Release in less than 24 hours on Amazon!
A quick note: I've tried both of these services personally, and I'm excited to share my honest thoughts with you. I use a few affiliate links in this article, which simply means if you decide to get a paid plan, I can get a little coffee money out of it. There's no cost to you — plus, both tools have a free version.Want to find out which graphic design tool is the best for you? Check out this Kindlepreneur article about BookBrush and Canva. Click To Tweet
Book Brush vs Canva: A Side-By-Side Comparison for Authors
Book Brush vs Canva: Graphic Design Features
Book Brush is an easy-to-use design tool that allows you to create ads, social media banners, and pictures. Unlike Canva, Book Brush is designed specifically for authors, which I think is pretty cool.
Here's a quick list of what you can create with Book Brush (assuming you have a paid plan that gives you unlimited downloads):
- Facebook: Ads, square ads, shared link, shared image, cover photo, video, group header
- Twitter: In-stream photo, header photo
- Instagram: Photo, stories
- Pinterest: Pin, board image
- Bookbub: Ad
- Email: Header image
- Ads: Website ads in two sizes
- Amazon Ads: Billboard, medium rectangle, large rectangle, mobile leaderboard, mobile detail and search results page, wide skyscraper
- Card: Business card, postcard
- Other: Bookmarks, coasters
- Custom sizes and resizing available
- Covers with the Cover Creator tool
- Box set covers for with the Box Set Creator tool
- Videos with the Video Creator tool
- 3D covers with the 3D Creator tool (very cool–you get to upload your own book and it automatically converts it into your chosen 3D type model)
- Community stamps are available–these include ones for Goodreads, Amazon and even BookBub!
Book Brush also has Instant Mockups, which are super cool, but only available for those on the Gold Plan or up (more on that later). Here they create full templates for you of square, horizontal, and vertical images (perfect for Facebook or Instagram) as well as 3D cover mockups for your books. That's a lot of graphic design power at your fingertips, and it's super easy to use.
You can resize all of these and create a custom-sized template. Another awesome thing about Book Brush is there's a whole bunch of community templates you can use, and you can even upload your own templates if you want to (as long as you have the Plus and above plan, there's no limitation on how many templates you can upload). As for ease of use, it's very simple to select an ad type, and then find the template you're looking for.
The templates are based on what authors would need for their blogs and websites, and I find it much easier to design with this in mind. Check out this easy-to-customize Instagram Template I found on the tool, available for download.
Like with any new tool, there's a small learning curve with Book Brush. It is user-friendly, but you have to poke around for a few minutes to figure out how it all works.
Canva has a lot of graphic design utility, though it's not specifically geared toward authors and is more general.
Here's an at-a-glance view of some of the ads and images you can design with Canva.
What I like about Canva is the user-friendly layout. Personally, I picked up on Canva a bit faster than Book Brush. But again, once you know how to use them both, it's not really an issue.
With Canva, you can create the following types of designs:
- Social media images
- Images with custom dimensions
- Facebook covers
- Instagram posts
- Animated social media posts (very cool and not offered on Book Brush from what I could see)
- Blog graphics
- Comic strips
- Book covers
- Facebook ads
- Desktop wallpapers
- Cards, Business cards
- AND more…!
While Canva does have loads more design templates, a drawback for me is that it's not as focused on authors. I felt a little overwhelmed by all the choices because so many of them didn't apply to me.
But… their templates are cool. I took another screenshot of an Instagram post, this time in Canva's designer. Check it out:
Two drawbacks of Canva's design tool are that you can't resize your image without going Pro. There also aren't any stamps–like five-star, Goodreads, Amazon or Bookbub stamps–as can be found in Book Brush.
Graphic Design Utility Verdict
I'm an author, and I'm looking for a tool that caters to my graphic design needs. I'm pretty sure you are too. That's why I personally prefer Book Brush for this section. It's more of what I need with less of what I don't.
That said, if you're a Jack or Jill of all trades and you're looking for broader design capabilities, Canva could very well be the right solution for you.
Book Brush vs Canva: Images and Video Creation
Book Brush has lots of free images and templates to choose from–over a million free images in fact. However, there's a caveat to using any image from Book Brush — you are responsible for checking the licensing of images. So, you've got an extra step to take before you publish anything that you've created with the tool. That's a little disappointing to me, but it's no biggie. The community template and image collection has so many designs and awesome graphics to choose from that it's only a minor setback.
Another minor setback is there's a cap on the number of images you can upload and download with the free package. Obviously, that's removed when you pay for a plan.
When it comes to videos, however, Book Brush is a little more… complex. In the sense that you have to pay to create them, and if you're starting up a YouTube channel or really want to make a load of book trailers, the only way you'll be able to do that at scale is by purchasing the highest Platinum Plan.
Canva is amazing when it comes to images included in its Pro platform. There are over 4 million of them to choose from, and you can upload your own and download unlimited images whether you're using the free package or have gone Pro. That's a big deal for me. I enjoy being able to toggle from free to Pro, and I like the fact that there are still images to choose from in the free version.
Video creation in Canva is free, as well. That gives them an edge, since Book Brush enforces a paid option when it comes to that. You can download your videos, upload your videos on Canva, and edit them all in the free package. You can create short videos, YouTube videos or ads. I took a quick snap of the screen because I was excited about the fact that Canva also provides video templates. Check it out:
Free Images and Video Creation Verdict
When you look at the bare bones of it, Canva offers more when it comes to free images and video creation. The video creation, in particular, is free in Canva, whereas it's locked behind a paywall with Book Brush. Too be fair, as an author, creating a few book teasers is about all I'll be doing with the video tool. But that might be different for you if you're planning on creating more YouTube videos.
This round goes to Canva.
Book Brush vs Canva: Cover Design
This is where Book Brush really shines for me. They have amazing templates for book covers that you can filter according to your genre. They also have a 3D Cover Creator, a Box Set Cover Creator and a Cover Creator standalone tool. Those are three cover creation tools in one online platform, and you can use them to create something from scratch or just tweak something your cover designer sent you. What I love about this is it's geared specifically to authors like you and me who are looking for design freedom when it comes to our covers.
With the Cover Creator, you can choose what type of cover you're going to create: either ebook, print, or audiobook.
- For ebook, you can create covers for Kindle, Kobo, and Wattpad.
- For print, you can choose your trim size, paper type, and word count to get a paperback wrap without having to go to your cover designer and pay an extra $60 or more to get it. That's pretty neat.
- For audiobooks, you can size your cover (usually a square) in two different ways.
Each cover type allows you to select a template. You can narrow down that template according to your genre, and upload your own images, fonts, and tweak to your heart's content. Wow. Mind-blown. Check out the random template I selected below (I found this under ebook, mystery–and it looks like it would suit the paranormal mystery genre quite well, just from a cursory glance at the top 100 results).
Canva's cover design tool irritated me a little bit. While there are plenty of cool templates, I think I was spoiled for choice with Book Brush because I couldn't create a print cover or an audiobook cover without fiddling with custom dimensions and there wasn't any 3D cover creation ‘auto-generation' to speak of. There are cool images, yes, but the cover design tool isn't as multi-faceted.
That said, here's a cool template I found:
I guess it makes sense that there's less functionality as there isn't a set ‘cover design tool' for Canva–it's just one of the design options you can choose.
Cover Design Utility Verdict
Book Brush is streets ahead in this area, with design options for audiobooks, print and ebooks, box sets, and 3D images. I mean, seriously. That's pretty great.
Therefore, this round goes to… Book Brush!
Book Brush vs Canva: Affordability
Price is important, especially since most of the time we're using these tools because we can't afford to hire a designer to get them done for us. With Book Brush, you're given a variety of options when you sign up. What's awesome about the service is you get to try it out for free–although, you can only use it for up to 15 images on this plan. For that reason, I'd probably go for the Plus plan. You'll get unlimited images, and the ability to upload your own fonts.
I like that Book Brush has a range of choices when it comes to pricing. It's more diversified and offers you a chance to pick the package that's right for you.
Check out the image below for more information.
Canva, like Book Brush, has a free component to it. You can create images without paying extra money. And unlike Book Brush, there's no limit on how many images you can create for free. Or how many templates or backgrounds or images you can upload with the free package. That's pretty important if you're planning on creating a lot of social media images or covers for your books.
While the free package is awesome in that gives you a lot of utility and doesn't limit you as much as Book Brush does, the pricing of the upgraded packages is a bit of drawback. Canva only gives you two options when purchasing Canva Pro: monthly and yearly subscriptions. And the cost is a little high in comparison to the Book Brush Plus package.
It's a bit tricky to declare one winner here.
If you don't have any money to spend, Canva has a more robust free version. But with either tool, you'll be missing out on some important capabilities in the free package.
When it comes to paid plans, Book Brush is more affordable — if you'll only be making a few videos per month. If you need to make a lot of videos, you'll save with Canva.
Since I think most authors would be fine with 5 video credits per month, I'm giving this round to Book Brush.
Verdict: Who Wins… Book Brush or Canva?
To me, Book Brush holds an advantage in the DIY design world for authors. It's built with writers in mind, and its paid Plus plan is less expensive than Canva Pro.
Plus, while Canva is great for social media graphics, it’s less useful for cover creation. Because of the better cover design feature, I'd call Book Brush a more complete solution for authors.
Again, if you're looking for general design capabilities, Canva is a great tool and it could very well be the right choice for you. I'm thinking as an author in this post.
Because the cover builder was such an important part of my decision to go with Book Brush, let me take a minute to show you how it works — and tell you about how my friend Todd Brison used the tool to create a cover for a book that became a #1 New Release in less than 24 hours on Amazon!
How to Create an Amazing Book Cover in a Matter of Minutes
Like I mentioned earlier, you have three options: ebook, print, or audio. Clicking on any of these options will reveal further choices. Popular sizes for eBooks include those for Amazon Kindle, Wattpad, or Kobo. The print option gives you the ability to choose the correct size based on your trim size, paper type, and page count. Finally, the audiobook option allows you to choose two sizes for square images.
For me, I'd usually be picking an ebook cover for Amazon Kindle because that’s the platform I primarily publish on.
Now, this is where the real magic happens.
Once you have your desired canvas size, head over to the right side of the page again and choose “Templates” and then “Community Templates.”
You’ll see a screen with lots of covers on the right-hand side and lots of options on the left.
In my opinion, the single biggest competitive advantage Book Brush has going for them at the moment is genre-specific covers. As a writer, you’re probably pretty familiar with genre tropes when it comes to telling stories. If you’re like me, though, you have no idea how that translates visually.
Book Brush solves that problem by allowing you to choose your genre and your book type in order to get the best results. Feel free to check more than one box for more options.
Book Brush is just getting started with book covers. You may find that certain combinations of filters show few or no covers. However, I think it’s safe to expect more community templates in the days to come. There are already more today than when I first searched the site a few weeks ago.
The cover creator already offers an incredible range of templates. Explore to your heart’s content.
Adjusting a Template (Plus the Case Study I Promised)
The one problem with templates is that, if you aren’t careful, they end up looking like… well, a template.
But my friend Todd Brison is a great example of how you can start with a template, and end with the cover on a bestseller! For his book project Make Money Writing Blogs, he found a pretty good template to start with. It fit perfectly for his genre and for the theme of the book.
If you find a template you like, but you aren’t crazy about the background image, you can change that any time using the panel on the left.
Todd tells me he looked through a few other options but ultimately stuck with the image that came with his template.
Then, all he had to do was change the text on each piece of the cover. The text editor includes what you’d expect from an online graphic creator. You can change the size and color of your font, choose a different font if you want to, and adjust the amount of space in between the letters and lines.
After a few tweaks, Todd was able to draw up a cover that he thought fit the bill pretty well. A couple of weeks later, he was happy to find out that readers thought it worked well too. The book became a #1 New Release in less than 24 hours on Amazon!
But Todd's story is proof that you don't have to spend big money on a professional designer to see real success on Amazon. You can build your own cover in Book Brush (or Canva), and still get a great cover that brings you amazing results.
First things first, I hope this article has shown you that it's possible for authors to create great looking graphics — even if you don't have a lot of money to spend and aren't a professional designer. That's a big deal, and I want every self-publisher to know about it.
Beyond that, I hope this article has helped you choose the best tool for your needs.
Best of luck with your designs!