Creating Deskscape Imagery

Creating Deskscape Images

Giving a book a home is one of the kindest things you can do. It’s like adopting a puppy, only this one doesn’t shed when it curls up on the bed with you. Bringing a book home is awesome, whether you are adopting an ebook or a physical book. And showing the world that you’ve given a book a place to belong is a big deal, just check out all the bookstagrammers on Instagram.

This week we’re going to be talking about this easy way to market your books without beating your fans over the head with it. Links to both the tutorial video and the full RT TV episode are at the bottom.

I love desktop images of book because it instantly connects the book to the readers. It is shown in an everyday situation…it’s something that they could walk into a room and find it on a desk. Placing a book in its new home and showing it off to the world instantly removes barriers between you and your fans because what home doesn’t have a desk or table? Showing that the book isn’t some far-off-out-of-reach concept makes people want to reach out, pick it up off the desk and read the back of the book.

Creating desktop images is simple to do and doesn’t even require a desk.

How can that be? you ask. Here’s some shocking news for you: in all of my time photographing desktop images exactly one of them has been shot on a real desk. Everything else is a bit of creative photography that is so simple you can even do it on an iPhone.

I use white foamboard and black foamboard to create my desks. I place them on a table, the floor, etc near a window, laying them flat. Then I arrange my desk objects on top of it to make it look like a desk or table. When I shoot my image, I shoot straight down and no one can tell it’s not my real white desk sitting in the other room. A lot of the time my foamboard is wider than my desk and gives me more space to work. It also doesn’t glare like most desks do, giving me a more polished final image.

Pulling objects for your desk is easy. The trick is to make it better than most desks by creating a more high-end feel to it. Keep clutter off of your mock desk. If you want to use a bigger object like a lamp, vase, or flowers, keep it limits to one in the corner. The important thing to remember is that you want to keep most of your items on the same level as your book or tablet. If your objects are quite a bit higher, they will be blurred in your image because your focus will be lower on the book.

I recommend pulling in stylized items such as all gold paper clips, staplers, scissors, binder clips, trays/plates, brads, pens, etc. Styling by color is a great way to create a more refined look. I tend to lean toward all gold in my own work, but I’ve also shot images that are mainly blue, purple, black, bronze, silver, pastels, mint, pinks, etc.

Remember as you are styling to place your objects where they would realistically be on a desk setting. Most of your objects should be lined up against the top edge of your image. You probably wouldn’t have the laptop between you and your book. Pens, coffee mugs, etc would probably be found on your dominant side where you could easily reach them, whereas plants might be in the opposite top corner so you wouldn’t accidentally bump them while working. You also don’t want things at strange angles. On some occasions this can work, but mainly your stapler wouldn’t be slanted on your desk one way and the tape dispenser tilted another. Keep things as aligned as possible. (Pro tip: much like people point out grammatical errors on the Internet, they will also point out that one object that is slightly off center.)

You can add objects to your stylized desk that you might not ordinarily have on an everyday desk. Small trays are nice accents. I use mine to house paper clips or tacks usually. Flowers, trinkets, etc might clutter an everyday desk, but on a stylized desk they are stunning. Pick accent objects to use within your desk, but make sure it fits with the overall aesthetic of your stylized desk.

Desks are frequently near light sources like windows. I recommend having your desk directly facing your light source meaning your shadows will be pointing toward the bottom of the desk. You wouldn’t squeeze yourself between a window and a desk in real life, so keep your light source realistic.

You can stylize your desks in one of two ways: based on the content of the cover or the story OR based on what the main character might have on their desk. I have designed my deskscape images based on both. I would recommend pointing out the intentions behind your desk design to your fans. They’ll want to know the connection.

Desktop images are great ways to show off a book without having to put a ton of thought into the image design. It is a fun, fast way to connect your fans to the book because they can instantly relate to the setting (the desk) even if the story takes place in a fantasy realm with magical ponies and penguins that can sing and isn’t like our world at all. Placing the book in a real world situation gives people a reason to want to know how they can connect with the story.

Deskscape Imagery Desktop Images

Check out the entire RT TV episode on Creating Deskscape Imagery and the tutorial video on Desktop Images here.

But wait! We don’t want you to go this alone. We’ve got a BONUS for you. In your weekly email from us about this week’s lesson is a freebie download with a Deskscape Image Prop List. Run over the list as you prepare to create your marketing graphic and pick from my five favorite items to use and a few bonus items that look cool in these images.

Deskscape Imagery Prop List

Please note, all of our bonus downloadable freebies are sent out in our weekly emails, but if you aren’t on our list, don’t worry, you can join now and we’ll send you all of our back bonuses PLUS a special gift that will help with your book marketing.

Happy creating, darlings!

Stay inspired,


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