Tips for Viral Marketing

As a graphic designer I have been making flyers, posters, artwork and more for hundreds of clients for what feels like forever. It is the goal of every designer to have their work seen by people, to be admired whether for the subtle way you changed a font to make that text pop or that amazing illustration you spent hours working on in your free time. Everyone wants their fifteen minutes of fame, everyone wants their projects to explode and to feel like an instaSUCCESS. Kudos to those that have tried and failed. Only a handful of times have I seen my work go viral and for the most part it wasn’t because it was graphic design. The work I have had go viral (which I will not share here because that is not what this is about) were images I created on the fly with no real goal in mind, they were created for the purpose of doing something for myself or for a good laugh with friends.

Ideas float in the air like webs. We all have good ideas (we also all have bad ideas and there is nothing wrong with that) but what do we need to do to make our ideas explode?

The following are some ideas and things that I have seen help others as well as some things I have done myself. I am also going to list some things NOT to do in the following paragraphs so please pay close attention. Please think of this as a shorthand guide, I’m sure there are dozens of books out there that are a great read on the subject and who knows maybe one day I will write one but for now this is your five minute breakdown on what it takes to go viral.

1. EMOTIONAL APPEAL. – No one likes a bad apple. If you are going to make something and you want it to go viral remember that one of the most important aspects of marketing and design is that it appeals to your viewer on an emotional level. This is one of the reasons animals have had such amazing luck going viral as well as laughter (everyone loves to laugh) and ads that make people feel good about themselves. Check your feed, I bet you have half a dozen images right now with kittens, sloths, puppies each written with a message or as a funny meme all because they make you FEEL. Emotions can range from happy to sad (though sad images usually are not as viral they can create a call to action such as ‘Invisible Children’). Focus on Curiosity, Amazement, Interest, Astonishment, Admiration, Uncertainty, Humor, and you are almost always guaranteed to get great feedback. Make your reader question themselves. People share emotionally charged content because it relates to them, it helps them make sense of their experiences and deepens that social bond that they have to the world (even if it is all digital).

2. DON’T BE GENERIC. – You can take a picture of your dog or cat and post it online if you want and yes there is always a chance that it will stand out among the hundreds of thousand other dog and cat pictures out there but your pet will not be the next ‘Grumpy Cat’ (You should still post pictures of your pet though because people WILL love them). If you want your images to go viral they need to be UNIQUE, they need to lead the crowd and be worthy of being shared. Make something that others wouldn’t expect to see.

3. TRIGGERS – Make something that is memorable. Something that you find interesting that is at the top of your mind and the tip of your tongue, something others might not expect. This kind of goes back to number 1 but it is worth mentioning again. People react and share when something appeals to them emotionally.

4. SOCIAL / PUBLIC AWARENESS – Did you just make something awesome? Does it have a call to action and feel emotionally appealing. Share it with your friends, tag them in the image ask them to share it and do the same with their friends. Social media is one massive network and we there is only six degrees of separation between all of us. People are more likely to share something when they see others are sharing it as well. As a designer I am always trying to go against the crowd and make something new but it is important to remember that we are social creatures each of us wants to look good and feel like we belong even if that means following the crowd and social trends.

– Your message should also provide INSTANT GRATIFICATION.

5. NARRATIVE – People love stories. If you wrap your image in a short story or a narrative that reads from left to right (or right to left depending on where you are) then people will be more willing to listen. Talk about your brand as a part of a larger calling. What does your brand, your message do for the world? If it makes us laugh that’s great but if it does more then that if it makes people feel like they are making a difference that they are sharing something important that others need to know then you are more likely to go viral.

6. BAD TIMING – This is one of those things that corporations pay marketers and social media partners for. Time of year, day of week, time of day (time zones), events, these are all things that can make or break your message. This is something you have to think about for yourself, who is your audience, what is happening in the world right now, will others pay attention to your message while this and that are happening. Timing is everything.

7. DESIGN – This of course is my favorite part. Please remember though just because something is sexy doesn’t mean it will go viral (then again sex does sell and if you want to go that road you can but most people will ignore your message simply for the images). Location of elements in an image will determine how likely a user will be able to see it. If your image is being displayed in certain social media platforms the image may become cropped or someone may not be able to make out what the image is at all if it is too large or too small. Good designers can usually play with these fields of vision and make it so a user will want to click through an image to see the entire thing (think about narrative and having to click through to see the second part). Guide the users eye. Use effects and contrast only a subtle amount to make text or images pop. Bold text and colors tell users where to look. Big items draw users attention more then small items.

Use color to your advantage.

Red – Energy, Danger, Love

Orange – Enthusiasm, Fascination, Creativity

Yellow – Happiness, Intellect, Energy

Green – Nature, Money, Healing

Blue – Stability, Trust, Loyalty

Purple – Power, Nobility, Luxury

Black – Power, Elegance, Formality

White – Light, Goodness, Innocence

8. DON’T GIVE UP – If you make the most awesome image and it doesn’t go viral don’t give up. Maybe you released it at the wrong time or something happened the next day or someone else was given the spotlight before you were. Don’t give up. Some images take years to go viral, videos especially. Many of the most popular videos today were created years ago or thought of years ago and only now have they found new life. Your ideas may just need time to grow. Many messages start out with a grassroots campaign before ever coming into mainstream or even tapping on the glass that is public awareness. The more people share your image over time the more popular you will become. Success is not guaranteed overnight. If you are truly feeling desperate though facebook, twitter, and many other social media sites have ways that you can pay money to promote your posts and visibility to more people. Unsurprisingly many YouTube stations and videos, Kickstarters, IndieGoGo campaigns, and even small businesses use this kind of advertising to increase their popularity.

Utilizing all of these tools and this guide I know you can make the most awesome image, message possible and find success online. A great thing to remember though is that success is what you make it. It doesn’t matter if your message is seen by a hundred people or a hundred thousand as long as you are happy with what you are putting into the world and you are making a difference then that is what makes you awesome. Remember to keep your content and your designs fresh and never give up on your art.


Stephen Landry



Beware the Panda. Its not what you think. Trigger, Deep Darkness Book 2 is out now. Join Sev as his journey continues in a world full of hostile alien creatures, ancient orbitals, ice planets, and a new enemy that threatens the entire galaxy.

Buy now on Amazon

Fun Fact # 1. I have two nicknames. As an author many have dubbed me World Eater while at home I get called Panda.

Fun Fact #2. The cover of Trigger is NOT Sev but rather Elante, a secondary character who is flushed out more in this book and will be a main character in Wound, the third book of my Deep Darkness Trilogy.

Fun Fact #3. Cover art and Inside illustrations created Rizky Nugraha who also did the artwork for Sleepers.

Behind the Scenes:

Thank you and again you can pick up Trigger Here.


Stephen Landry

Making of a cover

A lot of people compliment me on the cover of my book Pull (Deep Darkness Book 1) so I thought since I’m at Farpoint and hotel rooms make me want to blog I would write about the process.

When designing the cover for Pull it all began with a sketch.

A very quick digital sketch made on a smartphone in sketchpad. Not bad but not good either. From here I collaborated with a European artist named Ollie Balbador and we came up with several concepts together. Each time I did the initial sketch and he filled it in adding amazing details as we designed the rifle (M44) and jacket.

Before finally going back to basics and settling on this…

From here we attempted several colors and concepts for the cover and developed the title logo. Given the survival horror aspects of the story we went with a hand written typeface that reminded us of nails.

Red / Vibrant



At this time I ordered several proofs as we continued working on concepts and different ideas for the cover. For the first run of Pull we went with a blood red cover with Sev drawn into the darkness.

We got a lot of positive responses but it wasn’t done. There was still something missing. The best way for me to explain it is that sometimes you just know.

Three awesome images created by the artist who eventually worked on Sleepers and Trigger. They were inspired by the time travel elements in Pull so the gear had a more world war / post-apocalyptic feel.

And another concept that used the Erebus 3D model on the cover. (Artwork created by myself for this one and I still might use it later on and you will definitely see more of the 3D model in the future).

Still nothing stuck.

So Ollie and I did two more variations on the first sketch again…

Till finally…

The best of both worlds with colors inspired by Japanese Samurai.

And the final product…

The final layout was done in photoshop using a createspace template. The back cover features the Erebus, the Erebus logo, and the Deep Darkness logo.

So that’s it. Overall the process took about 5-6 months back and forth and there were about 20 more sketches done between along with dozens of color variations. Maybe this is it but who knows but one thing is for certain… this one feels right.


Stephen Landry

Pull is available on Amazon Here

Farpoint 25

I’m so bad at blogging. Like seriously bad. Apologies for that. Anyway, here’s what’s happening… right now I’m in Baltimore, Maryland on the first day of my booktour2018 and have met one of my idols, Timothy Zahn. When I was little I dressed as Thrawn for Halloween, read all the Star Wars books, and honestly if not for Zahn I may not have become a writer… at least not a sci-fi writer.

Update #2. Pull and Sleepers are being turned into audiobooks along with a few other projects and I’m so excited I can’t wait for you guys to hear it brought to life. Unfortunately it will probably be a few months.

Update #3. I couldn’t wait.

Here is cover art for one of my FIRST short stories written back in 2015 turned Audiobook. Narrated by the classically trained actor Rob Goll (who has performed Macbeth, Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, Dark Country to name a few). This was written before I even started Deep Darkness while I was working on Project Aspire. This is the direction I almost took with my first novel and while there are still a few small errors I’m super proud of this story as it is at its core a retelling of Sumerian legend in a science fiction setting.


Hopefully I will update this more often.

– Stephen Landry

Sleepers – Out Now!

Out now! This is my #nanowrimo #scifinovel from last year.

X-men meets Starship Troopers.

Part “romance” part action adventure but mostly surreal science fiction horror. Jake and Michael have their lives turned upside down when 2/3 of the world’s population fall into a coma. Jake, the fiance, and Michael, the brother vow to keep Vee safe as she lays sleeping. Over the next year, some of the sleepers begin to wake up into “that Z word” and the world starts to turn into a post-apocalyptic mess. It gets even weirder when Jake and Michael start developing superpowers and extraterrestrial daemons lay siege to Earth. From post-apocalyptic Chicago to other realms in outer space.

.99 cents / Free KU

My new weird

Working through the sequel to Pull and the second book in my Deep Darkness series titled Trigger.

Here is the cover reveal.


Trigger, the second book in the Deep Darkness Trilogy, picks up 2 years after the events of Pull. Sev is now a soldier working for the alien union known as the Aggregate. When a new threat emerges from a place outside ‘real’ space called the immer humans are forced to make a truce with the Skrav, the aliens that have hunted humanity for over 300 years to face an even deadlier enemy. Trigger expands on ideas and concepts from Pull as well as taking Sev on a journey to rescue the ones that he cares most about. A journey that will see him fighting unimaginable creatures, traversing virtual realities, parallel worlds, ancient alien structures and working to save both our world and another from terror. The events in Trigger will change everything. Trigger combines elements from both Science Fiction and Fantasy as the human race continues to fight for survival.

Add it on goodreads here

Also in my que is a short novel titled Sleepers available now on kindle scout! Check it out and help be a part of my journey to getting it out there! All you have to do is login via Amazon and hit the nominate button. Thank you.

Nominate Sleepers on Kindle Scout

Last but not least I’m going to be participating in NaNoWriMo this year with a LiTRPG novel. I’m hyped to start working on it and have been brainstorming a few different ideas. It’s a genre I have been reading / researching for some time now.

I look forward to kicking it into high gear the rest of the year and releasing more work for you guys! Thank you for all of the support.

– Stephen

Save Sci-fi is now SSF

Sci-fi is saved!

Six years ago I joined an advocacy group who wanted to support and save science fiction television programs such as SGU (which is now being continued as a comic). In that six years sci-fi has gone from a genre on the brink of death to mainstream. Maybe it’s just the circle of life, maybe it’s a new renaissance but now more then ever sci-fi is excelling as a genre.

This past year Save Sci-Fi launched our first anthology An Atlas to Time, Space, and Bonfires with 21 different authors and 4 different artists contributing. We have done several cons and book signings with a few more on the way towards the end of the year. With so much growth that which was Save Sci-Fi can be no more. Sci-fi is saved our work is done. The time has come to rebrand. Save Sci-Fi is now SSF, supporting science fiction. Expect lots of new fiction in various mediums including our next anthology Beyond the Horizon and a new universe we are working hard to develop codenamed Broadside. We have a lot for you to look forward to the end of this year and next year as we phase out of Save Sci-fi and embrace SSF going forward.

– Stephen