Thursday, November 15, 2012

Some Ideas on Series Cover Branding

(Thank Camille LaGuire for making me think of this as a blog-worthy topic.) Some say the cover makes or breaks an e-book, since it's the first impression. Some say that it doesn't matter—the content does.

And then there's the detail that what's appealing to one person is downright revolting to someone else. Either way, you can't win. (I could give examples of some recently released covers that I don't like at all, though others do—but that would be rude.)

But one thing I'm coming to appreciate more is the concept of series branding.

I read a lot. In fact, I'll sometimes skip lunch to be able to afford a book. (Can't always do that, due to to hyperthyroidism, but when I can…)

As a reader, I get frustrated when I like a book, go looking for the related ones, and can't easily figure out from the vendor page which ones to buy.

As an author, I know that there's only so much an author can do to enable a reader to easily peruse the book list and know, "Okay, there's book 2, 3, and 4. *purchase*"

Seems to me that cover branding—making the series recognizable at a glance—could go a long way towards doing that.

Author branding? Eh. I have specific aesthetics that I prefer on a cover (title on top, byline on bottom—which will be apparent in a moment), and I can let that work as branding.

But how to brand a story world?

And then how to distinguish the short stories from the novels?

And what about distinguishing story narrators?

I've been struggling with this for quite some time. The Aleyi novels, I decided how to brand a while ago, but my other works? I've been floundering.

Knowing myself, it's likely that the failure to have this figured out has also been contributing to my difficulty with writing. (Subconscious avoidance, because I don't have covers finished. I'm learning that my subconscious loves doing things like that.)

Everything I came up with kept looking so busy. Ulgh.

I had an epiphany for what I could do—something that would let readers distinguish short story, story world, and story narrator at a glance. (Although the story narrator issue admittedly isn't a big deal at the moment with what I have released, it's an oddly big deal to me.)

And then there were the sales vendor updates that changed the cover requirements, enough that I had to go back to the drawing board.

Or so I'd thought. When I updated Gimp recently, I—finally!—got the plug-in I've been searching for, a plug-in that lets me not have to go back to the drawing board. ^_^

I've created updated e-book covers for the Darkworld stories, and I'll be doing it for the Aleyi ones, too. (I've not put the covers on the stories yet—I have to update the cover credits in the files.)

So… What was my epiphany?

Use specific cover traits for author, length, series, and narrator.

Author: Byline across bottom, title across top.

Novels will be text worked into the image. Short stories will not (and have colored bars behind the byline, etc.). Novellas and novelettes will have traits of both, the length determining which one it skews towards.

Series: Specific font choices, and specific traits to the color bars.

Main Character: Color of those colored bars.

What on earth am I talking about?


I might adjust some details, but that's the crux of my design idea. (Comment on them if you like, but that's not why I posted them. ^_^)

Wait, you're wondering what "Kill Jill" is?

*grin* I suspect you'll be able to read that short story in a few months.

In the meantime, it's amazing how refreshing it can feel to have a ready-to-go cover.

Do you like when an author's covers easily brand for length? What traits do you like in covers?


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