Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Book and Series Branding. Why it's important and how to do it.

If you missed the post about Personal Branding, you can read it before or after this post.

Book and/or series branding is essential when marketing. People need to be able to recognize your book at a glance. This involves more than just using your cover on everything, although that is a good place to start.

Once you have your cover, you'll want to use the font, or at least a similar font of your title to make other promotional materials like bookmarks and the like. You can read more about promotional items in my posts from last week.

Let's say you have your very first book cover. Let's also say that you are writing a series. I'll use my book as an example:

 This cover was designed by my publishers. I picked out the image and they did they rest. Take note of the font and the placement of the title, author name and flower. We'll come back to those in a bit.

On the back, you can see that my publisher used the blue from the water on the front, as well as the same font. Do you notice something else? The bright pink hibiscus has been cut out and transferred to the back to add CONSISTENCY.

Consistency is key to branding.

I have used this flower in other marketing materials as well. It does two things: 1. reminds people of my cover 2. alludes to a specific location in which the book takes place: Hawaii.

Let's move on to the cover that I designed for the short story that is a companion to Obsidian. I did not have access to the same font that is used in the title of Obsidian. It is best if you do, but sometimes, you have to work with what you've got.

Now, since I could not use the same font, I branded it another way. Remember how I told you to take note of the placement of the title, author name and flower?

If you take a look at the cover for Ruby, you'll notice that the titles and author name are in the same spot and the attention grabbing ruby broach takes the place of the attention grabbing flower.

I used the black background because it is a companion to Obsidian and obsidian is of course, black. Another reason: Black and red are the go-to colors for paranormal works these days. This cover not only tells you that its in the right genre category, but also conveys a sense of mystery. Why the ruby broach?

The point is, your covers don't have to look like altered copies of each other. Although it is a good thing if they closely resemble each other, it is not required to create a brand look for your series.

A good example of branding a series is the Twilight series. You can go look up the books and easily see that even though the images used are unrelated, the series looks like it belongs together. If you had only ever seen the covers for Twilight and New Moon, it's likely that if you walked past the cover for Eclipse or Breaking Dawn, that you would immediately know that those books belong in the series without reading the title.

That brings me to my next point. Titles are important in a series even more than they are important for stand alone books. Take my books for example.

Obsidian: Mystic Stones Series #1
Moonstone: Mystic Stones Series #2
Amethyst: Mystic Stones Series #3
Emerald: Mystic Stones Series #4
Bloodstone: Mystic Stones Series #5
Ruby: A Mystic Stones Jewel

Seeing a pattern? You need that sort of consistency. Just like in Twilight and the House of Night Series. Your book title is more recognizable when the books in a series are named similarly. Books that are three in a series titled something like . . .

Phone Calls: Blah Blah Series #1
The Big Flower: Blah Blah Series #2
Craziness: Blah Blah Series #3

. . . are missing series branding. As a reader, I may read Phone Calls and then months later, see the title The Big Flower and never make the connection. People are more likely to continue reading a series they liked than they are to pick up a completely new stand alone book given a choice between the two. They are already invested in your characters and your world, so they want to continue that, but they can't if you don't give them the proper chance to recognize your series.

Okay. Now that we got the series talk out of the way, branding a stand alone book may be more difficult than branding a series. My advice is to use the same colors, fonts and style in your promotional materials. If you look at my infographic that I made for Obsidian, you can see the color of the center of the flower has been used in the infographic. The font that I used conveys more of a "technical" feel than a swirly feel like a calligraphy font would have. By using the techy font, I mimicked the title font without using the same exact font.

Well, I think that's all for today. Come back tomorrow for more info on why your book should have it's own business card. This is a concept I mentioned last week in THIS POST.
Do you have any ideas on how to brand your book or series?