Branding a Book Series

I recently came across Anne Allen‘s wonderful Guernsey series of novels, in the form of the fifth book, Echoes of Time. It was a great read with alternating chapters set in WWII and 2010.

What particularly struck me about this series of books was the cohesive, professional branding across all the book covers.

Anne Allen Guernsey Novels

I wondered whether Anne had started off with this brand in mind or whether it developed as she went along. This is what she told me:

Authors are often encouraged to create a ‘brand’. To be distinctive. To stand out in the crowd; never more important than now when thousands of books are added to Amazon on a daily basis. I knew nothing of this when I published my first book, ‘Dangerous Waters’, a romantic mystery/family drama set in Guernsey. Then came book two, ‘Finding Mother’, also set on the island, but there was little cohesion visually between them, although they shared characters and setting. By the time I wrote the third, ‘Guernsey Retreat’, I had realised (somewhat belatedly some might say!) that I was writing a series. The covers of the books bore little resemblance to each other, except for my name, although I had chosen a strong image of Guernsey as the background for book 3.

These are the original three covers:

Dangerous Waters by Anne AllenFinding Mother by Anne AllenGuernsey Retreat by Anne Allen

Then came the enlightenment, in the form of a successful American author I met at an Indie event as part of The London Book Fair. She told me I had no brand and the genre of the books wasn’t clear. But she did like the covers, particularly the third. Sooo, it was back to the drawing board.
I decided I needed a fresh approach and engaged a cover designer who came highly recommended, Jane Dixon-Smith, who also writes books. Together we worked on producing four covers, three replacing the old ones and one for my nearly finished fourth novel, ‘The Family Divided’. I knew the backgrounds had to be of Guernsey as I now had The Guernsey Novels series. The new branding was launched in 2015 to coincide with the latest book and, boy, were they well received! Even Amazon liked them, creating a little series motif on my books page, so anyone buying one of the books could see it was part of a series, even though each book is a standalone story.

If an author isn’t writing a true series, I think it’s still important to have a cohesive look for their books, unless they write in multi genres. I’ve often noticed how the books of top-selling authors frequently receive new covers to emphasise their ‘brand’ in line with current fashion. Speaking to insiders of the Big Five publishers, I learnt huge sums are spent on cover design and redesign to keep the brands fresh; something independent authors would be unable to afford.

To find out more about the Guernsey novels, visit Anne’s website. The first book in the series, Dangerous Waters, is currently only 99p on Kindle – why not give it a try?

 

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  1. #1 by anneallen21 on October 27, 2016 - 2:47 pm

    Thank you, Sally, for inviting me onto your lovely blog to write about cover branding. I do hope fellow writers find it of interest. Anne ☺

  2. #3 by Jack Dowd on October 28, 2016 - 9:27 am

    Lovely covers. You can tell the books are a series without reading the author’s name. A personal peeve of mine is when the author has written a series and one cover is different to the rest (I’m thinking of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower).
    I’ve added Dangerous Waters to my reading list.

    • #4 by Sally Jenkins on October 31, 2016 - 5:09 pm

      I see your point, Jack. I haven’t read much Stephen King but that would make me wonder if The Dark Tower is significantly different from his other work or published by a different publisher?

  3. #5 by juliathorley on October 31, 2016 - 7:41 pm

    Thanks for this,. This is one of those things that is blindingly obvious – once someone has pointed it out! I agree with Jack’s comments about rogue covers in a series – it’s really irritating.

    • #6 by Sally Jenkins on November 1, 2016 - 2:06 pm

      I think sometimes we need people to point out the blindingly obvious, Julia!

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