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Agony Aunt > Books with obvious 'branding'?

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message 1: by Katie (last edited Dec 27, 2012 06:29AM) (new)

Katie Stewart (katiewstewart) | 853 comments I'm busy trying to write an article about creating book covers at the moment and I've got to the part where I describe the importance of 'branding' - making the cover stand out as yours. Do you think I can think of enough examples? My brain is a fuzz. I saw on Joel Friedlander's site (he's a book design guru), an article about Hunger Games - a perfect example of using similar covers and fonts to create a brand, but as I want to direct everyone to his site, I don't want to pinch that idea. I've thought of JD Robb's distinctive name on her books, but apart from using the name as the brand, can you think of any books where the covers are obviously all by the same person even if the name wasn't there? Most ebook authors don't have a name they can brand.

This being Australia, I'm now off to bed, so please don't think me rude if I don't join in the conversation for a while. I'm really good at starting threads when I'm not going to be there to join in.


message 2: by Kath (last edited Dec 27, 2012 06:48AM) (new)

Kath Middleton | 25063 comments Andy Barrett - member of this group - has a sort of 'branding' with his covers. They all feature a wall and the same font.
A Long Time Dead
The Third Rule is one of the books of the month at the top of the page - that shows the sort of thing too.


message 3: by Elle (last edited Dec 27, 2012 06:51AM) (new)

Elle (louiselesley) | 7913 comments A is for Alibi books are always the same (Sue Grafton)

So are Kathy Reichs' books.


Harry Potter is an obvious example too. (And Twilight.. eurgh)


message 4: by Will (new)

Will Macmillan Jones (willmacmillanjones) | 11721 comments My publisher is trying to 'brand' my series by using the same font and layout on each book, tother with the concept of a spotlight illuminating an image.

Does it work? I've no idea.


message 5: by Will (new)

Will Macmillan Jones (willmacmillanjones) | 11721 comments Oh, and I've seen a lot of editions of Lord Of The rings using the fiery Ring as an image.


message 6: by Jim (new)

Jim | 21932 comments I agree that 'a brand' is probably a good idea, I can see where Will's publishers are coming from. I tried to 'create a brand' with my covers. They're displayed on http://jandbvwebster.wordpress.com/ab... (scroll down) if you want to see them.


message 7: by D.D. Chant (new)

D.D. Chant (DDChant) | 7680 comments My series have covers that follow the same theme. However I only have the first book in each series out!!! But the covers are all ready to go!!! Lol!


message 8: by Will (new)

Will Macmillan Jones (willmacmillanjones) | 11721 comments You could also look at Jim Butcher's Dresden files series, with the recurring image of the wizard in a long coat with staff and hat.


message 9: by Karen (new)

Karen Lowe | 2335 comments One series which really should have tried a bit harder for a good 'brand' image is the Catherine Cookson reprints. Dreadful covers!


message 10: by Elle (last edited Dec 27, 2012 10:02AM) (new)

Elle (louiselesley) | 7913 comments I don't think they work too well for Kindles // it doesn't really matter that much for the kindle copies but I know plenty of people who collect entire series' that refuse to buy any cover that won't match their other books.


message 11: by Karen (new)

Karen Lowe | 2335 comments Interesting question though as I now have two different series running, so each series (Star Gardens and Quilt Detective) have different styles of cover. There's been some debate recently about the importance of having a cover that looks good as a thumbnail on smartphones - where most of the detail will be lost. There's a lot of genre branding tho - all that pink chick lit stuff.
Andrea Camilleri books are beautifully branded though, very distinctive, really arty.


message 12: by Will (new)

Will Macmillan Jones (willmacmillanjones) | 11721 comments Louise-Lesley (Elle) wrote: "I don't think they work too well for Kindles // it doesn't really matter that much for the kindle copies but I know plenty of people who collect entire series' that refuse to buy any cover that won..."

I'm one. I hate having a whole series on my bookcase with mismatched covers.


Patti (baconater) (goldengreene) | 61757 comments Darren's Undead books.


message 14: by Geoff (new)

Geoff Woodland | 140 comments How about Bernard Cornwell's 'Sharpe' books, Stephen Leather's 'Dan 'Spider' Shepherd' books, Alexander Kent's 'Bolitho' books, or even the James Bond books - all have the same cover style / theme so you know what you are buying through the book shop window. Except for Bernard Cornwell, the author's name is more prominent than the book's title.


message 15: by Will (new)

Will Macmillan Jones (willmacmillanjones) | 11721 comments Patti (Festive Figgy Pudding) wrote: "Darren's Undead books."

Books can be Undead? I'm closing the library door tonight.


Gingerlily - The Full Wild | 36808 comments Will wrote: "Patti (Festive Figgy Pudding) wrote: "Darren's Undead books."

Books can be Undead? I'm closing the library door tonight."


Haven't you read any of them yet?


Patti (baconater) (goldengreene) | 61757 comments If he hasn't, I'm not speaking to him again til he has.


message 18: by Will (new)

Will Macmillan Jones (willmacmillanjones) | 11721 comments I daren't in case i start stealing his lines.


Patti (baconater) (goldengreene) | 61757 comments Will wrote: "I daren't in case i start stealing his lines."

You're on my shit list.


Gingerlily - The Full Wild | 36808 comments Will wrote: "I daren't in case i start stealing his lines."

They wouldn't fit.


message 21: by Will (new)

Will Macmillan Jones (willmacmillanjones) | 11721 comments Patti (Festive Figgy Pudding) wrote: "Will wrote: "I daren't in case i start stealing his lines."

You're on my shit list."


Sin binned again? Sigh


message 22: by Katie (new)

Katie Stewart (katiewstewart) | 853 comments Some great suggestions there. Thanks, everyone. I knew this was the place to come!


message 23: by Aura (new)

Aura (aurastark) | 7 comments Karen wrote: "One series which really should have tried a bit harder for a good 'brand' image is the Catherine Cookson reprints. Dreadful covers!"

I would beg to differ even on the kindle books - I like my covers and editions matched and will go to great lengths to match my ebooks on calibre. I can see the covers on my Kindle Fire HD, so it's just like a normal bookcase display. Nothing more annoying than mixing ideas of different publishers and illustrators on my favourite books.


message 24: by Claire (new)

Claire Handscombe (clairelyman) | 1 comments David Nicholls - his books have similar (and v cool) covers.


message 25: by Michael (new)

Michael (michaeldiack) | 185 comments I had a big discussion with my publisher about this. I basically wanted something different for my crisp packet story sequel. But they commented on how important it is to be branded as an author and I'm glad I took their advice. I'm happy both my books have the 'crisp packet' look.


message 26: by Michael (new)

Michael (michaeldiack) | 185 comments Although perhaps once an author gets famous enough, they can do what they like as they'll always have their audience to sell to.


message 27: by Katie (new)

Katie Stewart (katiewstewart) | 853 comments Michael wrote: "Although perhaps once an author gets famous enough, they can do what they like as they'll always have their audience to sell to."

Precisely. That's going to be one of the comments in my article. JK Rowling's new cover drew quite a bit of criticism, but they could have just stuck her name on the front and it would still sell.

Michael, I love your crisp packets!


message 28: by Elle (new)

Elle (louiselesley) | 7913 comments i HATE when an author gets famous and their publisher completely changes every single damn cover and blurb.

i recently ran into this with a series of mine and i accidentally bought a book twice because i thought i hadn't read it due to the branding changing.


big example of how it effects the reader.


message 29: by Karen (new)

Karen Lowe | 2335 comments Louise-Lesley (Elle) wrote: "i HATE when an author gets famous and their publisher completely changes every single damn cover and blurb.

i recently ran into this with a series of mine and i accidentally bought a book twice be..."


They did that with some of Donna Leon's, even changed some titles, really annoying - bought one of the early ones twice.


message 30: by Nicola (new)

Nicola Palmer | 255 comments My cover designer tries to make the Alice Parker series match. Sort of hazy and mysterious with the same fonts. I suspect children attach even more importance to covers than adults :)


message 31: by Will (new)

Will Macmillan Jones (willmacmillanjones) | 11721 comments It;s worth noting that the Big 6 often change the covers, in order to con partners into re buying chic lit for their OH s...


message 32: by Jenny (new)

Jenny | 210 comments The Alexander McCall Smith no 1 ladies detective agency books have clear branding which I think is really effective.


message 33: by Jim (new)

Jim | 21932 comments I have The Foundation Trilogy

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Foundation-Tr...

Where the covers of the books (in a boxed set at the time) go together to make a larger picture


message 34: by Will (new)

Will Macmillan Jones (willmacmillanjones) | 11721 comments That was really popular at one time, wan't it?


Gingerlily - The Full Wild | 36808 comments Wow those look familiar. My Dad had the Foundation Trilogy and I read it many times. Loved every bit of it.


message 36: by Jim (new)

Jim | 21932 comments I loved it to bits as well. I don't think the extra books of the second trilogy helped


message 37: by Will (new)

Will Macmillan Jones (willmacmillanjones) | 11721 comments I've still got my set from the 1970s.

Yes I know, never knowlingly let a book go, I haven't...


message 38: by Jim (new)

Jim | 21932 comments Will wrote: "I've still got my set from the 1970s.

Yes I know, never knowlingly let a book go, I haven't..."


Same here, very few have gone


message 39: by Sara (new)

Sara Boyd (saraboydauthor) | 1412 comments Read them so long ago I could do with reading them again.


message 40: by Jim (new)

Jim | 21932 comments BBC did them as a series on Sunday afternoons on Radio 4 back in the 1970s. They were very well done


message 41: by R.J. (new)

R.J. Askew (rjaskew) | 959 comments I don't think branding is as important as being a brilliant writer. Maybe that is THE best brand their is, the actual writing. Maybe it is what is between the covers and not the superficial image. This is probably not helpful. I don't think playing the branding game perfectly can make up for weak writing. So doesn't it all come back to the writing? I thus think it is best to concentrate on the writing and forget branding. Get the writing right and the rest will slot into place. Maybe the writer needs a design partner to fix the image.


message 42: by Elle (new)

Elle (louiselesley) | 7913 comments I kinda disagree. Whether we like it or not people judge books by their cover. If you walk into a store and see a series with an instantly recognisable or attractive cover that looks to be in your genre (i'm thinking anything paranormal here for one major example) then you'll be drawn into it whether the writing is bad or good.

you have attract people first before they love your writing. after that it doesn't matter to most but then you need to get the book out there


message 43: by Tim (new)

Tim | 9478 comments R.J. wrote: "I don't think branding is as important as being a brilliant writer. [...] I don't think playing the branding game perfectly can make up for weak writing. "

50 shades.
Twilight.

Just to name two 'brands'. Sorry but branding trumps quality every time.


message 44: by Darren (new)

Darren Humphries (darrenhf) | 6980 comments Tim wrote: "Just to name two 'brands'. Sorry but branding trumps quality every time. "

I'm not sure that I believe that. You have to hook people to begin with. A brand only works if the initial product has something going for it for its target audience. Once they are hooked, that's when the branding comes into effect to cross and up selling.

The best branding, of course, is the author's name. If you loved one book by someone then you're going to try another.


message 45: by Katie (new)

Katie Stewart (katiewstewart) | 853 comments But with a lot of Indie authors, they have their names so tiny on those tiny little icons that no one is ever going to recognise their books as they scroll through, without clicking on them to look closer.

Your first novel cover has to be attractive and have an element that can be carried over to other books I think. Until people are attracted to that first novel, no amount of excellent writing is going to help for a very long time (ie. the length of time it takes word of mouth to work). Once they like your work, they'll be watching out for your name or whatever it is that you use to indicate it's yours.


Patti (baconater) (goldengreene) | 61757 comments I agree with the author's name thing, Darren.

Think Stephen King. Or say...RJ Ellory...many others.

The book title plays second fiddle to the title on the book cover.

That seems to happen only after an has made a name for themselves. Why? Why not start out with the attitude that the author is moe important than the title?


message 47: by Jim (new)

Jim | 21932 comments We have a couple of issues here as people have pointed out.
1) Firstly if your name is known and people are looking for your book, they're heading for where your books are (normally alphabetically) kept on the shelves and they'll look to see if there is anything knew.
Actually in this situation with a paperback book, good branding might be to ensure your books are placed next to someone popular, so being 'Stefan Knight' might help, (but less so on Amazon) :-)
2) If you're unknown you want to stand out, and here, perhaps more than in a shop, the cover as it appears on Amazon amongst a great heap of thumb nails could well be important


message 48: by Will (new)

Will Macmillan Jones (willmacmillanjones) | 11721 comments A strong, branded, cover is vital.. let's not forget that the ebook market is still a tiny fraction of the overall market for books, which makes he covers the most important part. Sorry darren, but i thnk Tim is absolutely right. A good cover will sell a book even if the content is awful.


message 49: by Tim (new)

Tim | 9478 comments All the "50 Shades" copycats that came out last year: What was the first thing you noticed about them? The Covers. They all had the same look and feel as the original books. Branding again. I'll bet the stories inside were utter rubbish, and nobody had heard of the authors, but I'll also bet that that they sold, based purely on those covers.


message 50: by Elle (new)

Elle (louiselesley) | 7913 comments I barely ever pay attention to book titles. I only know them if I have to put em on the forum.


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