There are a lot of statistics tossed around about how important book covers are, and while we could argue percentages all day, I reckon most people would agree it’s the image on a book’s cover that plays the biggest part in the decision-making process when it comes to parting with our cash. But how much thought do indie authors put into branding their books? Or to put it another way, do they always consider how recognisable their author identity is?
Until recently, I hadn’t given much thought to this in relation to my own books, even though I’m well aware of how it works with other writers: some of my favourite novelists have instantly recognizable brands that make it easy for me to pick out their books, whether on the shelf in Waterstones, or on Amazon.
Here’s a couple of examples: the current covers for Philip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials’ series have a clear theme, colour scheme and placement of the author’s name, all of which help pull them together as a series.
Meanwhile, these three Ruth Rendell covers show not only a similarity in the types of image used, but how the size and typeface of the author’s name gives them a ‘group’ feel. Of course, both author’s, having produced a great many titles, have gone through many different covers and designs over the years, and like anything else, this is probably as much to do with changing fashions in book design than simply trying something different.
However, to get back to my original point, a few weeks back, I started to think about my own books in terms of branding. At the moment, I have the potential for four different series (though two of them are only as far as volume one). For my middle-grade series ‘The Christie McKinnon Adventures’ I had started out with a particular idea for the cover of the first book, but hadn’t given any thought to what I might do with the second one. Bizarrely, it was only when I came up with the design for the second book that I wondered if I could do something similar for the first one.
I’d never been completely happy with the first cover of ‘The Hounds of Hellerby Hall’, so I was happy to try something new. Using the shadow of a hound across the title seemed to work quite well and as a device, ties the two books together nicely. The only problem now, is what to do with the next one in the series. But since I don’t even have a title yet, I’m not going to worry about it for the moment.
As I’ve only just updated the covers on Amazon et al, it remains to be seen whether any of this will make a difference to my sales, but it has made a difference to how I see the books, and that can’t be bad.