Marketing Monday: Branding

When I first heard of author branding, I rolled my eyes. I was at a three-day writers’ workshop, learning about the essentials of story craft through panels, participating in critique groups, and attending panels about different aspects of the business of publishing. The presenters were a small press and a cover artist. It was quite entertaining, but at the time I had taken notes and moved on. Little did I know, branding would be an essential marketing tool as an indie author years later.

What is branding and what does it have to do with books?

Ever notice you know a product by the design of the label, the colors of the label, or a logo design before you even read the company name? That is branding. What does that have to do with books? Everything.

A story can be great in itself, but as an indie author you want to create a brand. Your cover art is part of that brand. Your titles are your brand, your website, social media, etc. are your brand. You don’t have to be fake and create a persona, dressing up as a character or always wearing red, but you do have to have consistent color schemes and a theme going on with your covers.

Annette Marie is an indie author, who created a brand with her Guild Codex: Spellbound series. The titles in that series all have a drink name and something supernatural because the main character is a human bar tender involved in the supernatural world. Every cover in that series has the main character and elements from the book around her.

The devil is in the details. Here the MC is wearing the logo for the Crow and Hammer, the guild bar where she works and the center of the stories.
For more examples of how Marie brands:

It’s not just indie authors branding. Traditionally published, Paranormal Romance authors like J.R. Ward focus on a single word like “Lover” for the Black Dagger Brotherhood series and then use other words to describe what the theme of the book. For example: Dark Lover, Lover Unbound, etc.

The cover art imagery always includes a dagger for the series to symbolize the Black Dagger Brotherhood.
For more examples of Ward’s covers:

For my Faerie Tales series, I chose a different color scheme for the second and third novella intentionally. You could not read Tam Lin: A Modern, Queer Retelling and start with Warrior Tithe, but you’ll lo Vow Unbroken if you haven’t read Warrior Tithe. I also wanted to veer away from the notion that this is a romance series. Faerie Tales, at heart, is a love story. However, they do not follow romance plot points. I chose darker covers for the second and third books to reflect the dark fantasy theme.

I hope now you have a better understand branding and keep in mind your cover art has to portray your brand.

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