Branding and Covers

In today’s Journal

* Revamping a Series Brand
* Is Rebranding Worth It?
* Size and Placement of Author Name
* The Numbers

Revamping a Series Brand

Since I’m in actual “work” mode right now — and having compared the covers of the last two books in the Blackwell Ops series with the first eleven — yesterday I decided to spend at least the day revamping the series brand.

Basically, I created new covers for the first eleven novels. I changed a few of the less-intriguing cover photos for new ones.

I also updated the color and placement of the series title at the top of each cover, and the presentation of the author name at the bottom.

I also changed the “author of” tag below the author name on some of the covers. Now each Blackwell Ops cover is also an advertisment for my other series in Western, Action-Adventure, Mystery and SF genres.

Once I made all the changes to the covers themselves, I uploaded the new 180 pixels-wide thumbnail covers and the 300=wide covers to StoneThread Publishing for placement on the genre page and individual book pages respectively.

A lot of work, but the hours were worth it. The longest it took to change a cover (when I had to search for, crop, and apply a new cover pic) was about an hour. The shortest time, when I only had to swap out the new series and author presentation, was about a half-hour.

Is Rebranding Worth It?

Would I have rather been writing new fiction? Very much.

But would I have been better off writing (Scott Carpenter’s WIBBOW rule)? Nah. I’ll trade 11 updated covers to rebrand a full series for a 3000-word day of writing in a heartbeat.

As a bonus, I also created and tweaked a template for future Blackwell Ops covers in the program I use to create them. So any new covers will automatically be branded as I create them.

This morning I was up early. I spent the first two hours of the day uploading the revamped 2000-wide covers to Amazon and D2D. I’m just glad it’s all over.

Sometime in the future I’ll have to revamp the Wes Crowley saga and the gap series too. I’ll probably smooth the gap series into the saga as I do that so potential readers can read smoothly from Book 1 through Book 22 or 23 (by then, I hope).

To see the newly revamped Blackwell Ops covers plus the already-branded covers of the Nick Spalding short (4-book) series and the covers of nine stand-alone novels, visit StoneThread Publishing.

Size and Placement of Author Name

Awhile back I was talking with a writer about the size of the author name. I told her it, like the title, should be large enough that it’s readily visible even in the thumbnail version to the browsing reader.

But as with every guideline, there are exceptions. So I’ll say this: If you make the title and/or reader name too small to be readily visible in the thumbnail, do so for a specific reason, NOT because of humility or self-doubt.

I found an example among my own books.

If you look at the book page for The 13-Month Turn (SF) you’ll see that my author name is relatively tiny. There’s a massive black space at the bottom where I could have put my “usual” author name in the usual size.

In that particular case, I decided the author name, like the article that begins the title, should be smaller. I did that to further convey the vastness and emptiness of space around the cover pic, a quarter-moon shot of Luna. I didn’t even add an “author of” tag. Drop by and see what you think.

Re placement, always try to work around the cover art. For example, try never to place the title or cover name (or any other text) across the picture when you can help it. And most of the time you can. When you can’t, minimize the damage as much as possible.

The Purpose of the Cover Isn’t to Convey the Story

The purpose of the cover is to make the potential reader want to read the sales copy, which in turn makes the reader want to buy the book.

To that end, your cover should strongly convey the genre and maybe the mood or tone of the story, but not the story itself.

For excellent reference on how to write effective sales copy, I strongly recommend you buy a paper copy of Dean Wesley Smith’s excellent How to Write Fiction Sales Copy, a WMG Writer’s Guide. Seriously, if you don’t have it, you’re missing out.

Any questions on any of this, leave a comment or email me.

Talk with you again soon.

The Numbers

The Journal……………………………… 780

Writing of

Day 1…… XXXX words. To date…… XXXXX

Fiction for November…………………… 17508
Fiction for 2023………………………… 336152
Fiction since August 1………………… 221592
Nonfiction for November……………… 7310
Nonfiction for the year……………… 235200
Annual consumable words………… 567845

2023 Novels to Date……………………… 7
2023 Novellas to Date…………………… 0
2023 Short Stories to Date……………… 7
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………… 78
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)…………… 9
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)…… 235
Short story collections…………………… 31

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Disclaimer: I am a prolific professional fiction writer. On this blog I teach Writing Into the Dark and adherence to Heinlein’s Rules. Unreasoning fear and the myths of writing will slow your progress as a writer or stop you cold. I will never teach the myths on this blog.

4 thoughts on “Branding and Covers”

  1. I was reading another blog (heresy, I know – GRIN) discussion about covers. The author of the blog post (whose name I don’t recall and wouldn’t mention if I did) said not to put your author name in big letters until you’ve “earned it.”

    As I recall, the supporting assertion was to the effect that, like King or Child or whomever, the big author name tells the reader what kind of story to expect, and until you have similar name recognition, don’t make your name big.

    It was about that point that I clicked away, mystified at the self-defeating “reasoning.” When I publish, my author name (not going to be my real name) will be as big as I can reasonably make it as part of building brand and name recognition.

    • Absolutely, Peggy. I agree 100%. And especially on ebooks because you can use the whole page. You don’t have to worry about the cut or the bleed as you do on paper books.

      • Yes, of course it’s up to the author. Making the title or author name too small isn’t against the law. But unless there’s a very specific reason — aside from the author’s faux humility and lack of belief in himself or herself — doing so is silly. Why wouldn’t any author want readers to be able to readily read the title and the author name in even the thumbnail version of the cover?

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