By Melinda VanLone
Writing a series is a smart way to build both your brand and your career as an author. If you’ve done that (or are attempting to do that now), the next thing to do is capitalize on that effort. After all, there’s a ton of readers out there who read series almost exclusively.
Your readers have two main questions when they see a book cover they think is part of a series:
Do I like this series? Have I read this particular book?
Your cover needs to walk a tightrope with duplicating elements on one side and diversity on the other if it has any hope of attracting someone looking for a fun new series to read.
So how do you do that?
Spend quality time on the design for the first book in the series and you’ll make designing the rest of the series a whole lot easier. The important thing is that the look across the entire series be familiar, so that readers see a bond holding all the books together. This is a case where repetition is the word of the day. Choose elements that will repeat from cover to cover and you’ll have instant brand recognition. Some of these elements include:
One way to build a series brand is to focus on two typographical elements that will be on every book: the author’s name, and the title.
Once you’ve found a place and font for the author’s name, keep it exactly the same on every book in the same series. This will give the reader something to hang their hat on. “Oh, this book is by that author I like!” Brand yourself first and always, rather than one book or even one series. If they remember your name, they can always find your books! If all they remember is a title, they could find some other author’s similar book instead. We don’t want that.
The same idea can be used with the title of the book as well.
For example, Edwina’s covers feature her name at the bottom of the page, in the same font, arranged the same way. The title is always in the center of the book, with the same font treatments. See how that lends consistency and tells you right away that these books belong together? Even if other elements around the title change, the reader knows they all take place in the same story world.
While this post deals specifically with design, keep in mind that you can build brand consistency with the words you use for the title as well as the placement itself, as Edwina did by repeating the word “prince.”
If you’re not a fan of keeping the title in one spot across several books, you might also use the same type treatment for the title, but shift the location depending on the background image.
Another way to build cohesiveness in a series is to be consistent with the tone/mood of the artwork and graphic elements. You can even go so far as to use the exact same artwork on every cover, but vary the color of it to show it’s a different book.
Sometimes a graphic element can lend brand cohesiveness. Use the same cover model, for example, or the same treatment for the subtitle, or some other graphic element that makes sense for the genre. Catie’s covers feature smoke, and the same model, on every cover, though the background and pose changes.
All of these elements combine to form a parade of covers that clearly belong together, yet are different stories. Readers love knowing that the book they’re buying belongs to a set, and they love knowing that they have the whole set. Do them a favor by making it easy to tell that your series is, in fact, a series and they’ll reward you by clicking the “buy” button on every book.
What pushes you to buy a book? Do you prefer reading series vs. stand-alone books? Most important: do you have questions for Melinda? Please share them with us down in the comments!
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Melinda VanLone writes urban fantasy, freelances as a graphic designer, and dabbles in photography. She currently lives in Florida with her husband and furbabies.
When she's not playing with her imaginary friends, you can find Melinda playing World of Warcraft, wandering aimlessly through the streets taking photos, or hovered over coffee in Starbucks.
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