Writer's Notes

JL Greger: Branding Your Covers

By JL Greger

A striking, informative book cover is a powerful way for you as an author to attract the attention of readers. Branding your covers is a way to help these customers to quickly identify your next books and become loyal readers of your series.

What is branding? 

Branding is a marketing strategy that makes your product easily identifiable. In terms of cover designs, it means presenting a consistent appealing product.

Styles of branding on covers

Sometimes publishers will put the same cover design on all the books in the series with only variations in color and of course the title. Aakenbaaken & Kent did this when they republished F.M. Meredith’s Rocky Bluff PD series. I’ve seen it done for other classic, long series. It certainly looks great on a book shelf and works well when the writer has an established audience.

Many well-known authors “brand” how their name appears on their books. Consider Sue Grafton’s series. Her name always appears in the same large, non-serif type set across the top of each of her book covers and usually a large signature letter dominates the cover design. Of course, the titling of her books (A is for .., B is for…) is one of the strongest branding techniques in mystery writing. Michael Crichton’s name in large, no-serif print dominates the top of each of his covers.

Most novelist use more flexible branding techniques on their covers.

Practical example of flexible branding

The heroine in my Science Traveler Series is woman scientist living in the Southwest but consulting sometimes in exotic locations like Bolivia, Cuba, the Middle East, or India. Thus, I decided to feature a woman’s face or at least her eyes on the covers of all my books. Each cover hints at the location of the novel. My cover designer Barbara Hodges chose to put my titles and name on the book binding vertically. This makes them easy to identify on the shelf when the rest of the cover is not visible.

Now, look at your book covers. Which is your favorite? Why? Can you use elements from this cover on your future books’ covers?

Blurb of latest novel: A Pound of Flesh, Sorta: Leaders of drug gangs in New Mexico don’t want scientist Sara Almquist to testify at their upcoming trials for murder and racketeering. After Sara gets a package of sheep guts contaminated with the bacteria that causes the plague, FBI agents rush to protect her. But is the package a threat from the gangs to stop her from testifying or a public health alert by a whistleblower?

Note: The woman’s face and the Southwest theme in the cover for A Pound of Flesh Sorta. Note the use of my flexible theme on two other covers.

Bio: J. L. Greger is a scientist turned novelist. She’s published nine mysteries and thrillers and two books of short stories. She lives in the Southwest with her dog Bug, a character in all her novels. He’s featured in a photo on the back cover of most of her novels.

JL Greger and Bug

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