When I began my self-publishing journey in April 2013, I knew absolutely nothing about book covers or marketing. My Norse fantasy novel about wolf shifters didn't truly fit with the paranormal romance (PNR) genre. For one thing, the ending isn't Happily Ever After or even Happy For Now. For another, the romance was only a small part of the story instead of being the primary focus.
As a result, I marketed my first Indie novel improperly. For a while, I tried to make Hunger Moon fit because that's what I write for my publisher, The Wild Rose Press. I chose a cover that resembled others in the PNR genre. I focused on marketing it as a romance novel.
My branding made no sense.
What is branding?
According to the American Marketing Association:
A brand is a "Name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers."Okay, fine. Everyone knows how to identify Coke from Pepsi at a glance just based on the color of the can. But what does this mean for book publishers? How do you differentiate your book on the shelf from millions of others AND catch the eye of prospective readers?
As I worked on the sequel to Hunger Moon, I grew increasingly cognizant of dissonance between my perceived target genre and what I was actually writing. I sense a problem but had no idea how to fix it.
Then, on January 28, 2014, a reviewer made the following comment:
A nice blend of a couple of mythologies, Norse Valkyries and werewolves. I would recommend this to folks interested in folklore fiction.ZING! My brain clicked on that term--folklore fiction. Eureka!
I moved my books to different categories in Kindle Direct Publishing and updated my search terms.
FICTION > Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology
FICTION > Fantasy > General
Within a few days, the free prequel story, The Child Thief, appeared on two Kindle best seller lists:
Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Mythology & Folk Tales > Mythology
Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Myths & Legends > Norse & Viking
Okay, good but not good enough. Both The Child Thief and Hunger Moon have been well reviewed, but the covers simply didn't tie them to the genre or to one another as a series. As Battle Cry progressed and the Norse gods came out to play, I realized that I desperately needed a unifying theme and appearance for my series.
I spent a lot of time doing research into what other covers in my genre looked like. I determined that I needed something that said Norse and Fantasy, especially if I wanted to broaden my appeal. I wanted it to be visually appealing so the browsing reader would stop for a second look.
More than anything, I needed a brand.
After much brooding, I contacted Farah Evers, my cover designer. Farah has created many other series covers with consistent looks, and also prefers to create bold, eye-catching covers. She listened to my babbling for a while and produced a concept cover that met all of my needs. I was speechless! It was exactly what I wanted in a nutshell.
A few tweaks later and I had a unique look that will remain the Loki's Wolves brand as future books are published. A few components will change from book to book: The title, the runes, the central image, and the color. However, the rest will remain consistent.
Please take a second to check out the before and after mugshots below.
So, what do you think? Even if you don't like it, leave me a comment and let me know why!
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