Sunday, September 7, 2014

Branding Your Series by Melissa Snark #Promotion #amwriting #Giveaway

I'm not a marketing guru, so there may be technical terms and concepts I don't fully understand or explain properly. However, being an Indie author is like being a mom--you wear many hats and perform many tasks. You don't always know what you're doing, but you learn as you go.

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.


 Branded Series:

So, what do you think? Even if you don't like it, leave me a comment and let me know why!

Enter for a chance to win (5) signed paperback copies of Hunger Moon!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Hunger Moon by Melissa Snark

Hunger Moon

by Melissa Snark

Giveaway ends September 28, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win


  1. I noticed the new cover for Hunger Moon the other day on something of yours and wondered about the change. I don't know anything about the fantasy or folklore market, so I can't comment as to whether or not it will bring more readers, but I like it; it's very distinctive. I'm convinced that branding (visual, style, and content) is critical. Readers love series, and you want them to be able to make the connection instantly.

    1. Hi Alison,
      I've felt like I mispackaged my series for a while now but it took a lot of research and heart-searching to figure out what my branding should look like. I'm hoping these new covers are distinctive and eye catching. Thanks for commenting! :-)

  2. The wording in the new cover is easier to read and more distinctive. I'd be curious how the other covers in your series look and how they tie together.
    Please keep us up to date on how these new covers helped skyrocket your sales :)

    1. Andrea, I'm planning on doing a cover reveal for Battle Cry soon. Promise! :-)

  3. I mean, my comment will be subjective, but I MUCH prefer doing the new type of cover, and of course, you know that.

    As a professional designer, and I've been a designer for over 13 years now, I advise everyone out there to venture into less stock photography, collage style covers, and more flat 2d illustration, no matter what your genre is. Abstract and conceptual are king.

    The problem today is that most indies will look at each others books and will think that this is the standard. So, indie eyes are less accustomed to taking in simplistic 2d covers, when the big trend is to make books look like movie posters. I have written extensively about this topic, and will continue to do so, in the hopes of shifting the indie market into a very sophisticated and artistic level. The best work is in the quality of its art.

    Congratulations, Snark! Here's hoping this does well in sales. (From what I've been told, it already has) :)

    1. Farah,
      Thanks! I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the new covers will appeal to readers! Only time will tell. :-)

  4. I think the new cover is bold. I like the book 1 at the top--definitely shouts "Series. Buy more."

    Farah, you make an interesting point.

    1. Ana,
      Thank you! That's definitely the affect I'm going for. Thank you for commenting. :-)

  5. Love the new cover, but what people really need to know is that this book rocks! No matter the cover or the genre, it's simply a great read! Well done, Melissa. :)

    1. Thanks, Lisa. I really appreciate all of your support. :-)

  6. I think it's a great move! I love the new covers too and how they will all look on my bookshelf too!

    1. Michy,
      I've ordered the proof for the paperback from Createspace. Fingers crossed it arrives this week! I intend to take a photo when it does! :-)

  7. To be honest, I really like both covers. However, the new cover definitely is a better representation of the genre. The first cover looked more like a PNR. Congratulations on the new series. I can't wait to read it.

    1. Thank you, Brenda. I happen to like both too but I feel good about the new covers. I definitely think they better represent my genre and story. Thanks for commenting! :-)