Friday, November 13, 2015

Visual Branding and Getting Around It

I love these kinds of topics. Not necessarily the topic itself, but the openness of it. The shorter the subject, often the more open it is.
For the past couple of blogs, I’ve been discussing a story I’ve been re-working. And in the context of "author as a brand", it actually comes into play here, too.
At time of writing, I have only three stories published. They’re all erotic romance, and they all feature plus size/curvy/beautiful big women. As such, since I’m also a cover artist, I’ve made certain to keep a consistent look across the three covers.

The second book, “Indigo”, is actually a paranormal erotic romance, whereas both “This, I Can Do” and “Her Majesty” are contemporary real-world stories, hence the difference in font choice there for the title.

To me, the important job of branding in this way is to act as a visual aid to the buying and reading public. Though these three books aren’t related in the sense of being a series, or even unconnected stories set in the same world, I’ve used fonts, shades and tones to help create a oneness across them. Of course, in the hope it will lead people to reading the other two books once they've read one!
Now here’s where it gets a little trickier, and sidesteps need to be used.
My next story, which I’ve renamed “The Last Three Days”, has some commonality with the first three, but is overall quite a different beastie altogether. It’s erotic, it features a plus-size heroine, but it’s definitely not Romance. So I wanted to find a way to convey those differences without forcing it to stand entirely apart from my other work. In part this is because, while this new story does break a bunch of Romance rules and tropes, it's still pretty damn romantic. I think it's conceivable that the people who enjoy the other books will enjoy this one. Both people! Heh.
My way of branding this work as being a cousin of the other works was to start out by positioning the text in the same places. Author name at the top, title at the bottom. The imagery, naturally, falls between them. Good so far.
The next step was to strip away a little of the sophistication from the type (this is, after all, a more visceral style of work). Nothing too much, just the good, common, tried-and-true method of using sans-serif faces instead of serif. And no scripts (though I toyed with them in the creation process with the intention of using them as a contrast).

So while the dark tones and the sparse typography are essentially consistent with my more romantic tales, I’ve gone for a different set of fonts and colours. Rather than using any distressed fonts, I've manually distressed them with textures and masks, which I always prefer. Distressed fonts leave me a little cold on occasion, especially when they don't cater for double letters, such as the Es in THREE. I always think it works against the entire concept of using a distressed font when two letters sitting beside each other are entirely identical. Some distressed fonts get around that by having two or three versions of each character. But I digress...

Another little point of note is that with the original version, called “The Three Day Hump”, I was already striving for the same kind of dealio. The font I used for my author name there was the font I used for my other title released around the same time (also now unpublished).
The other notable point, I think, is that when I made that cover, it was the very first book cover I’d ever made. I don’t think it’s terrible, but it certainly is quite basic compared to a lot of the work I’ve done since!


  1. You are ridiculously a talented designer.

  2. It's a rare gift to be able to write and design your own books, getting them just the way the author (you) wants them! Or maybe not so rare these days, with self-publishing, but you're a real artist. I seldom even get to see my covers before they appear on Amazon, although once in a while I've been given a choice. I'm not even very good at making a choice--I like both versions of your last one equally.

    1. Thank you, Sacchi. I actually struggle a little with making covers for my own books. A lot what I think is my best work is festooning the books of other people all across the Zon!

  3. I didn't even know the term "distressed fonts"!

    However, this is a different side of branding, one that I hadn't really considered. I mean, when we did the covers for D&S Duos, I knew I wanted consistency, but that's a series.

    Most of us authors don't have much influence over our covers. And then when I try to make my own covers for my self-pubbed stuff, I rapidly run into own limitations in terms of both capabilities and tools.

    Thanks for an informative post. And I think you've succeeded in your objectives with the new cover, btw.

  4. For sure, the fact I'm self-publishing and can make all the decisions on cover art means I have a better chance to unify my works. Unless someone is a huge-selling author I strongly doubt an established publisher would accommodate these kinds of whims.

  5. Willsin, I love this discussion. It's very cool to think about branding from the perspective of the cover artist. Thank you for that!


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