Monday, March 02, 2020

Other Elements of Author Branding

Moving Beyond the Tagline

I’ve been focusing so far in this series about taglines, because they’re an important part of developing your brand. But there are other elements of your brand as well.

Titles

Stuck for a title for your book? Try out Reedsy’s Title Generator. You’ll notice that many of the titles they generate are short and sweet. My MFA thesis advisor, the very talented James W. Hall, told us that thrillers should have two-word titles, for a couple of reasons. 

First, it’s harder to convey the essence of a book in a one-word title. Unfulfilled? Might be a great word to describe the plot or your protagonist’s key motivator. That title could be a romance, a mystery, science fiction.

Unfulfilled Desire, though, is sure to be a romance, while Unfulfilled Revenge sounds more like a thriller, and Unfulfilled Exploration might be science fiction or adventure.

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Most of the books in my Mahu series have two-word titles. The next five books used Mahu first, followed by a qualifier. The word “mahu” is a word from the Hawaiian language which means gay or two-spirit, and for a long time it was a nasty epithet like faggot or queer.

Since then, it has been reclaimed, and I’m proud to use it as a synonym for gay. In the following books I wanted to explore more sides of my hero’s character. Mahu Surfer takes him to the North Shore of O’ahu, where he returns to his surfing roots while investigating a case.

Mahu Blood is probably one of my best titles because of the dual meaning. It’s a murder investigation so of course there’s blood. But this book is also about Hawaiian heritage, and what Kimo his inherited from his Hawaiian ancestors.

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Key Words in Titles

I also use a key word to link the five books in my Love on series, which begins with Love on Site, which has a construction background. The curlicue neon font says this is contemporary romance, as does the shirtless cover model. I like the angularity of the crane in the background and overall the whole layout of the cover, which was done by an artist for Loose Id, who first published that series. 

The inspiration for the title came not only from the years I spent building shopping centers, but from Beatrice’s speech in Much Ado About Nothing. “Benedick, love on! I shall requite thee!” I wanted to convey the sense of joy from that scene in the Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson movie.



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I use longer titles for my adventure and thriller books. The Angus Green FBI series, for example, begins with The Next One Will Kill You, while the first book in the Have Body, Will Guard series is Three Wrong Turns in the Desert.

Colors



The books generally use darker colors in the background, to convey once again that these are mysteries, rather than comic romps.

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Check out some of these covers and see what they tell you about the story you could expect to read. Notice in particular the two very different books with the same title: Silversword by Phyllis A. Whitney and Silver Sword by Charles Knief. You only have to look at the cover design to know what you’re getting.


Font

Your choice of font, both on your book covers, your website, and the text you apply to images, says something about your brand.

When I got the rights to the Mahu series back and relaunched them, I commissioned new covers. The designer used the same font on each book, a simple sans-serif one that is intended to convey that these are serious books.

In each case, the first word sits on top of the second, almost touching. That parallel structure tells the reader these are part of the same series.
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1 comment:

Jason williams said...
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