Sunday, September 29, 2013

Hmmm . . . 'branding' a series


An idea slapped me in the face last night as I went to bed and lit up again the moment I awoke.  An idea that actually excites me.

Take a look at the artwork to the left.  It's the artwork for the newest Turner Hahn/Frank Morales novel soon to come out, Guilt of Innocence.  Great cover, I'm thinking.  Great artwork.  Evocative  . . .   expressing exactly the kind of novel you're going to get yourself buried into the moment you buy it.

The idea is this; Take this cover and use it on the entire series of the Turner Hahn/Frank Morales books.  But change it ever so slightly with each new book.

Look at the picture again.  Let your imagination drift with me . . .

Suppose the next book has the two men in different suits.  Turner (the one on the left) is in brown.  Two different shades of brown. A light tan sport coat and a darker brown colored pair of slacks.  Maybe with a different shade of brown  for the shirt. With a red tie. 

Frank (the gorilla on the right) is in blue jeans and a sport coat with no tie.

Another would be the two dressed differently, but this time firing their guns.   And with bullet holes gouged into the green marble wall behind them.

What is the basis of this idea?  Branding.

Visually branding the product so potential readers know . . . and instantly recognize . . . the kind of story they're getting themselves involved with.  Create covers that have old friends inviting them back into their fold for another rousing story.

A new idea; yet an old idea.  Artwork used as a branding tool for both characters and/or their author is as old as the hills.  Rarely used, I'm thinking . . . but old as the hills.  Yet, for a couple of genre-cloaked old homicide detectives like Turner and Frank, it seems like it is precisely what is needed to lift their books above the morass of a cluttered genre and make them successful.

The idea popped into my head last night when I got the news the Hahn/Morales novel, Guilt of Innocence is going to have all its publishing rights revert back to me since the publisher, who has had it for the last three/four years, is dropping it from its current listing.

I understand why they are dropping it.  To be frank, the novel hasn't sold that well.  I think I know why (the main one being the genre is cluttered with books similar to this one.  Actually drowning in a sea of clones.)  So, from a business stand point for the publisher, something had to change. 

At first depressed at hearing the news . . . after getting off a 12 hour work shift . . . I started for bed.  But then it hit me.


The cover on the left is the current cover A Taste of Old Revenge.  Not very impressive, I'm thinking.  Actually rather bland.  So the question has to be asked . . . would you buy this book based on its cover?

I'm thinking the answer is a resounding, "No!"

Thus . . . the source for the light bulb going off in my noggin' about re-branding the series with a quasi-repetitive cover like the one above. 

You know how a reader of genre can be.  They can be exceedingly loyal.  They can be quite demanding as they eagerly away the next volume in a series they've married into.  That's exactly what I am trying to accomplish here.  Get an fanatical base of readers eager to pick up the next book in the series.   And visually invite more potential readers into the party as well.

I think it's a workable concept.  So within the next four months Guilt of Innocence is going to come out again with a new cover.  A cover based off the one above.

Will this idea work?  Don't know until we try it.

What are your thoughts?

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