Friday, June 5, 2009

Cover Art and Voice

I talked a bit about branding on Tuesday, but wanted to discuss it further.

To me, branding is about voice.

Yes, the art department will create a cover for your book when it is published. And hopefully all the sequels will be consistent so when your fans see a new book, they immediately identify that it's the next (insert your name here) novel.

I think of Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls and Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series as examples of great branding. You see their covers and automatically know who wrote it, without ever needing to see the name of the author.

But even more important than their cover art is the consistency of their voice. If Ally's next book was serious and depressing, I would never pick up another one of her books. Why? Because her brand is fun, exciting, interesting. Not serious, dark, disturbing. I'd feel tricked into buying something I didn't want. And whether they pick up your book at the local library or the local bookstore, the reader is buying into your story by reading that first page. They want the product they expected.

What type of brand do you want your voice to express?


Jennifer Shirk said...

Oooh...I LOVE Ally's books! She wrote a really cute contemporary, too: "Cheating at Solitare".

beth said...

"To me, branding is about voice. "

BRILLIANT. I so agree!

Jill Kemerer said...

Since we have little control over the cover art (notice I said little instead of no control!), I think a brand should represent your voice. Many writers write in more than one genre, so for them, they should have a more open brand. For the writers who have honed in on one, they can really focus their brand.

Terrific post!

Jody Hedlund said...

I hadn't thought about cover reflecting our voice! That's so true, though. Thanks for the insight!

Jamie D. said...

Very thought-provoking post. I think when authors write in different genres, cover art becomes even more important, since it's the first thing people will see. Take Tami Hoag and Iris Johansen, for example. They've both published in romance and thriller/suspense, but I can tell at a glance which books are which, solely due to the cover art (handy). Then I know which "voice" of theirs I should expect to read when I open that book. But I agree with Jill - they have to use a more "open" voice for their brands (and both do it well, IMO).

I think I'd probably want to strive for that as well - a more open voice so that if I decided to write something different, it wouldn't be a huge shock to my readers.

Tess said...

Interesting point and tough question. I guess I'd consider my writing 'atmospheric' and a little literary. How would you portray that in a cover?

Sarah Jensen said...

I agree completely. And yay! I didn't know Ally had out another one, have to run buy it. Love her books and so does my daughter.

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

Mystical. That's what I'm hoping the covers of my series portray. :)

Just got chills thinking about that moment when they show me my first book cover. That moment when it suddenly becomes "real." *sigh*

Danyelle said...

Awesome post, Joyce. I've been trying to wrap my head around branding, and I think your absolutely right--it's about voice.

I want my voice to be beautiful and lyrical. :)