Reading,  Risky Book Talk,  Writing

Branding and Covers

I know branding is important and yet I struggle with it.

When I first put out my sexy Regency novella, Lady Em’s Indiscretion, as an e-book, I had several choices regarding cover. I could use a similar cover treatment to Lady Dearing’s Masquerade, the only e-book I had out at that time, or do something different. Being naïve, I thought that because the sex scenes in the novella weren’t really any hotter than those in the other book, a similar cover treatment would be fine. The problem is that while Lady Dearing’s Masquerade is a long book with many plot elements besides the sex, Lady Em’s Indiscretion is a short story where sex is the plot. Kind of like dessert without the meal, which is what was intended.

The other thing I didn’t realize is how many readers buy based on author name and a thumbnail. So although I described the story in the blurb, some readers were surprised that what they bought wasn’t like Lady Dearing’s Masquerade or my “Three Disgraces” trilogy. My bad. I need to fix that.

So here’s the range of my covers. I have my split style for most of my books, which are in that medium-sexy range. I intentionally asked for a different style for the reissue of my novella, The Wedding Wager, to indicate that this was a sweeter style book.

Much as I like the current cover for Lady Em’s Indiscretion, I think it needs to change to help it reach readers who enjoy the other end of the sweet/hot spectrum.

I recently read this interesting post at Dear Author about the cover evolution for Midnight Scandals, the new anthology from Courtney Milan, Sherry Thomas and Risky Carolyn Jewel. Now I’m especially aware that the cover needs to look striking (and different from my others) even as a thumbnail.

I’d be interested to know what people think. If I end up changing the cover, look forward to a celebration giveaway.

Also a bit of news. Authors Gail Eastwood and Susanna Fraser have kindly agreed to do some occasional guest posts for me. So you can look forward to a bit of variety on Fridays, while I am looking forward to a little extra writing time to help finish my balloonist story. 🙂


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10 years ago

I’ve purchased quite a few books for the cover alone. You definitely need a different kind of cover for your short, but you’ll want to consider long term, ie, all your hotter books having similar covers. A couple of my favorite authors write in different romance genres and their cover tells me right off which I’m in.

Elena Greene
10 years ago

Judy, you mean there are others like me who’ve written all over the board? Gives me hope I can solve this. 🙂

Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

Well, I think the “Lady Em” cover def looks sexy enough (unless this is actually erotica or something!!), but I would probably expect another full=length novel rather than a novella since it looks like the others. They are all very attractive, though 🙂

Cara King
10 years ago

There’s so much I have to learn! Thanks for linking to that very informative post, Elena.

I already gave you my uninformed, preliminary ideas, which I’m sure weren’t very good! So here’s another one. 🙂 I’m not sure if the resolution would work, but could you just go a close-up of the hands on the pic on the left side of the cover? That would have color-contrast, and imply sexy, I think. Though I’m not sure the satin background would be enough to imply historical… Or you could just go with the pic on the left, though the article you linked to makes me think the color contrast might not be enough.

Good luck!

Diane Gaston
10 years ago

I agree that the short sexy book should have a different style cover, but I have to say, all your covers are compelling!!!

Elena Greene
10 years ago

Amanda, I thought her expression was signal enough but apparently not… It’s a good point that the cover ought to be different for my shorter stories. Maybe like The Wedding Wager but less clothed.

I’m adding your suggestion to the list, Cara.

Diane, I do love all my covers (done by Kim Killion at Hot Damn Designs).

10 years ago

Interesting post on using the different dress colors on the cover. While the blue covers were nicer individually, they do tend to get lost in the crowd. Odd that the reverse is true on the second book.

I like the cover of LADY EM, but since it is in the same style as your longer books, a reader might expect more than a novella.

Elena Greene
10 years ago

Thanks for the ideas, Pat.

I’m glad several of you have pointed out that the split covers may indicate a full length book. I had been wondering how you indicate “short” on a cover! Maybe this is about defining my brands.


Split covers = full length and medium-sexy

Full image demure cover = short and sweet

Full image risque cover = short and sexy

A question I’ll have to tackle later is what to do when I reissue (the edited version of) my first book, Langdon’s Kiss, which is full length and sweet. With a split cover would readers miss the sex scenes? Or with a full size demure image, will they be surprised it’s full length?

These puzzles are rather fun, now that it’s relatively easy to fix mistakes. 🙂

10 years ago

When covers look alike, I would also think they’re the same genre/series/… It helps you to know more about the book in just one look.
I think it might help if you had different kinds of covers for different genres.

Elena Greene
10 years ago

Stefanie, you’re confirming that I need to create some sub-brands among my books. I’ve never thought of them as different genres, just variations in length and heat level of the same overall genre. Some readers like them all, but others have more specific preferences. So I’m moving ahead on a cover change.

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