Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Successfully Branding a Mystery Series

I want to give a warm Cozy Mystery Magazine welcome to Molly Snow, and award winning goofball who writes clean and adorable mysteries and romance novels!

We're super lucky to have her guest posting today, so I'm gonna zip it and let her talk!


First, a hello to my fellow colleague and friend, Traci Tyne Hilton. Thank you for having me guest post. I’m thrilled!

So, a little about me: I write YA romances, and enjoy that very much. My heart also has a place for mysteries, so I co-write with my mother Z & C Mysteries under the pen name Claire Kane. The first book in the series was published in 2011, called The Riddles of Hillgate. Our mysteries are very clean, and are full of adventure, so you can feel safe sharing them with your daughters.

My mom and I, like any publishing entrepreneur out there, when we hit “Publish,” wanted our series to be a success. We worked hard on producing quality products that were edited, formatted and designed to capture interest and show professionalism. It wasn’t until the third book in the series, Hexes and X’s, was produced that I started to wonder if one or more of these areas we worked so very hard at perfecting wasn’t up to par. Traci  was actually the first (as my memory recalls) to tell me that I should reconsider the covers.

The covers were all designed well, they looked professional, so why wasn’t that enough?

Two reasons:

1.) There was no branding to speak of. Each cover was so unique to itself, a buyer couldn't tell by glancing at a multitude of random thumbnails which books belonged together. Which isn't good. You want potential readers to see a series as a series, all cohesive; it provides an even greater sense of professionalism, an identity (super important!), and a way for buyers to click around easier to purchase.

2.) If a reader sensed any sort of branding going on whatsoever, the covers still failed to do their purpose. Why? The impressions they gave were off. They looked far too serious, and sometimes too dark or horrific. So, not only was there no brand, the first impression, the “judging the book by its cover” thing, was messed up. This is a big deal, because authors do not want the wrong readers checking out their work; it risks earning low reviews: “I thought I was going to read this type of book,and what I got was something else. ONE star!!!”

So..., thankfully someone spoke up and told us what was obviously wrong with our series! It took some convincing for my mother to be open to seeing alternative covers (even a little working behind her back to surprise her!), but when something clicks it clicks.

Our newer covers hit the mark! You can easily see they are branded together: the fonts, illustrations, silhouettes, author names. And—oh—the feelings they exude are perfect. No one will ever mistake one of our books for something they’re not. If you write mysteries, make sure your brand is clear in these ways, and it can save you a lot of time and wondering what could be wrong.

The moral of this story is, I’m a bit grateful now that the series hasn’t yet been a success. It would have sent mixed messages with the old covers, and garnered lots of bad reviews! There is a time and season for everything. This series is finally ready to face the world without any regrets.Wheeee!


Molly Snow is a Top 10 Idaho Fiction Author, awarded by The Idaho Book Extravaganza. Her works include quirky teen romances "BeSwitched" and "Fallen Angel." Also a speaker on writing, her school assemblies have been featured in The Contra Costa Times and The Brentwood Press. Snow is married to her high school crush, has a set of silly twin boys and a bobtail cat named Meow-Meow.

Find all of Molly's books at amazon.comAmazon.com

Check out more of what Molly's been up to--including her blogs--at mollysnowfiction.blogspot.com!


  1. Great Post. Thank you for being a guest on our blog. This is such an important part of marketing/branding. My covers are designed by my publisher and I don't know how many people/readers have stopped and commented on the covers. I know without a doubt the cover itself has sold many books.

    By the way I love your new covers. You've hit the target with these!

    Deborah Malone
    "Death in Dahlonega"
    "Murder in Marietta"

    1. Thank you, Deborah! It was nice being a guest here. I checked out your covers, too, and they are great :)

  2. I totally agree about the covers! Readers do judge books by their covers--absolutely. The cover is the first impression people have of your book and it's vitally important. If you can't attract the potential reader long enough to open the cover, they will never discover the fabulous story inside:)

    1. Yep, it's part of the packaging. You are right that someone can have a really great story, but get completely overlooked if the cover doesn't call out to the buyer.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.