I am not an artist or a cover designer. But I am a reader, and for years, I’ve been using the information I decode from book covers to choose what to read.
The art and science of cover design are complex, and way too big a topic for a quick blog post. But I’ve found two things that help make different titles look like they are part of a series.
The first of those is a consistent font. For my M/M romance Mi Amor, the cover designer hired by my publisher, Loose Id, chose a font that looks like neon tubing.
I liked it so much that I asked for the same font to be used in succeeding books with the same setting and similar themes.
The feel of the covers is very different because of the images and the color palette, but I think the font links them. The curly neon font evokes a light-hearted romantic romp, along with the shirtless guys and the images that relate to the particular plot.
The most recent books in my “Have Body, Will Guard” series of M/M romances, also from Loose Id, also use the font to convey an impression as well as link the books. The sans-serif font on these covers is much more severe, however, and conveys that these books, while still sexy, have a more dangerous undercurrent. You still get the shirtless guys, but the letters are crunched together, giving an impression of strength and determination.
For the covers I designed for my golden retriever mysteries, I picked a font called Vinnie Boombah, because I could use different colors for the interior of each letter and the outline around the letter.
By using a white outline and black interior, the font really stands out against a photographic background. For Dog Bless You, I swapped the black and white so that my name and the tagline “a golden retriever mystery” would pop out better.
In all three series, I think that the consistent typeface helps readers recognize that the books are connected, and also conveys something about the book itself.
Another thing I believe helps a series achieve a consistent look is the use of a frame. When I rebooted the Mahu Investigations series with MLR, I had the opportunity to redesign a whole series, and my cover designer, Vicki Landis, came up with the idea of using a frame around different images. This would be a pretty simple cover to achieve in the future.
Vicki designed the first cover, including the image of the gun and the footprints in the sand, and then I worked with my editor at MLR, Kris Jacen, to come up with images for the other books in the series. The font is the same, as are the frame, the surfboard, the palm tree and the white plumeria.
Once I stopped using the word “Mahu” in each title, I wanted to add a tagline that let readers further know that these books were in the same series, so we added “A Mahu Investigation” under the title. The font may change – from a serif font to a sans serif, and the tagline gets smaller on the second book, but the impression is the same.
Neil Plakcy is the author of the Have Body, Will Guard adventure romance series: Three Wrong Turns in the Desert, Dancing with the Tide, Teach Me Tonight, Olives for the Stranger, Under the Waterfall and The Noblest Vengeance, published by Loose Id.
His other M/M romances are Mi Amor, The Russian Boy, The Buchanan Letters and Love on Site, and the novella The Guardian Angel of South Beach.
He is an assistant professor of English at Broward College in South Florida, and has been a construction manager, a computer game producer, and a web developer – all experiences he uses in his fiction. He cannot sing and has only been a model once.