As I was working on the revision for my second novel, the idea of rebranding my series crept into my head. I kept trying to push aside that idea, until I couldn’t anymore.
My next book is going to be a real doozy, the one that will make me or break me. When it comes out, you’ll see why! Thinking about the cover and title of my next book forced me to reconsider the trajectory of my series, how it should look, and how I could best market it to the right readers. When I realized what Book 2 needed, I knew that would mean changing the design of the first book cover and novella, which I’ve already published.
When I initially made the original covers for my novella and Book 1, I got my ideas from the covers of my favorite traditionally published books in similar genres, dating back to the early 2000s. I loved what I had come up with, but I always knew deep in my heart that its genre was unclear and that I was…off.
I was losing sleep over it because I didn’t know how to best approach this shift and where I would start. I couldn’t go down the same path I had gone before. Then Courtney Young*, the brilliant creator of The Courtney Project channel on YouTube, put out her first cover critique video that gave me the most useful tools I needed to figure this out.
I followed her thumbnail test method and found over thirty of the top current sellers in my genre and put their covers in thumbnail size all up on a page. I examined their fonts, color palettes, types of illustrations—EVERYTHING. I wasn’t crazy about the general aesthetics (lots of pastels, white, goofy font, faceless figures), but this isn’t about my preference, this is about fitting in with my genre and attracting my readers. Then I followed her practical advice on series cover consistency, title and author name placement, and overall appearance. It was incredibly informative.
After that, I looked for cover designers. Most of the affordable ones were more specialized in fantasy and romance, and less in the area of humorous fiction. I felt hopeless. The last thing I wanted was to pay a fortune for someone to design three covers, only for me to be disappointed. Since I already had Adobe Illustrator (I accidentally signed up for an annual subscription last year), I decided to give it a go myself.
I got deep into the complicated drawing program. Their own instructions absolutely blow, but really helpful YouTube tutorials got me through it. Designing the book covers was difficult, but I’m really happy with the results. In the end, I finished three covers that I really love: a new one for my novella, a new one for Book 1, and one for Book 2.
I’ve also changed the name of the series from the Georgia Series to the Broke Georgia Series. I wanted to use “broke” and “Georgia” in all my titles so that it’s clear that these books are about a heroine with money problems. I’ve also put illustrations of my main character on the covers so that people know it’s about a young woman, not the US state Georgia (or even the country of Georgia!).
Changing the series name and book titles means I’ll have to unpublish the previous books. Since I’ve only released Book 1 and haven’t done much marketing for it, it won’t be a huge deal to update it, especially since the novel itself is the same. The same goes for the novella. I hear that it’s common practice for indie authors to change series covers to generate new reader interest or for selling box sets, so it’s great that we can be adaptive like that.
I’m happy to say that very soon, hopefully in late March, I’ll have completed Book 2. The plan is to launch them all at the same time, although I might make my novella available sooner since it’s free with newsletter sign-up.
Once I publish, I’ll find out how effective those covers will be. I’ve submitted my covers for Courtney to critique (she already had 39 submissions by the time I submitted mine), so it’ll be interesting to hear her insight on my covers. If she’s able to do a critique on mine, it’ll be months from now, well after I publish the books. And that’s okay. I’m always up for improving my process, and if I have to make changes, I will.
*Courtney Young is a USA Today best-selling indie author who writes romance novels under the pseudonyms of Lyra Parish and (one-half of) Kennedy Fox. She has a very informative YouTube channel dedicated to indie authors. She is fun, sweet, intelligent, and an absolute inspiration.