How I used my book titles to create a strong author brand
I write two separate series of detective, mystery novels. When I set out to pen the second series, featuring my new main character; Scottish policewoman DCI Dani Bevan, I wanted all the titles of the books to share a common feature.
This decision wasn’t pre-planned. When I make a choice about my next title it is usually quite early on in the planning process. The title helps me to formulate and develop the storyline. I need to have it in my head as I write. With the Dani Bevan books, I knew that the first instalment was going to be called ‘Against A Dark Sky’ because I wanted to create the image of a mountain set against a dark, stormy background in the reader’s imagination. The plot revolves around a suspicious death which takes place on Ben Lomond, when the weather turns bad without warning during a hiking expedition.
Once I had this first title fixed, I was keen that all of Dani’s subsequent cases should follow a similar theme and that the ‘dark’ element should be retained in each new book. ‘On A Dark Sea’ was the follow-up novel. The title was a natural progression from the planning phase as the story begins with a young woman’s perilous journey across dangerous seas at night, in a small fishing boat.
The other titles then flowed quite naturally as the series continued. ‘A Dark Shadow Falls’, ‘Dark As Night’ and ‘The Dark Fear’ were the books which followed.
I didn’t really realise at the time, but by creating this ‘dark’ series of books, I was building a kind of title-based brand for the Dani Bevan novels. Because of the nature of the titles, it was clear to my readership whether they would be getting an Imogen and Hugh Croft Mystery or a DCI Dani Bevan police procedural. I’m an avid reader of crime novels myself and I like to know exactly what I’m getting from a book. An author’s brand plays an important part in re-enforcing this and making the genre clear to consumers.
My Dani Bevan books are slightly different from the Imogen and Hughs – they are ‘darker’ and although containing humour, they are more brutal in subject matter than their sister series. The titles reflect this perfectly and help to formulate the brand.
The next book in the DCI Dani Bevan collection already has a working title; ‘Girls Of The Dark’, which I am hoping to be able to release before Christmas.
So, if you are looking to establish a strong author brand, you would do well to consider the title of the book itself, which can be a very powerful tool for conveying just exactly what your series wants to say.