Author brand & cover consistency

Guest post by Mary Chris Escobar, author of How to be Alive. Mary Chris EscobarAuthor Photo; book design; branding; brand consistency

I had a huge ah-ha moment recently. I could call it a head-desk, moment, but I like the more positive sound of ah-ha (and try to avoid intentionally banging my head into things). In July I attended the Romance Writers of America (RWA) conference and had a chance to connect with a representative from a popular online retailer. He agreed to take a look at how I was marketing my books and make some suggestions. His top suggestion (paraphrased): Your most recent book looks great, give the other two a similar look so they present consistently.

New Covers, author branding, cover consistency, book covers, branding
Before and after: Consistent design identifies a book by Mary Chris Escobar at first glance.

You know how some messages take a while to sink in? How sometimes there is this resistance phase before you can acknowledge, that yes, actually that is a solid idea and I should probably consider it? There was none of that with his suggestion. Instead it was an immediate acknowledgement along the lines of what an amazing idea, followed quickly by it seems so simple, why didn’t I think of that?

There are two reasons why this very logical marketing tweak never crossed my mind:

•   I don’t write books in a series. I understand that a series should look the same, but I figured individual books were exactly that: individuals. No need for them to match.

•   I overlooked the concept of author as brand. No, my books aren’t all linked in a series, but they do all share one very basic thing in common — me. Readers should know at a glance that this is a Mary Chris Escobar book.

I liked my original covers, I really, really did (especially the one for Delayed, with the title in the digital sign), but the moment I uploaded the new covers and saw them next to each other in an online store, I knew I had done the right thing. Now readers can easily identify that my books are all related and I couldn’t be more proud of how my little family of books is dressed.

*On a side note, connections like the one I made at RWA are one of the many reasons why conferences are so important. If you are in Virginia (or even it you aren’t) I would highly recommend James River Writer’s annual conference. It’s right around the corner on October 18- 19. Click here for details.

Mary Chris EscobarAuthor Photo

Mary Chris writes women’s fiction. Her second novel, How to be Alive, came out in late June. She lives in Richmond, Virginia in a renovated parking garage with her husband, and you can find her just about anywhere with good coffee or craft beer and at  She also hangs out on Twitter @marychris_e. Her novella, Delayed, is free at all major online bookstores — try it out today!

Thank you, Mary Chris, for sharing your revelations on author branding and design consistency.  


Even in Death by Kristy Feltenberger Gillespie


Published: August 4th, 2014

Word Count: approx. 40,000

Genre: Short Story

Age Recommendation: 15+



Even In Death, a collection of ten short stories, explores the thin line between love and hate; extreme emotions even death cannot destroy.

Julie wants nothing more than to receive a flower bouquet from the hometown veterinarian. However, in “A Flower Story,” flowers are delivered long after a person is alive to smell them.

After purchasing their dream home, Sara and David feel truly blessed. Unfortunately, the couple soon discovers they’ve inherited a wicked curse. In fact, in “What’s Really There,” the former residents’ spirits refuse to move on.

In the title story, on the anniversary of his fiancés’ death, Mark realizes that he can see and communicate with spirits, including Amy’s. Can Mark and Amy’s love survive even in death?

“A Flower Story,” “What’s Really There,” and “Even In Death,” as well as the other seven stories in the collection are rife with emotion that will linger well after the last page.

Amazon | GoodReads

Full disclosure: I’ve known Kristy Feltenberger Gillespie for many years and have been privileged to read her stories while part of the critique group The Sarcastic Broads Club. The stories she told over lunch at the James River Writers Conference moved me — I had to read more.

Four years later, this short story collection is no exception. Loss, loneliness, and love tie the ten independent stories together. Kristy writes poignant family relationships. Her vivid metaphors, with their use of everyday objects, reveal character and extraordinary circumstances: “I often feel like a well-worn 3x3x3 Rubik’s cube with peeling, fading stickers.” Believable characters range from childhood to end of life, exploring heartache and hope.

If you’re tired of summer beach reads and looking for a short story collection with emotional heft, you’ve found it. At times emotion might get the better of you but, as Kristy might say, “Keep calm and read on.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Kristy-F-Gillespie

Kristy Feltenberger Gillespie lives in Warrenton, Virginia with her husband, two cats, and three dachshunds. She’s a middle school counselor, graduate student at Longwood University, (pursuing a degree in School Library Media) blogger, short story and Young Adult novel writer. When she’s not working, she’s traveling or dreaming of traveling. She’s been on several cross country road trips with her mom. In fact, Hawaii and Alaska are the only states she hasn’t been to.

Amazon Author Page | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Blog

Follow Kristy at @KFGillespie and at her blog, Keep Calm and Write On. You can find Jaded, her YA novel, here. 


When Angelica adjusts her sunglasses, Olivia notices her best friend’s black eye.

“Oh, sweetie, what happened?” Olivia reaches across the sticky table for Angelica’s hands but she moves them quickly; as if Olivia’s touch is a flame that will burn her beyond recognition.

Angelica chews on her bottom lip. “Nothing.”

“I’m worried about you.”

“There’s nothing to worry about, Olivia.” She separates the ‘O’ from the ‘livia.’

A spunky orange haired waitress arrives at their table. Her name tag reads “Bad Susie” with a little devil sticker next to it. “Can I take your order?”

“Plain coffee, please,” Olivia says.

“Same here,” Angelica says.

Susie places a hand on her hip. “You sure you don’t want pancakes? Eggs and toast?”

They shake their heads.

Bad Susie tilts her head, focusing on Angelica. “You’re worth so much more.”

“What?” Angelica winces.

“You’re wearing sunglasses indoors, long sleeves and jeans, and it’s like eighty degrees outside. And your makeup is only partially covering your bruises. Obviously your boyfriend is a beater. Just know you’re worth more than that.” Before Angelica has a chance to respond, Susie moves to the next table.


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