Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Author Branding

At our chapter meeting last night, two of our members gave a presentation on author branding. Marketing yourself with a particular "brand" is a delicate balance. I say this for two reasons.

1) The brand you give yourself (or your editor or agent or publisher helps you decide) will stick with you for quite some time. That means you better be ready to write within the parameters of that brand.

2) In so having such a brand, it can limit you as an artist.

For example, I write two kinds of books - inspirational and historical. One is sexier than the other, by far. When I finally do earn a publishing contract, which one will it be with? Right now, the odds are on the historicals. But that doesn't mean I don't want to write the inspirational. That means I have to perhaps market myself with TWO brands.

This strikes me as being rather dangerous, especially with these two particular types of romances. An inspirational romance is much different than a sexy historical romance. Will those readers of my inspirational, if they learn that I write historical which, why wouldn't they learn of it, stop reading my inspirationals since I write the sexier novels?

While this is all just talk at this point, it's something we need to think about as authors.

I've decided that I want to write both - but under different names. I cannot limit myself to one particular type of romance for the sake of branding.

Is it possible, then, to have the best of both worlds? To be able to write what you love, sell it, and have a large audience? And should this be done from the word "go" (i.e. when you get that book contract) or should you wait until you've established yourself in one field before branching off into the next?

It's not that this is a new concept. Far from it. Numerous authors have done it. But what will I do, I wonder?

Lots of questions. Difficult questions. But I have a feeling that I'll figure it out. :-)

13 comments:

  1. My opinion? Do one first and then get into the other slowly...unless you're a really fast writer. Then I think you could support from the beginning.

    I ask myself these questions too. Still need some answers.

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  2. In the words of my best friend, "Here's what you do...." ;)

    Get published in BOTH and have two different names. Your readers won't know the difference.

    Besides, studies show readers who pick Inspirational first have been known to pick erotica second. Strange, I know.

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  3. I get how author branding can help build a writer's recognition, especially in the beginning, but I don't feel it should limit them artistically. I think doing that could become detrimental in their career in the long run.

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  4. Interesting topic. I already write under two names. I could easily pick up and run with either, but ironically, it is the penname (erotic) that has already gotten a little recognition. *snort* But, which ever were to take off, I would still harbor the other 'brand' close to my chest.

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  5. AE Rought7:34 AM

    Love the winter back ground, by the way!

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  6. Love those snowflakes!

    You know me, I'm definitely a split personality writer. I think you have to do what you have to do. Obviously it can be done successfully, Nora Roberts/JD Robb being the most glaring example IMO. While it might be necessary to establish yourself in one genre, I think it is important to let your agent/editor understand that is only one side of your persona.

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  7. Great thoughts, gals. Amy, I'm not a very fast writer - unless I have the time to do it and the kids and hubby aren't around! LOL Since I'm shopping around the historical manuscript and I have the second one well under way, I'm thinking I might try and start off that way. But it's just a wait and see thing, I suppose. I have to land that publishing contract first.

    Dana, interesting that those who choose inspirational choose erotica second! Never would have guessed that.

    Kelly, I'm with you on the limiting the artist. I don't want to experience burn out on a particular type. I think that's why a lot of other romance authors have branched out - to spread their wings, so to speak.

    Aren't the snowflakes cool? I love how they sparkle!

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  8. Look at Neal Stephenson. His first two novels were cyberpunk scifi. His debut novel was incredibly smart and funny, his second novel way more complex and serious.

    Then he wrote historical fiction novel about cryptographers, and his latest work has been a trilogy about the forming of the Royal Society of London.

    I think he just writes about what interests him and trusts that the right reader will find it.

    ...and I completely lost my train of thought as I noticed the snowflakes.

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  9. Okay, apparently I'm the only one for whom this isn't a problem. I only write in one genre. I won't say I'll never want to branch out, but if I ever do, it won't be any time soon. So I'm completely comfortable being "branded" for the stuff I write now.

    But I sympathize with the delimma.

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  10. I had something really important to say...then I started reading about the snowflakes... (they are cute!)

    Brand, that was what we were talking about. I like to know what I'm getting when I pick up a book by a particular author, so I think two pen names are the way to go. So you're concentrating more on the historical now, right?

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  11. Kacey -
    Yes - the historical is where I'm focusing right now. But the inspirational is the other route I want to take. I have a novel about 1/4 done that's an inspirational that takes place during WWII.

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  12. I've been shopping one book for four months, the second one is ready and the third is in progress. I think I'll worry about pen names after they're published. All are different genre.

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