Author Branding

Hi All!
I’ve been a bad blogger, and I apologize. But I’ve found a new critique partner Joanne who is awesome, and I’m getting a ton of work done! Tonight I e-mailed the revised first three chapters of my WIP to my agent to see if I’m heading in the right direction.

Now. On to my post for today. Author Branding. (And no, this does not have to do with getting your writing genre/subgenre tattooed on a visible body part for easy identification!)

According to Theresa Meyers, President of Blue Moon Communications, when we talk about an author brand we are talking about building an image, perception or identity that is used to create “emotional Velcro” first, a perception of higher quality second and that little “something special” that no one else can offer third.

According to an article by Edwin Colyer at brandchannel, “Authors become brands if they write a certain kind of book. They build up brand loyalty – you know what you’re going to get when you read one of their books. By the nature of their craft you won’t get something wildly different. You know what you are going to get.”

I got the idea for this post while sitting in the audience of the CAROLE KING/JAMES TAYLOR concert this past weekend. First let me tell you….it was FANTABULOUS, and if you have the opportunity to see them, I highly recommend it.

Here are two singers/songwriters in their sixties, whose careers have spanned decades, still performing to sold out crowds. Why? Because they give the people what they want. They sing their songs the way people expect to hear them. Sure they changed things up, but I got what I paid for, and would happily have paid more for if I had to. Carole King and James Taylor have a brand. What comes to mind when you think of them? Ballads. Heartfelt lyrics. Quality. (As hard as it is finding the perfect words, imagine setting them to music. Yikes!)

So as writers, we should take a lesson from these iconic performers by finding our niche and giving our readers (aka customers) what they expect from us….our best work in a form they are familiar with.

What are your thoughts on author branding? (Or James Taylor and Carole King?!?!)

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  • John Baron
    Posted June 15, 2010 at 3:36 AM | Permalink

    I like the idea that I can read a book by someone, like it, and go back to them for more with a reasonable chance that I'll like their others too. But it's a fine line. I've read several Tom Clancy novels, and after awhile it all gets to be too much. They're not identical or anything, but they're all ABOUT the same sorts of things. I have read every single novel Kurt Vonnegut wrote (I believe) — they were all different and all similar at the same time, and I loved every one.

    How about a "brand" that brings great but varied writing together with interesting characters and a unique viewpoint? I'm a glutton for variety.

  • Piedmont Writer
    Posted June 15, 2010 at 11:51 AM | Permalink

    I saw a few songs of that concert on PBS this weekend. I was so mad I missed most of it! I LOVE James, and Carol.

    I'm trying to get my 'brand' with my Regencies. We'll see what happens. I was never into contemporary romance. Back when I started reading they were all so bleh. I loved the historicals for the period aspect so that's what I started writing. I also love the research so that's a plus for me.

  • Jen FitzGerald
    Posted June 15, 2010 at 1:32 PM | Permalink

    Great post, Wendy.

    And James Taylor does rock!

    Someday, my brand will be military heroes. I like them and that's what I hope to write no matter the sub-genre: YA, historical, or contemporary.

  • Wendy Marcus
    Posted June 15, 2010 at 1:49 PM | Permalink

    Hi John!
    I like variety too, as long as I can get my happy ending! When I think of branded authors I think of Nora Roberts. Nora doesn't only write suspense, she also writes contemporary romance and historical romance. And yet she's branded because when we hear her name we think quality regardless of the genre.

    Hi Anne!
    My sister watched the PBS special also and said it was great. I like to read historicals as long as they don't try to teach me history! I don't enjoy that type of research, though, so I doubt I'll ever write one.

    Hi Jen!
    Some day I'd love to talk military heroes! Right now I'm working on medical romance, but I have two military stories I was working on that I can't wait to get back to!

  • Terri
    Posted June 16, 2010 at 3:11 AM | Permalink

    I DVR'd the CK/JT thing on PBS. I'm looking at have two JT albums IN VINYL (yes, I'm old — but not as old as JT!) and one, LT. I've got my name in green ink on all 3. Don't even recognize my handwriting. That's how old!

  • Wendy Marcus
    Posted June 16, 2010 at 10:25 PM | Permalink

    Hi Terri!
    I also have JT on vinyl. I've since moved on to CD though!

  • JL Walters
    Posted June 17, 2010 at 12:56 AM | Permalink

    Wendy, I don't like to think of myself as a brand. I jump around in my writing just as I do in my reading. That's one reason I don't have an agent. The ones I've run into all want you to stick to one kind of story. I like writers who do a variety of stories.

  • Wendy Marcus
    Posted June 17, 2010 at 4:35 PM | Permalink

    Thanks for your input, Janet!

  • abbi
    Posted June 21, 2010 at 4:32 PM | Permalink

    Thanks for the post on branding, Wendy. I still have trouble with the subject.

    Yeah, I think I'm one of those 'variety' people. But, I think it is my voice that stands out. Does that count in branding?

    I know I need to buckle down and choose a path.

  • Wendy Marcus
    Posted June 22, 2010 at 4:43 AM | Permalink

    Thanks for stopping by, Abbi! I look forward to seeing you at National!!! And send in those submissions you're holding on to. An editor may help with your path selection!

  • Jennifer Probst
    Posted June 24, 2010 at 5:13 PM | Permalink

    HI Wendy,
    Thinking about branding is important – I am even including an article in the newsletter this month on author tags. That being said, I write contemporary, erotic and children's books. BUT, I think writing voice is key. When you read my stuff, my voice comes out clear, and I think that's important if a writer wants to branch out to other areas.

  • Wendy Marcus
    Posted June 24, 2010 at 6:11 PM | Permalink

    Hi Jennifer!
    I agree about voice being key!
    Thanks for stopping by!

  • John Baron
    Posted June 29, 2010 at 10:34 PM | Permalink

    Jennifer and Abbi commented about "branding by voice". Here's an interesting post that covers talks about it —

    Someday (when I've published several books), I think that's the route I'll take to branding: just sort of let it happen.

  • Wendy Marcus
    Posted June 30, 2010 at 3:19 AM | Permalink

    Hi John!
    Thanks for the link! There is some great info. there. I highly recommend anyone looking for more info. on author branding take a look.

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