Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Brand Yourself

I have seen a lot of writers lately really taking an awkward approach to writing. More and more, when I open up a submission packet from a new author, they have been presenting work in a lot of different sub-genres. While this approach might seem like a great approach where an author is throwing a lot of different styles out there to see which will stick, it is an approach I would caution any writer from doing.
Writers, whether they are new or old, need to think about how they want to see their writing "branded". In other words, what does that writer want to be known for? Now before you get on your high horses out there telling me of all those other writers you see in other areas, please remember that they are "established". They have a following and are using their prior following to pull people in.
The thing is that readers want to know what they can expect from you as a writer. Other than the quality of the work, they want to know your stories "stay the course." If you are a historical writer, learn that time block. Show the readers they can count on you.
On a marketing standpoint, especially from that of an agent, it also makes it easier for us, especially from a new writer's perspective. If I pitch a story and something doesn't quite work with the first one, I am frequently asked what else they might have. If I pitch a historical and all I have is a sci-fi, that salie might now work so well.
So think about what you want to be known for. Humerous mysteries? Contemporary romances about real issues? The list is endless.


  1. This makes absolute sense.

    I've never understood why writers love so many labels and genres. After all, we're taught from the beginning to keep things simple.

    You make a good point about identifying one's line of work early on. I'll keep that in mind for the query letter, if I ever get there. :)


  2. It does make sense.

    BUT, just for a perspective from the other side of the table, or keyboard, as it were:

    They say there is no such thing as 'too much information' and yet, in the current market, maybe there is???

    With the update by the second information available, it is far too easy to be swayed by the agent blog du jour or a Twitter update. In the last little while I've personally seen an author sell because XYZ publisher/agent sought multicultural romance so her Norwegian hunk became black/Latino/etc. Another author hooked in to the demand for erotica and set her ms on fire! And yet another landed a two book deal because 'a little birdie' told her an editor hungered for a shapeshifter, so she turned her 'vamp into a shifter.

    I suspect it isn't so much lack of direction or no understanding of the importance of 'branding' that makes an author genre-hop as it is a desire to show flexibility and the desire to adapt to the ever changing market. Mea Culpa!

    (Lainey, who writes "hot, humorous, from the heart contemporary romance and women's fiction" but if that isn't what sells right now...)