Wednesday, April 8, 2015

What Is Your Brand?

When we talk about a brand for an author, we are talking about what the author is known for. In other words, when a reader picks up your latest book, there will be an expectation of what they will be reading. This might be similar plots or a similar voice. It is important to note I am not speaking of writing a series with the same characters. It is all about the style.

I bring this up because I find that lately, I see authors who really don't have a sense of what they are writing. Query letters have them writing all over the place. Multiple genres, different topics and so forth. I do think they might be doing this to show diversity, but, in reality, what this is showing us is a a lack of brand.

I see this also when authors submit to me a second or third project if I have passed on something before. When their name comes up in the email and I log it into my database, I do go back and see what they wrote in the past and what I might have thought about the earlier project. But when I read the new project, I am often shocked. Instead of demonstrating a brand, the author has gone off to try something completely different. "I tried writing an inspirational for you in book 1 and it didn't connect with you, so let me try an erotic paranormal." Huh?

Even though brand is something that develops over time, you can start to craft that idea in your projects early in your career. In reality, we would love to see you can do one thing really well instead of a lot of different things just mediocre.


  1. As a writing teacher, I have to disagree with you. Being unpublished is the perfect time to experiment with different genres and subgenres. That's how a writer discovers their own strengths as a writer and their own voice.

    From my own experience, I tried for years to sell in category, and I even had two very successful category authors as mentors, and I simply couldn't sell in that market. It took me those years to figure out that I would never sell there because it was counter to my voice. I rewrote some of those books as I wanted to write them, and they won fans and numerous awards.

    Once a writer's published in a specific genre or subgenre, she will be trapped, for the most part, in that market, and it would be a very sad thing if she discovers another type of book she'd prefer to write.

  2. I'm a little confused, and so now I have a question.

    The message I got from Scott's post was that some writers were writing to try and "please" him -- rather than perfecting their writing craft in the genre they prefer (and submitting where appropriate.)

    And the message I got from Marilynn's post was that the genre in which you might prefer to write could be wrong for you. Voice dictates what you should write and submit.

    My question: Do we choose the genre we love and work to make the voice right?
    Or do we first discover our voice and then find the genre it fits into? Where does writing from the heart come into the picture?

    Kate M.

    1. My answer would be to write what you love and what you love to read. If you don't love it, it will show in your writing, and romance readers, in particular, can tell if you are faking it. You will also make yourself miserable.

      Finding your voice and your strengths as a writer can take years so experimentation early is a good thing.

      After you are published, Scott's advice about sticking to one thing is a good idea if you are interested in a financially successful career. Building a readership is hard enough with one type of book, and you will lose readers every time you do something else.