Monday, October 12, 2009
Branding. It's something you hear of a lot when you talk to writers, especially those who are making their first attempts at breaking into the world of publication. But what exactly is branding?
The idea behind branding is that someone knows what to expect when they pick up one of your books. Many beginning writers think this means they need to develop a tag line or personal brand early on, sometimes before they even finish writing their first book. But that's probably putting the proverbial cart before the horse.
I recently attended a workshop led by Allen Arnold, head of the fiction division of Thomas Nelson. According to Mr. Arnold, the author is his or her own brand. Everything else from the tag line, to the way the book covers are designed, is a part of that brand.
You may be asking, "So does that mean I'm locked into one genre?" The answer, which so many of us hate to hear, is "Probably." At least until you've established yourself. And even then, it's easier to move into a genre related to the one you're already known for. For example, if you write romance, you could expand into romantic suspense, and maybe even shift completely over into straight suspense. But if your debut novel is Amish fiction, you really don't want to follow it up with an epic fantasy.
We all know authors who became popular writing a certain type of story, then branched out and tried something new. John Grisham comes to mind. Famous for his legal thrillers, he'd already reached a "write it and they'll buy it" kind of status before he branched out and wrote Skipping Christmas, which is about as far from a legal thriller as you can get.
If you're working on your first novel, or you have several completed but you're still working toward publication, give some thought to what kind of an author you want to be. Write in the genre that excites you the most. Give it your all. Be your own brand.
Question for readers: How do you feel about authors who write in different genres? Do you prefer to always know what you're going to get from a specific author, or do you like being surprised?
Question for writers: How do you feel about sticking to one genre, at least for now? Have you found the genre you love?
To enter today's giveaway...Want to know what I'm giving away today? So do I! Yep, it's a surprise... but it's going to be writing related. To be entered, just leave a comment on this blog. Please leave an email address so we can contact you if you're the winner (include spaces or brackets around the "@" sign so Net spiders, etc, can't phish your address). I'll pick a winner at random on October 15th. Remember, all comments left today will also be entered in our grand prize drawing on November 1st.
Photo credit: Branding irons by