How Do You Even Brand?

My brand of “cyber” was easy to identify and build on (once I listened). What about you – how did you define your brand? What tidbit of advice would you give to someone just starting out?

Tracee: I hear a voice echoing in my head, Paula perhaps! saying focus on writing the best book you can. I’d say that’s what I’d like to develop as my brand…. but that is in process. More literally, I’d say that my brand will be (is?)  books that are tightly tied to place. I’m not sure I’ve done a good job developing a brand, but I am sure that this is a theme I won’t sway from. Going back to the advice to those starting out – do all the things you have to (website, twitter, etc) but most importantly write the best book you can. That’s a brand you’ll never regret.

Cate: I don’t have a brand. If someone figures it out, let me know. Maybe domestic suspense writer… 

Tracee: I thought about this question a bit more and think that brand and promotion are separate things. Cate’s book brand is definitely excellent domestic suspense but that doesn’t mean that’s ALL that she is. 

These days we do more than write and publish a book that is our brand. There is social media. And a brand on social media may have everything to do with the book or nothing, or more likely a mix. Laura Lippman comes to mind. She writes suspense but on social media, particularly Twitter where I love reading her feed, the posts are about “her” and not “the books.” There’s a bit about writing, but not much, great exchanges about and with her also famous husband, glimpses into her love of parenting, and some cookery. Interspersed are the writerly bits – travel for promotion, interviews, reading other authors. Her brand, in my mind, is zesty, full blown family/work and interest in the world around her life. I’m sure that she edits and perhaps there are topics she purposefully avoids as too something (political or religious or….). To me that’s her public personal brand, which is not necessarily tied to her book brand. 

What does that mean? That the books can be about revenge motivated cyber crime but the author’s brand isn’t necessarily that. A cyber crime author can have a life that also included a serious devotion to knitting. Recently, I read an interview with Reese Witherspoon which clearly illustrates that a woman can wear frilly sundresses, serve homemade cookies, and still serve as a voice for equal rights and justice, all while running a multi-million dollar company. The straight jackets must come off! We are all complex people, in this world of constant scrutiny, let’s have that show through. 

Paula: I think of brand in terms of audience and differentiation. And who I want to be when I grow up as a writer. For me, that means my aim is to be seen (someday) as “Julia Spencer-Fleming with dogs.”I know, I know, I’m aiming high!

Robin: Paula, I always aim high. If the shots land low, hey, it’s still something to build on. As one of my personal heroes wrote, I am not throwing away my shot 🙂

Tracee: Is there a way to go back in time and get that “army brat” experience you share with Julia? Hmmmm. 

Alison: My first book branded me as that Mormon Murder Mystery writer. Done. Possible issue? I’m working on a manuscript that takes place in the neighborhood I’ve lived in longer than any other on the planet: the UES (aka the Upper East Side). Will I have branding issues then? I don’t know. Suggestions?


Michele: I have enjoyed all of your answers to the question of the week because it’s a topic I find hard to grasp. Is your brand determined by the series you’re writing? Where it’s located? What if a writer has two or three series going at once? Does she have more than one brand? Is it about the author herself?  I’ve read a fair amount about branding and can see how some writers have been able to clearly establish one. Sometimes it seems as if a successful book actually determines what the branding is for a writer. I’m thinking Louise Penny, Tana French, Elizabeth George here.

I think I’ll just go with “mature” stubborn writer who refuses to quit till she gets it right. 

Alexia: I’m not sure what my brand is, although I have a kicky logo to attach to it just in case I ever figure it out.I want to be known as more than the writer of a light paranormal series with music. The modern Agatha Christie? (You said aim high, Paula.) I’d like to be known for writing mysteries that harken back to the Golden Age of Detection with strong, intelligent, independent, diverse female protagonists who are over the age of 35 and defy stereotypes; strong plots; and intricate puzzles. Throw some bourbon in there somewhere and that’s my brand. I guess. Maybe? Sort of? Like Cate said, let me know if you figure it out.

Susan: I think of brand as a short-hand for how the reader views you. Which is not necessarily who you are, but is the persona you project, though I hope it’s sort of who you are. It’s something I think about a lot because I do spend a lot of time on social media and one of the things I like about that is that  it allows me to see what people respond to. So based on that, I would say that I am a sort of traditional person who is obsessed with dogs and trees. I think I have a warm vibe. Hopefully when people look at one of my books they think, oh, I like her. I’ll read her book. As to my dream brand, I’d love to be the Louise Penny of the Hudson Valley.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *