Monday, May 9, 2011

To Brand or Not to Brand


As I’ve navigated through the publishing industry I’ve learned many things: voice, pacing, promoting and networking to name a few. But there is one aspect that I still question...branding. Although I understand the concept, which is to label yourself into a certain genre and style of writing, and the reason for doing so, to develop a following of readers who know what to expect from your writing, but it hasn’t been easy for me to do.

After a family trip to Mexico watching my teenagers interact with the teens there I was inspired to write a young adult story. Soon after I finished that book an author and friend informed me romance was the biggest selling genre which encouraged me to write a romantic suspense. They were both published so I was motivated to write still another.

I decided to try my hand at a historical, and loved doing the research. My next project was a women’s fiction, and I thought I’d found my niche until a speculative fiction idea came flowing into my mind that just poured out of me.

I felt like a rebellious teenager, not wanting to follow the rules of the literary industry, which brings me to the next genre which was non-fiction. My devotional was inspired by the difficulties my teen went through and was absolutely God given. I’d never planned on writing non-fiction but HE had different plans for me and my writing.

Are you dizzy yet? My agent was but she patiently waited for the right genre to grab me, and it finally did when my Amish series came to fruition. I feel right at home writing about these interesting people who I’ve come to know and admire.

After all that you ask, what exactly is a brand? Your brand should say something about you. A writer is expected to learn how to create and reflect the brand that they want readers to know about them as a writer. To know how to build, communicate and maintain a personal brand.

There is always something new to learn about the writing industry and branding has become a popular way to promote, one that a writer is supposed to settle into and find where they’re comfortable. I just hope it comes a little easier for others than it did for me:)

Question...how important do you think Branding is? Readers, does it help to know a writers platform? Authors do you feel it promotes our careers or does it confine them?

I hope the picture posted and isn't too blurry, but I HAD to get a Texas brand since I live in Texas, even though I'm from Colorado:)

21 comments:

Lisa Buffaloe said...

Great post, Beth. I do think branding is important for an author. When I pick up a book by Brandilyn Collins, I know I'm in for a suspenseful ride.

However, branding shouldn't be limiting or confining. Author's voice and talent travels with them whatever they write. :)

Beth Shriver said...

Good thought, Lisa, an author's voice is their own no matter what genre they write. So it's the story telling that a reader is attractd to.

Marsha said...

Hey, Beth. My first reaction is: Wow! You write is such diverse genre. My guess is because you can and get published in such a variety, you will continue to do that. Who knows what will follow the Amish?
I don't need my favorite authors to change names when they write a different gener. I read the back of the book to see if the book has the blend of romance and suspense I prefer or whether the story is only romance.
Interesting post. Thanks. Marsha

Beth Shriver said...

Marsha, interesting to know that you depend on the blurb to help you decide what you read rather than just following the same author. It shows how important those few words are!

Jillian Kent said...

Hi Beth,
Good questions. I'm wondering if it's more helpful to new authors like myself than to long time established authors?

But then I think about Nora Roberts and J.D. Robb, Amanda Quick, Jane Castle, and Jane Ann Krentz. They must have felt strongly about branding themselves according to genre.

You've published a variety of genres but I bet readers might brand you as a writer of Amish fiction if that's what genre you will write in most often.

The more I think about it the more I think we are branded by what we write. And if we are wise we should use that brand so that our readers don't have to guess about what they are getting when they buy our product. Aren't we already branded on this website? I think so. And I think that's good.

Beth Shriver said...

I think you're right, Jill, it's good for us to be on this blog showing readers who we are as writers. There's nothing worse than buying a book and it's not what you expected:(

Jan said...

I think many writers who wrote best-sellers think of what they do as a business. So they produce consisentent, reliable products for their consumers.
Hopefully they chose well as they got 'branded,' and enjoy the pay-off of success!It's good to talk about it, so I enjoyed your comments.

Beth Shriver said...

That's true, Jan. When you see all the writers who have written many books they go with the same type of story, they don't change it up and the readers count on that.

Richard Mabry said...

In my opinion, branding is important, both to the writer and to the reader. I floundered with my voice and brand, and the result was four novels that still languish on my hard drive. Then I settled on "medical suspense with heart," and the response of editors and readers alike told me to stick with it. In my case, a known quantity is a good thing.
Thanks for sharing your own experience with us.

Beth Shriver said...

Richard, it sounds as if you struggled a bit with where your writing would go as well. Isn't it nice to finally find a writing home?

Caroline said...

Do you suppose it could be the element (say, suspense, or a touch of fantasy) that a person writes into a genre that is their brand, no matter what genre they write? Does that make sense? Or not. :)

cb
http://sunnebnkwrtr.blogspot.com/

Regina Richards said...

Loved this post. It really helped me to understand that a brand isn't something you sit down and decide on so much as something that you discover within yourself along the writing journey and once you discover it, the path on that journey becomes better defined for both the writer and her readers. Thanks, Beth!

Molly Noble Bull said...

Like Beth, I'm sort of a wild horse without a brand. I know the kind of brand I want. It just isn't available right now. Maybe it will be in the future.
By the way, Beth, what part of Texas are you living in now? We could be neighbors.
Molly

Karen Whiddon said...

Hi Beth! One thing about it, you'll never be bored!

Beth Shriver said...

I think you're right,Caroline, that the genre is the cornerstone of the brand. Readers seem to be more in tune with what genres are and which ones they like.

Beth Shriver said...

Wow, Regina, you described it better than I did. It is a self discovery about you through your writing. Nicely put!

Beth Shriver said...

You've made me curious, Molly, do tell what genre you are creating! I love the free-spirit who makes their own path, good for you! I'm in Flower Mound, anywhere close to you?

Beth Shriver said...

I agree, Karen, the writing/industry is a lot of different things, but never boring:)

Molly Noble Bull said...

Beth, I thought I knew Texas. But where is Flower Mound? It sounds beatiful.
We live in Kingsville -- southwest of Corpus Christi and way down in the southern tip of Texas on the road to Brownsville.
Love,
Molly
www.mollynoblebull.com

Angi Morgan said...

Great post, Beth. I, too, think branding is important...as is WARNING the reader if it's not the author's normal style.

~Angi

Beth Shriver said...

Hey ang, if a writer changes they're genre or tone I can see what you're saying in that they need to be aware so they know what they're getting.