Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Branding Yourself

Natalie Hanemann, a senior editor at Thomas Nelson, said on the My Book Therapy blog, “My suggestion to the writers is to know your brand. That is, be able to say, no matter how many novels I write, they’ll always have these same elements – or more accurately be able to say to the reader, no matter how many novels you buy, you’ll consistently have this same emotional experience.”

Best-selling romantic suspense author Colleen Coble writes of three elements common in all in her stories. In each one, you’ll find a strong heroine, a refreshing setting, and an unusual animal. But the promise Colleen makes her readers is to give them a compelling story of suspense.

Early in her career, Brandilyn Collins published both suspense novels and women's fiction. Her publisher told her to choose one genre, and she became queen of "seat belt" suspense.

Of course, there are authors who are successfully published in multiple genres. But no one knows if they'd have more success if they'd concentrated on only one.

Readers buy books from their favorite authors because they’ve come to know what to expect. When mega best-selling romance author, Nora Roberts, began writing futuristic police procedural novels, she published them under the pen name, J.D. Robb. Roberts didn’t reveal her identity as Robb until the 12th book in the series was published.

Writer Bob Younce suggests, "Branding flows naturally from voice and vision."

An agent asked her client who writes romantic suspense to consider writing an Amish romance because the market is hot. The author resisted. As much as she'd like another sale, she doesn't want to become branded as an Amish romance author. Her voice and vision guide her into write novels of suspense.

Hanemann said, “Once you know your brand, compile a list of three comparable authors in the marketplace WHO ARE SUCCESSFUL (don’t say Stephanie Meyer or J.K. Rowling). Be able to name what makes you distinct from them.”

Did you abandon your historical when the market turned flat? Did you write Chick Lit when it was hot? Historicals are selling but no one will touch Chick Lit today. You can't let what's selling now determine what you write.

Here are a few things to consider when determining your brand:
--Above all, write a good book. Strong writing sells.
--Decide how your writing compares or differs from published authors.
--Discover what's unique about your writing.
--Consider what audience you're writing for.
--Form a coherent vision.

If you're having trouble deciding on a brand based on your current manuscripts, look at future story ideas. Discover themes that resonate with you.

Finally, sum up your brand in under ten words.

After extensive research, author Camy Tang discovered she is the only one writing Christian romance and romantic suspense with Asian American characters. So that's her brand.

What's your brand?

~ Roxanne Sherwood

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