Your Writer Brand: Laying The Foundation For A Long Career

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Do you know what it means to “brand” your particular writing? Many literary agents look for authors who have ideas about creating a strong, recognizable brand—and no, we’re not talking about logos, neon signs, or mascots that hold up your book and wave at passing cars.

When you have a clear idea of your author brand (and a strong plan for your author platform), you may be on your way to that most coveted of writer fantasies: Life As A Full-Time Author.

What is a writer brand?

We think of a writer brand as something more than a marketing niche: It’s a promise. As a writer, your brand is your promise to deliver a certain kind of reading experience.

Typically, novelists, publishers, and literary agents are most likely to talk about a writer brand, though certainly writers in all genres (including poetry) can develop a recognizable brand (or a reputation for a particular aesthetic).

Having a strong brand means giving readers some continuity among your projects. Maybe your thing is military-trained spies. Maybe it’s the Deep South. Maybe its urban screwball comedy. Maybe its heart-wrenching drama.

When you play to the consistencies of your voice, concerns, and interests, you’re on your way to a strong writer brand.

Does having a writer brand mean I have to write the same thing again and again?

You don’t necessarily have to be repetitive to be well-branded, but a strong brand makes good on a promise. When readers plunk down money to buy your book, they’ve made that choice because there’s a specific experience they want.

Consider this: An effective author brand is sort of like a good French restaurant. Sure, the dishes change every so often. But the fact that all the dishes are French-inspired and unified by the chef’s culinary philosophies creates a certain reliability across the whole menu.

A bad brand, on the other hand, does the opposite. A badly branded restaurant will make a name for itself as a burgers-and-fries establishment, but then one day swap out fries for escargot. Customers will leave quicker that you can say au revoir.

Who are some writers with strong brands?

There’s a reason career novelists tend to favor strong name branding (associating a particular type of book with a particular name), as opposed to writing diverse books all under the same name that fall into all the far-flung genres.

If you’ve read Nora Roberts, you know her particular brand is contemporary romance. If you’ve read J.D. Robb (who is also Nora Roberts), then you know hers is dark, futuristic suspense.

To switch from one strong brand to another, Roberts had to change her pen name. She switched genres and established new branding.

If Roberts had written her dark suspense novels under her “Nora Roberts” brand, she might have wound up with a lot of angry romance readers knocking at her door.

There are many examples of writers who change names and branding. Most “household name” writers deliver on very strong author brands. Does that mean you can’t ever switch it up? Not at all. You’ll just need to be careful.

What’s the difference between developing a brand and writing in a particular genre?

As a writer, you’ll want to develop your brand within your genre.

For example, say you write dark urban fantasy. That’s your genre. But your branding is different. The way you stand out in your genre might be by developing a unique angle within your genre.

How does my author brand translate on the Web in other media?

Your publisher or book designer can help you evoke a particular kind of brand in your artwork. Your Web developer can build on that look, making choices that convey certain aesthetics, interests, and concerns.

On your social media sites, you can solidify your writer brand with your posts (writers who have taken on a specific locale can post pictures; crime writers can comment on current stories; how-to writers can offer tips in line with the philosophies expressed in their books).

All your various platforms work together to create a single, strong author platform that makes its message clear through strong, consistent branding.

QUESTION: Who are some of your favorite well-branded authors?

2 Responses to Your Writer Brand: Laying The Foundation For A Long Career

  1. I’m writing another book, Just finished Chapter two. My first book, Marshal Jake Wayne The Beginning Years, was already published.

  2. My favorite author is Mindy Starns Clark who is a mystery writer because she writes with such insight and is very informative. She opened up the Amish world to me. I didn’t know of their coming of age period and the possible results for it. Also she showed their goodness like they’re very strong on forgiveness like the book and movie, “Amish Grace” showed.

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