My name is DT. I once was a chronic Brand avoider.
The collective assembly replies. Hi …. DT.
I follow a number of diverse blogs on the writing craft and publishing. The subject of establishing an author “brand” comes up frequently. We’ve all heard it, to succeed in marketing a story in today’s environment, an author needs to establish a brand relevant to the author’s work as part of a total social media package. A recent article by Jan O’Hara rekindled the memory of how I struggled to think like Madison Avenue, so much so, I put it off for way too long. Resurrecting a post written last year on the trials of creating a website, I would like to recall those random thoughts on how I discovered my brand.
My first obstacle was deciding on a genre. When I grew up, we didn’t use the word genre. I had to look up the word. So many choices.
- Historical Paranormal.
- YA Fantasy.
- Almost Adult, but not quite there
- Today’s secret genre is …?
Most of my past literary efforts have been YA oriented, largely because I love the process of drawing out a young person’s journey and angst, as I have so much personal history to draw from. Trouble is I find the field crowded with girl and paranormal titles.
- Gidget gets a hickey.
- Those earrings are so yesterday.
- My blood or yours.
- Who’s got time to be dead?
- I’m in love with Beelzebub.
- You’re shedding were-fur on my blouse.
YA is predominately a female audience, but was there room for a guy’s voice? I learned much later the answer is yes, as discussed in, Need a Few Good Men in YA Fiction, but at the time, I wasn’t so sure.
Maybe a catchy signature phrase will help draw attention.
- Teen Vampire Tales, because there just doesn’t seem to be enough of it.
- People, Places and Things, with a twist of sarcasm.
- Tales of Love in all the wrong places.
- Realms of the Besotted.
Nothing tickled my fancy, or summarized all I wanted to be. Perhaps something to catch it all.
- Fantasy dreams in the outer limits of space, where angelic vampires find love at the prom in the alternate netherworld of Egyptian tombs.
Unpublished at the time, should I just be honest about it?
- Author without portfolio?
- Flouting the English language and loving it?
- I be a writer?
- Coming soon … maybe?
Author name becomes an integral part of a brand. Some authors use their real name, some a pseudonym. Advice blogs disagreed which was better. I wasn’t sure I wanted to out myself and use my real name (which no one can pronounce correctly). If I chose a pseudonym, I have dozens of relatives who may ask, “Why are you hiding?” With my real name, an equal number might counter with, “Why are you embarrassing us?”
I’m jesting of course, but be assured it a was sleep-robbing number days before I stumbled on my choice of brand.
My latest series occurs in a dystopian future. All of my stories have characters who find themselves in very dark situations. When it seems all is lost, they find a light that brings them back. That light is metaphoric, but you get the picture. While searching for that perfect website banner, I stumbled on an artist who constructed dioramas, then photographed them. From her collection “The City”, Lori Nix imagined a city of our future, emptied of human inhabitants, deteriorating from the elements, and slowly being reclaimed by Mother Nature. What grabbed me the second I saw it, was a tree sprouting from the floor, reaching for light streaming through a broken ceiling.
We all have those moments, the proverbial light flashing in our brain. Dark, Light, Seeking. Searching for Light in the Darkness. When I contacted Lori, she loved the concept and gave permission to use “The Library” as my blog banner.
Jan O’Hara’s article at Writer Unboxed, This Mystical Thing Called Branding, spoke about branding as an extension of who we are. It fostered some interesting commentary. Many found it enlightening. Others disagreed with her, claiming a brand is what our stories are about, or what our audience expects. I suspect the answer is a marriage of each. Author branding is a representation of what we offer in our stories. Because we have to reach deep into a mind’s creative nooks and crannies, our stories often reflect our inner most self.
That’s about as heavy as I get on the subject, so I’ll let you decide what branding means to you. Whatever you come up with, I hope you don’t lose too much sleep over it.
PS: You can learn more about Lori Nix and her incredible photographic art at http://www.lorinix.com.