Agent Chip MacGregor's post today is about branding yourself as an author. Chip asked a branding consultant for a definition, and the consultant said, "In many ways, a brand is nothing more than a series of perceptions people have about you." I've worked on branding myself as a blogger with my blossom theme, and I've unintentionally branded myself with content and voice, which works when everything you write is available for public consumption, i.e. a web log. Not so much for an unknown novelist.
I've always avoided branding myself for the common reasons: makes me feel self-aggrandizing; don't have a product to push, so why bother; don't really know how to categorize myself.
Those first two, I've got a handle on them. Everybody has areas where they excel, and I think I know mine; realizing I wouldn't begrudge anyone else feeling good about their strengths sort of gave me permission to acknowledge mine. I still don't have a product for sale to the public, but I do have a product for sale to publishers, and I'd like them to see how serious I am about the whole thing. In essence I've been branding myself to publishers this whole time, but not intentionally. I'd like to be intent about it.
So the first two, okay. The last one, how to categorize myself, is one every author struggles with at some point. For a long time I couldn't see any similarity between the Ea's Gift world and the Black Veil Angel world, nor the worlds of my short stories. However, I was focusing on story. When I thought about a connecting theme, it all opened up.
My protagonists don't know what's true and what's a lie. They don't know who to trust, especially themselves. There's also some defining element of transformation in every protagonist. My characters are regular people who search for something more than themselves. A very spiritual thread.
Hey, this could be a new subgenre. Right now fantasy books dealing with spiritual themes are lumped in with the massive "fantasy" category. But I can see it now: Black Veil Angel takes the world by storm, and suddenly it's a genre unto itself.
So how do you brand yourself?