Posted by : Sherri Cornelius Wednesday, February 10, 2010

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?

{ 20 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. This bedevils me endlessly. I have no idea how to brand myself. It is like all the possibilities are a big tangle in my head and I don't know where to begin. And it is a problem. When I look for agents, I know it is a problem because a brand would help me figure out the best agents to approach. When I've got more time, I'm going to read MacGregor's post and see if it helps.

    Like your brand by the way. Hope it helps you on the next phase of your writing.

  2. Start with something free and that you already know... FACEBOOK!

    Here's a great article a co-worker sent me this morning on getting your Fan Page on Facebook up and running. It's step-by-step with hints and tips on how to grow traffic (not too quickly or you will fizzle & fade) and what to do with those people once they're there.

    As for how I brand myself... I don't think I've ever really thought about it. I guess it depends on who my audience is, right? Actually, I'm just the dust bunny slayer and reader of books to a cranky vampire baby :)

  3. A personal brand? Well, I accidentally got branded with the Chicago Sucks thing. That wasn't intentional, btw.

    Other than that, I don't think I really know what mine would be. I think you stuff fits in the fantasy sci-fi category though. I didn't realize you didn't care for that one.

    I can't wait until BVA is submitted - that's going to rawk. :)

  4. How do I brand myself? Well, first I heat the iron to screaming red hot, then I drop my pants ....

    Just kiddin'. I don't guess I need to answer that one for ya. If you don't know how I label myself by now, you ain't no friend o' mine. ;)

    I think the problem here is, I don't want to be STUCK with a brand. I'd like to be free to write other stuff, and when the brand is as harsh as the one I have, offering variety gets tough. Who'd read a mystery by Stephen King? Everyone. Who'd read one by Brian Keene?

    Brian who? See what I mean?

    So it's hard. I have a lot of things in my head, and not all of 'em are in my chosen brand arena.

    Oh well. It's not something I have to worry about yet. I'll put that somewhere behind "get a job" and see what happens. :)

    You're a good writer, btw. Believe it, sister.

  5. I would describe your Lake Belle books as literary fantasy. And they have the same nothing-is-as-it-seems thread running through them. I mean, as far as I know. I've read one book and pieces of others.

  6. lol@cranky vampire baby. That is the very WORST kind of vampire baby!!!

    Thanks for the link, I'll go check it out. I made myself a fan page so I'd have the name saved for when the time comes. But that's one of the things I'll wait to launch until a book comes out.

  7. Not much longer now (she says for the 24th time). I'm definitely a fantasy author, and I don't mind being lumped in there, but wouldn't it be neat if I started a trend? Pie in the sky...sigh.

  8. Oh, I see what you did there, with the iron and the dropping of pants. ha.

    One of the things that article said was that some authors don't want to be a brand. And that's why we use pseudonyms for different kinds of work. That's branding each name individually. And sometimes a writer isn't even ready for that step.

    Thank you for the compliment. Some days I believe it, some days I don't, but I just keep on truckin'. :)

  9. That's cause Brian Keene sucks. Sucks, I say!

  10. Her teeth are still coming in minus the front ones so she looks more and more like a vampire every day. At least she sleeps at night and not during the day. 10.5 - 11 hours at night and then only 2 forty minute naps throughout the day. Except yesterday... she took a nap that was over 2 hours because she's sick.

  11. from what I can gather from what I've written, i'm right there with you, though I may approach this subject differently. i deal a lot with faith, doubt, ethics/morals, duty and obligation and free will.

    also, most of my protagonists have some role in their respective Churches/religions (monks and nuns, to be exact).

  12. I've branded myself yellowcat on the internet to the extent it surprises me when I say it to someone in real life and they don't know who yellowcat is. Everything from the writing I do to the crafts I sell is under that name. I use it so much sometimes my real name seems strange.

  13. I don't have anyone in church, ever. lol

  14. I think of you as yellowcat, even on facebook. Also, Dane and Vanessa will always be Knyt and Fal to me.

  15. I read the article and think I'm not ready to brand. So I'm letting that go!

  16. Just saw your tweet in my Reader - congratulations! Is he here yet? I love Mimi, that's so cute! MimiSherri - I love it! :D Will you be heading to the hospital soon to see him?

  17. I'm getting the feeling this is Fal, not Knyt...but either way, she's going to text me when they admit her. She had to go walk for a while, and they're going to check her again when she gets back.

  18. *sigh* Yes, it was me. Why do I always forget to log him out when I get on? *eyeroll*

    Has he been born yet? Any news?

    Maybe I should just start putting my sig in all my comments while we're tag-teaming the laptop? You know, to cover my dorkness? Now *there's* a name for me! DorcNess, ha!

  19. You silly. lol Dorcness.

    Z is doing good, the baby was born this morning. We're going back to the hospital this afternoon.

  20. Yay!! Congratulations! Please give Z my best wishes and all that, and if you can, email me a pic of the baby. :) Did she stick with the name you mentioned a few weeks ago? T.D.?


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