Blogger: Kathleen Y’Barbo, Publicist
Location: The Woodlands, Texas PR Office
Weather: Blue Norther coming! Translation: 90s to 50s in one afternoon
Last week I asked for you to send me your thoughts, rants, raves, and ponderings on the topic of author branding. Next week I will be sharing those with you; so there’s still time to weigh in with your opinion on the subject.
After reading the comments and tallying the votes, however, I reached this conclusion: branding does/doesn’t matter to an author’s career and is/isn’t important to consider.
DOES: It matters, how? A brand matters because when your book is sitting on a crowded shelf with other worthy tomes, which one is a reader going to choose? Title, cover, and a myriad of other factors are certainly working to cause Suzy Shopper to reach for a certain book. But, what if Suzy Shopper has read your books and is familiar with your type of writing, say cozy mysteries? And what if tonight’s the perfect night for Suzy to curl up by the fire and read a sweet who-done-it like your brand suggests your book will be? Here’s where brand DOES matter. She’ll coming looking for you if she knows your brand is what she’s seeking. To Suzy, her mood determines the brand she seeks.
DOESN’T: Rhonda Reader loves books. Lots of books. In lots of genres. Depending on the day, she will read just about anything. When she walks into the bookstore, she’s going to be picking up whatever strikes her fancy. Does she care that you’re the best edgy historical writer ever? Likely not if she’s just browsing. Thus, to Rhonda Reader, brand has no bearing on her purchase. Some days she’ll be reading Bill Giovannetti and others DiAnn Mills. To her, mood trumps brand.
IS: Let’s look at the publisher’s point of view on whether brand is important. If you’re not yet published, your brand may be what catches the eye of an editor or agent. If you write medical thrillers starring an Army medic and based on experience gleaned in your three decades of experience in that job, your brand IS essential to cultivate. Imagine the cross-pollination of publicity between those who read thrillers, those who are in the medical field, and those who are in the military. And all of them will find you through your brand. Wendy Lawton has a great theory proving branding IS important. She says, and I agree, that the best career path for most writers is narrow and deep, meaning that an author should find what he or she writes well and continue to deliver that to readers consistently and regularly.
ISN’T: Anyone who has picked up three Angela Hunt books would state that brand is not important. Though I would say that Angie has a broader brand–that of a satisfying read as opposed to being limited to a genre or type–I would agree that it is hard to know what you will get between those covers. As Janet Grant said in a recent Books & Such blog, sometimes brand is NOT in your favor, meaning that sometimes the best thing to do to shake a writing career out of the doldrums is to go against brand and write something completely different.
So there you have it. Next week I will be sharing your comments and talking more about this topic. What do you think? I want to know.