Wow! A lot of questions came in over the weekend. I’ll try to answer a few of them today:
I’m not sure I like this branding thing.
Randy sez: Nobody likes branding. It is hard work, and it forces you to think about things you’d rather not think about, such as what makes you special. I’ve resisted the whole branding thing for years. And unfortunately, it’s caused me to diffuse my efforts in way too many directions. I’ve had to some serious soul-searching lately and make a hard, hard decision to let one of my genres go.
Can I get away with two different styles if one type is written with a co-author and the other, written on my own, has a different “flavor?”
Randy sez: Yes, you can. But that’s going to double your workload. Do you really want to do that? Imagine you’re training for the Olympics in, say, diving. But you’re also interested in going out for the Olympics in a team sport–synchronized swimming?
Can you do both of them? Yes. But you’ll be splitting your training into two sports and competing with people who are focused. It’s hard enough to excel in anything. To excel in something that you’re only doing half-time is a LOT harder.
If I am writing in the area of disability, could disability be my brand,allowing me to write about it in any genre? I like magic realism for example but I also like drama, mystery, thrillers etc.
Randy sez: Yes, disability could be part of your brand. But genre is another part of it. My own experience has been that doing multiple genres is a problem, because readers won’t necessarily come with you as you cross those pesky genre boundaries. And if they don’t come along with you, then you’re starting over with every book. For how many books do you want to have the sales of a first-time author? And why?
Is using a pseudonym a good way to allow yourself to write in diverse genre?
So should I use my name for my non-fiction and a pen name for my women’s fiction?
Randy sez: A pseudonym can definitely help if you’re writing fiction in different genres. Evan Hunter wrote his police mysteries as “Ed McBain” and he had several pseudonyms. Other authors have written successfully under multiple names. But that really complicates your life.
As for writing nonfiction and fiction under different names, you could do well writing under the same name if they were perceived as being in the same general brand. For example, James Swain is a professional magician who writes mysteries about gambling cheaters. I assume he also writes nonfiction (on magic). If not, he could do so and it would be fine, because his brand would still be “the magician who writes about illusions.”
Can you imagine a business plan for one person starting three separate, unrelated businesses being approved by a lender? It’s hard enough for one brand to get a foothold in the overcrowded brain of the consumer without breaking it into many fragments.
Randy sez: This is Xtremely true. For those of you who want to write with multiple brands, why not FIRST try succeeding with one of them, THEN branch out (under a pseudonym or not) to another brand. Publishing is a hard game. Why make things harder?
I think I’m beginning to see that I need to narrow down my passions (I have many) and figure out which one I am the most passionate about.
Randy sez: I wish I had learned to do this earlier in life. I have learned it in the last few months, and am constantly having to remind myself to focus, focus, focus. I’ve hobbled my writing career by being too spread out. I hope you won’t ALL insist on making the same mistakes I have.
My question is when are we to pick out a brand?
Randy sez: The sooner the better. Please remember that a brand does not pigeonhole you for life! You are free to extend your brand or move it around and launch a new brand, AFTER you have established it. Nothing is written in stone forever. But having a brand will make it far more likely for you to get some early success.
OK, that’s enough for today. I’ll answer more questions tomorrow.
PS: Imagine if this blog were about fiction writing AND linear algebra AND ancient history AND cats AND theoretical physics. All of those are interests of mine. But how many of YOU would stick around to read it? This blog is read because it’s focused on writing fiction.