Today, I’ll answer a few more questions on branding. Then tomorrow, I’ll post some comments by another author I consider very well branded, Camy Tang. And Camy is not even published quite yet. I wish I’d known as much about branding when I was just starting out as Camy does. I was hoping to get her interview pasted in here tonight, but it’s late and I’ve got a few good questions from you all left to answer:
Okay, I’m sold. I realize I need to be branded (fortunately this won’t be done with a hot iron – right?). But as an author starting out on her career I have no idea on which genre I need to focus. I read nearly everything (except chicklit – sorry but that genre just can’t get me past the back cover). This I believe is going to take a lot of research and trial and error. And to be quite frank – and please correct me if I am wrong – a great deal of rejections until some literary agent and editor decides one of my novels is publishable, whatever the genre. At that point I am assuming I will have a pretty good idea where my niche will be, but will that be enough to satisfy the animal in me that wants to explore all genres and the adventures they entail?
Randy sez: We can arrange the hot iron, for those who want one. But normally, it’s more painful than that, because you have to think about who you are and define yourself. That’s something we all struggle with. It took 3 folks from Zondervan to hold Brandilyn down long enough to brand her!
It is normal, Lynn, at your stage in your career, to want to branch out and try different things. There’s nothing wrong with that. As is well known, I spent about 10 years as a pre-published writer, trying various things. Eventually I found the things I loved to write most. Unfortunately, there were two or three different genres that I loved to write most. I’d have done much better if I’d settled on one.
So try stuff! Experiment! That’s great when you’re a freshman and sophomore level writer. But when you get to be a senior level writer and ready to graduate, you’ll help your cause immensely if you show those agents and editors that you know who you are and what you write.
I guess I’m a little nervous about getting branded and then not liking what I’m stuck with. I’ve got this “thing” going with being an interrupted writer, but I don’t see that translating into my fiction branding. I don’t see how that fits in to WHAT I write, just HOW I write.
Randy sez: You are more likely to be stuck with a brand you don’t want if you FAIL to brand yourself effectively. Because other people will decide what your brand is, and they’ll feel no responsibility to decide the way you want them to. That has been my problem for years and years. But if YOU choose your brand, then you get to choose what you LOVE writing and be who you really want to be.
I think the theme of being “interrupted” might play into your brand as a novelist. Not sure how it would work, but it could be unique and different. Some brands capitalize on “coolness”–for example Apple, which is mightily cool. Gina, you might be able to turn being an interrupted writer into a cool factor. But your genre will also play a role. And your personal style.
My personal style includes offbeat humor and a strong analytical streak. Not everyone appreciates those traits, and that’s OK. The fact is that both of them are authentically me. So I’ve woven those into my Advanced Fiction Writing site as part of my brand. When I say on my site that I was “both class nerd and class clown,” that’s fair warning of the kind of person I am. That’s part of my brand.
I’m not sure I understand about “branding.” Is it “what I want to be known for?” I started a web site to start building a platform about my main focus or message as a writer. Perhaps that will brand me.
Randy sez: Yes, that is part of branding. One of the questions you ask in brand development is “How do I want people to perceive me?” Or sometimes it’s even simpler–“How do people already perceive me, and is that a valid picture of who I really am?” That was part of the path Brandilyn took. She listened to her readers and they told her things that she then took and turned into her brand. There is a give and take in the brand development process.
I think a brand isn’t what you WANT to be known for so much as what you ARE known for. The trick seems to be in finding a way to make the wanted brand and the known brand one and the same.
Randy sez: Yes, it seems to be a bit of both. You can’t completely control how people perceive you. But you can give them guidance. And if you listen to them, sometimes they know things about you that you don’t know about yourself. Branding is a two-way street, and being authentic is a big part of it. Communicating that to people clearly is another part of it.