creating an author brand

  1. CTRandall

    CTRandall I have my very own plant pot!

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    Jo's blog-post got me going, so have a look at it if you haven't already.

    My question is, for "brand", why can't we substitute the word "style" or "themes"? Neal Stephenson's Snowcrash is a far cry from his Baroque Cycle which is, again, miles away from Seveneves, yet he has a distinctive style and has a pattern of setting his stories in the place where science brushes up against philosophy, so readers always know what they're going to get.

    Amy DuBoff brushes on that in your blog, Jo, and it strikes me that is a better way of building a "brand" than trying to focus on specific genres or settings. At the risk of being too forward, you might not need to have a specifically Nor. Irish setting for your works to give them a Nor. Irish twist. Your plot of land has enough history--ancient and recent--and culture to produce its own mind-set and patterns of behaviour and, taken together, I don't see why they can't provide a strong connection between Abendau and Inish Craig.

    So, if we write about what inspires us, won't there necessarily be connections between the things we write? And if so, is "brand" more about finding those connections and marketing them, rather than trying to fit our writing into a mould that might have little to do with style and inspiration?

    Discuss.
     
    Apr 11, 2018
    #1
  2. Cory Swanson

    Cory Swanson Well-Known Member

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    I find myself increasingly writing about supernatural artists. Problem is, I'm over half done with a WIP that has nothing to do with that.

    Ah, well. Gotta go where my heart and crazy imagination lead me.
     
    Apr 11, 2018
    #2
  3. Jo Zebedee

    Jo Zebedee Aliens vs Belfast.

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    @CTRandall - I think this blog probably sums up my crazy mixed up merging of the Norn Irish in Abendau:

    On Belonging

    You’re right. I can’t be from such a place and not have it invade my deep thoughts and themes. We are all still working through our hurt here. We have much more of a journey to go on - and for me Writing is part of that journey.

    Today I described myself as a writer of Northern Irish sf to someone (not Fantasy, interestingly enough - but I have been coming to terms with the fact it will always be secondary to the crazy path of a-woman-who-wants-to-write-sf) and it sat right on me.
    Sadly as marketability goes it might not hit the heady heights to be a big seller. But I decided I’d rather write what I’m proud of than churn out something I’d be sorry to put my name to very recently. So I’m mostly happy with my little unique niche brand :D
     
    Apr 11, 2018
    #3
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  4. Stephen Palmer

    Stephen Palmer author of novels

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    Unfortunately, what is regarded as an author brand by readers has a lot to do with how many books have been published. So, to use the example above, even though Neal Stephenson has published a few differently styled novels, when you say "Neal Stephenson" you have some idea of what to expect. There's no way around this for writers, or authors with only one or two novels.

    My back catalogue over 22 years is massively varied, yet people know roughly what approach I'll take. I'll accept "surreal transformation" though, as that does describe so many of my novels - Memory Seed, Glass, Muezzinland, Hallucinating, Urbis Morpheos and Hairy London. I think my recent work though is veering away from the Palmer norm.
     
    Apr 12, 2018
    #4
  5. CTRandall

    CTRandall I have my very own plant pot!

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    Fair point about the difference between established and new authors. There is a difference between building a brand and maintaining one.
     
    Apr 12, 2018
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  6. Cory Swanson

    Cory Swanson Well-Known Member

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    My dad is a stone sculptor. He has always talked about the importance of having a large body of recognizable work so someone could be walking along and see your work and say, "Oh, that's a Frank Swanson."

    Later in his career, he tried to branch out from his usual abstract forms. Nobody bought them. He returned to his signature style, and he hasn't stopped working since.

    Seems like we're talking about the same concept here.
     
    Apr 12, 2018
    #6
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  7. millymollymo

    millymollymo Automaton in disguise

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    Yes.
    Terminology it messes with you.

    Brand is a modern word, and has a commercial negativity, there are limited number of writers that can stomach a form of "commerce" thinking when applied to their own work - artists don't like "branding". You can't put a £$ on art. Writing is an art, it's creative. Style has more voice, more flair. It's harder to value, how do you insure a "style?"

    Style is what you have, brand is what you "push". Agents convert your style into brand, so marketing departments can package it out to booksellers. Brands you can insure, and invest in.

    Readers just want a good story. It's really nice when the good story comes with an awesome cover. You get to the point that you can spot your favourite author's books by their covers & the font of the title-> The branding.

    How do you get a reader to pick up a book outside their "prefered authors"? By comparison, which is possibly why you see such things in query and pitches. It makes the agent's job easier. But also by their favorite authors recommendations and shout outs, by awards. Awards causes shop window/front page promos = awareness.

    Jo has her style, Stephen has his. Stephen knows his style and how to brand it. Jo still shouts at me when I mention her's. :D.
    You'll have yours, CT
     
    Apr 12, 2018
    #7
  8. Juliana

    Juliana Juliana Spink Mills. "No capes!"

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    Perfect summing up! Of course, if the writer is self-published, they need to worry both about style and brand...
     
    Apr 14, 2018
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  9. CTRandall

    CTRandall I have my very own plant pot!

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    Style and brand. Hmmm, I was thinking of making my brand a circle-K but I believe that's already been taken by a store near San Dimas, California. I'll have to think of something else. And I'm not sure how well my tablet and red-hot iron will work together (I'm even more worried about paperbacks) but, if that's what it takes to succeed in this business, I'll give it a go.

    Sorry, there comes a point, late in the night, when my brain grazes on strange pastures.
     
    Apr 15, 2018
    #9
  10. Cory Swanson

    Cory Swanson Well-Known Member

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    Strange things are afoot...something something,
     
    Apr 16, 2018 at 4:46 AM
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  11. janeoreilly

    janeoreilly I like Captain America and biscuits

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    I would put style in with voice but I don't think they are the same thing as brand - to me brand is a marketing tool which has more to do with cover art and book titles etc but as publishers do less and less and authors are expected to pick up the slack, we're now expected to know all this stuff as well as knowing how to write a book. Sigh. It would be nice to just be able to write whatever you feel like but there are lessons to be learned from amazon and indie publishing such as writing series, so you have multiple hits, making covers link together, sticking within a certain genre (though that said, there are plenty who move around within genre and do very well, such as Joanne Harris). Branding yourself as a particular thing then also helps you build relationships with bloggers who fit with that as you can go back to them with second and third books. I am probably not the best person to ask about this as I have changed genre several times though
     
    Apr 16, 2018 at 9:42 AM
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  12. sknox

    sknox Member and remember

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    ... at the Circle K.
     
    Apr 16, 2018 at 5:05 PM
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  13. CTRandall

    CTRandall I have my very own plant pot!

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    Ah, I wasn't sure if anyone would get that. I don't even like the movie! (Blasphemy, I know.)
     
    Apr 18, 2018 at 5:17 PM
    #13
  14. Cory Swanson

    Cory Swanson Well-Known Member

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    There are certainly some things I love from my youth that are possibly more fueled by nostalgia than anything else. Bill and Ted. Wayne's World....
     
    Apr 18, 2018 at 6:28 PM
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  15. sknox

    sknox Member and remember

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    The phrase is cemented in my brain because I used that sample in a music track. You listen to a loop a few hundred times and you don't forget it!
     
    Apr 19, 2018 at 5:58 PM
    #15
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