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More Tips! This time, Branding.

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Steerpike, Dec 10, 2018.

  1. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    Since the writing tips sparked some debate, as they always do, how about these tips on branding?

    Seven Author Branding Tips

    My take:

    1. Yes, if you're going to engage in branding you need a plan. Obvious.
    2. Yes, with respect to a professional product--covers, editing, everything. I don't think you need similar design themes across ALL books, but I would use a similar theme across related books.
    3. I disagree with this. The emotional, intellectual, or other experience provided by the book should depend on the book. It's OK to have different goals with each book. I prefer that every book by an author not provide the same experience.
    4. Maybe, for some definitions of "delight." But only for certain definitions. As general advice, this is too broad.
    5. OK, sure.
    6. Yes, as for any profession.
    7. Obviously.
  2. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

    My tip? Make sure the iron is damned hot. The calf is gonna squeal and kick, but hold tight.

    I'll shut up about most of this list (so general and obvious) except to say this: Screw #3. Hideous analogy that just pisses me off, LOL. I won't even rant about no matter how much I want to...

    And I'll say another thing, the Traditional publisher market is not flooded with good writing, let alone the indie market. Flooded? Yes. But with real high quality stuff? I guess that depends on where you set the bar, but, not in my opinion.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2018
  3. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

    I'd take #3 to mean that if you write in two very different genres and or styles maybe think about separating the identities. I think Iain Bank did this successfully by using Iain Banks for his "literary" work and Iain M Banks for his SciFi... The reader had no reason to be confused or surprised.
  4. Peat

    Peat Sage

    I don't see a huge amount to argue with there. They're not the only way to do things but doing them pushes most people towards the better side of the probability curve. And for those who don't fit into them, they're not going to have the same frustrating feeling they'd get from trying to write by rules they don't agree with.

    Well. Okay. They probably will, but that's because everything about selling books is frustrating as best as I can tell.

    I'll even defend 3 and 4.

    3? 3 can be the difference between a reader auto-buying your books and taking a moment to peek at the blurb and maybe not buying it. This isn't about only writing the same style of book, or in the same sub-genre either (although that's the easy way to do it) but about having something consistent. Jim Butcher's written in three genres and you can tell its Jim Butcher in all of them (well, I tell a lie, I think its a Jim Butcher impersonator in the Aeronaut's Windlass and guess who doesn't like it). Even if you want to stand for wild experimentation and never writing series, having a fairly fixed writing style and set of themes helps.

    And honestly, I can't think of any author who straight up had an incredibly wide set of styles and interests and themes in the beginning of their career anyway. People do it naturally, its just being a bit calculated about it.

    As for 4 - I mean, basically that boils down to "Do your best every time as there's too much good stuff for people to bother with meh stuff". Which barely qualifies as a tip its so obvious. Its poorly written I guess, but the core message is a commandment for life.

    And yes, there is too much good stuff. I guess there's some people who can't find enough of what they're looking for, and a lot of books disappoint (which is when the author gets a sale on book 1 but not book 2), but in general when you consider all the books out there that a person can read, there is very little need for the average reader to pick up and read a book they're not totally enthused by.
  5. Firefly

    Firefly Troubadour

    Yeah, definitely. I've heard lots of people complain about branding because they hate the idea of limiting themselves to one genre, but in my opinion, at least, that's not really what it's about. I've followed one of my favorite writers from sci-fi to fantasy to superheroes with no complaints because she has the same exciting plots and interesting worlds in each book, while other writers stick to the same genre but can't consistently do the same things well.
    I don't think that means you have to give your reader the exact same experience in ever book, but if I as a reader loved your last book for the brilliant character arc, or immersive setting, and this new book doesn't have those things, I will be disapointed. Even if you are doing other things well. It doesn't have to be the same characters or setting every time, but I think you should be aware of what elements your readers are reading your book for and try to repeat them if you want to keep those readers.

    This is why I think it's so important for writers to know what their strengths are (Especially whatever element's are drawing readers to their work) and have a conscious understanding of their skills. It's hard to duplicate something you don't know you're doing.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2018
    Peat likes this.
  6. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

    On #3: I agree. Here's why. It's been my experience that readers will choose a book by genre first, then by their favorite author. This is just the consistent 'thing' I've seen so far. Readers want an experience when they read a book and if the author they favor in that genre provides a consistent flavor/feelings/story then they will keep reading that author. Consistency is key, imo, because it IS brand. Think about Pepsi or Coke or Safeway as examples. There is a certain 'je ne sais quoi' that is yet the same experience and why we choose those brands for their specific service (or drink). The same applies to books because they are products, too.
  7. It seems to me like some genres are more "translatable" to others. Like, a fantasy reader will pick up a sci-fi book from an author they like. Plenty of readers who move in the spec-fic umbrella. But if you write sweet historical romances, and then you decide to write horror? Not a lot of overlap there. Your audiences for both are not going to overlap at all most likely. If you've been writing steampunk and decide to write solarpunk? Totally acceptable. If you want to write a political high fantasy after writing a politically focused dystopian novel? Probably going to have enough similarities. But if you've been writing high fantasy and all of a sudden want to write chick lit? Not going to work.

    I *definitely* think you'd need different pseudonyms/identities if you write, say, YA or MG, as well as adult. Gonna have totally different audiences. The readers of your middle grade books just aren't going to be picking up your adult books.

    (i'm ISO a pen name for picture books I want to write, lol. I'm not good at coming up with these things.)
  8. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    I separate mine by using two separate names. If you're an established author going from adult fiction to YA or children's, it seems not to be necessary or maybe even desirable. When James Patterson or John Grisham or other very well known authors wade into YA or MG I think the name recognition still helps them, because the parents who are buying the books are going to know the name. If every adult who buys a James Patterson book and has a child will also buy a James Patterson children's book, he's going to sell more using the same name than using a pen name for the children's work. For new authors trying to break into the market, it can make more sense to employ a pen name.

    I'm actually using my pen name for adult works on one MG project because of the dark/horror nature of it. But my other kids stuff is under a different name.

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