Calling readers and writers: I want YOUR thoughts on this.

I'm coming up to having to make some decisions about publishing, and it's made me think about something I read awhile ago.

This article stated that authors needed a brand. And that for most authors, that meant getting established in ONE genre. There were many authors at the time of this article (a few years ago) that wrote in two genres, but they almost all were heavily established in the first prior to moving to another.

Lately, I've seen a lot of authors writing in multiple genres and categories. Now, I support that. 100%. I, myself, write in multiple genres.

My question, though, is if the way it is being done could end up cause business problems.

Writing is a business, if it's your profession. Yes, it's an art and all that, but if you're writing as a career, it's a business. And a huge part of business is marketing, and part of marketing is branding. I'm not saying that you aren't a person and are instead a pair of jeans made a certain way. You are a person. The brand shows us that person and gives us an expectation.

Branding. What does branding do?

  • It allows others to recognize you based of your brand 
  • Your brand indicates you. It sells you
  • In writing, it gives your readers an expectation. 
  • You don't have to force this or plan on this "creation". It's really just using you to help your books.

Think about it. You see a logo. That logo is going to cause some kind of thought process in your head. It could be good or it could be bad. And I'm not saying you need to go literally brand yourself or tattoo yourself (though, I'm sure the molnija marks in the tattoo picture above cause a similar reaction in our brains as a logo does), but it's like ranchers and their cattle. You see the brand on the cattle, and you know those cows belong to that rancher. The name on your book works like that brand. It clues the readers into something.

Nowadays, I see a lot of authors and never really figure out who they are. I don't end up with expectations. I may like one of their novels, but at that point, I'm more supportive of the book--not so much loyal to the author.

If an author is publishing books in multiple genres before focusing on one, does that impact their brand?

I think I've noticed this more just because self-publishing has allowed authors to do that. Indies aren't restricted to one or two genres.

I write and read primarily speculative fiction. I do write some contemporary, but most of my stuff falls into the fantasy side of things. So, I've been wondering, is it a better idea to get a good foundation in my primary focus before putting my secondary focus out there?

When I pick up a book from an author I know, I want an idea of what I'm getting into. If you read this author's sci-fi one day, and then the next book they publish is, say, historical fiction,  followed by a contemporary romance and then a steampunk, do you get that branding?

I'm not saying you do or don't, I just want to discuss it. What makes you a loyal reader? Do you tend to be more book-to-book loyal, or are you loyal to certain authors as a whole? Does branding make a difference to you?

Post a Comment

  1. This is a VERY interesting topic.

    A while back, an author friend of mine help me through my "branding" issues. I was all ready to create a penn name for my second genre. My first, m/g, y/a fantasy. Well my second novel was a VERY EDGY y/a contemporary. Two very different styles of writing. My friend suggested I brand as a teen writer. Covers many genres.

    But your question about following an author has me thinking. Yes, I buy books of my favorite authors, expecting them to continue in the genre that brought me to their style in the first place. In all honesty I thing an author should ESTABLISH themselves in one genre, then, once they make a name can move onto others. A good writer CAN write anything, And I definitely would read a different genre of a writer that I enjoy.

    1. I see what you mean. I honk I tend to agree about the establishing part, which makes me definitely think more about my publishing plans. I usually will try the books of an author I love even if the books are different genres, but I may not always follow those other books. For example, I love this specific author and I especially love her YA. I tried her adult series and while they weren't bad, I'm just not as crazy about it but that's okay because I know her YA meets he expectations I have of her. So, I'm guessing you didn't end up using the other pen name?

  2. For me it's more the type of story I can expect. I might feel that one author excels at writing hot guy characters who I always fall in love with. Another author tends to write stories that involve the family as part of the major storyline (think Sarah Dessen and Sarah Ockler). Another author might excel at writing broken characters. When I pick up their next book, it's because of these expectations, and that's why I picked up the book. They can change genre, but I'm going to have the same expectation. And if they change from this expectation, I'll probably be disappointed. Unless they wow me in a new way.

    1. Nicely said, Stina. That's definitely what I meant by expectations, as well as genre. I do, though, think that the authors who can keep those expectations trough many genres aren't as common as we all hope. And that's ok. As you said, most every writer has a strong point and so also probably a weak point. I think the branding is focusing and using those strong points.

  3. Note: This disjointed comment was brought to you by sleep deprivation and the letter L.

    It takes a while for me to become author-loyal. It usually involves a couple of books and a thorough Internet stalk to make sure they're not an a-hat. LOL

    Silliness aside, the important thing about branding is that you use a common, distinguishable thread--everything from the tone of your blog posts to the colors of your business cards. It's not something to be reinvented every few months, and as you mentioned, made even more difficult when you write in every genre under the sun. Branding takes effort, but it's definitely worth it. :)

    1. That's interesting about the cards....I'm thinking that would e more of a branding tool for the industry side, and not so much the reader side?

  4. Branding is tough enough as it is without trying to change images all the time. If your goal as an author is to establish a readership, than why would you make yourself work twice as hard to establish in two genres? I can see spreading out once you have one brand going, but I think it's much better to have a brand that will work for both. As a reader I am willing to change genres with an author, but I think the expectations are higher.

    1. Good points. Interesting that our expectations could be higher. So, in your opinion do you think it's best for authors to debut and focus in their primary genre, get a foundation and then add the other?

  5. Like Carrie, I'm sleep-deprived, but unlike her, too exhausted to join in. I'm going to have to ponder the topic of branding. You all have made some great points.

    1. Come back after you ponder, Melissa. I enjoy your input!

  6. I've written novels in a variety of the subgenres of science fiction and fantasy, since I don't know what will get published first. Whichever one gets chosen, publishers tend to want sequels, or at least similar stories set in the same universe. So publishers are to some extent already dictating that a new author get established in a particular type of story.


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