Do Your Books Align with your Author Brand?

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Hello, All!  It’s the first Wednesday of the month and you know what that means: another installment of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to unleash our fears and insecurities onto the world without poking out anybody’s eyes.

Purpose of IWSG: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

The cohosts for June are…M. Pax, Tracy Jo,Patricia Lynne, Rachna Chhabria, Feather Stone, and Randi LeeMake sure you stop by their blogs and say hello:)

But now, on to the nitty-gritty of today’s topic: author brands. But first, I have a confession to make: I’m fresh off of a three day bachelorette party that was held in Myrtle Beach. We stayed at the Island Vista (if you’re ever in Myrtle Beach, you should definitely stay there. It’s really nice). It was my first true bachelorette party that nearly turned into The Hangover (but without Mike Tyson or that tiger, and no, I didn’t yank out my tooth) and that I’m sure will provide lots of fodder for future novels. My “bachelorette” party involved a cake, words of wisdom from good friends, and a contest to see who could make the best wedding dress out of toilet paper. But this past weekend? Lord hammercy. I’m still recovering.

But I digress.

Anyhoo, I don’t tell you all of this to gloat about the fact that I woke up every morning, walked out to the balcony, and saw the ocean (although, I’m sure you can detest a slight hint of “nan-nanny-boo-boo). I reveal all of this to say that this was a much needed break because I’ve been working hard on my novel (among other things), and now that I’m back and refreshed, I’ve been giving some serious thought about this author branding thing.

I’m almost done with my WIP (woo-hoo!) and I’ve been thinking about my next project. I have another novel outlined but the more I think about it, the more I realize that, even though it could potentially be a good story, I don’t want to write good stories. I want to write great ones. Now, when I say “great,” I don’t necessarily mean life-changing. I just mean a terrific story that’s uniquely mine and screams out, “Quanie Miller all day, yo.” A story that, when people read it, they can’t imagine anybody else but me writing it. So I’ve nixed that particular story (apologies to Kat, the protagonist of that tale) and set my sights on another one that I think I could put that Quanie swag on. Yes, folks, it’s official: I have swag on fleek (shout out to Beth Ellyn Summer, who I know will appreciate that:)

I used to worry about whether or not I should be writing humor or paranormal, but as you good folks have said to me a million times, genre doesn’t really matter: voice does.

So that’s where I am right now. Trying to figure out exactly what I want my brand to be and nixing stories that don’t align with that. There’s no way for me to know if I’m making the right choice (or if Kat’s story would have been exemplary) but I have to follow my gut, and my gut says that if I’m going to successfully build my author brand, I have to write stories that are uniquely mine, and that means not writing the trends, following my heart, and digging deep to create stories and characters that are memorable.

What about others? Do you give much thought to this when you’re writing? Do you think I’m overthinking things? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

26 thoughts on “Do Your Books Align with your Author Brand?

  1. I’m completely with you on this. ^_^ The book I just finished and my current WIP are things that I believe are uniquely me, and they’re stories I’d be glad to have identified with me forever. (So far, at least. I haven’t done edits on the story and the WIP’s only three days old. But still.)

    I don’t know if I’d say I have a brand or that I’m shooting for one, though. If I’m lucky, I’ll become known as an author with a bunch of diverse characters – the main couple in my finished book is interracial and LGBT, and I always try to make sure the people in my book reflect the variety of people who exist here in the real world. But you’re right that it’s the story that matters most.

    …and now I’m just confused. >_<
    Mason T. Matchak recently posted..IWSG: The Comfort Zone is not Your Friend.My Profile

  2. You can’t help yourself, Luv. Your effervescence bubbles out in everything you write! You don’t need to worry about a brand when your true self is so comfortably displayed. Just write! Write what’s in your heart and on your mind in your very own classic style. 🙂
    diedre recently posted..Life Does Go On (and on)…My Profile

  3. Right on – be true to yourself – write stories you love and align your other works with your inner “brand.” For me it is stories of family and community and finding yourself and your place in your world. All in spite of murder, mayhem and secrets uncovered. Thanks Quanie for raising this topic.

  4. Follow your gut. Follow your gut, follow your gut, follow your gut.

    Did I mention you should follow your gut?

    Sorry to be a broken record, but it’s hands-down the best advice in any situation. Your gut is wise and intuitive and should be listened to – and I am positive it’s telling you this for a reason. What that reason is, I have nooooo idea, though 😉

    But yes, we love your style and will read anything in that style – voice IS s much more important. Go for it!
    Liz Blocker (@lizblocker) recently posted..Insecure Writers: New World OrderMy Profile

  5. Well, I wish I were writing enough to give this some thought. Actually I probably tend to think more about my “branding” than I do what I’m going write. However, once I start writing I think I’ll slip into my brand rather comfortably.

    Did you ever picture your image on the front of a cereal box? I guess better there than a milk carton. Do they still put pictures of missing people on milk cartons?

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Road trippin’ with A to Z
    Arlee Bird recently posted..Does Cutting Back on Blog Posting for Summer Hurt? (#!WSG)My Profile

  6. I have to be true to myself, but that doesn’t mean sticking with one genre. I’m into speculative fiction and fiction where faith is some part of it – whether an underpinning part of the world-building that’s never mentioned or above-board and noticeable. I like to write some contemporary, too, and I’ve written some non-fiction. I don’t know if I have a brand exactly but I’ve been calling myself an “everyday writer” which is the best thing that I think fits. I like to write every day – no matter the genre, and I hope that my writing is readable by every day people. I don’t want to write literary, symbolic stuff – well, except maybe when I write poetry. I want to write fiction that most people can enjoy.
    Tyrean Martinson recently posted..IWSG: Is my content “good” enough?My Profile

    • I think most people do tend to view “literary” fiction as work. It’s one reason I don’t touch the stuff. I appreciate it, don’t get me wrong, but I read to be entertained, not to stress myself out trying to figure out what the heck the author is talking about. I’m with you on writing fiction people can enjoy. It’s why I write: to entertain.
      Quanie recently posted..Do Your Books Align with your Author Brand?My Profile

  7. Hey, Quanie, do the crazy woman thing at the bachelorette parties while you can. Too soon you’ll realize that your body will do terrible and permanent bad things to you if you over-indulge. So while you’re young, or youngish, do it, LOL. Re writing, you’re spot on regarding honoring your gut. Write what you feel passionate about rather than what’s appears to be the hot popular item on Amazon’s book shelves. Wishing you great success.

  8. No, you’re not over thinking. It’s what I try to do everytime I sit down and write. I can admire all the writers I want and want to write like them. But I can’t have my voice drowned out. I have to think to myself how I want to write my story l, trending be damned.

  9. Quanie, why do you tease us like that and not provide pictures? What I wouldn’t give to see how y’all ‘turnt up’ in Myrtle Beach!

    I think author branding is important simply because once I become a fan of a particular author and they produce a couple of books along the same line, I tend to gravitate towards their books based upon my mood. For instance, when I’m craving nostalgia and romance with a healthy dose of predictability Nicholas Sparks is my guy. The characters WILL fall in love, they WILL have opposition, someone WILL die and their love WILL go on. It’s a tried and true formula, and if I pick up a NS book and he’s talking about gang bangers and drive-bys I’d probably have a mild stroke.

    That being said, I’ve heard of some authors using various pen names to produce books in different genres. It’s more work for the author, but less confusion for the reader. Plus, the author doesn’t have to stifle their creativity for the sake of branding and marketing. I’ve gotta say though, that I have a hard enough time managing the one brand. I couldn’t imagine managing more at this point. Maybe after I’m an old pro…
    Faith Simone recently posted..Book Review: Catch Me If You Can by Christina C. JonesMy Profile

    • NS talking about gang bangers? Girl, I’d pay to read it! LOL! I think you’re right. The only way to combat that is to write in a variety of genres off gate, but have something that ties the work together so that you’re always recognizable to readers. I struggled with this for quite sometime (and I still do, truthfully). But it’s too late to turn back since I’ve published a comedy and a paranormal story under one name. Might as well go head on and write some sci fi or somethin’ next…
      Quanie recently posted..Do Your Books Align with your Author Brand?My Profile

  10. YAAAAAASS. On fleek all day long!! haha, that made my day. 🙂 awesome post, and I had this moment back in the fall. I want people to always know I write the girly stuff, and the MS I was working on felt like I was trying too hard to copy other popular YA authors. It didn’t feel like me so I scrapped it (apologized profusely to Cori, my MC) and moved on. I still feel like my current WIP needs more oomph, but I guess that will come with revision! For now at least I know it feels like I’m being true to myself, and readers will hopefully, instantly recognize my style!

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