Friday, December 2, 2011

Branding 102 - Or Why You Should

And to continue with my branding series...

Last post discussed a little about what branding is. This post will focus more on why you should.

As an author, you really, really, really want two things from the people who read you. First, you want to be an automatic buy for someone - as in, they don't care how much it costs or what format they have to grab the book in, they just want your book in their hands the minute it is released. The second thing you want is your readers loving you so much that they talk about your stories to all their friends.

And you do want that second one. Even with all the social media and various internet "Look at Me!" machinations, the biggest reason people still give on why they chose a particular book is because someone they knew recommended it to them.

Remember last week how I said the best thing you could do for your writing career is write in only one genre?   Yep, you are looking at the reasons why.

Not every reader reads every genre. I hear the "Duh, Captain Obvious" responses coming at me now throughout the internet, but think what I'm saying. Say a reader finds your paranormal romance and they love it, they llloooovvveee it. Best story ever in their mind. They rush to Amazon eager to pick up every book you've ever written in your life...

... and find a small-town contemporary, two BDSM erotica shorts, a humorous cozy mystery and a romantic suspense - all genres which the reader has no interest in. What is going to happen now?

Well, you will have a reader going, "WTF?!" (and yes, they'll be so confused they'll really think the letters).

You will have lost an automatic buyer. IF they choose to look for future books from you (and that is an IF, because once people have been disappointed, they don't tend to go back for future disappointment) they will carefully read, debate, and decide before they purchase your next book. Anyone in marketing will tell you this is bad. You more time someone takes in deciding to purchase, the less likely they'll purchase. The last thing you want is to make people stop and think if they really want to buy your book.

And finally, you will lose word of mouth.

In the example above, the person may have loved your paranormal, but the overall disappointment they end up feeling will mean odds are good that your name won't come up the next time books are being discussed - they won't want their friends to feel the same disappointment they did.

But let's think on the opposite - let's say the above person does read across those five genres and enjoyed every single book you wrote no matter the genre. Not a problem now, is it, Monsch?

Yeah, kinda still is. Branding at its core is a way to sell you. It's quick, it's clean, it's catchy - it is meant to grab someone's attention and make them go, "I need to check this person out."

Think of the huge difference between someone telling you, "I found this new author. They wrote this really great vampire story, I know you like vampires. Oh, and they wrote this suspense story with some romance - I figured out the killer half way way through, but it was still a good book. And man, they wrote this crazy BDSM book. I don't know why anyone would ever try any of that out, that stuff is scary. Anyone comes after me with a dog collar, I am running away and taking out a restraining order against them. Who the heck knows what they'll write next."


"You have GOT to check out this new author I just found. She writes the most incredible fantasy romance I have ever read. She's got three books in this one vampire and werewolf romance series, awesome! I can not wait for the next book in that series, I read the spoilers and it's the best friend, he's just this great character throughout the books, you'll love him. And she's got this other series, it has vampires and werewolves in minor roles, but that one is more about elves and fairies, they are both amazing and you need to get these stories now or you will hate yourself."

Yes, I'm being melodrama happy here, but you get what I'm saying.

I know sometimes this stuff can feel a little forced - all you want to do is write your stories and be happy. But the marketplace is crowded and to get an audience, it helps to have a plan and a path. Branding is a way to give you both of those.


  1. Good blog, Danielle. Would you say branding is the same as 'buzz'?

  2. Great blog post, Danielle! I'm learning quite a bit from these. Your example this week really clarifies why writing in the same genre (or at least ballpark like with the elves/fairies and werewolves/vampires) is important. :-D