Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Variety is the Spice of Life . . . right?

Wrong, at least in some situations.

And, “Branding”? What does it mean?

I’ve been reading a lot about Branding. Unfortunately, that one word makes me think of cattle not writers.

I picture a cow in a field getting shoved through a gate to get a stamp burned into its butt. Is that what we writers are supposed to do?

Sort of, I guess.

I mean Nike has the Swoosh, Adidas has the triple stripe, and Converse has the Star in the circle. There must be a reason these marketing giants use one symbol to be identified with their product.

But how can we writers use this “brand” to identify ourselves? We must be able to take something away from these marketing gurus’ examples.

I did a little research and read here that the American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as a name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of these items to identify the goods and services of one seller to distinguish them from other sellers.

Well, how can writers use that information to make themselves “known”?

I’ve heard that once we get published in a certain genre and have some success in that area, we should stick with it. That way our readers can be sure they’ll get what they want when they buy our books. People want a sure bet. And, if we jump around from one genre to another, our readers won’t have that satisfaction and they won’t trust our name on the spine of a book.

I guess it’s like going out for a hamburger and ordering a cheeseburger, only to bite into an iguana burger when we’d been expecting beef. We might be a little disappointed, in fact we might even get mad. We writers don’t want to make readers mad. We want readers to trust us and buy our books – right?

And here’s an article about finding your focus.

Now, all I have to do is get a book published.


Christina Farley said...

This is a very interesting topic that I never thought of until I went to SCBWI LA last year and heard Steven Malk talk. He talked about how we see ourselves as a writer and how our audience sees us.

I do think there is some truth to this yet at the same time I find it hard to put myself in the box. I love to write adventure stories, romance and multicultural stuff.

And maybe the more I write, the more I'll which areas I'm most comfortable with.

But I think there really is something about making your name. When I pick up a particular author's book, I'm definitly picking it up because I think the novel will be similar to their last and I loved the last one.

Bish Denham said...

Hmmm. Off the top of my head I can think of two award winning children's authors who have written across genres and for more than one age group. Jane Yolen and Kate DiCamillo.

Should actors be branded? There are actors who might be quite talented but for one reason or another get type-cast which pretty much dooms their career.

Musicians have the same problem. If they made the same kind of music over and over wouldn't we get bored? It's the sound we're after. The Beatles had a distinct sound, but every album was different. Bob Dylan, John Mayall, Eric Clapton, Tina Turner, each has a distinct voice/sound, but no two albums are similar.

I keep reading (from writers in books they've written about writing and the writing process)that you/me/we should write what we want; that ultimately we should write to please ourselves else our voice/our sound/our style will sound off key, our stories will fall a little flat.

Some authors are content to write in one genre. That's because it works for them. I for one think it's not only unfair, it's not right, to be "type-booked." It's almost further evidence of our society's obsessive need to catagorize and pigeon hole, which begins the first day of school and which ultimately stifles creativity.

OK...I'll get off my soapbox now. :O

Kelly said...

It is too bad if an author can't explore other genres. I read the focus article as well. I agree with it to focus on one thing at a time, but I do think the one woman could explore the romance novels, if she focused on that on not the other for a bit.
I think we can do it all! Just focus on one area at a time.
And branding? Hmmm, I'm a poet, picture book writer, word puzzle creator, who is currently writing my first chapter book.
I better focus!

Kim Kasch said...

I totally know what you gals are talking about.

I love to write poetry. And I've written a lot of articles for magazines for kids and women's magazines.

Right now I'm working on a MG and YA manuscript-at the same time.

But branding is what I hear people talking about-all the time.

Jean said...

Thanks for the article, Kim.

I think maybe our BRAND has to find us while we're exploring different genre. We have to be on the lookout for it when we see it, then jump on that wagon and stick with it for a while.


Thought provoking.


adrienne said...

That was an interesting article. It's harder for me to look into the future and at the big picture - I'm more inclined to concentrate on here and now. I think you do have to explore a little to know what you really enjoy doing.

Amy Tate said...

Sounds so simple, huh? It's like trying to tell a painter that he is only allowed to paint in red. If I didn't love to write so much, I would have chucked this a long time ago. But I do love it - even if my blogging and critique buddies are the only ones who read it.

Suzanne Casamento said...

While this is an interesting topic, I'd concentrate on writing. Good books will get published and people will find them no matter how you are or aren't branded. And even more, we may not be able to control how we're branded. As scary as it might be, other people will probably end up doing it for us, don't you think?

Kim Kasch said...

Suzanne: That is soooo true. I love your way of thinking.

Rena said...

Interesting topic and replies here as well. I've done mostly PBs but would love to branch out into the MG market.