When I first began writing, I blogged a lot about the craft of writing and my thoughts on writing, pretty much as I went along. When I learned something, I shared. Then life with two careers got very busy and I stopped blogging in favor of writing novels. Now I want to get back to sharing my experiences in writing. Thus, my new weekly post, The Writer’s Eye.
This week, continuing with my “how to plan for your career in writing” topic, I’m touching on the subject of branding.
Over the years, I’ve been given a lot of good advice on branding myself, from the importance of it to how to do it. I’ve taken workshops at various conferences on branding and today will share some of that wisdom with you.
The first and major thing an author needs to do to brand themselves is to decide on your genre/sub-genre and write those books exclusively. This will help your readers identify you as a writer of thrillers, or romantic suspense, or historical romance. You want readers to immediately associate your name with the genre/sub-genre you write. Some authors, Lisa Kleypas and Nora Roberts for example, succeed in writing multiple genres, but beginning authors may want to stick to one until they are well-established (like Lisa Kleypas) before switching to another genre.
Another major thing to be addressed while branding yourself is your use of a pen name. If you wish to use a pen name for your writing, you need to establish it from the very beginning, again so fans will identify this name with your writing. If you wish to write in a separate genre, you can use a different pen name to do so, however, take into consideration that you will have to have separate websites, social media accounts, and marketing plans for your second identity. You may also find you won’t be able to have an author photo for your second pen name, unless it is your image altered in some way. This is a good deal of work, but if you are energized by writing both contemporary and erotic romances, you should seriously think about taking different names for each genre/sub-genre.
And speaking of author pictures, this will also help with branding yourself if you can at all get a picture of yourself out to the public. When I first began writing I was also teaching at a private university and I was afraid of students finding out my identity as a writer of steamy historical romance. So I adopted a pen name (I also thought my real name wasn’t the best to associate with historical romance) and did not allow my picture to be known until my print series was about to come out (I thought I might get it on the back cover). At that point, I had a big identity reveal, did a professional photo shoot to get the best photo of me I could. This is now the only photo officially associated with me.
There are many other things an author can do to brand themselves. One of these is to have a logo created that you can then put on your blog, your correspondence (in the signature block), your swag. Again, have this image reflect your genre and you or your public persona.
Last year I had Patricia Green of Gadzooks Graphics create my logo that is now on most of my publicity (blog, business cards, swag pens, etc). The lavender color and the images of a rose and a sword are all part of branding myself so these things will be linked with my name in the minds of readers.
The final way to brand yourself that I’ll talk about today is branding yourself through your book covers. Your book series can brand you instantly with your genre both from the distinct style of the series from the similarity of the covers within the series. With my self-published works, I have complete control with regard to the book covers and each one of the series has a distinctive look that hopefully says immediately “historical romance” and “Jenna Jaxon.” A couple of years ago I had my medieval series re-covered to blend better with my other series. The original covers were in a very medieval style, while my sweet Regency series was much lighter and airy looking.
The fonts were different, and readers could have that assumed they were written by different people. The new covers took the same style as the Handful of Hearts series, and so help brand me as the author. Now all my indie covers have very similar fonts and styles, so you can usually spot a Jenna Jaxon romance easily. My newest upcoming series, House of Pleasure, will keep the same type of font, however the covers to this much sexier series will have a darker theme, with couples on the covers, the men bare-chested, and the setting a bedroom. Hopefully, it will signal to readers the steamier nature of the books while aligning them still with my other writings.
Thanks for stopping by The Writer’s Eye this week! Next week I’ll go on with another topic of interest from this writer’s eye.