How important is name recognition? This question is pretty easy to answer. I can do so by illustration. The current #1 bestseller on the fiction list is THE PRESIDENT IS MISSING by former president Bill Clinton and bestselling author James Patterson. Needless to say, they are both famous. A literary agent put them together to produce this blockbuster thriller. The July issue of AARP features an “exclusive” interview plus excerpt. Like most people, I was very interested in reading the article. It was the first thing I turned to in the magazine.
Realistically, we can’t all be that famous. Most of us who write aren’t well-known at all. So we have to look for other ways to get readers acquainted with us because hopefully once they do, they’ll become fans of our writing. So let’s discuss some basic ways in which we can build our brand:
1. Create a website that represents the image you want people to see. If you’re an expert in a particular field, make that clear through both photos and words.
2. Create a blog in which you discuss matters relevant to your area of expertise. Interview others in your field. Try to blog at least several times a month to build a following. Once a week would be even better.
3. Do interviews on other blogs.
4. Use social media to create connections. We’re talking Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. to get your message across. You can also join writer groups both in person and via the internet.
5. Write articles for many types of media both in print and online to establish expertise in your particular field. TV is the best, but radio isn’t bad either. Personal appearances are always great. Meet and greet!
6. Do library talks where you can show your books.
7. If you’re lucky enough to have a local bookstore, see if you can present there and if they will display and sell your books in return.
It has been observed that personal branding is one of the keys to success in today’s world. As such it takes time and effort. However, by branding yourself you are demonstrating who you are and the expertise you have to offer.
There’s been a lot of discussion among writers as to whether it benefits authors to be branded--by that I mean that writers want to market themselves by promoting their name, associating their name with a particular type, genre or style of writing. The premise? This is the best way to build a readership. For example, when we see the name Nora Roberts we immediately think of romantic suspense. The name Stephen King is immediately associated with horror. But these writers have also chosen to write under other pseudonyms as well. Jayne Ann Krentz, for example, writes her contemporary romances under that name, her sci-fi’s under Jayne Castle and her historical romances under Amanda Quick. The advantage is that her fans know exactly what to expect.
Many writers choose to use pen names. They write in a variety of genres and assume a different nom de plume for each. The theory is that it will confuse readers if writers use the same name for different types of work. There is also a tendency for publishers to try to place writers in neat categories or pigeon holes. It’s more convenient to connect a name to a particular format.
But what if you resist branding? Are you destroying your chance to be taken seriously as a writer or build a readership? I don’t have the answer to that question. I can only admit that I don’t limit myself to one particular format or genre. My latest adult romantic mystery from Encircle, DEATH PROMISE, is a sequel to DEATH LEGACY which was critically well-received.
My most recent young adult novel, WITCH WISH, is now published both in print and all e-book formats by Black Opal Books. It follows STACY’S SONG and THE DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER.
Several months back, Annorlunda published my literary novella
THE BURNING under “J. P. Seewald”.
I suppose if you were to ask me to elaborate on my “brand” I’d have to answer I really don’t have one. To paraphrase Shakespeare’s description of Cleopatra, I am a writer of infinite variety. Is it possible to build a readership without a definitive brand?
Your thoughts, opinions and comments are most welcome.