Tuesday, July 24, 2018

How Important Is Name Recognition?

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.


  1. There is no Holy Grail in book marketing, though much effort is placed in searching for it. In my experience as a reader, there is no substitute for a well-written book. And you, Jacqueline, have several of those to offer.

    1. Thank you, Saralyn, for your comments. You are right--the first requirement for successful book marketing is to offer a quality read.

  2. Great tips, Jacqueline. One thing I tell author friends and clients is to remember that name recognition takes time regardless of the efforts we make.

    Good luck and God's blessings

  3. Pam,

    Thanks for adding your own advice. I do agree. Building a "name" isn't something that happens overnight.

  4. Like you, Jacqueline, I write across a variety of genres. I sometimes quip, "I haven't decided what I want to be when I grow up yet." I just have to write what inspires me and a lot of different incidents, people and situations inspire my very different books. Nice blog. I say, carry on, whatever inspires you to write.

  5. Susan,

    We agree. As writers, we express our need to communicate and that can and should take a variety of forms.

  6. Lots of great points here, Jacqueline. I think we just have to do trial and error with all of them until we hit on something that works. And I feel like I'm only half a writer. The other half is a PR firm.

  7. Hi Paul,

    You're so right. Apparently, we writers must also become experts in promotion and sales.

  8. Great topic, Jacquie!
    I agree with what Pamela wrote. In today's society, everyone wants everything instantly but, in the case of name recognition, it takes time to achieve - and sometimes a little ingenuity. For example, my last name can be difficult for people to pronounce and spell so I make it a point to mention that "Gligor" rhymes with "tiger." I even use an illustration of a tiger typing on my blog. Whatever it takes. LOL

  9. Pat,

    I've been incorrectly pronouncing your last name. So thanks for this illustration.

  10. Name recognition is important, but sometimes branding it can be overwhelming when published by a small press and most of the work has to be done by the author. I do the best I can and keep my fingers crossed. It was helpful to read everyone's comments.

  11. Kathleen,

    I agree with you. The big drawback about working with small presses is the lack of distribution. It's hard to develop a brand when we remain unknown.