Creating a brand that represents you as an author and reflects your writing as a whole is hard enough when you write in just one genre. Often, when an author writes books in just one series, their author brand gets tied inextricably with their series brand. That isn’t ideal, but it isn’t necessarily a problem either. But what happens if the author starts writing a completely different series or even a standalone novel? What’s more, what if the new novel is in a completely different genre? It stands completely outside of the author’s known brand. The author now has two choices, either change their brand or use a pseudonym.
I was once on the ‘pseudonyms for different genres’ bandwagon. But that was over a decade ago. As the digital age has matured and social media has become a necessary part of an author’s platform, the ease of keeping up more than one author name has become more difficult. It entails maintaining websites, blog posts, newsletters and active social media accounts for each pen name. That is both expensive and time consuming. If you write within several subgenres, maintaining your pseudonyms would be unmanageable, and it would leave little time for writing.
The best option is creating an author brand that can encompass all that you write, and what you may write in the future. In short, you want to brand yourself as an author, not your genre. I’ve worked with several clients to create author brands that can represent their work as a whole.
The first step is figuring out what exactly does all of your work have in common? Do they have a common audience, common themes, etc? I always ask my clients to list at least three things all their books have in common. At first most of them say “nothing, they are all different.” But when pressed, they can usually find many more common traits than just three.
Next is to pick one of those common threads, or even all three, to come up with a tagline to represent you as an author. Not all authors choose to use taglines, and ultimately you may choose not to either, but choosing one can help you decide what direction you want to go with the visual aspects of your brand, such as colors, fonts, and logos.
CASE STUDY: LAURA DRAKE
The best way to illustrate is to walk you through the re-branding process I went through with Laura Drake. Laura writes both romance and women’s fiction. In her mind, they are very, very different and on her website she was using two different taglines and branding images for them and had them separated into different sections of her website. That was a little confusing for the reader, and made it confusing for Laura when it came time to promote her books.
When Laura came to me to consult on her branding, I asked her to list three things that all her books had in common. She balked at first, saying they were very different. That’s a normal reaction, we like to think every series, every genre is unique. But we are humans and our styles don’t change just because we write different genres.
As a reader and fan of Laura’s work I had the advantage of being able to suggest a few things, and once the ball was rolling, Laura jumped in, a little more at ease.
We determined that all her books feature strong women at turning points in their lives, the stories focus on those women’s relationships (whether romantic or interpersonal), and they all take place in small towns or communities.
We then took her two existing taglines, and decided that one of them was already perfect to represent all her work:
Ordinary women on the edge of extraordinary change
Once she simplified her author brand, it made it possible for her to focus on the individual brands for her series. She created lovely images with the book covers of each series, and then listed her series titles (with each book title popping up when the mouse passes over) in her menu bar. This makes it easier for fans of a particular book who may not know the series title (or genre) to find what they are looking for. It also brings the focus back on her books, and not the genres.
Finally, she pulled it all together with the black and creamy gold color scheme of her website and her very simple initial logo in the top corner. It’s sleek and elegant, just like her writing.
Laura’s case was actually pretty simple. But what if you write is wildly different genres, such as paranormal romance, contemporary romance, and nonfiction?
It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible. How do I know? My first “multiple genre client” was myself. I started out in contemporary romance, then added paranormal/urban fantasy. Then recently put out some non-fiction.
The three things my books have in common: 1. My audience is women, of all ages. (even though I do have male readers) 2. I write strong female characters (even my non-fiction is about women’s strengths) 3. I focus on relationships and emotions
My tagline represents everything I ever want to write, no matter the genre, even non-fiction: Damsels Not in Distress. But, my brand also represents me as a person, at least the public part of me.
I chose the color scheme of hot pink and dark grey because they are my favorite colors and they pop with the tagline. Everything about my brand kind of screams. And that is perfect for me. I have purple hair and I’m kind of in your face. My brand is brash and bold.
To make it even better, there is no shortage of awesome images out there that I can use to make “Damsels Not in Distress” promotional images. And it’s okay if they are all different, it’s even better that way, because my damsels are all very different.
The thing to remember when thinking about branding is that everything your readers see says something about you. So, you need to think about more than just the words in your stories. Who is the “you” you want the public to see, to get to know, not just through reading your books, but through your website and your social media. That is the person you are branding.
What do you think, WITS readers? Are you rethinking your brand? Any questions for June?
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Hey all, June is offering WITS readers a special!
Author Branding Essentials is dedicated to offering comprehensive author centric branding and design services at competitive prices. As an Author, your name is your brand. Building your Author Brand is key to success. Many agents encourage authors to begin building that brand long before they are published. At Author Branding Essentials we understand the unique criteria it takes to build an author brand, versus another type of business. We can help you decide on the best options for your author brand and help you implement them.