On Branding

Further thoughts about career goals and things of that nature.

I woke up this morning a little more settled in my thinking. This often happens. “Sleep on it” is usually the best advice when anything disturbs or upsets me, or I’m thinking about it TOO hard, which is the case with this stuff.

Branding is a marketing term. What I’ve seen of it (all online, I have not taken any marketing courses, though I have come to the conclusion that I should) defines branding as making a name for yourself with a very small, specific range of ideas as your flagship. It doesn’t restrict you or your work, just narrows down what you represent to a small and memorable presenting image. Like narrowing down an entire company philosophy and product range into a slogan, preferably catchy. More, like narrowing down your entire novel into the ten-second pitch or tagline. Preferably catchy.

I saw a form to fill out that asks you to condense what you represent as an author into three data points, three things that most or all of your fiction has to say, easy to remember. Then you’re supposed to have everything you publicly say or do feed back to those ideas. It isn’t to limit your work to those ideas, it’s to link your name with those ideas in the minds of your audience, so that they will think of you often and be really clear about who you are.

I also saw a recommendation that you create a public persona. Sort of the same thing, but about your personal appearances and public statements, not about your fiction. I think this might have the benefit, too, of making a shy person (like yours truly and probably most writers, who are in ‘the most solitary profession on earth’ not by chance) have a sort of role they can play. Another persona, who can take over when the real person inside is too shy to say anything. For example, suppose your name is Jane Rogers and your pen name is Alisa Ravengarden (ick). When someone slings an unexpected question at Jane on a convention panel, she takes a second to think, what would Alisa say to this question? If she’s honed Alisa as well as her other characters, she knows what Alisa’s answer will be, and use it.

These might be useful concepts. More next time, no doubt—this stuff is very much on my mind just now.

Reminders: upcoming is the Mile Hi Convention in Denver, where I will be wandering about, though not yet on any panels. Say hi if you see me! Show me your stuff! Let’s mutually read each other’s stuff. I’d love your opinion and would be delighted to hand out mine.

Also upcoming is November, National Novel Writing Month. Join up! It’s extremely good practice, excellent motivation, and is a great watershed. Are you really oriented to being a professional or at least published writer? If so, then you can do this.

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