I AM NOT A BRAND
The publishing world is undergoing enormous changes. Writers need to find themselves, their particular place, within the fluctuating industry. You’ll hear advice from everywhere. One popular piece of advice is, “create your brand”.
Branding and the whole inglorious myth behind it starts with the idea that the internet is not primarily a place of Community, that it’s The Marketplace,
that people are Consumers and we authors should get out there and make products for the Consumers to Consume the same way they consume hamburgers.
Some authors write picture books, fantasy for young adults and adults, and historical fiction. Yes, some authors spread their wings that wide. What kind of “brand” aside from prolific author, could a writer like that use? Should they never write for adults because they also write for children? Should they only write for one age group of children, ditch the picture books or the young adult books so they can clearly define their “brand?”
Suzanne Collins wrote a fantasy series and was well established as a children’s fantasy author before she branched out and wrote Hunger Games (listed under Sci-Fi in her website). What if her “brand” as a children’s fantasy author limited her vision? What if she decided not to explore the plot idea because sci-fi wasn’t her brand?
I think it’s terrific for authors to write series, to stay within a genre they love. Yes to all of that and to the readership that loves their books. What I’m worried about is that moment when the same author also wants to write other kinds of books, books that might be radically different, books that express something new.
I am not a brand. My books are not products. They are stories.
C.S. Lewis said that each story has a best way of being told. So rather than say, I’ll write a picture book that really sells or I’ll write a young adult fantasy that fits my “brand.” I start with a compelling story idea – one strong enough to wake me up at night and chase me around during the day.
Branding is about sales and product and web presence, but if you start with story as your root, you might find your place in the world wide reading and writing community. You might find fellowship. You might also find a unique web presence which grows naturally from the types of tales you write.