Branding is a Very Bad Thing

Just ask a cow.

Yet that’s what writers are required to do if they want to sell their books. Develop a brand, something that sets them apart from every other writer out there. Something (or things) that will attract potential readers and keep them coming back for more.

It’s a horrible thing to ask (demand) of a person who — in general — is anti-social by nature. It’s not enough to merely write, find a publisher, and write some more. Now we have to create a Brand before we even hook an interested publisher.

I recently watched a show entitled “Genius Minds” on the Science Channel about an autistic lady named Temple Grandin. Since a little girl, she always had an affinity for animals. She understood them, because, like her, they have no grasp of abstract concepts. She empathized with the cows especially when they were herded into the chutes to be branded. They bounced around in terror, potentially injuring themselves and others, until the headgate closed on them. They immediately calmed down. When she was in college , she created something similar for herself, which she used when feeling overwhelmed or out of sorts. She called it the “hug machine.” It was so successful for her, that it’s now used for other autistics to help keep them calm.

What does that have to do with branding? Other than the fact they’re used to brand cows?

Because I’m not a cow. I’m not like Temple Grandin where I would find something like that comforting. I see it as constraining. I don’t want to be branded, to be known as one thing and one thing only.  I’ve seen other authors who’ve gone from one brand (or genre) to another and it either failed dismally or it took years for it to catch, because the author had to find a whole new set of readers.

Admittedly, the fight against branding is an excuse. I keep asking, “What do I have to offer that will keep them interested enough that they will buy my product without feeling pressured to buy it?”

Everything I’ve learned I’ve learned from others. I know a lot , but I’m not an expert at much — unless you want to know how to survey land. Even then, there are thousands more who know more than I do. There’s nothing unique I have to offer except my stories.  Unfortunately, that’s not enough anymore. I have to sell myself.

*shudder*

But it is what it is. As much as I might hate it, it has to be done. My reticence, fear and lack of confidence has more to do with not knowing how to even start marketing. At Barnes and Noble the other day, I spotted “Guerrilla Marketing for Writers.”  I’m only 20 pages into it, and I’m still feeling overwhelmed. I will continue to slog ahead, however, because the desire to publish is greater than my fear of putting myself out there. I will simply have to fight my anti-social tendencies.

Hopefully getting branded won’t hurt too much. Once I figure out what it will look like, that is.

3 thoughts on “Branding is a Very Bad Thing

  1. Kara

    I’m reading a book right now called “The Courage to Write”. Sounds like I’ll need to finish it before I try “Guerrilla Marketing for Writers”. I’ll need courage before doing ‘guerrilla’ anything for that matter. It is a different world for writers nowadays, and tomorrow will be different yet. So much to learn. So many comfort zones to step out of.

  2. LK Hunsaker

    You know, I’m one push away from looking for a publicist. I don’t want an agent, not with my path. But this marketing stuff is getting to me. Guerilla Marketing? Yikes. Not for me. I’m a turtle. Slowly and steadily I’m adding a fan base to include people I don’t know outside my own little world. 😉 I’m going to have to just go with that and hope the turtle does come out ahead.

    Brands. *shrug* I found my tag line and that’s as far as I’m going. Of course, it won’t fit the book I’m doing for Nanowrimo, which is straight literary, but so be it. I’m not rebranding for one book, or maybe more than one down the line. I figure I am who I am: variegated, complicated, not easy to know, sometimes funny, sometimes too serious, sometimes b***y, a little Jeckyl and Hydish, and each day you get what you get. So are my books. It’s going to have to be good enough. As you know, I’m not one for mold-fitting, either.

  3. Jean

    You don’t matter. You count for nothing. You are trying to sell a product. Publishers make money selling your product, not promoting you. What matters is what you create. So, be the conduit between your work and those who hope to profit from it. Erase yourself, and be your work with them, and nothing more.
    Besides, your family and friends love you like crazy. Your dog approves of you immensely. Your mother thinks you are a goddess. You are professionally respected by your peers.
    Just be the book and sell it.

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