Monthly Archives: November 2011

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.

Flying High by the Seat of My Pants

I appreciate the writer who sits down and writes an outline of a book, spends days researching, creating the setting and discovering everything there is to know about every major character. I can see how all the preparations before writing a single word of the story itself results in a more solid plot with relatively little re-writing later.

I’ve tried it, and it made me go stir-crazy. I simply don’t have the patience for it. I prefer to write by the seat of my pants and see where the story goes with each successive paragraph.

Right now I’m flying high by the seat of my pants with my nanowrimo book. The plot has twisted in surprising directions more than once already. But that’s part of the fun for me. I only hope that the tangents don’t get too far off my original plot that I have to force my characters to do odd things to get them back on track.

On the other hand, if not, I’m not concerned. The point of writing 50,000 words in November is to write, even if it means I write total [censored].

There’s a line in “Finding Forrester” with Sean Connery where he said, “The first draft you write with the heart. You rewrite with your head.”

I’m writing with my heart right now, and it’s (mostly) ignoring my head when it tries to interfere.

The joy of writing has eluded me for a long time, and I’m thrilled to have it back. This is why I started writing in the first place. Let’s hope it lasts well into December

Now while my son watches Wall-e and my husband cooks supper, I am going to disappear yet again into my book. Bu’bye!

Shh. Writer at Work.

Nanowrimo began almost seven days ago now. I’ve not been keeping up with the minimum word count of 1667/day. More like 1000/day. I’m okay with that so far. I still have 23 days to catch up.

I also decided that I’m not going to worry about keeping up with people on the internet anymore. It sounds anti-social, and perhaps it is. But I keep going back to when I originally caught the writing bug and wrote my first novels. I did it when I was alone, meeting no one’s expectations but my own.

For the first time in a while I’m writing a story that excites me. I decided on a fantasy. It’s a story that’s been bouncing around in my head for a while, but one I didn’t think worthy of a book. After a while I decided, why not? No one ever has to see it. Why not write for me and me alone for a change?

It’s one that developed after reading another fantasy by author Mary Brown called “Dragonne’s Eg”. The only similarity between her story and mine is that the main character is in charge of returning a dragon’s egg to its rightful home.

My character, however, has no idea she has to take it where it will be safe. She steals it from her master in the hopes of making a better life for herself. She isn’t even aware it’s a real egg. Nor does she care.

I can also work in another friend’s idea of writing about ambition, and Loraine’s idea of fighting the lies we grew up with. Sorry, Mom, no wacky robots in this one. Maybe next year.