|Oh, to be a brand like John Updike.|
Can I get an Updike Pass?
On my mind lately--Like it or not, our individual personal brands as writers touch every aspect of our work. What we write, topics we cover, audience, marketing, what our (future for me) book covers look like and the name we use on these are all packaged together. At least that's how some some marketing experts say it is supposed to be.
Branding is something I've thought about and practiced some as a freelance writer, but it is even more important for an author. So I've been refreshing and adding to my knowledge, hunting down the best tips. One common piece of advice I've keep running across is to pick a pen name for each genre or don't brand at all.
That's a bummer. I'm not sure I will always stick to the same genre. In fact, I'm almost certain I won't. I already write articles on a multitude of topics. A large part of my passion for news writing is the daily variety in subject matter. I use the same name for everything and intend to keep doing so. Am I already in danger of being a weak brand?
Maybe, just maybe, I'll get lucky. John Updike (Rabbit, Run; The Witches of Eastwick) published novels, non-fiction, short stories, poems and children's books under one name. That seemed to work out alright. His work was critically acclaimed and scored two Pulitzers.
"Readers will stay with an author, no matter what the variations in style and genre, as long as they get that sense of story, of character, of empathetic involvement."
Best-selling suspense thriller writer Dean Koontz pens children's books. So does adult, tween and everything in between author Melody Carlson. Some big names, but those names became genre-busting brands.
-- Dean Koontz
My ego isn't so big that I'm comparing myself to these authors. Just glad to know there's a precedent, a reason to hope.
It won't be easy to do, that old work may come back to bite me. An irate commenter once posted (one of many) on a news editorial of mine: "As a freelance writer from Illinois maybe you should stick to articles about your interests such as pet care, fashion and beauty, or maybe in-depth article on redecorating and creating party center pieces."
I haven't thought about that comment in a while, but, as I'm working on the last pages of my first novel, it surfaced. After all, I just might have the temerity to write a literary novel and then a bodice-ripper. All while enjoying writing under one brand.
How far have you developed your brand as a writer? Overcome any worries or bummers along the way?
Photo Credit: Michelle Kinsey Bruns / Wikimedia Commons