Guest Author Phyllis Zimbler Miller answers the question.
What Is Your Brand as a Writer? What Sets You Apart From Other Writers in Your Same Genre?
John has written a YA novel, Francine a chick lit, Martin a thriller, and Dolores a romance. While the titles of their respective novels may be different, their “brands” may all be the same – another YA novelist, another chick lit novelist, another thriller novelist, and another romance novelist.
Given the huge number of novels published each year and the large array of choices of what people can spend their leisure time doing, novelists are even more hard pressed to distinguish themselves from the pack. And how do they do this? They answer these questions:
What is my brand as a writer? What sets me apart from others? What can I create around my fiction writing that will make people be interested in me and want to read (and hopefully buy) what I write?
Here are some answers that might work for these four imaginary novelists:
John’s YA novel is the first in a series of books about a Chicago basketball player who is growing up in the projects. John may decide that his brand as a fiction writer is to be concerned about mentors for inner-city youth. He may spend part of his promotion time working to increase mentoring of these youth. And this mentoring work may brand him as a YA novelist who cares about making a difference in the lives of the kind of teens about whom he writes.
Francine’s chick lit goes beyond the usual topics of shopping, men and female competition to include championing young women to take on roles that are traditionally male even in these supposedly enlightened times. She may speak at all-girls’ high schools and at career days of co-ed high schools encouraging teen girls to aspire to the same careers as the male teens. Her brand encompasses her books as well as her outreach to teen girls. And she is interviewed on radio and TV shows as much for this work as for her novels.
Martin realizes that thrillers may be a dime a dozen, but he takes the advice in the musical “Gypsy” and has a gimmick. What is his “gimmick”? He volunteers at local youth groups to give demonstrations on how to walk home alone at night without becoming a mugger magnet. He teaches street safety techniques that help young people develop a defensive body posture that warns away would-be attackers. On his blog he writes as much about his experiences teaching these techniques as he does about his thrillers.
Dolores stares at all the pink-covered romance novels lined up at her local Borders and knows she’s got to break out of the pack while still writing the kind of book she loves to write. She figures out a method for doing hybrid novels – where the romance element is strong and at the same time she deals with serious emotional issues between the sexes. She blogs about the differences in the sexes, and on her weekly BlogTalkRadio show she interviews psychologists who specialize in bridging the gender communication gap.
John, Francine, Martin and Dolores all have their own brands within their specific genres. They each go beyond the stereotype of their genre to expand the definition of what sets them apart – and they give back to their communities by participating in real life areas related to their fiction genres.
If you’re a fiction writer, ask yourself now what you can do to go beyond your genre to create a brand that sets you apart, gives back to your community, and hopefully gets people to buy your work.
She’s also the co-host of the twice-weekly BlogTalkRadio show www.YourMilitaryLife.com and she is now launching the site www.OperationSupportJewsintheMilitary.com. Her brand as a writer is that she produces fiction and non-fiction about the U.S. military.