Branding (and I don't mean cattle)

Hi, all:

This was in the last LARA Confidential, and I thought you might enjoy reading it. For those who aren’t part of my writer’s group, LARA stands for Los Angeles Romance Authors, and is the writer’s group that I am not only in but have the honor of being president this year. Hope you enjoy it! After that is a little reminder about the box set that I am in that will come out in mid-July. Thanks!

As writers we are often told we should have a strong brand. But what exactly constitutes a strong brand?

I think of it the way I would think of an effective marketing campaign. What do I think of when I think of Sherrilyn Kenyon, for instance? Dark-hunters, that long-running paranormal series that incorporate history and pantheons of gods as well as today’s modern society. She stands as one of the premier paranormal writers, a pioneer in the field. That is her promise to us as readers and where my head goes when her name comes up. When I think of Nora Roberts I think of a woman who puts out compulsively readable books that will tell a good story, no matter what genre. Carly Phillips turns out amazing sexy contemporary romances whose characters jump off the page. I am one of I assume many people who will at least look at the back cover of a book with those authors names on it, because of the promise their name—and with it their brand—offers me.

When I was in the process of getting swag I had to face this question. To be honest, I was a bit all over the place, and had no idea what to put on swag that would draw the reader in. If a brand is a promise I didn’t know what that promise was. I wrote paranormal romance, and fantasy, and horror, and contemporary, and SF and OH MY LORD WHAT HAVE I DONE? I had no center, nothing to focus on. I’d decided when my first published short story was a horror story that I was not going to use a pen name, I wanted my name on that story. I stand by that decision, even if it complicated matters.

It was my author assistant who helped me through the problem. If I write the unexpected, then that was what my brand was. Hence, Unexpected Romance was born. It is throughout my swag, and I believe fulfills what all the pundits say a brand should be. It’s what I am; it’s what I write. It’s a different sort of promise to a reader, but a promise nonetheless and I stand behind what it says. Is it a strong brand? I suppose that remains to be seen. As the saying goes—only time will tell. In this day and age there truly is no wrong answer, except not to do it. One thing that is true about what all the pundits say is that without some sort of message, your already dim voice is in further danger of getting lost in the shuffle.

We all have themes and genres that we gravitate toward. The first step to any strong brand would be to be true to that inner strength, that voice that calls to you. Then you will find a brand that sings to both you and your audience. At the end of the day that is the start of any strong brand.

Just a reminder that I’m participating in a box set that will be coming out this year. It is called Souls & Shadows and is available for preorder. This box set will have seventeen novella or novel length paranormal stories somehow involving magic. My story centers around a Mormo, which is a little known Greek spirit who is associated with Hecate, and the man who does not know he is a quarter god. The box set will come out in July but is already available for preorder on Kobo, Nook and iTunes. There are a number of promotions around it where the reader can either also get a book of short stories (I have a short story in that collection as well) or put their name into a drawing for free stuff. If you want a great deal with some amazing authors (besides myself), please visit the following links.

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