Does the idea of “branding” yourself or your work make you cringe? (I’m an artist, dammit—not a corporate sleaze bag!) Are you confused by what “branding” for novelists, essayists, poets, or even general non-fiction writers even means? Or, conversely, are you sold on the necessity of branding your writing and excited about the opportunity, but completely intimidated by how exactly to go about it?
I confess I was solidly in the cringe camp for much of my early writing life when discussing authors as brands. But that’s because I was (as my above “corporate sleaze bag” comment might have hinted!) operating under misconceptions about what branding is (and possibly being unkind to sleaze bags too . . . but I digress).
Thankfully, around the same time I decided to launch my own small town contemporary romance series, I came across gold star advice in James Patterson’s Masterclass.com workshop. He explained branding in a way that clicked for my stubborn brain and totally made sense to me.
In a nutshell, he says to think of “brand” as a relationship you have with your readers. What can readers turn to your books for—and never be disappointed? What can they depend on you for that you will always deliver?
I also really benefited from Mike Loomis’ take that “personal branding does not mean a fake façade.” Rather it’s “the public expression of your calling.”
Thinking of brand that way—as a promise and a commitment rather than a hard sell—eased my concerns about seeming overly “salesy” or gimmicky.
I already knew in my heart of hearts what I hoped to give my readers via my stories, so making sure that my covers, book blurbs, website, ads, and content of my social media posts, etc. consistently show potential readers the same thing—what they can always turn to Ev Bishop for—seemed natural and right, especially since doing so is actually helpful to readers.
And while developing brand is sort of like honing one’s craft—an ongoing process, hopefully forever—I say with confidence and great conviction that determining your brand and consciously meeting your brand promise with every book is as crucial for your writing career as your actual writing is.