Thursday, August 25, 2005

Branding (not the kinky sort, we're professionals here!)

At the LERA meeting last week (which was an RWA conference recap), I heard about a great workshop I missed in Reno. It's all about "branding" your work--you don't want people to look for just your next book by the book's title, you want them to want the new "Author's Name" book, because they love your style, your persona, your voice, whatever. Evidently, one mistake some authors make when they are interviewed is talking about the book itself. They're asked "Tell us about your book", and they answer "There's this heroine (X), and this hero (Y), and they do this and go here..." Yada yada. When what we should do is tie the book to our Brand. I'm not putting it very well, and at the moment I'm too disorganized to find my conference handout book, but I think this idea makes a lot of sense for building a long-term career. Obviously it works well in other areas of entertainment (movies, music, etc).

First of all, we're supposed to find out what the underlying theme of all our work is. I took at look at my own books and realized that, despite the variety of settings and characters (artists, scholars, antiquarians, keepers of gaming hells, fake governesses, whatever), they all DID have a theme. And that is that love--real love--can make you a better person. It can set you free from the chains of the past and build a better life for the future. My characters aren't perfect people, they've made lots of mistakes. But love shows them a better way in the end.

Okay, so now I have my theme. I have what makes an "Amanda McCabe" book. Love can set you free. Now I have to develop a "public persona." Hmm, this will be a bit trickier, considering that I only go out in public as an author a few times a year! (Though I guess, now that I think about it, that this blog is a public space. Double hmm). I will just have to consult the celebrity bible, People magazine. (I only read it for the pictures, honest!). It's chock full of personas. I do know I would rather be a Gwyneth Paltrow/Emmy Rossum/Anne Hathaway type than, say, J. Lo (but talk about branding!). Aside from that tall, flowy hair thing--that just ain't gonna work for this, er, petite gal. But the "real actress"/classy/pseudo-European thing, that's what I mean. Obviously, this branding idea will take some practice, and also a lot more thought. I'll let you know how it goes.

I'd also love to hear how anyone else would go about "branding" their work and themselves. Writer or not, I'm sure it would be useful for just about anyone. :)

5 comments:

Megan Frampton said...

Amanda:

I was thinking about this also, especially since I am changing genres. I figured out what my underlying themes were, and am going to do just what you say: talk about the theme, not the specifics. I will follow certain authors anywhere they go (genre-wise, I mean), and that's because their themes resonate with me. So branding is good.

Kelli McBride said...

This is fascinating! I know I read some authors over and over again, even when their books are repetitive, because I like the story and conflict they usually write about. I now know that it's the brand that I'm responding to.

I just did my countdown of TV hunks, and one thing I did notice was how similar all of these characters were. That's the brand of hero that appeals to me.

Amanda McCabe said...

Exactly! That's why this idea was so fascinating to me. It made perfect sense once I heard about it. It shows me why I like a certain author and not another, or one character type or not another. I just wish I had been able to attend the actual workshop!

And do tell about the TV hunks. :)

Kelli McBride said...

Just pop on over to kelliblogs.blogspot.com and you will see pictures and comments on why I find them sexy, as well as my diatribe on the TV Land countdown that started it all (so full of dumb jocks and wimps!).

I was trying to figure out how to get Orlando on the list - he DID guest host Saturday Night Live - but I remained vigilant and stuck with TV stars. It was still hard to not go over 10 (and I included 1 tie - so I really have 11).

Amanda McCabe said...

Orlando was also on Live With Regis and Kelly, because I just saw the rerun last week. Does that count???

And as I said before, but it bears saying again, where is the guy who plays Sawyer on LOST? :)