Today, I'm happy to bring you Michele Drier's guest post on branding...
Thanks, L.A. for hosting me on your blog.
Being from California (the part of ranches and cows), isn’t a brand that thing they put on cattle? Sear it on with a red-hot metal shape?
Well, yes and no.
For a writer, your brand is what brings readers to you. It can be a genre, think Stephen King for horror or Carl Hiaasen for humor. Or it can be a series, think Charlaine Harris or Diana Gabaldon. Or it can be a character, think Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe.
To be a successful brand, though, I think it has to be our name.
I know a few people who write under pen names. And I know some people who write under a few different pen names for their different series or genres.
I don’t want to second guess any of my colleagues, but with about 4 million new books out annually, discoverability is the key to marking as an indie author. Discoverability is THE key of marketing, regardless of who and how your books are published.
I write in different genres; traditional mystery, paranormal romance, psychological thriller, and I may take a stab at cozy mysteries…maybe. What ties all those books and genres together is that I write them under my name.
My website, facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, Amazon, email accounts, are all Michele Drier (or micheledrier). If someone’s bought and read all nine (soon to the ten) books in the Kandesky Vampires Chronicles and are chomping at the bit for the next one, they can pick up one of my other books and still hear my voice, my syntax, my style. After all, most people read faster than I can write, even at two books a year.
Developing and sticking to your brand is a necessity in today’s world of serious overproduction. Everybody has swag. Everybody has banners and bookmarks and glittering displays. The only thing you have that’s uniquely you is your name. And only you can sell your books. Whether you go traditional publishing or indie publishing, a reader is buying you, the stories you tell, the sense of excitement you bring, the characters you develop.
There are as many reasons that writers decide to indie publish as there are writers, but in my case is came down to simple control and money.
My first book, a mystery, was bought by a small press. The press did the final edit, got a cover design and IBSN, and arranged for POD paperback publication. It was a less-than-stellar relationship, probably on both sides, and I made royalties of around $.47 cents a book. My second book, which I wrote, researched, published five months before my first book actually hit the market, was an indie published. It took a lot of research to learn the ins and outs, and I published it in ebook first, but I was making better than $2 per book. The die was cast.
I’m now finishing my 15th book and will indie publish it as well. I also have a complete 71,000-word manuscript that an agent requested on spec. He didn’t bite, but I think I’m going to do a final edit and indie publish it as well. It’s the first book in a new mystery series with two further ones plotted out.
And even if I end up writing a new mystery series, or a cozy series, or thrillers, or fantasies or a couple of literary history—another idea that’s percolating—they will be under my name, my brand. Yes, there are times when it feels as though it’s been impressed with a red-hot piece of metal, but now it’s a familiar part of me.
Getting what you wish for can bring unintended circumstances. Jennifer in New York and Matt in San Francisco worry that they're losing their memories. Jennifer from an earlier trauma and Matt while watching his father succumb to Alzheimer's. After finding a new medical technology designed to help people with cognitive disorders, they independently track down a grey-market supply, but when they meet they find unknown terrors.
Michele Drier was born in Santa Cruz and is a fifth generation Californian. During her career in journalism—as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers—she won awards for producing investigative series.
She is the president of Capitol Crimes, the Sacramento chapter of Sisters in Crime, and the co-chair of Bouchercon 2020.
Her Amy Hobbes Newspaper Mysteries are Edited for Death, (called “Riveting and much recommended” by the Midwest Book Review), Labeled for Death and Delta for Death, and a stand-alone thriller, Ashes of Memories, published in 2017.
Her paranormal romance series, The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, has consistently won awards and was the best paranormal vampire series of 2014 from the Paranormal Romance Guild. The series is SNAP: The World Unfolds, SNAP: New Talent, Plague: A Love Story, Danube: A Tale of Murder, SNAP: Love for Blood, SNAP: Happily Ever After?, SNAP: White Nights, SNAP: All That Jazz, and SNAP: I, Vampire.