Branding yourself as an author is important. Branding helps a reader know what they’re getting when they pick up a book. Meeting reader expectations is vital is helping an author gain a following. In some ways, I feel like I have a good handle on this. Yet, in others, I feel like I have a long way to go.
For the most part I write sexy romance with cozy, small town settings. My heroes have more than their fair share of down home good ol’ boy charm. There tends to be a country music reference somewhere in the story. And pick up trucks are the preferred method of transportation.
I have one book that doesn’t follow this criteria at all. No pick ups. No country music. And my hero is a world-traveling photographer. About as far from a good ol’ boy as you can get. Interestingly, when I get my royalty statements each quarter and take a look at sales listings, this book always has the least amount of sales. The book has a great cover and has gotten good reviews. But it is definitely different than most of my stories.
My Christmas novella doesn’t quite follow the pattern, but it definitely has a cozy setting, and I think holiday books fall into their own category of things sometimes. And all of my holiday stories (I have three) have a similar style to their covers, which again, goes a long way in the branding department.
As I take a look at my current book, I wonder how things will shake out for it as time goes by. It, too, falls out of the mold a bit. My hero has a pick up truck and is a blue collar worker, but then my ‘norms’ fall off a bit. It’s set in a suburb of Chicago and there’s not one mention of country music. And I still say the guy on the cover is nothing like the hero which you’ll find on the pages within. One of my friends commented that it was her favorite book of mine, and my mother-in-law said it was a nice departure from the usual country ones. Hmn?
So, do readers prefer familiarity or diversity from authors? Now granted, those particular people picked up that book because I was the author. Romance might not even be their genre of preference, so the opinion may be a bit skewed.
The next books I have planned are definitely back on ‘track’ as far as the down home theme. But I’m sure somewhere along the way I’ll have an idea that departs a bit from that…and as we all know, if an idea hits…it’s best to go with it and see where it takes you, right?
One thing I definitely need to work on with branding is my web-site. When I first created one, I used an on-line template an chose a theme from the given list, which I’ve since changed. But I’ve always just used the available themes. As I was looking at it the other day, I realized it wasn’t really working for me anymore. It wasn’t me. So at some point I need to redesign it…or at the very least, find a theme that goes better with my writing style.
What other things do you do to brand yourself? How do you meet reader expectations? Do you ever veer from the beaten path?
Until next time,