WriterBrand: What is a Writer’s Brand?

At Bob Mayer‘s WarriorWriter workshop in Dallas this weekend (July 11-12), we ended with an interesting discussion. What is a fiction writer’s brand? Is it always their name?

Example: If my intent is to write historical fiction about the Anasazi, can “Anasazi Stories” be my brand, or must it be “JeffPosey”? Is it a mistake to Twitter as “@AnasaziStories” and have a blog named “Anasazi Stories”? Should I be “@JeffPosey” and blog as “Jeff Posey’s blog”?

I’d love your thoughts. Please leave a comment.

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11 Comments

Filed under #WriterBrand, Fiction Writer's Brand, Historial Fiction, Writer's Platform

11 responses to “WriterBrand: What is a Writer’s Brand?

  1. I used my name only because I will write more than one type of book. I do not want to build my story as a brand right now. I want my name to be the brand, but I personally think it is up to the individual how they want to develope it.

  2. Cary Branscum

    A quick comment, I love the continuity of the name Anasazi Stories for blog and twitter. It’s easy to identify and connect with, you also have a cool author pic which adds to your brand. If you ever decide to break out of the Anasazi genre (which I hope you don’t choose to do anytime soon) you can rebrand yourself with your name. Just some thoughts, and thanks for writing.

    • Anasazi Stories

      Cary: Thank you very much. “Easy to identify and connect with” is the essential ingredient of “brand.”

      I work in marketing (the paying day job), and, thinking I was smart enough to figure it out on my own, I modeled my branding after a common practice in prescription-drug branding. First, they’ll own an intellectual space associated with potential customers — such as heartburn. They’ll build Web sites and send speakers on tours emphasizing their expertise in heartburn. Then later, they’ll introduce and link the brand name, which usually has no or little meaning on its own. That seemed much like a new fiction writer to me. My name means nothing, until I associate it with my intellectual product.

      So in my mind, after I had finished my first draft of my Anasazi novel, I would add “by Jeff Posey” to my blog title. Then after I had a solid edited draft ready to market to agents and editors, I would elevate my name further by changing my blog title to “Jeff Posey’s Anasazi Stories.”

      But others have convinced me I’m probably over-thinking it. I am a Meyers-Briggs INTP after all. That T gets in my way a lot. So, even though I’m not yet finished with my first draft, I’ve added “by Jeff Posey” to my blog.

      I’m getting too long here, but it gave me a curious feeling. Back to Meyers-Briggs, INTP is the polar opposite of a salesman personality. Adding my name felt kind of slimy to me. Too self-promoting. My tendency is to put my work to the front, while I fade to the back. So I maybe my over-thinking is a way to rationalize what my emotional side wanted me to do (hide). Putting my name out there feels weak, yet it’s likely to make me stronger. We shall see.

      Again, thanks very much for your comment.

      –Jeff Posey (see, I can do this)

  3. I personally think a fiction writer’s name is their brand. Just like Konrath and Kilborn (as mentioned above), Nora Roberts and JD Robb, or Ed McBain and Evan Hunter, the writers have chosen to author under different names because of the brands they wanted to establish. It’s the brand (or the name) that lets readers know what to expect when they pick up the book. While Konrath writes crime fiction, Kilborn is strictly horror/suspense.

    Should you blog under a different name? Well, if you don’t have your own web site (and server), and somebody has already selected Jeff Posey as a blog title, then you have to use something the market will recognize. This is why I went with Powder Burns & Bullets, which is far easier to remember than what I originally used. Anizasi Stories works just fine. While a Google Search for Jeff Posey might pull up hundreds of hits, my guess is person using “Anizasi Stories” as her key words will find it easier to locate you.

    • Anasazi Stories

      Thanks, Stephen. It seems pretty much a consensus in this discussion, that the fiction writer’s name is their brand. That’s hard to argue, given that it’s the most universal or consistent way — to use the crass terms of enterprise — customers can find our product. I think there are many brand attributes we can exploit to strengthen our brand, such as having a heavy presence in an intellectual territory, such as Anasazi Stories, but ultimately, it’s the author name that rules.

      So I’ve given in and added my name to the blog. It’s now “Anasazi Stories by Jeff Posey.” I resisted that, I think, because I’m a writer not a salesman. But if we write and hope to sell, then we’ve got to be, to some degree, sales people.

      Thanks to all who participated.

      –Jeff Posey, the brand behind “Anasazi Stories,” whether I like it or not.

  4. And of course on twitter, I use LFC’s name – but it’s ME talking. 😉

  5. I’d say that a writer’s “brand” is a balance of elements. Don’t discount style as a way of distinguishing yourself from others. Gonzo journalism, for instance, was Hunter S. Thompson’s defining characteristic. He could change his name from piece to piece (which he often did, i.e. Raoul Duke) but it was his style that identified his work. All that aside, give yourself the freedom to write anything you want, even if you don’t need it. Labels like “brand” are the construction materials for a well-fortified mental block. Attach your name to good, accessible writing and the work should speak for itself.

    • Anasazi Stories

      Ben: I can’t get this sentence you wrote out of my head: “Labels like ‘brand’ are the construction materials for a well-fortified mental block.” The implications of this are potentially profound. I’ve got to stew on that. Thanks for the response. If something valuable spews out of my stewpot, I’ll post it here.

  6. It’s an interesting question to me, since I developed my blog as an exercise in characterization, and am working on tying it to my name as I build my platform as a fictioneer.

    My favorite author is Dick Francis, and I have to say, yes, his brand is his name to some extent – there are those of us who will buy anything he writes. We are readers AND fans. But on another level, a group of fans I belong to online has noticed that part of the reason is not just DF’s consistency as an author, but his worldview as expressed through his protagonists.

    DF is famous, a little, for having written very many books and very few series. He has only two in his over 40 books — one is two books long, one is four, that one written at intervals of years, with many other books in between. All his protags, for the most part, are different men. Different ages, different occupations, different family statuses — but they all have the same basic way of approaching life, the same way of dealing with obstacles and responsibilities. I think if I were ever privileged enough to have a sit-down with Mr. Francis, what I would find is a man who approaches life the same way his characters do. So I think of *that* as his platform. It is a very honorable one, to my mind — many fans I’ve talked with say they value him as much for what he’s taught them about living as they do for his stories.

    I’d like to have people say that about me someday. 🙂

    • Anasazi Stories

      He clearly brands himself by his name. His Web site is http://www.dickfrancis.com/. When you do a Google search for “Dick Francis,” his site is the first thing that comes up.

      It’s interesting to see his Wikipedia entry, which lists what could be considered his brand attributes (since we’re talking about “brand” here): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dick_Francis. Stealing directly from Wikipedia, they are:

      Stories are told through the eyes of one character in the first person.

      The narrators generally have professional involvement in the racing world — jockey, trainer, or owner.

      The location is often one of the centres of British racing, either Newmarket or Lambourn.

      The narrators go about their business and then strange deaths or strange scams start to occur, which they investigate. Along the way the narrators find themselves a murder target themselves.

      If not already involved they meet a love interest.

      The villains are brought to justice.

      So, given your comments, why do you Twitter and blog as “LittleFluffyCat” rather than using your name (or pen name)? How does that build your brand? I’m struggling with exactly the same thing.

      • LFC existed online long before I did – oddly enough, not by name (I used mine and my last initial) but by “my” very memorable picture. When a group of friends was starting to blog and asked me to join them, I was wary of posting my stories online; so LFC in her current incarnation was born. As I began to publish in various markets, I posted links to the stories on LFC’s site (“Did you see what that cat DID?”) and listed LFC’s website in my bios.

        I have “my own” website now, http://www.lydiaondrusek.com, but there’s not a lot on it yet other than links to my online pubs. Oddly, not even a link to LFC’s site.

        We are the same but different, LFC and I. She exists as a different brand, much as Joe Konrath’s Jack Kilborn does: both of them open secrets, but under the bed.

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