Monday, March 4, 2013

The Double SS Bar

Or more commonly known as branding. The new hot topic, or possibly a rather old tired topic, but let's get into it, shall we?

If you didn't read this post by Anne R. Allen a few weeks ago about branding your NAME you should. As always, Anne's post is informative and brilliant. I can't add any more to her discussion, other than -- because my name Anne Gallagher is also the name of three other women who write books, I use Anne Gallagher Writer in mostly all of my searches or tags. If I want to be really precise, I use Anne Gallagher Regency Romance Writer.

However, Anne Allen's name branding aside, I'd like to discuss other ways in which to brand yourself and your books.

As you all know, I write Regency romance novels. There is no sex involved. I wanted to put that across to my readers right off the bat with the covers. There are no heaving bosoms on my covers, no men with open shirt fronts showing off their washboard abs. I don't write sex, so I don't want to show sex on my covers.

I think I've done a pretty good job with that particular brand.

I'm writing my way through another contemporary women's fiction novel. The title of that, and the subsequent novel I'm going to write in 2015, are going to become branded to REMEMBERING YOU. Kind of like Roni Loren's erotic novels -- CRASH INTO YOU, FALL INTO YOU, MELT INTO YOU, STILL INTO YOU. Mine aren't erotic, I'm just using the titles of her novels as an example. My titles will be similar to REMEMBERING YOU.

I like that part of the branding process. Everything is similar, but different. You know what you're getting with that particular type of series of books. You almost don't even have to look at anything else about the book. The title says it all. Harry Potter anyone?

Emily Griffin uses pastel colors for all her book covers. Nothing but the titles, a little tiny drawing, her name and lovely Easter egg shades. You know what you're getting. Sweet contemporary romance. There's nothing to hit you over the head, no picture to look at, nothing that screams "Buy Me". But they're bought all the time.

However, all that being said, is "branding" becoming a pigeon hole exercise?

When I had a couple of my Regencies out, I decided to publish my contemporary romantic women's fiction. REMEMBERING YOU was as far away from sweet Regency writing as you could get. Italian cuss words, modern day problems, cell phones, jerk face ex-lovers, sex (gasp). I went round and round with the idea of publishing under my name Anne Gallagher, or a derivation of that -- A.R. Gallagher -- or just giving up and going with something new -- Robynne Rand. I decided to go with something new -- to the consternation of a few friends who thought I could ride off the waves of my Anne Gallagher success.

But I knew my Regency fans would never buy my women's fiction and if they did would be appalled. They were used to reading certain things from me. They KNEW me as a writer, KNEW what kind of stories I told, KNEW what would happen (happily ever after) but were along for the ride. Because obviously it was a good ride.

I know how I felt when I read Susan Wiggs historicals and then her contemporary romances. I hated her contemporary stuff. H-A-T-E-D  IT. I just didn't think she had the same flair for writing contemporaries as she did with historicals. Perhaps if she had used a psuedonym I might have liked her contemps just fine. But that's just me, and it played a major part in how I decided to brand or rather re-brand myself as an author.

But now, I'm finding I'm unsure where to put myself if I decide to venture into YA. Yeah, you heard me. YA. I've had a couple of stories in my files, pretty good ones too that I'd like to eventually finish. Also a couple of sweet contemporary romances (think Harlequin). Do I have to re-brand myself when I publish those? Can I get away with putting them under my Anne Gallagher/Robynne Rand names or do I find myself ANOTHER pen name?

Tell me -- What do you think about branding? Is it good for an author? Does it pigeon hole their writing? Do you think they should write under different names for different genres or is one name okay? I know we've had this discussion before, but I'm hashing it out again.

Anne Gallagher (c) 2013


Laura Pauling said...

Branding is important but Hugh Howey also stresses that as Indie we can and should publish whatever. Branding is about the person not the type of the story and readers are smart. And who knows what will take off?

Though, I'm sure many experts would agree with him. I wouldn't start another pen name but put the YA under the name that is doing the best or it matches the best. :)

SA Larsenッ said...

It's almost like fashion. To effectively brand oneself in this industry, a writer must find his/her own style, something readers will identify with that specific writer.

Great post!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I love the idea of branding with a title, but I have a hard enough time coming up with titles, never mind branding them, too. :)

Branding with the cover is usually the most effective way to brand. Maybe not so much the author's brand, but at least for a particular book/theme. For example, an author who writes YA paranormals and YA contemporaries would have different covers between the genres, but all the covers for each genre would be branded.

R. Mac Wheeler said...

There are more college texts in print on branding than would fit in your house.

How much time do you have to discuss it?

Needless to say...all Indies have to be aware that they must create a brand...which takes thousands of faces.

By the way...Hi Anne

Bossy Betty said...

Sorry I have nothing to add to the discussion of branding. I grew up on a farm so I have my first reaction was NO! Then I grew up and realized you were having another discussion.

Linda G. said...

Branding can be a double-edged sword, I would think. It's good for readers to know what they're getting when they reach for a certain author/title/cover. My books (all two of them so far, and one won't be out until August *grin*) have "fix" in the title. I suspect, if I write more of them, they'll have "fix" in the title somehow, too--instant recognition.

But if "Linda Grimes" becomes too attached to the IN A FIX books, I may have to publish anything else I write under a different name, just so people don't buy a book expecting something that isn't delivered.

Anne Gallagher said...

Laura -- Yeah, I'm not sure about all this branding. I only know I write two different genres and to me they needed two different names.

Sherie -- Yeah, I was thinking like music. Certain guitar strains take me straight to the Eagles, while others get me to Hendrix. I guess it's all what the other wants to write.

Stina -- The titles thing for me was kind of easy. But I also matched the covers for the contemps. The Regency stuff was a no-brainer for me.

Mac -- Hi Mac. I see you're still in Texas. Hope all is going well for you there.

Betty -- No not that kind of branding. I would never do that. It's barbaric and hurts the poor animals.

Linda -- I hear you on that. That's why I changed my name to write the contemps. I didn't want to get pigeon-holed. Especially when I drop the f-bomb. don't want to get letters from my little old ladies.


This is difficult to figure out - in my mind.
I wrote a contemporary fiction, Vada Faith. Also sold as women's fiction.
Now I have a book of short stories out. Ezra and Other Stories. They've Appalachian in tone, all my work thus far is set in West Virginia.
I think I have my own voice so maybe it doesn't matter.
However I believe I would do a pen name if I did a YA. You've given me food for thoughts. Thanks.

Jennifer Shirk said...

I don't like S Wigg's contemporaries either. :(

I know a YA author who writes under one name but her New Adult (which is a little...older) goes under a different name, but her books say "Her NAME" writing as "NEW NAME", which I think does a good job of telling people you're the same person, but you're obviously getting something different since the you have another name listed. Just a thought,

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

You've already set up separate pigeonholes for yourself... one for Regency, one for contemporary. So it is YOU who has decided to define each pen name by genre. If you want to keep those pen names "pure", then I guess the logical thing would be to chose yet another pen name for YA.

On the other hand, Stephen King wrote a fantasy... under his own name. The cover and blurb alone identified the book as a fantasy. And Truman Capote did equally well with "In Cold Blood" as he did with "Breakfast at Tiffany's." Ian Fleming? He also wrote "Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang." I fall more on the side of "branding" the writer more so than the genre. Otherwise, a writer has the onus of trying to establish a new fanbase with every type of book.

Donna Hole said...

I have given the topic a lot of thought and decided not to worry about that yet. I'm still deciding where I fit in the writing world. Some people love my short fantasy short stories, others love the contemporary. I don't want to write under several names.

I guess I'm more interested in creating a type of consistent character with real world issues - family, finding romance, discovering yourself - that transcend specific genre.

LOL; its ok to laugh, I know how it sounds.

You made the right decision for yourself Anne. The proof is in the fact you are comfortable with the outcome. Your career seems to be going the direction you worked hard for.

And incidently, I like that your regency covers do not sell sex. A cover - and book blurb - should not decieve about what is inside covers.


Sarah Ahiers said...

i honestly have no real opinion on the pseudonym thing. I don't think there's a straight, easy answer, so whatever you choose is probably fine as long as it works for you.
But. BUT!!!! I'm so excited to hear you might be trying out some YA!!
I would LURVE to be a YA crit partner or beta reader for you (and even though i don't write YA contemporary, i read a lot of it)
Excitement! Glitter!

Anne Gallagher said...

Barb -- I think with contemporary fiction as your base, your short stories wouldn't necessarily dictate you change your name. I think though, once you change genres, like a big leap from women's fiction to YA, it might be a good idea. But that's just my opinion.

Jennifer -- lol thanks for being with me in the Susan Wiggs camp. I thought I was the only one.

Yeah, I chose 2 different names just for the genre issues, but now I'm making myself just crazy wondering about the YA. We'll see what happens.

Susan -- Yeah, I get what you're saying. And I did know that Ian Fleming wrote CCBB. And the "branding" of a second name is really hard, as I'm finding. But I do think it makes it easier on my readers. But that's just my own opinion.

Donna -- ..."Creating a type of consistent character..." Yeah, I hear you. My Regencies all have that same idea, and my contemps do as well and neither the twain shall
meet. and thanks for the compliment on my covers. That's EXACTLY what I was trying to achieve. You know exactly what you're getting.

Sarah -- Oh you bad girl. Now you've got me wanting to finish up my YA before I finish up my other stuff. I'll email you.

Patti said...

I love the idea of using the cover as your brand, especially if you write in different genres, then that could disguise them. So much to think about when you become an author.

Nicki Elson said...

Well, I agree about your Anne Gallagher covers doing an excellent job of branding & letting the reader know what to expect. And I also see both sides about pen names for different genres -- seems a shame to completely start over building an audience with a new name, and yet you don't want to irk readers who expect one thing from you and get another. What I'm saying is...I have no idea which way is the best to go. Though it seems sweet romances with covers that are distinctly different from the Reluctant Grooms series, could easily work under Anne Gallagher.

Eric W. Trant said...

Being a versatile writer ~is~ branding yourself. Think Gaiman -- comics, screenplays, graphic novels books, poems, adult, YA, horror, sci-fi, fantasy.

He writes anything and everything that requires words.

And he is not bound by genre. In his short story compilation Smoke and Mirrors, he includes poetry, fantasy, and even one very erotic short. No bounds.

That's your brand, woman, and you don't even realize it!

You're welcome.

- Eric

Carol Kilgore said...

My first three books are all set at the Texas Coast. All three are different, and there is nothing to tie them together other than the setting. Even so, I'm maintaining a cover connection through the style of the cover and the font.

After the third book, will come a trilogy with a different setting. I plan to still use my name, but the covers will have a different look, a different feel, and the print books will be a different size.

I will still use my name, and the genre will still be blended: Crime Fiction with a Kiss.

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

I think it can be pigeon-holing, but that's not always a bad thing when it comes to building your career. I've kind of shot myself in the foot with some of my books, but I'm getting more into just contemporary and I've talked with my publisher about where we're heading from here on out with my books and branding. It's really helpful and hopeful!