I’m not a Writer, I’m a Brand

Yes, you did read that right. No, not a brand of soap powder, or coffee, not even a type of trainers, but in this age of commodities, I must become a recognisable brand to stand out from the crowd. On seeing my name hopefully, a reader will automatically know what type of story they are getting.

Think of all the other well-known writers and you know what type of book you’ll be reading. King, Austin, Rendell, Dickens, Poe etc. This is clever marketing. Just hearing their surnames, you know what type of book you will be reading. Horror, Historical Romance, Crime, Social History, Dark Mystery.

When I first started writing back in 2002 I was very much aware of who I wanted to be as a writer. I knew that I had to be sure of what sort of books/stories I wanted to be known for, as once I became an established writer it would be difficult to change direction once you’ve built a readership. As a reader, I couldn’t imagine King writing romance or Austin writing horror.

In serving my apprenticeship, I’ve written a wide range of short stories. By doing so I’ve found out what I’ve enjoyed writing the most as well as building a backlog of work. Once you have found your writer’s voice it is hard to lose it. Having always been drawn to mysteries in my reading tastes, though crime and some horror have always appealed to me, too. I’ve always read a wide range of books, if the story has appealed to me.

I learnt a lot from my dear friend, Ivy Lord, aka Maggie Ford. Ivy writes romance and family sagas, set in the East End of London where she grew up during the war years. Some of her novels were set in the 1920’s an era she loved. The one thing she always said she would have loved to have written was a crime novel, but was told by her publishers that her readers wouldn’t expect that kind of book from her, so never had the opportunity, too.

When I first started to submit my work, I did try writing for People’s Friend Magazine and other women’s magazines as I built up a body of published work. Though I received positive feedback from them, they never accepted any of my work. In a way I’m glad that my writing style didn’t fit their market as I wouldn’t have been true to myself.

In June last year, I discovered my true calling. As you can see it has been a long journey, to reach my final destination. I always knew what I wanted to write, not quite horror but enough for readers to question my sanity. Too often when I tell people, I write they assume by looking at me I write romance.

I have cultivated an image, too. My sort of trade mark, my brand, ready for the next stage in my writing career. My image is Gothic to portray my dark side. I know Anne Rice of the Vampire novels cultivated her dress style, while doing book signing as she often wore a black silk wedding dress.

Of course, you have to be very careful when choosing an image or brand for yourself. Remember to choose something you can live with for a long time, and you can adapt to grow with you. Just remember what ageing rock stars look like as they try to keep their teenage looks alive in their seventies and beyond.

I hope I’ve given you some ideas to think about as we set out on this journey together. Have a great day, and keep writing.

6 comments

  1. Yes, an author is a brand. I met someone (Kelly Martin) who writes YA horror, but she writes romance, too. Romance doesn’t fit her brand, so she writes romance under a pen name. Interesting about Anne Rice and the black wedding dress. I didn’t know that.

  2. Thank you for such a thoughtful post, Paula, and for continuing to share not only your journey as a writer but also you thoughts that you’ve had along the way. This is very much appreciated by me, one who is in the midst of his own journey. Thank you so much. It’s very helpful.

  3. Thanks, Paula, such an interesting post. I have been writing for about eight years and I realise I have a lot to learn. My library of work is still building up. I have tried writing in different styles but have not dabbled in horror or crime genres, even though I enjoy reading them. I am increasingly turning to science fiction. It would appear that whenever I begin to write something new, it always turns that way. Your posts are very helpful and inspiring.

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