Friday, October 17, 2008


The other day I got an email from an editor asking me to tell them what my brand is as a writer. I had sent them a non-fiction proposal a few days before and I guess they have a little interest in me or they wouldn't have emailed me that question, right? Let's assume I'm right, okay. My ego is a little too fragile right now to think otherwise.

So if you were me, what would you have said? I've heard two schools of thought on this. The First School Of Thought comes from my friend and writer Jim Denny. I quickly wrote him the other day when I got this question and asked him what his brand is. Jim has written a whole bunch of non-fiction collaborative books with Pat Williams and many others. He told me he doesn't think non-fiction writers should have brands. He said and I quote, "I guess you can say my brand is that I am a writer who only writes about things that interests me and everything interests me."

The Second School Of Thought is that all writers even, non-fiction writers should have a brand...or must have a brand before they are marketable.

Oh, I misquote myself...there are THREE Schools Of Thought on this...the third being...fiction writers need a brand and non-fiction writers do not.

Oh, wait, I misquoteth myself again...there are FOUR Schools Of Thought on branding...the fourth being, non-fiction writers need a brand and fiction writers do not.

See why writers are nuts?

So what is a brand? I've been told it is that SOMETHING that sets you apart from the pack. It is that THING that when readers see your name on a book that can count on.

Okay... one agent's blog on brands said I should start with thinking about location and background and how that would color my writing. So, I tried that. I was born and raised in the south, but have spent the last 30 years or so living in the North. So, what if I said my brand was something like: "I have Southern skin with a Northern spin." "My right brain has a Mason Dixon line." "I talk like a Southern but think like a Upper?"(pronounced YOOPER for those Southerners who haven't lived in the North for the past 30 years or so like myself.)

Anyway, I had a deadline from the editor so I made up something I thought sounded as writerly as I could about my brand and sent it off to her. But to be honest, how does a writer who has only written one published book so far know what her brand is?

My first book was written out of an interest in telling a certain story in a certain way. It had nothing to do with being a Southern or a person who likes brats (pronounced BRAAT if you have a Upper accent). I wrote a book that was a joy to write and one which made me cry to write in parts and one that made me smile when I wrote other parts. It was a book that touched me profoundly as I wrote it and left me changed. If it did any of that for the 50,000 or so folks who have bought it so far then I guess I did my job...brand or no brand.

I'll let you know if my editor person liked my brand well enough to take a chance on me and this next story. If she does...great! I'll be on top of the world. If she doesn't...well...

No comments: