Thursday, March 27, 2014

Author, Know Thyself (and Your Brand)

by Anne Marie Becker  

True confession time. On a weekly (sometimes daily) basis, I toy with the idea of diverging from writing romantic suspense to straight-up contemporary romance.  Yes, these would be stories without stalkers, dead bodies, or law enforcement officers. Without imminent danger, destruction of property, or the evil machinations of chilling villains. (I heard that collective gasp.) 

However, I recognize that, at least in part, these thoughts are my brain’s desire to run away from home, a way of creating distraction when I’m tired of the story I’m working on. Whether I’m in the throes of editing or trying to dig myself out of the sagging middle of my story, the grass looks greener over there, where writers don’t have to research deadly weapons or nuances of the law to make their stories work. While part of this desire for change may stem from a need to try new things, I realize the pros and cons of making such a decision.

Writing is a business—a challenging business where a sea of authors are attempting to keep their heads above water while thrusting their books above the waves, hoping they’ll be noticed. In such an environment, being untrue to your author brand can be deadly. To build your audience, it’s important to know who you are as a writer, and what your readers have come to expect from your work. After all, a book is a contract between you and your reader, promising a satisfying story. 

Recently, on one of the writer loops, an interesting link came across my inbox. This article from Forbes seems to prove that building a brand leads to success, especially if that brand is tied to a series. It seems to be working for Lee Child, anyway.

I released my first Mindhunters book nearly three years ago (*waves to debut class of 2011*). Now, as I near the end of my six-book Mindhunters series and look forward to starting a new series, I fight the distractions and remind myself of who I am. I am a romantic suspense author. I write thrilling psychological twists and chilling villains. In the new series I’m about to start, I’m going to be digging up dead bodies and hunting killers again. Because I actually do it pretty well, and because my readers expect it of me.

Who are you as a writer? What kind of brand are you building, and how are you working toward solidifying your place in readers’ hearts? As a reader, do you have a favorite series or author who has earned your loyalty?

Dark Deeds (Mindhunters, Book 4):

Walking away from sexy Detective Diego Sandoval was one of the toughest things security specialist Becca Haney ever had to do. But her past is a direct threat to his future, to the career he’s working so hard to rebuild. When he’s assigned to help keep her safe from a human trafficking ring, he’s determined to stay by her side and learn about the woman behind the passion—scars and all. But Becca has another admirer. Known only as “the Fan,” he believes he’s the perfect partner for her—and he’ll kill to prove it. When the stakes are raised in the killer’s deadly game, Diego will be called upon to save lives—including Becca’s.

Anne Marie has always been fascinated by people—inside and out—which led to degrees in Biology, Chemistry, Psychology, and Counseling.  Her passion for understanding the human race is now satisfied by her roles as mother, wife, daughter, sister, and award-winning author of romantic suspense.  She writes to reclaim her sanity. Find ways to connect with Anne Marie at Sign up for her newsletter to receive special offers and sneak peeks of her books.


Linda Andrews said...

Tweeted for you. I bounce genres causing lots of confusion to my readers, but I do have quite a few who've followed me from the horror to the romance. So every author's brand needs to start with a darn good story. After that I know what I should do then ignore it:D. But to be fair I follow Elizabeth Peters and Jane Anne Krentz across all their nom de plumes and genres.

Anne Marie Becker said...

Thanks, Linda. It's an interesting point about following authors who write across genres. I agree- a darn good story is essential! And there are certain authors whose "voices" I'm in love with. But I tried to follow one of them and it just didn't work for me (went from RS to paranormal). I suppose it depends how big of a "jump" the reader's willing to make. And I do think, someday, I'll write a contemporary romance, but I'm hoping to build up my readership here, in RS, first, or start with a new brand and build that one up. I just don't have that kind of energy at the moment. :D

Alene Hittle said...

I hear you. All my stories are romantic comedy, yet I'm making a splash with my All Is Fair in Love and Baseball series. Not sure whether to write Book 4 or try to get the audience interested in other, non-baseball-related tales.

Anne Marie Becker said...

Such a tough choice, Arlene - but I'm sure you'll put your humorous stamp on whatever you write, which is your brand. For example, the new series I'm thinking up doesn't involve hunting serial killers, as my current one does. But it'll likely still be big on dark, psychological twists, which is what my readers expect.

Linda Scarlett said...

How true your article is! All my life when I told a story, it ended up having dark twists to it. I used to be afraid to share my worlds. I now realize I am a writer, and have never been happier expressing myself. It is so much easier. I have had such wonderful feedback from readers. It makes my heart so light and happy. Thank you for your wise words.