Thursday, February 25, 2010

Author Branding

posted by Deb Werksman

This month's Romance Writers Report has a fantastic article by Theresa Meyers called "The Basics of Author Branding" and I think it should be required reading for every author. (Theresa's website is .)

Here's how she defines an author brand: "building an image, perception, or identity that is used to create a loyal readership, who will auto buy an author's work."

This is right on, and it's why I keep telling authors they must choose their subgenre and build from there. Once you're established in a subgenre, and are building readership there, you can branch out into other subgenres, or you can build more than one simultaneously but the key word here is "build"--you can't jump around.

Naturally, I want to qualify what I just said. I meet authors all the time at conferences who've written a contemporary, a historical and are now starting on a romantic suspense (for example). That's FINE as you begin your career--it's a great idea to write in different subgenres and see which one really expresses your unique voice, where you have the strongest hooks, where the worlds are that you want to spend time in yourself as an author.

So do that, and THEN pitch, because I am always going to ask for an author to have a career arc--it's getting more and more difficult to publish just one book--there has to be a build, and it can easily take 4 books to build readership.

Casablanca authors are doing a great job with this--so many of them are building readership and are now writing their third, fourth, fifth, sixth books for us. Some of them were established in another subgenre when they joined us (Mary Wine, for example, in erotic romance) or are now beginning to build in a new subgenre (Marie Force writes contemporaries for us and has just sold her first romantic suspense to another house and is going to build both those brands at the same time!).

As an editor, there is nothing better than seeing authors grow with every manuscript, and readership grow with every book. So now, as if you didn't have enough to think about, in addition to the hook for EVERY BOOK, I'm going to be looking at your author brand (I call it author career arc) and we at Casablanca are going to help you build your brand.

So, I challenge all of you brilliant authors out there:

1) get hold of and read Theresa's article--she's offering a class on creating your author brand that you might also want to consider
2) create your brand now, or if you're already publishing and building readership, see how you can sharpen it
3) send me your submissions!

I'm looking for:
  • a heroine the reader can relate to
  • a hero she can fall in love with
  • a world gets created
  • a hook I can sell with in 2-3 sentences
  • author career arc (OR, AUTHOR BRAND potential!!!!!!! Thank you Theresa!)
Who are some of your favorite authors? Can you describe their brand?

P.S. Please check out all the GREAT AWARDS our Casa and Landmark authors have received just since January! Click on the word "Awards" at the top of the blog sidebar to view the list.

WTG all you great authors!


  1. Jayne Castle/Jayne Ann Krentz is one of my favorites. But she writes in 3 different genres.:) Her futuristic and paranormal lines are written as Jayne Castle, but her romantic suspense line also has a paranormal series, which I love, and then she writes historicals. :) I fell in love with her voice as Jayne Castle and when I ran out of one series/name to read, I hopped over to her other series. :) One of these days, I'll check out her historical books, too. She does have both her Krentz name and her Castle name on her paranormal and futuristic series books for readers to follow her into another genre.

  2. I agree about Jayne Ann Krentz. I don't care what she writes, I'll buy it. Without question, her brand is her voice. Smart, humorously insightful about human nature, a hero and heroine who are someone I would like to know.
    Without a priori knowledge, I recognized that Amanda Quick and Jayne Ann Krentz were the same writer. Her stamp was all over it.
    Later I bought her Jayne Castle sci-fi/alternative world books--which I wouldn't have if I were looking for sub-genre, because they're not very good examples of the sub-genre, but who cares? Jayne Ann Krentz by any name sells me.

  3. Linda Howard - alpha male falls for strong woman. Kind of generic, I guess. Her writing makes it work.

    I think she only has one brand, unlike some other successful authors.

    Great topic.

  4. Deb, I read the same article and really got a lot out of it! It got me thinking about what all my books have in common - Cowboy Trouble, the next two Westerns, and those books in the bottom drawer. What I came up with is the tag line "Love is a risk worth taking," because my heroines always shy away from depending on anyone but themselves, but then discover that loving the right man makes them stronger, not weaker.
    As far as other author brands, I'm a huge Janet Evanovich fan. In both her Stephanie Plum books and her earlier romances, it's definitely the voice that sets her apart.

  5. Hi Deb,

    I agree with your post and the branding! I have the RWR Report and will read the article.

    I enjoy Amanda Quick (Jayne Ann Krentz)and, Terry you really should check out her historicals. To me the Third Circle is the best of her more recent books and Mischief of her earlier books.


  6. I branded myself long ago when I created my website,
    Deb...without realizing there was a name for what I was doing.
    Have a magical day! ;}

  7. This is a GREAT article to read, and I highly recommend it to every author. I also found this article today that is very similar in content, and offers so more insight:

  8. I hadn't read my Feb. RWR yet, but I sure will now! My agent is calling me today to discuss my website. I have a brand and a following, but I'm not sure how to (or if) I should make a distinction between my mass market books vs. my trade paperbacks and ebooks.

    My favorite authors are the off-the-wall comedic urban fantasy writers. Hmmm... Imagine that. Mary Janice Davidson and Gerry Bartlett to name a couple.


  9. Yes, definitely Jayne. Jim Butcher and all you have to hear is Harry Dresden to know. Beverly Barton's incredible covers that show you the kind of suspense you'll be reading. Vicki Lewis Thompson.

    So true. You use that brand to build your name and go on from there.

  10. I gave a speech to my local RWA group on this subject just last month. It is SO important. I learned along the way much as Kathryne did. For me it was natural to convey my story telling style via my website and so on. But there is always more to learn as we move along in our careers. I am happy to say that 3 ladies from my group now have blogs up and running as a result of my encouragement!

    Thanks Deb!

  11. I just took Theresa's class and you are so right about branding (and Theresa!). What I've learned is helping me focus my efforts as I start out.

  12. WONDERFUL post, Deb!

    And thank you for helping me cement my own brand of romantic suspense with a touch of paranormal in exotic settings. :-)

    And BIG THANX to Sharon for putting up the list of our recent awards. Check it out, everyone!


  13. Thanks for a great blog post. Being a fairly new writer on the block, I can see why it's important to develop a brand. I've just started developing my own brand and this post couldn't have come at a more perfect time.

    As for authors and branding, I'm a sucker for a good humorous paranormal. Katie MacAlister and Angie Fox have done a great job with their branding in that genre.

  14. Deb: Great topic! I just read a posting that Hank Phillippi Ryan did on another site on how her covers changed her branding. Romance to mystery, or well, some mystery, some romantic suspense, and you get the idea.

    Along with that comes the thought of naming books. I, on one hand, love the sense of continuity when you know the books fall in a series. The names and covers pull them together.

    On the other hand, I can never remember which one I've read. I literally mark the inside with a sequence number and check mark if I've finished it.

    So, branding seems critically important as long as it isn't so consistent it creates confusion.

    Again, thanks!! Cassy PIckard

  15. I always loved Julie Garwood, and I'd say her brand was sweet, funny historicals. But I don't like her contemps as much (and I do like contemps).

    Susan Elizabeth Phillips is another of my favorite authors. I think she's so successful precisely because she knows what she's good at it sticks to it.

  16. Fairy tales with a twist is my brand and it's always wonderful to meet readers who relate to that. I started it years ago when I started writing my twists on fairy tales - the tagline just seemed to flow (and there's that water pun again!)

    And Robin will tell you that I'm a princess anyway, so it just kind of fits.

    I always think of Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb. Such different branding and you know what you're getting when you pick one of those identities' books.

  17. Stepping in to say I'm just wrapping up a fabulous class with Theresa Meyers right now. If you get a chance to take her class, I'd highly recommend it. We've learned how to pinpoint our author brand and our message points, as well as what promo ideas work, and what isn't worth our time/money. Plus a whole lot of other great stuff.

  18. I understand what she's saying. I started out writing contemporary romance then switched to my true love-Scottish historicals. When I suddenly sold a contemporary, I decided to use a pen name. I am saving my real name for the sale of my Scottish line. Any takers?

  19. Thanks, Amelia, I will, since I love historicals! As soon as I've gotten further in Taming the Highland Wolf, I need to read a whole lot of Casa Babe books now that I've finished reading the Rita entries! :) But my lips are sealed on those! :)

  20. Great blog Deb! Thanks for sharing your thoughts! :)

    While I wait to find a publishing home for my novels, I've been posting blogs to chronicle my journey as well as offer up free short fiction so that readers will know who I am and what they can expect from me when my books hit the shelves...

    Branding is tricky when your books aren't available to the public just yet! :)

    Thanks again!


  21. Thank you for that informative post! Im going to have to check out Theresa's on-line class.