I’ve done some consulting recently with clients who are writing in several genres: one is a YA author who also writes Erotica. Another writes Non-fiction as well as Sci-Fi. So obviously, writing in multiple genres presents a bit of a branding challenge. Challenging, but not impossible.
BRAND THE AUTHOR, NOT THE BOOK
That’s the mantra of publishing since books began. Sure, we feature our latest release, but authors are people, too, right? Those authors who do nothing but push their work constantly are shouting to a world of empty streets. Why? Because readers are busy interacting and connecting with authors about food, kids, other books, music, and heck, vintage birdcage painting, and they are tuning out and away from the constant tweet/FB commercials.
The point is, while it’s necessary to brand a book as well as the author, creating an entire persona for a book is a difficult, somewhat contrived task. I’m not saying it can’t be done, however. It just takes some planning.
For the client who writes YA and Erotica, using a pen name is kind of a no-brainer. Obviously, the target demographics are VERY different, as is the subject matter. So marketing all her books, no matter the genre, under her YA author name just isn’t feasible.
In this case, we created a social media presence, a website and blog, as well as some advertisements, that feature a photo she purchased for the Erotica pen name. It’s not the cover art (in this case, she in the final stages of releasing her book and hasn’t selected the art yet), but we already worked out her keyword and color story, so she knows what to tweet/share and blog about.
The issue many authors face when promoting as a persona is a) what if people find out who she really is (and this is an issue since she lives in the Bible Belt Midwest, has a high-powered job, and is quite active in her church and b) what can she talk about?
Let’s do b) first. Okay. Tweeting, messages, posts, ads — choose keywords, topics, subjects, photos, quotes, news stories, etc — just as you would for your own ‘real name’ account. The process is entirely the same with perhaps the exception of maybe not sharing real-life pictures of yourself or anything that might give away your real identity.
Another option (which deals with a)) regarding who you really are…you have two choices: be upfront about it (like Nora Roberts, who lists her pen-named books right on her books and websites, i.e., ‘writing as J.D. Robb’), or you keep your branding completely separately and private. Make sure only your editor knows for sure. 🙂 There is a certain amount of freedom in taking on a persona completely different from ourselves — just have a plan.
WHICH BOOK TO MARKET?
We always market our latest release, right? So if you go the route of branding you the author and not a book, how do you work it in?
Here I’ll use myself as an example.
My first two books are humor — nonfiction essays on women, men, relationships, love. When I started writing my latest release, Broken Pieces, last year (which covers serious subjects like childhood sexual abuse, date rape, and abusive relationships in poetry and prose), I knew that I needed to change my author branding. So I changed up my keywords, blog topics, even news stories — so people knew that, while I was still snarky, sarcastic Rachel (I mean, I am still me after all), the topics on my blog changed from an all-humor blog to more serious issues.
I began featuring guest authors who had real-life stories to tell — this was two-fold: besides light editing and uploading, it created far less work for me since I blog usually twice-weekly, and more importantly, it gives these authors a new audience, as well as the freedom to write about topics they may not be able to on their own blogs. Regardless, I’m a nonfiction author so that song stayed the same. That is my overall theme.
It’s definitely possible to market yourself in more than one genre, as long as you develop a plan ahead of time and know your keywords and branding clearly. Got questions? Ask away!