Branding the Writer

No, I’m not talking about the kind of branding you do on cattle. I’m talking about creating an image for yourself as a writer to use in promoting yourself. Some writers create a persona or alter ego for themselves that makes them stand out, and be memorable. They will even go as far as creating a costume or particular outfit to wear to public appearances, book signings, conventions, so they are easily recognizable. 

An example is fellow author, Zombie Zak. He has branded himself as a cookie eating, world domination scheming, verse spewing zombie who writes poetry, horror, and fantasy. He has done such a great job of promoting himself that he has become quite well known with this persona.  So much so that I don’t even know his real name. Another is Louis Agresta, writer, role-playing gamer, entertainer, who wears a loud orange suit and hat to conventions, making him visibly stand out among the crowds. Author Richard Evans utilizes an online persona of a dwarf named Brodder Foamymugs, complete with an illustrated profile picture of a fantasy dwarf in armor with a tankard full of beer.

A fellow author and I were discussing promoting our works and ourselves as writers. We were talking about how projecting a certain memorable image can help you with book sales, and certainly make you stick in the minds of readers and fans. It got me to thinking about what my personal image, or persona as an author might be, or what I could develop to become more memorable.

My interests in life are quite diverse. I am a paranormal investigator, Qi-Gong Kung Fu martial artist, writer of poetry, fantasy, horror, science fiction, non-fiction among other things.  I am known for collecting  and repeating famous or infamous, quotes. As far as clothing goes, I have a penchant for wearing a full length black trench coat when weather allows. I also like to wear a lot of black or dark colors.  I own a long black cloak for a costume based on my dark fiction novel main characters called The ShadowRogue. I  have a pirate costume that I wear to renaissance and other historical faires, at Halloween and to costume parties. Also I’m actually quite short,  just over five feet tall, and people often remember me for that. Larry the short, story writer?

But which of these things makes me stand out, and will make me memorable? Do I want to be known as The Pirate Writer? Not really, since I don’t usually write about pirates. Although I did write a short piece of fiction creating a character based on my pirate costume. When I finish my ShadowRogue novel, I can see that dressing up as my main character to promote the book makes sense, but I’m not ready to do that yet. Paranormal investigation and martial arts are both things people identify me with, but how to develop those aspects into an image?

So what is my outstanding characteristic that typifies my brand? I don’t know. Larry the Quote Meister? Larry, the short guy who writes short stories? Larry the paranormal Kung Fu author? The black trench coat is certainly something I’m known for, but it’s not always practical when the weather outside, or the temperature  inside even, is too hot. And do I even need a theme or a  “look” that is representative of who I am as a person, or as a writer? Again, I don’t know. But it’s fun to think up ideas for it, and maybe by the time one of the next sci-fi, fantasy conventions rolls around, I will have figured it out.

Published in: on September 18, 2011 at 5:07 pm  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. What an interesting article. It is hard to distinguish ones self among the ocean of writers and creating a “loud” costume or persona is a good way of doing that, something that stands out. I know I have already decided under which penname I would write under but I never paid too much thought into the image that would represent me.

    Out of all your suggestions I would imagine the pirate costume would be most memorable although it might not be the most representable – as you stated. That is where it gets tricky; we can all imagine crazy outfits (google Lady Gaga for 5 minutes) but it is the balance between how distinguishable it is and whether it represents who we are and what we do.

    Dressing up as a character from your novel is always a good approach, it promotes your work directly. It is something I will have to ponder on…

    – Ermienda

    • Thanks for the comment, Ermienda! Writing under a penname is another consideration I thought about before being published. I decided that for my main body of work, (high fantasy, dark fantasy, urban fantasy,science fiction, horror,) I would write under my real name. If I write anything that is outside those genres, especially YA, I will most likely use a penname. I’m sure I’d use my real name on any non-fiction writing as well. As soon as I figure out what theme I’ll use for my authorial image, I’ll be sure to post a blog about it. Right now it is definitly a work in progress.
      Thanks for reading my blog!

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