Since I’m out of the office this week on vacation, I’ve turned my blog over to my clients, who wanted to share their thoughts with you on a variety of subjects. I let them have free rein because otherwise, well, just trust me, it’s for the best. Today’s post is by Carrie Harris. Carrie is a geek-of-all-trades and proud of it. Brains are her specialty; she used to work in a lab where they were delivered daily via FedEx. After that, it seemed only natural to write a zombie book: BAD TASTE IN BOYS, which will be published by Delacorte in Summer 2011. Now she lives in Michigan with her ninja-doctor husband and three zombie-obsessed children. Take it away, Carrie!
Creating a Not-Quite-An-Author-Brand
Hiya! If you haven’t met me yet (internetly speaking), let me tell you a little about myself: I’m obsessed with monsters. I find Richard Simmons incredibly hilarious. The last party I threw was a combination Bacon Party and David Hasselhoff Roast celebration. And I have my own ninja attack squad, inasmuch as ninjas can be directed to attack anything.
In short, I’m fairly weird. But I’m quite at ease with my weirdness, or at least I was until I realized I’d have to display it publicly.
See, I nearly had a cardiovascular event when I signed with Kate and she sent me an email saying, “Do you have a photo and a website link I can put up on the ktliterary site?” I mean, don’t even get me started on the photo thing. But that worry was quickly eclipsed by the website thing. I didn’t have an author site. I didn’t even have a blog. I needed one, and preferably one that didn’t suck rocks.
So I started planning. I’ve read all those writer books (you know the ones I mean), and everything and everybody said I needed a BRAND. And my BRAND had to be ENTERTAINING and UNIQUE. Talk about stressful. Even now, the thought of author branding is enough to drive me to RANDOM CAPITALIZATION. Because let’s be honest here. When I say the words “author brand,” do you immediately think of monsterrific Richard Simmons ninja bacon jokes?
I thought not.
But that’s what I’m interested in, and I didn’t want to pretend to be something I’m not. So then I started asking myself questions. Like, if monsterrific Richard Simmons ninja bacon jokes were going to be the staple of my highly wonky author brand, what would happen when I didn’t feel like joking? What would happen if I ran out of MRSNBJ?
How do you think that should be pronounced? I’m thinking something like “Mrs. Nibbage.” But I digress.
I didn’t know how to answer those questions, so I did what I usually do—I winged it. I started blogging about supernaturally tinged silliness like Mrs. Nibbage, sparkly merpires that smell like fish sticks, and how I would look if you stuck my head on a monster body. My web presence is mostly dedicated to monsterish funny things. But here’s the thing: I am not a brand. Yes, I love funny things and monsters, but that’s not all that I love. And there are days when I just don’t feel funny or days when I want to talk about something completely different because the thought of more Nibbage makes me want to stab myself in the temporal lobe with a spork. Sure, I could force it. But what purpose would that serve?
What I’ve discovered is that the whole concept of author branding is a good place to start when building a web presence. Because yes, it’s good that people associate me with monster related camp. My books contain a lot of that, and it’s a good bet that if you like my blog you’ll also like my books. But forcing myself into the campy monster box to the exclusion of everything else doesn’t do anyone any favors. A one note book gets boring after a while. So does a one note author. And you can’t build a dialogue with your readers if you’re too busy trying to push your all-important AUTHOR BRAND. Dum dum DUM.
So by all means, embrace your Mrs. Nibbage. (Just don’t let Mr. Nibbage see, because he’s the jealous type.) Knowing your strengths isn’t a bad thing. But don’t let your brand swallow you. Ultimately, you’re more than that, and people will respond to you more if you’re real and not just a brand-spewing automaton.
Although it might be funny to have a brand spewing automaton! It could answer the phone when telemarketers call and tell them monster knock knock jokes and sing little jingles about BAD TASTE IN BOYS! That would be so kewl!
Yeah, I’m digressing again. And overdosing on exclamation points. Real people do wacky things like that. I’ll take it over the author brand anytime.