Putting Spice In Your Brand

AegyptischerBasar (2)What kind of writer are you? Do you have a series with a protagonist that shows up in every book you write? Do you write in the same genre? Do you think about your brand when you’re writing? What spice are you putting in your brand?

As I’m about to publish my novelette, The Blue Nightgown, I realize more and more the kind of writer I am. I also realize what I’m not.

When I look at writers like J. K. Rowling (Harry Potter) and Sue Grafton (Alphabet mysteries), who’ve written successful series using the same character(s), or the authors who’ve stayed in the same genre, like Stephen King (horror), John Grisham (legal thrillers), Nora Roberts (romance) and Nicholas Sparks (romance), I can see why they’ve become bestselling authors. They’ve given their readers a clear idea of what to expect with each succeeding novel. They created a brand that was reliable.

When I think of stories to write, I see that I’m not following their example. I find it hard because it’s not who I am.

First of all, I have no interest in writing a sequel for Catherine, the protagonist in my debut novel, A Cry From The Deep, though I have been considering doing something with her daughter Alex. She’s getting older, and she’s a lot of fun. I suspect once she reaches a certain age, she won’t be an easy woman to toy with.

As for genre, if you’ve read my biography, you’ll understand why I have trouble staying in the same genre. I like variety in life and in my books. I also write the way I read. I read everything, literary novels as well as commercial ones, classics and indie self-published ones. I also don’t read sequels, even if the first one was good.

Though I’m not following the lead of bestselling authors, I’ve since discovered that it doesn’t really matter, especially if I plan to attract avid readers like myself, who don’t read sequels or buy books in the same genre. What matters to me is a good story. And that is essentially what made the authors listed above so successful. They told a damn good story.

That’s my goal. To work on telling a good story. The spice in my brand is the variety in my writing. Just as I’ve loved having different experiences in my life, through work and travel, I love exploring different genres and ways to tell a story. A Cry from the Deep is a romantic mystery/adventure with a nice dose of paranormal. My novelette, The Blue Nightgown is women’s fiction (a family drama).

I’m also polishing up two more novels that are close to seeing light. One is historical fiction and the other, well women’s fiction again, but one that takes place largely on a psychiatric ward in the 70s.

What will this do for my brand? Time will tell. But for me, variety is indeed the spice of life.

What about you? Do you believe authors are better off staying in the same genre? Do you believe that readers will fall off if the writer deviates with each succeeding book? Are sequels more successful than one-offs? Or are you like me, putting spice in your brand through genre bending or changing genres? Comments are always appreciated. 


6 thoughts on “Putting Spice In Your Brand

  1. JP McLean

    It’s my belief that if you have a good foundation in story-telling, and you’re doing something you love-no matter which genre-that love will shine through and the end product will be good. So even if the Blue Nightgown isn’t a continuation of Catherine’s story, I’m going to read it!
    JP McLean recently posted…Penance: Now available for pre-order!My Profile

    1. Diana Stevan Post author

      That’s what I believe as well. But again, I know that agents and publishers love sequels and authors who write them. Yours is a dynamite one with a great premise. Thank you for your vote of confidence.

  2. Karen Dodd

    Very well said, Diana. I believe a writer’s uniqueness is what makes people want to read (or not!) their work. There are a number of brand-name authors out there who have written so many sequels that their work is no longer fresh and has become formulaic. And I say this from someone who loves reading sequels.

    Thanks for such an insightful article!
    Karen Dodd recently posted…Reconnect To Your Writing!My Profile

    1. Diana Stevan Post author

      Karen, you’re so right about the formulaic part. I think that’s why I get turned off by certain writers. There’s a particular one I’m thinking of, name better left unsaid.

  3. Bryan

    Hi Diana, I enjoyed your thoughtful article. There certainly were complelling questions in the final paragraph. For me I stay with the same genre, although I do have two different series characters. I confess I’m tempted to do other genres. However – the experience I’ve had reading writers who excel at one genre then try their hand at another hasn’t been totally happy.
    One-offs or sequels? It all depends. If it’s a series character and done in an interesting way, I’d say go for it! And if your prior novel is a best-seller, definitely go for a sequel 🙂
    That all being said, basically I’m with JP: write what you’re enthusiastic about writing and that will shine through in the writing and the readers will sense it, regardless or genre or style.

    1. Diana Stevan Post author

      Thanks, Bryan. Yes, I think I’ve come to the same conclusion. It works best for both writer and reader alike, when the passion and care shows in the writing, whether it’s genre or series.

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