Branding for writers and readers: What you expect and what I deliver

Writer friends, I have an apparently crucial question for you: What exactly  is your brand? Not a brand like big boys Nabisco or Toyota, but a brand that tells your readers who you are and what to expect of you. Hold it a minute, non-writers: I hope you will stick around and apply this idea to your own favorite authors to find out why they sometimes thrill you and other times make you want to throw their book into the corner.

I encountered this question as I get ready to send out a book proposal to present the book that I am close to completing on new ideas about grieving. To catch the eye of an agent and publisher, I am to prove that I have a platform that establishes me as someone worth listening to, and oh yes, can sell books. Part of that is to have an author website to plead my case.

This will require both thought and help. While my IT department consists of my thirty-something daughter who can smell embarrassingly outmoded a mile away, even I can tell that my old author site has got to go. But I needed more help than that.

So, as is my custom, if I am going to do something, I should overdo it, so I read up on author sites, visited dozens of them, and ran across an article by author Kimberly Grabas that included wisdom about branding. I know that branding sounds cruel and painful and cowboy-ish, but her take on it made such sense.

It regards how you want to be known, what you promise your readers, what benefit they receive from having read your words. and just how you deliver that benefit. It is a common theme in writing classes that you teach your reader what to expect of you, and if you don’t deliver, you have reneged on the deal. Branding is part of that deal.

Suddenly, redoing my site is an exercise in clarity about what I want my work to accomplish and how I want to do justice to my readers’ time and interest. Perhaps this time I didn’t overdo it, but got to the heart of it, with the help of somebody else’s words. Once I finish the new site, I’ll link to it here, I promise.


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