Monday, April 16, 2012

Branding at the 'Bar M' Corral...

We were discussing authors as brands today. A recent commentator in the Guardian sniffily dismissed JK Rowling as just a brand having denounced her upcoming debut novel for adults despite not having read the contents. Hey, lets not even judge the book by its cover (does it even have one yet?). I appreciate the concept of branding probably deserves some cynicism as marketing/advertising has ruthlessly and successfully exploited it over the years to sell us things we may or may not need. However I also think of brand as something inevitable if you produce a reasonable body of work. Stick around long enough, write enough books, paint enough pictures, make enough movies and people know what you mean when you say the name. Think Frizzell, Peter Jackson,  Lynley Dodd etc....  It then makes sense to promote this brand to keep moving forward. I didn't mean to be a brand, honest, but I seem to have become one anyway and I'd like to make the most of it in a positive way.

Some brands, despite having a body of work, are mostly aligned with one product (Lionel Shriver perhaps?), some brands 'are' (and will only ever really be) just one product (I'm thinking Harper Lee here). Some brands are thwarted in their attempts to broaden their product range (can't we be grown up enough to give Rowling a chance at least?). Me? I've worried in the past about the diversity of my brand portfolio. Readers like knowing what to expect from a favourite author. If I liked book A then I will also like book B and book C. Fans of Lynley Dodd trust in her products to deliver warm, rollicking rhyming verse. People know to expect brilliant storytelling when they pick up Brian Falkner or Kyle Mewburn. In the past I have fretted over the fact I don't just write one type of story. I write picture books, short stories and novels. I write novels for children and young adults. Adults seem to enjoy my latest novel as much as the teens do. Some of my stories have a fantastical element, some don't. Some are humorous and some are dark. How can I appeal and promote myself to so wide ranging an audience? Should I focus on just one age group?

I have had to back the truck up. I am a writer. A writer of fiction for children. This is where Ms Rowling has to back up too (or her critics do anyway) - she writes. She can write any length for any audience that fits with the stories that come to her. For me personally, whether I want to or not, I can't write to expectations, I have to write the stories that excite my interest. These are the ones that come out best. What I do try and deliver, 100% of the time, is a great story that will make you think. I am an award-winning children's author of smart, layered fiction for all ages, focusing on the family, the challenging and the unexpected, all with a little dash of magic. And that's what you will get if you read my books.


Clare Scott said...

Oooh yeah, you go girl. I like that branding!

maureen said...

Brilliantly Put!