So you can read my books

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Heather McCorkle has an intriguing post about Author Branding:

It's a new Hate Crime: roving bands of illiterate youth are snatching authors off the street and branding them!

Not really.  But with our luck, it just might happen!

But it got me to thinking: do you know your brand?  Do you have one?  Do you want one?

What did Samuel Clemens tell me the other day?

"Earn a character first if you can, and if you can’t, then assume one.”
—Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

You see, when readers hear JACK REACHER, they may not know who the author is, but they know what to expect --
So much so that when they walk into a bookstore, they ask, "Is the new JACK REACHER in?"

That's a brand.

The name of John D MacDonald was not nearly as famous as his character, TRAVIS MCGEE.  And they knew what to expect when they picked up the latest Travis McGee novel.

I want readers to be that way when they see the name, VICTOR STANDISH or MEILORI'S or SAMUEL McCORD.

Samuel Clemens, writing as Mark Twain, was one of the first American writers to become a celebrity. He practiced many aspects of personal branding.

He wrote in a distinctively sardonic, conversational style. His writings and talks presented a down-home persona, a homespun narrator full of folk wisdom and tall tales.

He assumed the trappings of brand image: a white suit, a cigar, a distinctive mustache, tousled hair.

 He got out on the lecture circuit, testing and honing his best stuff. He developed a knack for the “sound bites,”

the short, quotable epigram (such as, “Man is the only animal that blushes—or needs to.”)

In addition to his novels, he published many brief pieces:

 speeches, articles, short stories. And most notably, he adopted a pseudonym: Mark Twain,

a wonderfully punchy, memorable, plausible name, imbued with a folksy, easily spoken resonance

(taken from a Mississippi riverboat call on sounding the depth of the river).

Clemens/Twain knew the secrets of personal branding.

 Creating a brand involves, as he noted, both earning it and assuming it.

You don’t develop a brand without some active involvement in creating its form.

Rites of Passage Official Sample on ‪#‎SoundCloud
What is Your Personal Brand?

Your brand image is not how you see yourself,

but how others perceive you—quickly, clearly, positively.

What comes to mind when they think of you as a literary professional?

Prompt? Reliable? Humorous? Thoughtful? Broad-ranging? Laser-focused?

Do you deliver the goods in a friendly or fun or factual manner?

How do others describe you if they recommend you to another person?

So tell me.  I'd be interested to know.


  1. I haven't really developed a brand yet, but it's something I need to be thinking about as I continue to write. I liked the comment from the Twitter conversation about what you care deeply about will work it's way subtly into your writing, which can become or contribute to your brand. I like that. I like writing stories about making the seemingly impossible possible, which can take on just about any genre.

  2. Michael:
    I thought the Twitter conversation on Heather's blog was delightful and informative -- which is why I spotlighted it.

    But the best branding for authors is done with concerted effort and intelligent design, else the brand appears haphazard. Good Branding requires thought, design, and work. A good house is not just slapped together but is based on a blueprint -- so is a good Author Brand. At least in my way of thinking. But I am hardly the Yardstick of the Universe! :-)

    Thanks for visiting and caring enough to chat!

  3. So what would you say your brand is Roland? I think of you as the nightwatcher :)You converse with ghosts and guard the streets of our literary minds from Nazi vampires and other demons.

    How would you brand me? Very interesting post. I guess establishing a brand name is another form of marketing. Will check out your link now.

  4. Siv:
    Our brand is easier discerned by others. Nightwatcher, huh? I like it. I would call you the Lady of the Myths. And you're right: establishing a brand name is an important part of marketing. I think you will like Heather's post. :-)