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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Branding, by Sandra D. Bricker & Book Giveaway!


For more than a decade, Sandra D. Bricker lived in Los Angeles. While honing her chosen craft of screenwriting in every spare moment, she worked as a personal assistant and publicist to some of daytime television's hottest stars. When her mom became ill in Florida, Sandie left L.A. and screenwriting behind. With 15 books now in print and 5 more slated for publication through 2013, Sandie has carved out a niche for herself as a best-selling and award-winning author of laugh-out-loud romantic comedy for the inspirational market.

NR: To be entered in a drawing for Always the Designer Never the Bride, leave a comment for Sandra. U.S. residents only, please.

The topic of BRANDING has been a hot-button issue among writers lately, and I recently assembled a group of industry professionals to discuss it for a blog I wanted to put together. Before my writing days, I was a publicist for actors, and I had to deal with the issue of typecasting on a pretty regular basis.

But around the time that Always the Baker Never the Bride was released by Abingdon Press, branding entered my radar for the first time as an author. My dream of writing suspense was shoved to the sideline by a successful string of romantic comedies from Summerside and Abingdon Press.

During my chats on the subject, author Jenny B. Jones commented that one of the down sides of branding, for her, has been that readers aren’t totally aware that she writes anything EXCEPT YA, even though she clearly does. “I've seen bloggers mention one of my women's rom-coms and call it a YA,” she explained.

Agent Tamela Hancock Murray believes that, once an author becomes established, readers look for certain types of books from that author and could be disappointed when they find they’ve bought something else entirely. She uses music as the comparison. “If you are a fan of a dance music group, wouldn't you be disappointed by a recording featuring nothing but ballads?

No matter how good the ballads are, they are still slow grooves and not the upbeat tunes you were expecting. In my view, giving readers what they expect from you, but still keeping stories fresh, is the best path.”

Jeane and Tyson Wynn, longtime publicists for the Christian market, chimed in with their perspective. “It’s a waste of effort and lost opportunity,” Jeane says, “if authors don’t use the cheap and, in most cases, free tools available to them to reinforce their brand.” Through modern tools such as social media, she expounds, authors can “regularly engage their fans, which constantly goes to establishing their brand.”

Barbara Cameron, an author known in recent months for top-of-the-line Amish fiction, hopes that – branding aside – she has established herself as “a good writer, not just a good Amish writer.” And I’ve had the same hopes, especially in the beginning of my career when I had my eye on writing suspense rather than romantic comedy.

However, once the Another Emma Rae Creation series took off, I’ve found that my readers pick up my books with the specific expectation of a healthy dose of humor. The thought of letting them down is what inspired my quest for professional insights on the topic of branding.

One of the things I’ve learned is that branding is a bit of a familiarization technique for an author to effectively “make friends” with readers. Jeane Wynn cites the example of tag lines, such as mine: Author of Laugh-Out-Loud Fiction for the Inspirational Market.

“Brandilyn Collins is known by her Seatbelt Suspense,” Jeane explains, “and Terri Blackstock writes Up All Night fiction, so even though they both write suspense, the branding really enables both of those suspense authors to carry their own identity.” So fans of previous books provide a built-in market for new books, and there are always opportunities to try to expand within your brand.

With all the talk of platform these days,” Jeane’s husband and business partner, Tyson Wynn, adds, “it’s always a plus to take an existing potential market to a publisher when hoping they’ll publish your book. Branding can help to build that platform, which certainly is no guarantee of a publishing success, but it can help decision-makers as they decide whose book they want to take a chance on.”

As I’ve to make a definitive decision on the impact of branding on my future directions as a writer, I can’t help remembering an actor I used to know in Los Angeles. He left the steady paycheck and sort of stratosphere kind of notoriety of the soap opera he was on, and ended up coming back a year or two later.

When I asked him about it, he said that no one wanted to see him for anything other than that character he’d made famous. Meg Ryan had the same challenge when she branched out of the cute little romantic comedy heroines she made famous.

So for any writer considering their next move, I do caution you to think about branding as you look into the bigger, more far-reaching picture of your ultimate career path. A little analysis now can go a long way in building a writing career on solid ground rather than hindsight-seeking, shifting sand.


 Always the Designer, Never the Bride

How many dresses can a designer design before she finally designs her own?

Audrey Regan spent years establishing herself as a wedding dress designer and to date, she's been roped into creating dresses for nine of her girlfriends. Request #10 follows her vow to "Just say no!" and comes from her very best friend. She can hardly turn Carly down!

Audrey arrives in Atlanta to perform all of her maid-of-honor duties and the festivities make her question whether there's a prince of her own anywhere in her future. Enter the groom's brother and best man. J.R. Hunt couldn't be any more different from Prince Charming is he rode in on a Harley Davidson. Oh, wait. He actually did ride in on a Harley!

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

a great posting...i love sandra's novels...thanks for the chance to read her latest one :)

karenk
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Ane Mulligan said...

Sandie, I've loved your book from the first one I read. Girl, I'd read your grocery list! Your sense of story and your sense of humor must be twins, they match perfectly!

Martha W. Rogers said...

Sandie, I love your novels and just finished Always the Wedding Planner Never the Bride and it was as much fun as the baker one. Loved the one about Snowball, Arkansas, too. You and Janice Thompson are my two favorite RomCom writers. I would love to read the next one.
Martha
marthalrogers(at)sbcglobal(dot) net

Delores Liesner said...

Sandra you are right! I'm following you because I finally found an inspirational author who knows how to make me laugh. I promise I'll laugh with joy if I get picked to receive Always the Designer, Never the Bride. You are one of the names I can depend on - if I pick up a book by Sandra Bricker, I know I will like it!

Delores

S. Kim Henson said...

Great post. I'm certainly not far enough along in my career to worry about branding but I love reading ahead. : ) Also, thanks for the opportunity to win your book. Love to laugh and that's your branding for sure.

lollipops said...

I love Sandra's books - would love to read this one.