Blogging and branding.

Change a single letter and we could be talking about crime and punishment in the 18th Century!  But in fact I’ve been thinking a lot about how best to use the numerous blogs to which I’m committed, and how – or whether – it would be a good idea to decide what my ‘author brand’ is.

The Shrinking Violets have been running an Online Persona Workshop which I’ve been following with interest for the past five weeks.  If I’m understanding correctly, their advice so far is “know what you do best as an author, know what you’re genuinely interested in, and talk about that.”

Possibly coincidentally, or possibly just because every man and his dog is talking about branding at the moment, I also found myself going through the Author Branding Bootcamp at Creativity Loft, while scarcely a moment later I also got this message from 1st Turning Point in my inbox.

The 1st Turning Point article makes a lot of sense to me.  I’m sure it’s true that the only people likely to be interested in hearing writers talk about the mechanics of writing are writers themselves.  This is inconvenient, because writing is one of the things I understand, as an author, am interested in and can talk about.  On the other hand I’m usually too busy writing to want to talk about it as well!

I haven’t quite reached a conclusion on the subject of blogging.  It might be a good idea to post sometimes about the cool things I find out while I’m researching.  It might be interesting to be daring and talk about my religion, despite the “never mention religion or politics” rule of polite conversation.  Do I have anything to say on those subjects, I wonder, or would I do best to stick to sewing and my adventures with learning the penny-whistle?  (Seriously, how many different finger positions does C really need?)

With branding, I’ve done a little better.  I looked at what I’ve written so far, and what I want to write in future.  Except for Shining in the Sun, which I always knew was an adventure into a genre I wouldn’t normally write, the pattern was surprisingly clear.   Everything has historical elements, whether it’s pure historical, historical fantasy or historical mystery.  Even Under the Hill, which began as a contemporary paranormal, developed a strong historical element the moment I let it have its head.  I still can’t turn that into a sentence such as “I am an author of plot-driven paranormal suspense” (to use the example from the worksheet.)  The closest I can get is “I write full-bodied vintage fiction with a slice of lime.” Which at least means something to me, even if it conveys very little to anyone else.  That’s still progress!

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