Branding Questionnaire

Yet again I’m thinking about branding. Initially I was very resistant to the idea that an author should have a brand. “What if I want to do something different?” I thought. “If I brand myself as a historical author, what will become of me if I want to write fantasy, or mystery, or Gothic historical mystery fantasy with a touch of action/adventure? Because I know I’m likely to want to do all of that stuff.”

But at the same time, I felt continually compelled to protest against the fact that publishers have this tendency to put my books in the ‘erotic’ or ‘sizzling’ or ‘sensual’ category. What gets my goat there is that I feel it’s false advertising. People are buying the books hoping for delicious sexiness, and they’re getting battles at sea and the occasional stolen kiss. If that happened to me, I’d feel cheated, and I don’t want my readers to feel cheated.

So, what happened recently is that my resistance to false advertising met up with my understanding of branding, folded it up a bit and shook it out into an entirely different shape. I suddenly understood that branding is not a way of limiting what you do at all. It’s a way of discovering what you do and describing it accurately, so that the people who are interested in that kind of thing can find it, and the people who are not interested in it can avoid it and thereby save themselves money and disappointment.

Apologies to everyone if you all knew that already, and I’m the only one for whom it had ever been a mystery.

As a result of this, I’m now trying to figure out exactly what it is that makes me unique as an author. I can’t brand myself as a ‘historical’ author, because I also do fantasy, and I can’t brand myself as a ‘fantasy’ author because I also do historical. But there must be something about the way I do both of those genres which unites them both – something which is my way of dealing with them, my way of seeing. And that is my brand – the limitation that is placed upon me entirely by virtue of me being myself. If I could just put my finger on it.

Which is where we come to the questionnaire part. I can’t help feeling that this is a terrible imposition on anyone who reads this blog, but on the other hand I would really love to know the answer to some of these things. So I’ll compromise by putting it out here for anyone to answer any part of if they want to – and obviously not to bother if they don’t.


How would you describe my genre of work?
With each of my books, what do you expect from the story?
How do you usually feel after reading one of my books?
If you were describing my books to a friend, how would you describe them?
Ultimately, why do you keep reading my books?
If you had to compare my books to another author’s, who would you say I’m
similar to and why?

Are there any elements, themes or genres you are hoping to see from me soon?

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Funny that you mention the erotic label because I keep seeing m/m books labeled as erotic and when I read the book I wonder if I it’s me and I don’t know what erotic means or if they have been mislabeled because the sex scenes are nothing out of the ordinary. I guess one of the reasons has to be prejudice because the fact that two guys are having sex is perceived as kinky and erotic regardless of how graphic the scene is, whereas a guy and a woman having sex is normal and romantic. When it comes to branding… Read more »


Given that you do not write just one type of book, perhaps – rather than thinking about branding yourself, as an author – you should think about branding *each* of your books. Your sentence about branding being “a way of discovering what you do and describing it accurately” could be recast to refer to your work rather than to you, and still be spot on: ensuring that “the people who are interested in that kind of thing can find it, and the people who are not interested in it can avoid it”. In fact, you might achieve the opposite of… Read more »


I haven’t read The Wages of Sin so can’t comment on that. I just don’t care for the paranormal in any time period! The nearest I can come to it is the sort of thing which happens in Elizabeth Goudge (The Little White Horse) or in Harper Fox’s story Winter Knights (which I read without realising it was going to have anything of the sort in it). I’m only joking about your concentrating on historicals! (It’s so difficult to get the tone over when dashing off a comment.) You must do what you want to do! I’m sorry I can’t… Read more »


Sorry, just realised that the first para of my last comment isn’t clear. What I meant is that what happens in those two stories is fine as far as I’m concerned, but anything more fantastical is not (for me).