Friday, October 14, 2005

Branding--Day 5

Hey, y’all, thanks for the feedback yesterday. Some interesting stuff.

Gina H. said: I would just add that your writing doesn't waste my time. Your tight writing and lots of white space appeals greatly. You don't waste words. I'll bet most of your readers are BUSY.

Thanks for this, Gina. Not a word I’d thought about, but I agree with you. I’m adding "busy" to my list of community descriptives.

C.J. said: I really like how you take the time for character development AMIDST the roller-coaster ride.

Yes, I do like to focus on character, perhaps more than some suspense writers would. The idea of characterization amid the suspense is one of the factors that helped lead to the “More than meets the eye” phrase.

Domino said: I've got your one-word target audience: Non-weenies! . . . I think you attract more than your target reader, but to refine the brand, you ignore the fringe readers and only describe the die-hard fans. Right?

Non-weenies. Hey, I like that.

I wouldn’t say it’s so much a matter of ignoring the “fringe” readers, or the ones that don’t fit the mold. It’s more looking at the conglomeration of words that surface to explain that community as a whole, then figuring out the best phrase to describe the conglomeration. For example, most “weenies” don’t read my stuff. Those who do—even if in the harsh daylight and surrounded by people (and I do have readers say such things)—still are being daring and adventuresome in that they’re breaking out of their mold. Despite the intensity of the books, they’re drawn to the stories for some reason. On the flip side, a lot of my readers might say, "Oh, come on, they’re not that scary at all.” Yet they’re still drawn to the books—maybe for their twists to solve and the characterization? Who knows. At any rate, the various descriptive words used for my community still do cover these fringe readers somewhat.

Lynette said: I noticed you don't add a "spiritual" quality to your target audience. Was that intentional, or is it something that comes along in the reader experience? Because I know you have definite spiritual messages in each of your books.

Yeah, this is a good point. This wasn’t intentional, but the natural outcome of my mindset. It comes from my thoughts when I go to write a book. I don’t think “Christian story.” I plot the best suspense story I can, and somewhere from those events, the spiritual part arises. I don’t see my readers as necessarily Christians or non Christians. I see them more as those who enjoy suspense.

Yes, there are plenty of authors who say they write for the unchurched, or the backsliders in the choir, or whatever. I think that’s absolutely legit. It does help define the aura of their stories. I just doesn’t quite fit for me.

D. Gudger said: Here's an off topic question that is niggling in my brain as I am currently reading multiple books ... why do so many authors make their protagonists (especially female) skinny, shiny-haired, and very, very pretty? What about the readers who have been ostracized and passed by for promotions b/c they don't fit the "American Ideal" of beauty? I must admit, I really LOVE Chelsea Adams - especially in Dread Champion - people think she's a freak and I can relate so well to that.

I find this very interesting. Yes, D.G., Chelsea is looked at as a freak, esp. in Dread Champion. But she’s also slim and very pretty. Yet the latter doesn’t seem to bug you. In Chelsea’s case, a pretty protagonist is nevertheless shunned, and her looks get her nowhere. Nor does she give them much thought. Maybe it’s not so much the looks of the character as how those looks are used. ?? Do you think that could be?

Karen said: Can you say how your brand might have changed since you were first published in fiction? I know it's hard to brand right out of the gate, but did you know who your audience was at first?

No, I couldn’t possibly know as well. First, because I was writing in two very different genres. So I had dual communities of readers. Second, even if I just focused on my suspense, I hadn’t written enough novels yet. My first two suspense novels were about a woman who has visions (Chelsea). Some may have therefore tried to put me in the supernatural suspense subcategory, when that’s not really where I belong. So I’d say, in general, it just takes having a few books under your belt before you can go through this process and really get somewhere.

Again, I really appreciate the feedback and help on this. You've given me some extra things to think about.

Next week we can turn to marketing if you like. I'm not quite sure what you want to discuss. You already know the basic stuff I do to market--Web site, blog, newsletter. I also do a few mailings. Is this the kind of thing you want to know? Or more what happens at a publishing house? (Which I know some about, but surely not everything.)

Be back Monday with . . . um, whatever you wanna talk about.

Read Part 6


Gina Holmes said...

Thanks BC. I'd love to know what goes on at the publishing house. Do you meet with the marketing people? What do you discuss? Do they give you ideas? Do you give them ideas? Thanks!

Karen Wevick said...

Brandilyn - It's amazing how well you've branded and how some people are afraid to read your books. Yes, they are intense, kind of reminding me of Hitchcock's psychological thrillers, and disturbing at times, but they are so much fun. There's always Bradleyville for those who are so twisted - yet...

D. Gudger said...

You do such a great job with bringing forward the character of the person (Chelsea) that to be honest, I really didn't notice her looks as much. You're right - it probably is about how the looks are used by the writer in the character's life.

I brought this up b/c I notice that the male characters are physically depicted in a broad range - the donut-inhaling, overly rotund detective, or doughy-faced, coke-bottle glasses protagonist while the women are skinny, have high cheekbones, almond-shaped eyes and are constantly noticed by other characters (male and female) for their looks.

If I buck the trend and make my female protagonist a size 14 or 16, enamoured with recees peanut butter cups and unpopular with men b/c of her looks, will I have a hard time selling my manuscript? Her character will be her shining glory.

Lynetta said...

Thanks for so freely dispensing all of this information! Your blog is a wonderful resource.

My question about marketing involves writing the proposal. Terry Whalin's Book Proposals That Sell says that your marketing plan is important in the publishers' selection process. Of course, he was talking about non-fiction, but is it the same with fiction? Do we need to come up with a competitive marketing plan as one of the criteria for getting published? Thanks-

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Any and everything that you want to share on marketing will be valuable because I know little to nothing about the publishing house process!