Thursday, July 12, 2012

Can't I Just Be Myself?

All these people keep telling me, “Writers need to be brands,” “You need to be your brand,” and “You are not just selling books, you are selling your brand.”
So, now that I'm a published author, I need to have a brand? When I think of my favorite authors, the last thing I think about is a brand.
Brands are for potato chips. Or purses. Or the initials ranchers burn into the flesh of cattle. And the last time I checked, I don’t have anything tattooed on my ass.
But supposedly, this isn’t negotiable. To be a successful author, I have to come up with a BRAND (capital letters because it’s so important). 
Hmm… I write in almost every genre. I can’t help it. I read in all of them, am inspired by all of them, so it is only natural that I write in all of them. Urban Fantasy, paranormal romance, mystery, comedy, women’s literature. 
Dang it, I don’t think it will work. Wait, I feel an inspiration coming on…wait for it…hang on…a little longer…okay, this might take a while so go get something to snack on while you wait…
I GOT IT!!! I’ve been inspired by my favorite brand of chips!
Doritos!
 I am going to be like Doritos. Everyone likes Doritos, right?

First there was only nacho cheese flavored. Then they branched out with spicy nacho cheese, really spicy nacho cheese, and burn-your-face-off nacho cheese. And then they started getting really creative—guacamole-flavored and sour cream flavored chips to ease your palate, or for those who don’t like too much heat. But the piece de resistance—the scoop shape, marketed as the best way to avoid double-dipping in the salsa bowl. Make your friends like you again by scooping one enormous pile of diced tomato, jalapeno, onion and cilantro into your very own little corn bowl you can shove in your pie-hole. Brilliant.
So here goes: Lauren Stewart is a Dorito. She started by releasing a spicy paranormal romance, then the first book in a burn-your-eyes-out dark urban fantasy series. But to ease the palate, or for those readers whose tastes don’t run quite that hot, the next project will be a comedic mystery. Mix in a few variations like YA fantasy and women’s lit in the form of free short stories.
But my piece de resistance is that all of my work is scoopable! While it may not make you more likeable to your friends, everything you read by me is cross-genre. Why not, right? Why not have a little bit of everything in every bite—I mean, in every story. Elements of comedy, satire, romance, suspense, mystery, paranormal, women’s issues.

Go on, taste it. You might just love it. You might even discover your new favorite brand.

Oh, and feel free to double-dip as much as you’d like, I won’t mind a bit.

19 comments:

  1. Love this blog post! It was worth waiting for :)

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    1. You're so sweet. Yes, it has been a little while since I last posted. I'll admit that. :)

      But I promise to do better, I swear. This one came to me this morning over coffee, of all things, not Doritos. :)

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  2. Actually, I'm not fond of Doritos. :-|

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    1. What's wrong with you?!? How can you not like Doritos? Not even the Cool Ranch ones?

      Alright. How about, for you and you only, I will be more like Pringles? You can never have just one. But I will have NO mentions of the shape of the container they come in, do you hear?

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    2. I do like Pringles . . . and things that are Pringle-can-shaped. Speaking of which, I wonder if my husband will be home when I get there. Random thought. :P

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  3. Lol, you made me so hungry! Damn you Lauren!! Awesome post. I don't have a brand either. Can I be wooly socks? Great for winter nights O:)

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    1. Your writing is great for winter nights? Okay, I'd go with that.

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  4. Hi Lauren,
    It's difficult enough to write something worth reading and editing so if I have to think of myself as a brand... My head will explode!
    Why everybody has to be part of a little box, be labeled to be normal ? Naively, I thought that an artist is somebody who don't like to conform, whose value is its creativity, its ability to think outside the box ? Am I wrong ?
    Lucie
    http://newbooksonmyselves.blogspot.fr/

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    1. Salut, Lucie!

      And yes, you are totally wrong. Ha. j/k

      I hate being in a box. They're incredibly uncomfortable and always make me look fat. :)

      IMO, one of the hardest parts of being a writer is knowing your own strengths and weaknesses well enough to be able to determine which rules you can break well. Yes, we are artists, but we are also craftspeople. We tell stories. Some guidelines seem absurd, but others exist for a reason--to help us communicate our ideas with our readers. If you can't do that, then you'll be the only one reading your work. Which isn't bad either. If you are a writer, you need to write. And writing only makes you better at your craft, your art.

      My favorite writers are all rule-breakers. They push boundaries, introduce fresh ideas and characters, and definitely don't play by all the rules. The trick is that they know how to make it work.

      So ultimately, you get to make your own box, in any shape, color, or size. And from each fold of the cardboard, you learn.

      Figure that out and you are golden. Oh, and make sure you let me know too. :) Good luck!

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  6. Lauren, you are so right! I've always been alarmed/disgusted/annoyed by the effort to pigeonhole us--to me that just stifles my creativity. I am not a can of tomatoes or a bottle of ketchup--I'm a writer and like you I write all over the map--comedy, contemporary, historical, paranormal, sweet, XXXX-rated and so on. So it was really hard to figure out what distinguishes my brand of fiction from others--but finally I pinpointed my brand: fearless, fast-paced fiction, so that's at the portal page of my sites and is the title of my blog.

    Thanks for an interesting post!

    Sue Swift/Suz deMello

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  7. I've read your work, Sue, and I'd completely agree with your description.

    I don't think readers are given enough credit. And, as a reader myself, I find it odd. I really am grown-up enough to decide the kinds of things I want to read. And the kinds of things I want to write.

    And there are enough books and writers to go around so that readers can taste a variety of genres by one author or stick to just one. Okay, I think I'll quit the food metaphors now, they're just making me hungry.

    Thanks for stopping by, Sue!

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  8. LOL! Love it! Though now I kind of want some Doritos. Yum...

    I, too, have heard the branding advice. Honestly, the blogs and tweets and Facebook statuses I like most are where the authors are not trying too hard to be anything at all except themselves. They are their brands. And judging by their numbers, that's the most effective branding of all.

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    1. Agreed. I just worry sometimes that my 'brand' is scaring away potential readers. Ha

      Thanks for stopping by and saying hello, Caryn!

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  9. P.S. Forgot to say that I met you at RWA 2012. It was fun to talk to you there! I'm finally getting around to visiting everyone's blogs.

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  10. Of course I know where we met! Remember, we both thought we'd met elsewhere. So how could I have forgotten meeting you almost-sort-of-kind-of twice? :)

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