the best selling author speaks

this is pulled from a couple of emails and my imagination...

My good friend and I are at different stages of our writing, even though we started at about the same time. I'm getting some work, chugging along, but I haven't had a New York contract for a while. She's a best-selling author with books contracts lined up for the next four years. I asked her once why she thought she was doing so much better. She told me then and tells me now. One word...no, two words. the first one

LUCK

the second
BRANDING.

She is very, VERY careful about her public image. She doesn't want her name associated with anything that isn't directly linked to her books or with romance. And she doesn't publicly do anything more political than, say, Brenda Novak's contest. She is a wonderful person and I'm not just saying that because I want her to give me a quote on for a book some day. (She doesn't want to be associated with erotica so she won't do Summer)

BSAF: I see you're doing it again.

Me: What?

BSAF:
Getting political. Remember the anti-fan letters you got when you posted on dailykos and announced it in your blog? At least two former readers wrote to say they were disappointed in the fact that you associated with a hate group. [ I looked back and found three "you're too political" notes--not counting Erika because she posted on my blog with her name (not in a email to me) she engaged in conversation and was writing to say she wouldn't be reading--so she wasn't a reader yet.]

Me:
[after some more huh? what are you talking about?] Oh, the m/m stuff. Right. But that's got something to do with romance writing. And besides, Nora Roberts weighed in on the subject.


BSAF: You are SO not Nora Roberts. She could probably poison pussy cats and not lose many readers.

Me:
Pussy cats?

BSAF:
Maybe not kittens, but pussy cats, yes.

Me:
So what do I do? I have to do something.

BSAF:
So you write a polite, professional note, privately, to the editors of Romantic Times. You don't go all over the internet dramatically declaring you're not advertising with them.

Me:
But....but...

BSAF:
You think you'll ever get another 4.5 Top Pick from them again? Think again.

Me:
But...But..

BSAF:
There is no point in making any enemies. Plus BRANDING, girl. BRANDING. You want your name to be associated with romance, fun, laughter, hot sex. You don't want to people to associate Kate Rothwell or Summer Devon with Cranky Letter Writer. BRANDING.

Me:
But Cindy Cruiger and Amelia Elias get away with it.

BSAF
: Who?

Me:
Never mind [sorry Cindy and Amelia]

BSAF:
Well anyway, it just doesn't show the world a very polished image

Me:
I'm not polished. I figure that's my charm.

BSAF
: . .

Me:
What about my "Have I Got a Deal For You" contest? What do you think of that?

BSAF:
Amateur but cute. If you are going to do it, you should be better organized and do it on a grand scale, like Nalini Singh I have to admit I wouldn't do it. It looks like begging.

Me:
It is begging.

BSAF:
You really think you should pay people to read your books? I thought the idea was they pay you.

Me:
I hope that'll come eventually. Anyway, it's too late to cancel. A couple of people have signed up. [side note, you have to tell me you're doing flogging or I can't enter your name in the contest] I think you're probably right about the whole branding thing. It's probably too late for me [it was when I hit forty and started shooting my mouth off everywhere] but maybe I'll post this stuff so other people will think twice before going all over the internet expressing loud-mouthed opinons. BRANDING!! Hey do you mind if I use your name?

BSAF:
That's not funny.

Comments

  1. Can BSAF (which for other people who are slow on the uptake--like me--means Best Selling Author Friend) do a lesson, anonymously if necessary, on Branding?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'll ask but I doubt it. She's got actual work to do, deadlines and whatnot, the biddy.

    Basically from what I've read (here and there) branding seems to be making sure your communication, your writing and everything else you show to the public is consistent and promotes an image that works to make your books and you connected. or something. Maybe.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Well, I was interested to see the interview. But I guess I'm too much of an iconoclast to stand still for branding, lol.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yeah, it seems like a lot of work.

    I used to think it was just that you pick colors and phrases and use them in your professional correspondence. Now I think it's a 24/7 way of life.

    Keeping one's mouth shut except when the time and circumstances are right? And then picking words ohhhh so very carefully? Difficult for some of us. Snort.

    ReplyDelete
  5. So -- if I ever become a BSAF of yours, that means I have to give up being political, too? How bogus. Who cares if you alienate a few potential readers. (Alienating agents and publishers is quite a different matter, I admit.)

    Interesting interview, though.

    I shall be pimping shortly . . .

    ReplyDelete
  6. I think what you say and where you say it has a lot to do with the sort of writing you do.

    Doug? You'll be able to say anything you want!

    ReplyDelete
  7. and ummmm when I say writing, I mean the published stuff.

    (Makes basic sense. If you write inspies you'd want to appear Christian in your dealings with public.)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Anonymous1:18 PM

    *Snort*

    Ok ok seriously. Ask yourself this. Take an honest look at yourself inside your head and ask. Are you a product to be packaged? Is that what you want to be? If yes, are you comfortable selling a sanitised, basically fake version of yourself to complete strangers? I have many author friends who have gone that route because they want the full "I am a romance novelist so worship me" package. I love them, but I don't want to be them. I will be there when the bubble bursts and help them into the next bubble. Not my thing though.

    When I go out to events and speak in public I want to be as comfortable and normal as possible. I want people to be able to talk to me and feel at ease. I DO think twice and sometimes three times before saying things. When I say something, it's usually what I meant to say and not what I think I should have said.

    I'd really rather not have everyone know who I am. People who like my writing find me and when they do, they find the actual "me" and not the hyped, fake package. That makes me happy. And a happy Ferfe is a writing Ferfe.

    Everyone makes their own way.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Sam: " I'm too much of an iconoclast to stand still for branding..."

    Yes! tho i guess a good iconoclast branding would be "You never know what's inside!"

    ReplyDelete

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