Monday, October 31, 2011

Escape from the Island of Misfit Books

Branded, libeled, I write words that are found in the Bible 

I’ve been reading a lot about branding these days.

No, I haven’t been watching reruns of Bonanza or haven’t purchased a herd of steer.

Branding is a marketing buzzword, which, according to the American Marketing Association, means to establish “a name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers.”

In order to successfully publish and sell my novels, I have learned it is necessary to “brand” myself. I don't even want a tattoo, so why would I want a brand?  This goes against all that society has been harping on us about for the last few decades—that it isn’t nice to categorize or stereotype people. Branding oneself is not an easy or painless task.  It requires really knowing who you are as writer and what you feel passionate enough about to put into words.

But I guess I’m not really not branding myself; it is my books--their subjects and my style of writing--that I’m trying to fix in the reader’s mind. But another marketing source states that I must also be the brand and says that if you write, oh let's say, sassy, sizzling Westerns, you may want to wear red cowboy boots with your bustier! Glad I’m not writing Westerns! (Believe me, you should be glad too.)

I Want to Be a Dentist!

I’m slowly coming around to defining what I write, and I think for now I’d term it romance--whether comedic or suspenseful--that appeals to the mind, heart and soul. One of the reasons, I’ve decided to go indie is that my books don’t really fit in anywhere. Like Hermey the Elf in Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, who wanted to be a dentist, I don’t fit in with the major publishers. I’ve been marooned on the island of misfit books!

I’ve tried marketing them to the inspirational publishers, and I've come very close to getting picked up by one of them.  But most of those are evangelical Christian houses, and I’m Catholic.  My books are filled with Catholic influences so that wasn’t quite a perfect fit.  Also, I’ve found the writing guidelines for the inspirational publishers to be very restrictive. By no means are my books filled with obscenities and graphic sex, but some of those publishers even frown on the characters dancing, having a drink or saying the words: gosh, darn and cripes because they are derivatives of God, damn, and Christ. Unfortunately, there seems to be a dearth of Catholic publishing houses that feature fiction.  But from the feedback I've received from women who have stumbled upon my sample chapter of St. Anne's Day, which I'm in the process of publishing, I believe there's an market for what I write.  Do you think there is?  (Warning--Even if you say no, I'm still going to publish.  The genie is out of the bottle!)

That Didn't Hurt a Bit!

I believe there's a market out there for contemporary fiction that is witty, warm, and wise.  Witty?  Warm?  Wise?  Wait! I think I just branded myself.  Wow, and it didn't hurt a bit!  (Still not getting a tattoo, though.)

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