Sunday, September 8, 2013

Monday Marketing: Let's Talk Branding

 Think about things in your everyday life. Brands. If you drive through McDonalds on your way to the office and pick up breakfast, you know what you're going to get. Same with walking into a Starbucks, or opening a bottle of Coca-Cola. Not only do these products have a certain expectation when you enjoy the product, but you'd recognize them just by looking at the insignia, even if the name wasn't attached to the product.

Authors have their own branding as well. Think about why you follow an author from book to book. You like the author's voice (the way they write the story.) You like the stories themselves, be it may be romance, erotic, historical, mystery or any other genre. Every once in a while an author will try a new tactic and it disrupts the branding the audience is comfortable with. Well, if you're an author you'll quickly pick up on their like or dislike of this certain maneuver.

Let's look at a few of my favorite authors and see if we can find some of their branding tactics.

The first author I fell in love with was Sidney Sheldon in the mid-eighties. His style was quick paced and easy to read. His chapters were very small. His descriptions minimal and he told you a story more than engaging you in it. But, I ate it up. I couldn't get enough of his strong heroines in their amazing positions. I felt a huge loss when he died because that branding of his voice became part of me.

Nora Roberts is another that I fell in love with 2007, yes I can even pinpoint the moment I picked up my first Nora book.  Anyone who has read many Nora books can probably vouch for the difference in style from when she wrote for Harlequin and when she moved to Penguin. There is a different feel to her stories. But one thing remained between sweet romances and romantic suspense...her voice stayed the same. You are pulled in by the characters and thrust into their lives. You become part of a family, you are the loner, you do fall in love with the bad guy. Nora Roberts can weave a tale of three-hundred plus pages that you can't put down. Part of the branding is you know you're going to need to carve out an afternoon to read.

Karen White is another favorite of mine and completely different from Nora. Karen often writes in first person. Usually I'm not drawn to first person books, but Karen's are different. I'm pulled into that person and I become that person. I have even read Karen where she intermixes first and third person seamlessly. Karen's books are based more in the south. The dialect is there. The southern hospitality is there. A difference between her and Nora is Nora will be a bit more edgy. She'll take you into the bedroom with her characters where Karen will shut the door and let you go on thinking what you want to think. Certainly neither lets you down, but you know going in this is what you're going to get.

Let's look at my marketing. Now I've done a few things where I've played with my style. My voice is the same. I have engaging characters that pull you in with their common everyday dialogue. I don't put a lot of detail into what I write when I write scenery. I let the audience build that in their heads with the details I give them. Early on I would take you into the bedroom with my characters but as I grew as an author I began to shut the door. Still the tension is there and, well, you know what is going on. At one point an ex-publisher, who after having contracted me, decided she was a Christian publisher and made me change all my books to read as such. Well, I don't write Christian books and  that was taking away my voice. But, when I opened my own house I thought I could engage that audience too by having a regular version of my book and a sweetened version as well.  In time it was too much work to do both, but what happened was those who expected sweet and clean, they got to book four where there were some sexy scenes and the bad reviews came. It was time to get a grip on my voice branding. My books are not full of curses or sex, but my readers have come to expect that here and there there might be a few bits of this.

Don't change your voice to try and entice. Your voice will be what brands you to your reader.

Now lets look at what you write. You can have a great career genre hopping, but there needs to be some consistency among your books as well. My biggest suggestion is, if you're going to write Romantic Suspense, then put out at least four books in the genre before hopping over to Historical. Your readers are going to follow you, but they might be reluctant. If you only have one book in each genre they will more than likely look over your name.

If you're content with writing one kind of genre get to work! In my case, I have branded myself as an author that writes engaging family series. My bestselling Keller Family Series will run into 10 books, and this is all reader driven. The series was supposed to be four books. My readers know that if they pick up one of my books they will have strong women to grip on to. They will often have a family and/or friends who are supportive and engaging and they will get Happily ever after.... always because that is my tag line. If you want a feel good romance, you come to Bernadette Marie.

Let's take a look at book covers as well.  I've included my covers on the blog today. One thing I have carried over on all of my book covers is my name. As CEO of my own publishing company I can make sure that my name always reads the same. People see that and the know me. It is the same on my website and on all my materials. My head shot is the same in all my books and on my site as well. Though in time I'll get a new one...this one looks just like me and people know that is me. The font on the name and the picture are the same.

I also have a simple way about my covers. I'm including the covers here too of author Lisa J. Hobman and Susan Lohrer. You will see they too have a branding going with their kinds of covers. Lisa's voice too brand her with how she organizes her stories. You are not always in present day. You are, though out her books, taken back and forth through the lives of her characters...seamlessly.  Susan writes romantic comedy and you can't help but to keep turning pages to find out what crazy thing is going to happen next.

   Interaction with your readers is another way of branding yourself. My readers know that if they interact with me on Twitter or Facebook I'm going to interact back. My posts on Facebook are friendly and engaging where on Twitter I tend to talk more about my books and my blog.
In the end, branding is consistency. Just like that cup of Starbucks coffee, you want to know what you're going to get.

Happy Branding!
Bernadette Marie

For a complete list of Monday Marketing topics and their links please click here.

Bestselling Author Bernadette Marie is known for building families readers want to be part of. Her series The Keller Family has graced bestseller charts since its release in 2011, along with her other series and single title books. The married mother of five sons promises Happily Ever After always…and says she can write it, because she lives it.

When not writing, Bernadette Marie is shuffling her sons to their many events—mostly hockey—and enjoying the beautiful views of the Colorado Rocky Mountains from her front step. She is also an accomplished martial artist with a second degree black belt in Tang Soo Do.

A chronic entrepreneur, Bernadette Marie opened her own publishing house in 2011, 5 Prince Publishing, so that she could publish the books she liked to write and help make the dreams of other aspiring authors come true too.

Bernadette Marie began writing at the age of thirteen and submitted her first manuscript at sixteen. Just as any aspiring author has learned, the publishing world is full of rejection. So how does an author find readers and allies before they have a book? Self-promotion! Bernadette Marie shares her experiences in building a name for herself before her first book was ever published.


  1. A thoroughly interesting blog, Bernadette! It's funny but I've been wondering about my branding going forward and seeing my covers in your blog has made me realise that I need to stick with what works for me!

    1. You have a solid voice and a solid look! :) I've said it before...I like what you do!