The Adventures of a Failed Writer Who’s Trying to Eliminate the Adjective, part 1: Branding

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Daulton Dickey.

But first, a theory on branding:

The Internet, paragon of a revolution, the digital revolution, itself the beginning of a new epoch of human civilization. From online videos to on demand television, to interactive entertainment featuring photorealistic graphics and films sporting mind boggling visual effects, the digital revolution has altered entertainment. With the advent of smartphones and tablets, and innovative social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, with the advent and increasing popularity of ebooks and print on demand services, digital technology has also irrevocably changed the landscape of the written word.

It is now easier to publish a book—as an ebook or a hard copy—than ever before. In a sense, the digital epoch democratized the written word. Literary agents and New York publishing houses are no longer the sole gatekeepers; now, with the help of digital technology, the barbarians, to evoke a cliché, are at the gates, and in many cases have stormed it.

Anyone so inclined can now publish a book, and many do: by some accounts, more than 400,000 books are published annually, many by writers without agents or publishers or the help of what was once considered traditional PR and marketing firms.

But with so many people producing so many books, how does a writer distinguish him- or herself?

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Branding—a concept you cannot escape, and the key to setting yourself apart from dozens, if not hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of writers.

When we hear the word “Branding,” we might imagine Coca Cola or Apple or another corporation whose logos and slogans, images and products permeate our culture. And we wouldn’t be wrong. In a sense, to brand is to imprint a specific company or property or product onto the brains of a consumer.

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The Long, Slow Death of a Dream; or, the perils of branding an idiosyncratic writer

by

Daulton Dickey.

If you’re marketing yourself online, if you’re working toward branding yourself, then experts warn you to avoid issues too personal or negative. Stay positive, inspirational, or, failing that, remain neutral. Don’t betray pessimism or low self-esteem or negative feelings or despondency.

In other words, don’t whinge.

For writers, branding isn’t concerned solely with their books; instead, branding is concerned with the writer—i.e., it’s creating an easily marketable persona who might inspire potential readers through engaging them while implicitly, or sometimes explicitly, plugging a book, short story, article, blog post, et cetera.

Your content, we’re told, and the tenor of your conversations and online activity should reflect the kind of books you’re peddling. If you write quirky tales, then your content should reflect that. If you write didactic narratives, then your content should daultodickeylogo1reflect that.

But what it you write experimental fiction? What if each novel you write is told in a different voice, written in a different style, employs different structures or literary theories, and are sometimes cynical and pessimistic and depressing?

What if your books aren’t easy to market? What if you can’t compare them to writers currently represented by literary agents and signing deals with corporate publishing houses?

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