The issue of branding has bothered me for a bit. As someone who enjoys reading a variety of genres, I also enjoy writing them. Straight contemporary, contemporary/urban fantasy, dark fantasy/paranormal, historical, speculative… you get the idea.
So when I saw James Patterson’s TV commercial for his latest (and for Patterson, the term “latest” has a time stamp) release, Witch and Wizard, it made me wonder. This was outside his usual thriller arena. Thriller not being one of the genres I usually read, Patterson’s been off my radar. Until his TV commercials began appearing awhile back. The one below made many chuckle.
Although I also came across this YA offering on YouTube, which plays more like a movie trailer:
Also definitely outside the Patterson “brand.” Or so I thought. A New York Times article indicated he writes everything from “science fiction, fantasy, romance, “women’s weepies,” graphic novels, Christmas-themed books” to nonfiction. Interesting, because Patterson also talks about creating a brand.
According to the article, he writes in longhand and yet managed to put out 45 books. How? He has a stable of authors writing for him. Fellow Popculturediva Kayla Perrin wrote an excellent blog about it.
So I suppose this should put my mind at ease about not having a “brand.”
Wrong. It still bothers me.
I’ve seen authors who write under various names to separate out the various genres they write in. Not for me. Having too many pen names would confuse the hell out of me, so I can imagine how readers would feel. And what’s the point? They’d know anyway, presumably.
Maybe having a brand isn’t so important after all. But having a great tag line that encompasses it all would be great. Something that speaks to the heart of my writing without pigeonholing me into one corner. (I get claustrophobic that way.)
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Is it important for readers to be able to identify a writer by a brand or tag? Or should your byline carry the weight on its own, despite the fact it could be written in any number of genres? Or is that why book covers are so damn important?