How to build your brand

I saw an interesting article by Mary Keeley at Books and Such about how to build a unique brand in your writing. She asks:

“What unique characteristics come to mind when you see well-known names? Voice, writing style, personality, passion—these qualities establish your unique identity within your chosen genre. No one else can do these the same way you do. That is a profound thought.

You know your personality, but it takes lots of practice writing to discover your special voice and develop your writing style. This is why many authors don’t get their first, or second, or even third books published. But these works still have incredible value as learning tools.

She shares my view that “blogging is another way to practice your writing.”

She suggests you should ask the following three elementary questions because insights may come to you that identify your brand or refine your brand concept:

  1. Have I chosen the genre that best suits my interests and passions, or am I going for what is currently popular? Genre popularity is cyclical, so choosing by that standard alone is a mistake and won’t result in your best writing if it’s the wrong fit for you.
  2. What are the characteristics of the readers I want to attract? How can I touch their deepest needs? How can I give back to them?
  3. Nonfiction writers: What topics am I most passionate about? How can I convey my message through my unique writing style? Fiction writers: What kinds of stories do I want to write? What values do I want to express in the characters I create?

Genre selection, voice, personality, passion, writing style. These have to be clear to you before you can define your brand with confidence. It may be helpful to ask your critique partners or mentors for their perspectives on you as well as your values and strengths. Others often see qualities we miss in ourselves.

In another blog, she goes on to talk about brand further in that it’s more than finding a commonality of experience, e.g. kidnappings, murder, etc. but more about the promise of a certain kind of reading experience. She makes an interesting point that sometimes we find our brand when we violate it. Also another point she makes is about communicating the types of book that you write and interact with your readers to build your brand. Read it here.


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How to find inspiration

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A book is made up of an idea and then how you draw that idea for other people to experience. An agent told me that some people have great ideas but can’t write at all; others have the talent but little imagination. It’s the complete package and if you’re looking for ideas, you’re missing half the book. There are a ton of books and blog articles that aim to help inspire you although they always seem lame to me (“a man wins lots of money, you lose your child… write down what happens next…”). Continue Reading

How to start your book; opening lines

“It is a truth universally acknowledged…” that everyone has a favourite opening line. Good beginnings start in different ways. Some start big, laying out an entire character in one large paragraph that hooks you from the off (think any John Le Carré). Some do it in colourful prose that lets you smell the air,

Cars the color of melons and tangerines sizzled in cul-de-sac driveways. Dogs lay belly-up and heaving in the shade. It was cooler in the hills, where Marion’s family lived. Everyone who stayed at their ranch was some relative, Marion said, blood or otherwise, and she called everyone brother or sister.”

Marion by Emma ClineContinue Reading

How to write a (good) blog

Writing is a habit and one of the best ways to keep the habit alive is to write a blog. That said, you have to find something to write about that you truly love, or no one is going to want to read it. There’s a great blog article by Robert at 101 books on what he learnt after 5 years of blogging (he has 50, ooo+ readers, so he probably knows). Primarily, he says, you need to care and you must have an opinion. Get that down and writing a blog really can help to focus your head on writing concisely and often. Never a bad thing.


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What’s in a name? How to choose a title for your book

Most books have a working title while they’re being written and then the final title comes into focus at some point throughout the process. In the past, this just meant working out something that related to the book and how it made people feel. But with many more books being written (it’s amazing how many have similar titles on goodreads) you also need to think about the title in the context of search terms; people need to find your book to buy it. Continue Reading

How to write cliffhangers

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There’s a BBC post about how cliffhangers came of age in the 19th century when fiction was consumed serially and writers wanted to leave readers wanting more. It’s known as the Zeigarnik effect (after a Soviet psychologist) who observed that waiters could remember the orders that were still in progress but couldn’t remember the orders that were completed. It seems we have an insatiable desire for resolution.Continue Reading

How to find time to write

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I read a blog post on Books & Such by an agent who listed 3 different ways that people find the time to write. One was to get up a couple of hours earlier than everyone else and do it at the start of the day. The second was to take one day a week to do your writing in bulk. And the third was the “fit in” technique, which is basically to fit your writing in around the rest of your life. The first I find impossible (I am not a morning person), anyone with jobs and family will find the second almost impossible (I can’t remember the last time I had a whole day to myself) so most people are left with the “fit in” approach. It’s no wonder most people say they never have time to write.

But there are lots of excuses not to write. The “fit in” method can seem a little haphazard and unproductive; it’s hard to get back into writing something when I know I only have an hour or two (except for revisions on a print-out which can be easier, particularly on trains or airplanes). But when stats show we’re slumped in front of the telly for a few hours each night or on facebook or twitter, at least we know we do have the time to do something. As any writer will tell you, it’s all about practice and habit. As Todd Moss puts it in “How to write a novel and keep your day job” it’s all about being organised, getting to bed early, keeping fit and er, being hyper-organised. So turn off the telly, plan everything and get going!


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