Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What's My Brand?

I attended the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Conference last week and attended a little seminar on marketing. According to the leaders, marketing can be thought of as simply getting people to like you. They talked about brand, the necessity of having a brand so that people will always know what to expect when they pick up a book by an individual author.
Hmmm. I've been in the business for a long time (a dozen published novels and three works of non-fiction) and I've spent very little time (perhaps my sales reflect this!) thinking about marketing. I think I've been one of the writers guilty of thinking my job was to write the book and someone else's job was to market it.
Evidently, this isn't true. The scariest thing I heard in the seminar was a description of how a salesperson goes out to meet a bookseller. He or she pulls their top novel out of a large bag containing all of their titles and brags about that particular author. Then perhaps another novel gets a named mention and the remainder get dropped on the table in a load.
I didn't like hearing that. I'm sure most of what I do (and have spent the best part of a year doing for each individual book) is dropped on the table with little mention.
So what can I do? It doesn't really seem like a Biblical concept to strive to get people to like me, does it? But of course, if I'm reflecting Christ in my life, and he's beautiful, I think people will be attracted to that somehow.
They said you need to figure out what your brand is and pretty much stay true to your brand. A brand (like Coca Cola, hence the logo) will be what I do best, or at least help my reader know exactly what to expect.
What should readers of Kraus fiction expect? (I'm figuring out my brand here, so bear with me). Contemporary. A real person struggling with some major life issue. A grace encounter. A medical "stripe" of realism in the story somewhere. Drama. Suspense. And a little romance.
That's what I write.
But is it my brand?
I don't expect you to know, 'cause I haven't got this figured out yet either. If you've got it together, let me know.
I've been thinking of one of the other contexts for branding: putting the ownership mark of a ranch on the backside of a cow. Looks painful. If someone was going to put a hot iron brand on the cover of one of my novels, what would it say?
I'm thinkin' it should just be a nice "G".
"G" for grace.
Yea. I'm liking that.



  1. I have always loved your tagline at the top of your blog: Grace from the Cutting Edge. That absolutely fits your books!

  2. 2 things I would like to point out here,ifya don't mind.

    1. Cherry Dr Pepper, is much better! :)
    2. If someone put a hot iron brand on the cover of one of your novels, you wouldn't have a cover or novel , it would be toast! them irons get purty hot! ;)

  3. Im just beginning to build a brand - even though Im not yet published. My tag line on my website says "What's Your Dream?" and the main characters in my books all have a specific dream they want to fulfill. It can send you into a panic to think you have to come up with a brand, but it should be what message comes naturally for you.

  4. Excellent point. It's a dilemna for authors who might want to branch out, switch 'brands' or can't make up their minds.

  5. Harry, I wish for your sake you were already settled on this, but I'm glad to know I'm not just being a clueless noob--it really is an issue for everyone. Thanks for posting this.

  6. Harry, this is a timely post for me. I have a publisher very interested in one of my novels, so this reminds me to think very hard about my branding now. Thanks so much for your honesty on how difficult finding that brand can be.