Branding. Eight letters that, apparently, can make or break a writing career.
I’m now 3.5 years into my ‘serious’ writing journey (there was a decade of random scribbling before that), and as I decided what to write and how to market, ‘branding’ was something that frustrated me continually.
Why? Because I didn’t know what I wanted to be.
Here’s how the journey went:
- In my first year, I wrote an issue-driven novel with romantic and speculative themes.
- In my second year, I wrote what I thought was a romance (later found out it was actually issue-driven too).
- In my third year, I second drafted that romance into (what I thought was) a romantic comedy. Turns out it’s actually ‘issue-driven contemporary fiction with romantic subplots and a humorous tone’. Yeah, try explaining that when people ask ‘What do you write?’
Meanwhile, I wrote a blog about God and personal growth, and those themes of identity and God’s love came through as the ‘issues’ in my fiction.
I was very aware of marketing, and always frustrated that I could never nail down what I wanted to my brand to be. I read blogs, filled out questionnaires, analysed patterns in my previous writing, and still, could never nail it down. Because I simply didn’t know.
And you know what?
It’s okay to not know your brand.
That’s right. If you’re in the same boat as me, take a deep breath and chill for a moment.
|Just take a minute to breathe.
Don’t get me wrong, branding is still vitally important—especially if you’re at the stage where you’re actually published. You need a consistent brand so that your readers know what they’re getting.
But if you’re not there yet, it just means you need more time.
I’ve used the last 3.5 years to learn my craft and get to know myself better. I’ve received feedback from writing professionals. I’ve learned life lessons and grown in my relationship with God. And, finally, I’m at a stage where I mostly know what it is that I want to write. My current tagline is ‘light and love in a messy world’. But that’s always up for change.
So if you’re confused about branding, don’t stress. Give yourself time. Be observant. And be ready for the epiphany when it comes.