As writers we want people to think of us when they have a project for which they want to hire a particular kind of writer or when they want to read a particular kind of book. And we want people to think of us in specific formats – fiction books, nonfiction books, screenplays, playwriting.
Yet branding ourselves as a specific kind of writer is not so simple. We may want to legitimately present ourselves as one type of writer in certain circumstances and another type of writer in different circumstances.
Recently I was advised to “stay in my lane” of military and espionage writing so that I could be considered for that niche. This is especially so because my background supports this lane.
Yet when I mentioned staying in my lane to an entertainment industry exec, she had an interesting POV about branding oneself as a writer.
She didn’t agree with staying in one’s lane in terms of specific genres. Instead, her advice to me was to remain the same lens and perspective across genres.
And I have now been pondering this advice.
What does it mean to remain the same lens across different formats and different genres? It may mean to have the same worldview whatever you write.
Perhaps it is as simple as being pessimistic or optimistic in your writing. Imagine a comedy that is pessimistic or a serious piece that is optimistic. Both can surely be done.
Or a worldview that only important people have value or a worldview that every single person has value.
In my own case, I am a writer who has an underlying (although not necessarily the same) agenda in everything I write. Often my agenda is to portray women in roles in which traditionally only men are portrayed, such as Lt. Commander Mollie Sanders in my co-written screenplay and novel adaptation MOLLIE SANDERS.
I am also conscious of portraying social responsibility in my writing, such as safer sex, safety belt usage, NOT sliding down banisters. Plus I know the topics on which I personally wouldn’t want to write, such as incest or sex trafficking.
Yet I don’t see how this POV of mine would make for a brand in terms of the writing world.
If as a writer you were to be asked your brand, what would be your reply? For purposes of this discussion, the answer can’t just be: “I write romance novels.” It would need to be more, such as: “I write romance novels in which the heroine discovers something life-changing in herself from her encounters with the love interest.”
If you don’t know where to start in thinking about your own brand as a writer, perhaps thinking about some of your favorite writers in terms of brand would be a good starting point.
For example, I really like John le Carré spy novels. Yet I might go further and say that I like John le Carré spy novels because he digs deep under the surface spy story to peel away successive layers of his main characters. I believe that this “peeling away” in every novel of his is a specific brand that greatly appeals to his legions of fans.
I’m still working on defining my own brand. If you would like to share your brand, please do so in the comments below.
Phyllis Zimbler Miller is an author and screenwriter in Los Angeles. She can be reached through her website at www.PhyllisZimblerMiller.com