What is Author Branding?

When I think of Branding, I see a small herd of calves in a pen and a hot iron. In the ranching business, branding is placing your mark upon the animals you raise. This lets others know that the animal that might find its way through the fence into other rancher’s pasture, or those that find their way onto the road, where exactly that animal belongs. It makes it harder for people to steal the animal.

Author and book branding is the same concept as animal branding. Albeit, with one major difference. We’re not using a branding iron to burn the brand into flesh. We are placing our mark upon our books or upon ourselves by creating a type of book, with the use of a set of words, or a concept. In short, author branding is you. It’s who you are as an author and your presentation of what you write. It’s the type of books you write.

Now I’ve always had a hard time with labeling things. I hate labels. I’m not talking about the labels on cans of food or clothes. I hate the labels that people place on others to create organization in their chaotic lives. Labels are harmful and can scar kids for life. And I’m going to stop that tangent right there! Because that isn’t the topic of this post.

Branding came from the need of businesses to identify products. In our case, the product is you and your books. Think of any big name author. Laurell K. Hamilton (erotica, detective, paranormal, horror). Stephen King (horror, techno thriller). Nora Roberts (romance). And the list goes on. These are their brands.

How do you know that they are successful brands? Pick up their books and look at the back covers. Notice something missing? It would be the back blurb. There’s a big picture of them and nothing to tell you what the book is about. Why? Because the author’s brand sales and people are attached to the author. They will buy the book regardless of the story.

My next post will be on how to build your author brand. If you have any questions that you would like me to hit upon, please comment below.

(Disclaimer: First, this is an updated post of one written in November 2010. Second, I don’t want to hear about the morality or cruelty branding has on animals. If anyone tries to stick it into their comment, I will delete it or edit your comment. This post is not the place for that. Please keep your comments directed on Author and Book Branding.)

9 thoughts on “What is Author Branding?

  1. This whole branding thing is what makes me sometimes afraid to do any genre switching. I did a light horror book, but that’s not so far removed from paranormal romance. I decided a while back to try my hand at Christian romance, but also decided to use a different name. How far from your normal genre should you stray before changing pen names? That’s something that’s always puzzled me. What do you think?


    • Lauralynn…I have to laugh. You know me…I’ve written all over the romance spectrum. Oy! I’d better get my brand down. I think you’ve got it right by thinking to choose a pen name for various genres. I’ve read many authors use this technique.


    • This is hard. I did the same name for the sci-fi thriller I wrote that I use under romance because I didn’t want to keep track of a pen name. Looking back, I probably would have done the pen name just to separate it. I don’t sell much of it. I average 3 copies a month, but even so, I worry about confusing potential readers about what I’ll write next.


    • There is no real rule to pen names. Many authors use a pen name when they write in a different genre. For example, if you write paranormal romance and you decided to try your hand at fantasy, they would suggest that you use a pen name so you don’t confuse your readers. However, you don’t have to keep the pen name hush-hush. You can let everyone know that you are writing the fantasy, so that those who like fantasy books and paranormal books can check them out. But if someone only likes your paranormal romance, they can skip the books written under the pen name.

      Now there are some writers who will use pen names for sub-genres within a genre, example would be Sci-fi romance and historical romance. Other writers don’t like the whole pen name game and just write their books and let readers figure it out.

      Personally, I would say that if you are writing paranormal romance that would not be accepted by your Christan readers, then use a pen name. Like-wise, if you write a romance or erotica and want to publish a children’s book, I would suggest a pen names for the children’s book.

      I’ve seen writers with a dozen pen names and it looks to be a big headache and yet another thing to market and promote. I’d suggest that if you don’t need a pen name forgo it. If you have to have a pen name and you can possibly cross-promoted them, the easiest way to do them is to let your readers know that you are writing ‘this kind of book’ under ‘this pen name,’ so that those who like to read them can and those who don’t will avoid them.


  2. Interestingly, while I agree with what you say, I loathe it when books have no blurb. Whoever wrote them, I want to know what they’re about. If I just get a load of review quotes telling me how brilliant a book is and no information about what it contains, I’ll just put the book back on the shelf and move on.

    I’m probaby weird.




    • You’re not weird. I’m the same way. I don’t care how famous the author is. I want to know what the book is about. I refuse to read a book without knowing what I’m getting myself into.


    • Not really. If there isn’t a blurb I don’t pay money for them either. I don’t care who wrote them. I also don’t care about what others say about the books. I don’t read the reviews because they’re bias.


  3. My primary penname, William Kendall, is for my solo novels, in the action genre. I’ll be using a seperate name, James Morgan, for something I’m writing collaboratively, in the erotica genre, called Same Time Tomorrow.


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