Diluting Your Brand: A Discussion by Melinda Pierce
I had a very interesting conversation with my writing partner, Rebecca Thomas, a few days ago that warranted further discussion and some research on diluting your brand. For this article, we are going to define diluting your brand as publishing in more than one genre or sub-genre while using the same penname and brand for all your books.
In very plain speak, the concern with diluting your brand is your readers can’t trust what type of book they are going to find when they see your name on the cover. If your readers don’t trust you, they won’t buy you.
In the past, many bestselling authors have overcome this concern by penning new subgenre or genre under a different name and brand – keeping their readers separate so to speak. But does this work anymore? Take the uproar over J.K. Rowling’s out of the closet admission she’d published in a different genre under a different name. The readers of her new books would have expected the same type of wizardry crafted with the Harry Potter line. Under a different penname and brand, she was able to attract different base of readers. But honestly, what is the point if in this day and age, the internet has become a bigger tattle-tale than your little sister? Was the fear dilution of her Harry Potter brand, or was it the criticism from readers when they didn’t getting more of the same? I honestly don’t know if today’s authors have the time to fear both.
So, if we take using a different penname off the table, should you then focus on writing in one genre or sub-genre to build reader trust?
Back to the discussion: Rebecca’s argument is to possibly focus and publish in one subgenre of romance, in her case historical romance, and build the trust of her readers before moving into different subgenres.
We asked USA Today Bestselling Author Karen Erickson her opinion on the matter.
“I think writers need to be careful in regards to diluting their brand. While I believe it is absolutely possible to write in a variety of subgenres under one name, and there are plenty of authors who do so (very successfully too!), it can also work against you. There needs to be a balance and more than anything, it’s best to write and publish in multiple subgenres once you have a larger reader base. Build your name, build your brand and gain the love and trust of the readers. Once you do that, they will follow.”
My argument is many readers don’t read only one genre or sub-genre or even one heat level, and as long as you write a great book, your readers will cross the lines of sub-genres or genres to read your books.
Robin Covington, author of sizzling romance, joined the discussion.
“I think it depends on what your brand is. If it something specific such as ‘hot contemporary romance’ – then you’re going to have a problem if you suddenly write a historical or maybe a paranormal. But if you have a more open brand then it can accommodate different sub genres. I put a lot of thought into this when I came up with my brand and while my first love is contemporary romance I knew I wanted to try rom. suspense and paranormal and now maybe New Adult (I’ll do all of these as soon as I find an extra 10 hours in a day!). So, I focused on how I know I write and what I’m always going to want to deliver to my readers – no matter what sub-genre – and that is a hot, sizzling read.”
Rebecca and I also opened this discussion up to an on-line author group where we are members and found a wide variety of opinions amongst the authors there. However, a common trend did emerge. With marketing and promotion becoming such a heavy burden on the authors themselves, many believed it was just too much work to set up different brands and pennames.
Is there a definite right or wrong? That’s a question I don’t think can be answered. Today’s publishing climate has become more of an experiment until you get it right type deal. What works for one author may not work for another in terms of branding and promotion.
I think the best we can do as authors are write a great book, and then write many more. I’d love to continue the discussion here on Writer’s Fun Zone.
Are you considering writing in different genres, and if so, do you plan to use a different brand and penname for each? Is diluting your brand a concern?
Thanks for sharing and always, Happy Writing!
Melinda B. Pierce is an author hobbyist, mother of two, and Membership Director for Savvy Authors. When she has time she writes in almost every sub-genre of romance and refuses to follow the path of most resistance. Connect with her on twitter @MelindaBPierce