To Brand or Not to Brand

 Literature Blogs

I just read a post on QueryTracker (“Branding: Not Just For Livestock Anymore”) by Sheralyn Pratt, PR Manager at Cedar Fort Publishing and author of the Rhea Jensen series.

Twice I’ve participated in Round Up and Branding Days — one on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation with Lakota Sioux, and one on a ranch with descendants of western settlers. Both were quite different in method of round up, in method of branding, and in atmosphere of the day. I remain awed and honored to have participated in both experiences. Oh, and both were with living, breathing livestock in a part of the country where cattle rustling is alive and healthy. So, I’m somewhat familiar with livestock branding.

I’m also familiar with literary branding. For instance, when you think of H.G.Wells, you don’t think “picture book writer.” When you hear the name Stephenie Meyer, you don’t think “algebra textbook author.” When you read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, you aren’t settling down for a nice romance. Most authors are, or get, branded. Doyle tried to quit Sherlock, but his fans wouldn’t let him. They demanded more. He complied. Sheralyn’s point in her post was that authors (especially new authors) need to brand themselves — know who their audience is, know which authors will sit next to them on the book shelves in stores, etc.. I understand all this, and I do “get” the reasoning, especially from the business end…

But…

What about C.S. Lewis, Carl Sandburg, or Jane Yolen, to name a few? You may think “children’s fantasy, poems, and children again,” but each author has written so much more in many other areas. I think it would be unfair to brand them.

So…

Why do I resist getting branded?  It is because my author-heros write in varied areas? Is it that I have multiple passions, and therefore don’t want to limit myself?  Or is my resistance to branding simply the rebel in me unfurling my wings? (Note: Of course, I’d write additional stories in a heartbeat, if fans or editor requested… for a while.)

On the other hand, I suppose I would need at least three same-genre books published traditionally in order to qualify for a brand. 

Now quit reading blogs and get back to your own branding… I mean writing!

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