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Welcome to The Literary Pig's blog - a safe haven for all those afflicted with
the unbearable urge to write.

Monday, 21 March 2016

What's your brand?

I recently spent a terrific day out in Brighton at the first Beach Hut Writing Academy's Write by the Beach event. The sun shone and the event was hosted in a gorgeous Regency building, Angel House,
on the promenade. Sometimes it's good to escape the writing cave and spend a day with other human beings, if they're also writers and you can learn stuff then all the better. One of the recurring themes that came up in several talks was branding.
The first speaker was the excellent Simon Toyne, energetic and enthused he certainly woke us up. Simon is a bestselling Brighton author (read more here) who knows the value of great storytelling. He believes every writer should ask: what is your brand? This is partly knowing your genre, but also your point of difference - your unique skill and experience to tell your story. I never dreamed that Tescos is the biggest volume seller of books. A book's cover is critical to brand recognition in a supermarket outlet.
Brand recognition can be:
A big name author
Cover / Title
The shout or tag line
Blurb inside the flap
First line

Any writer seeking an agent or publisher for their novel knows to prepare an elevator pitch. The snappy couple of lines that will sell your novel. Simon also recommended we have a 'shout line' ready - this suggests the story but doesn't tell it. Ask a question which the reader has to read the book to learn the answer, keep it short and simple. His example came from the first book of his new series: Solomon Creed.

How do you save someone who is already dead?
I went with Wendy Clarke and met several of her RNA writing chums - all very friendly and keen to talk about writing projects. But when asked 'what do you write?' I stumbled and mumbled, staring at my feet. Why? Because I couldn't immediately settle on an answer. I don't write romantic fiction, so can't call myself a romance writer. OK, but what could I call myself, what is my brand? I have several projects in progress: subbing an upmarket fiction novel to agents/publishers, writing a second novel (crime), writing literary short stories and collating a short story collection and also collaborating with a poet/illustrator friend to create a children's picture book (fairy tale). I settled on answering with: literary fiction ... this can kill a conversation dead, but thankfully I was still welcomed and nobody ran for the exit.
So, I need to work on my branding or at least be clear of my brand for a particular event or audience.
Do you think a writer needs branding? What's your brand? Or do you have several?


  1. Very interesting! This is something you don't tend to think about. I agree that the "literary fiction" self-label can be viewed badly. I always think that maybe other people should decide if I am "literary" enough! Almost sounds like you have delusions. �� But if you don't concentrate solely on genre fiction then you have to use literary.

    Also, when you diversify your output it can be tricky.

    I am going to go away and think about my brand.


    1. Know exactly what you mean about 'delusions', Debbi! I think you can definitely brand yourself as a literary writer. Congrats on your short story in 2016 Bath Anthology, which I've just started reading.

  2. Mine is 'stuff I've made up'.

    1. You should have that on your business card, Patsy :)

  3. Sounds inspiring, Tracy! I keep hearing about brand but haven't quite figured mine out properly yet...

    1. I know you also write across different genres, Rosemary, so it's more difficult to summarise your writing in one brand.

  4. Some food for thought here, Tracy - but I'm appalled that Tesco is the biggest bookseller!

    1. That statistic was a surprise, Julia, but if some people buy a book a week with the shopping that's not such a bad thing.