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I’m a Branding Mess! by Constance Gillam


Okay, I admit it. I need help. I have no brand. I write what I like to read, which means my manuscripts run the gamut from: women’s fiction, romantic suspense, paranormal, and contemporary romance. I also have on the back burner a historical and a YA thriller.

How can I possibly brand myself with all that in my trunk?

Experts say your website should reflect your brand. Well my website ( seems to say there are clouds on the horizon and the surf is rough, which might work for the women fiction novels, but doesn’t address the young adult book(s).

I Googled “Author Branding”.  According to Theresa Meyers of Blue Moon Communications, “publishers don’t like authors to change their writing style too much or hop from one sub-genre to the next because it might upset the consumer who feels the brand hasn’t delivered.”

Nora Roberts added J.D. Robb as a pen name when she wrote the In Death series, a futuristic crime series, just to avoid that potential problem.

But I’m not Nora Roberts. I have two books in print (two different genres) and I don’t have her audience. (yet. LOL)

Meyers also says, beginning authors should focus on establishing an emotional connection and that publicity works better than advertising at this point in their careers. How do you establish an emotional connection?

Light bulb moment! Through my books?!

How can I establish a strong brand? Through great books.

So I’ll keep writing and continue to mull over defining my brand.

What’s your take on branding? If you’re an author, how are you branding yourself?

P.S. I went back and reanalyzed my website home page. The sun breaking through dark clouds could also symbolize hope. Hmm…

Constance Gillam’s latest release is Lakota Dreaming, a contemporary romance, available in print and digital formats.

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Constance Gillam







Marilyn Baron - May 22, 2014 - 12:31 am

Connie ,
You and I have the same issue. I write in a variety of genres. I understand what the branding rules are and what people recommend. In fact, helping companies brand is part of what I do in my day job. However, I purposely chose to continue writing in different genres and I celebrate that difference on my web site. I did
try for a while to come up with a branding statement and couldn’t since my books are so different . I enjoy the variety and hope my readers do too. I love the Nora Roberts and JD Robb personas. If she chose to write in a third genre I would follow her. So I guess my advice wound be to write the best book you can, promote your name rather than your genre and promote your books individually.

Carol Burnside - May 22, 2014 - 12:47 am

I’m one of those unsure how to brand herself. My first books out were as Annie Rayburn (Erotic romance, soft sci-fi, lite paranormal, aliens, yet contemporary!)but current works written as Carol Burnside are contemporary, sensual romance with a home and family feel. My tagline for the website was “Sizzling romance that tugs at your heart.” which was my hope – that I would connect emotionally with the readers. After getting several reviews that mentioned laughing and crying over the same books, I revised the tagline slightly to “Sizzling romance with heart and humor.” I’d like to think it rolls off the tongue a little easier and speaks to my overall writing style, rather than a sub-genre.

It occurred to me that not all my books would be hearth and home. Not all of them would be erotic romance. And I didn’t want to limit myself to contemporary because I have plans for American frontier stories too. So, I say brand off your writing style/voice and your promise to the reader.

Sandy Elzie - May 22, 2014 - 8:58 am

Great artical, Connie…one that makes every writer stop and think…and some of us cringe. Like Carol, I think it’s safe…and sometimes a more accurate promise to your readers to brand your promise of writing style and voice…not genre.

Like you, I enjoy writing some “different” stories…women’s fiction, time travel, etc, but I just put those under the name of Sandra McGregor and left my hearth & home books under my own name.

Walt Mussell - May 22, 2014 - 9:02 am

When I started writing, I wrote a non-fiction work to start. I submitted it always under my real name. Now that I write fiction, I submit that as well under my real name. I don’t think of it as an issue, as the only way the nonfiction book will see the light of day is through self-publishing. However, faced with the possibility that I will need to self-publish my historicals as well, I wonder if I will need to come up with a different name at some point.

Piper - May 22, 2014 - 9:53 am


I think your approach with this book is very cool and unique(which, as I understand it, is crucial to branding). I hope it will start a whole new path for you!

As for names, when I participated in a chat last year, they said the #1 goal of a pseudonym is to be the first person up on page one when you google it. That is why I stuck with the maiden name. Couldn’t get any more unique. It is hard to spell, but even if you misspell it, it will still come up. Have a good day!

Maxine Davis - May 22, 2014 - 10:16 am

Connie, Writing is not my “job.” I’m retired. That means I do pretty much what I want. I like to write what I like to read, too. Hopefully, I’ll publish and sell some. IF I sell one particular genre, I like to think I’m not stupid, I’ll write that genre – and be happy.

Linda McLaughlin - May 22, 2014 - 11:37 am

Connie, I have been struggling with the same problem for years. I’ve written under two names and it’s a royal pain in the patoot! I’m working on a new website that will combine both of my personas with the tag line “A little bit nice… a little bit naughty…” since my books range from sweet to erotic. (No YA though.)

A book I recommend for authors interested in branding is Kristen Lamb’s Rise of the Machines, Human Authors in a Machine Age.

Good luck with your branding efforts. Also, great comments, everyone.

Constance Gillam - May 22, 2014 - 12:19 pm


I can only write what I love. To do otherwise would be boring.

Constance Gillam - May 22, 2014 - 12:22 pm


I think you’ve already branded yourself and done it nicely. A pen name for the steamier novels and your real name for the sweet, small town series.

Keep up the good work.

Constance Gillam - May 22, 2014 - 12:24 pm


I like the idea of branding my voice. My critique partners and contest judges tell me I definitely have one. I just have to figure out what it is.

Constance Gillam - May 22, 2014 - 12:27 pm


I don’t think you need another name for distinguishing your non-fiction from your fiction. Readers who read only fiction will be looking for your name under fiction. Now if you switch from inspirational to erotica, that will be a different story. LOL

Constance Gillam - May 22, 2014 - 12:29 pm

Okay, Piper, we have to talk. I’d like to know what this “cool and unique” path is I’ve started. Trust me, it was not intentional.

Constance Gillam - May 22, 2014 - 12:30 pm

Maxine, I envy you. I want to retire.

Constance Gillam - May 22, 2014 - 12:31 pm


Thanks for the heads up about Kristin Lamb’s book. And good luck to you in your branding journey.

Pam Asberry - May 22, 2014 - 9:41 pm

I am still trying to figure out who I am as a writer. I am hoping that the rest will eventually work itself out. Good luck in all your endeavors!

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