Everyone who sells has a brand whether he knows it or not. It's just that particular thing that distinguishes a product from all other like products. Sounds simple enough, but how did Coca Cola, Charmin, Ford, or Burger King develop their brands? Through their reputations. A writer is no different. His or her writing will distinguish an author's brand.
Is it possible to define a brand before putting anything out there for the public's approval? That's what I'm attempting to do. I looked at the brands of some of my favorite authors. Janette Oke is known for her homespun prairie romances. Tracie Peterson is known for her strong characters and historical detail. Mary Connealy is known for cowboys and humor.
After considering all my manuscripts I can see four distinctions. They're all historical, but not a particular timeframe or setting. They're all over the place...1880s American west, 1770s Scotland, 1812 England, 1802 Austria, 1868 American south, even 1963 Atlanta. Yes, even 1963 is now considered history, a sobering thought for me since I was alive then.
All of my manuscripts are also romances. I can't tell a story unless it's from both the male and female POV, and of course, they have to get together. Besides, I like to read romances, so it's natural that I write romance. So there must be thousands of historical romance writers. Nothing to set me apart there.
Then something I didn't realize before came to light. All my plots involve intrigue. Something is always hidden in the story line, something even the characters don't know, but had better find out if they're to stay alive and healthy. The bad guy may or may not be known until the end, but there's always a surprise when the enemy is revealed or vanquished. One other thing, since at least one of the main characters is Christian and there's an inspirational theme running in the background, it's inspirational fiction.
So with all that in mind, my brand is historical romance to inspire and intrigue. There it is...my logo. I'm sure I'm not the only writer in the world whose books have those four elements, but I'm the only one with my name. Now all I have to do is let the rest of the world know. Even before the books are published, and the readers can judge for themselves, which is usually how it works, I can get the word out. I'll add it to my profile, my business card, everywhere my name goes, my logo will go. I think I'll even put it below my signature on my tax returns. A good thing I don't write mysteries.
It may sound weird, but I think the brand is the first thing a writer should publicize, not the last.
Excuse me while I go nail down the first plank in my platform.