The Author as Brand

I started this week thinking about some updates I’d like to do for a website that promotes my science fiction novel, The Solar Sea. SummersSolarSea As the week progressed, a possible book signing opportunity for my vampire novels came up, which got me thinking about those stories and what kinds of things I’d like to do as part of the event. Yesterday, a letter arrived which had a nice review of my steampunk novella, Revolution of Air and Rust. It’s been something of a fun, but dizzying dance and it’s caused me to think a bit about the notion of the author as a brand.

If you pick up a book by Stephen King, you know there’s a good chance you’ll get a strong, character driven horror story. If Diana Gabaldon wrote the novel, there’s a good chance it involves time travel, romance, and Scotsmen. At some level, I’m not so easy to pin down. I’ve written about space pirates in the far future, vampires in the present, and mad scientists in the Arizona desert of a century ago. I have fun exploring all these things and I’d have a difficult time picking just one topic to explore in my writing.

I have to admit, thinking about myself as a “brand” always feels a little weird. Revolution of Air and Rust That said, I think there are some common features among all David Lee Summers novels and stories. I see much of my writing as a search for the magic within science and conversely a search for science within magic. Specifically, I like to find ways of making magical things seem plausible and explainable, but I temper that with a sense that science is a process of learning, which means we don’t always know as much as we think!

In various conversations, it’s clear that not everyone who likes my science fiction is interested in my horror. Not everyone who reads my horror is interested in my steampunk. That doesn’t bother me at all. My own reading can depend on a lot on my mood on a given day. Still, there are some people who seem to like it all and find those threads that link the books together.

I’m not the only writer who has an interest in several genres. Some take on pseudonyms for the different genres they write. Others, such as Cherie Priest and Jane Yolen, have found some success writing for multiple audiences and in multiple genres under their own name.

One reason I raise this topic is that I’ve been thinking about setting up more of a presence for my books in venues like Facebook. Dragons Fall An easy solution would be to set up a page for “David Lee Summers, Author.” As I mentioned earlier, though, I find it a little strange to think of myself as a “brand.” It easier to think of “The Scarlet Order Vampires” as a brand or “The Clockwork Legion” as a brand. In fact “The Scarlet Order Vampires” have their own blog and page on Facebook, which leads me to wonder if it would be better to create pages for my different book series. The problem then, is providing new and fresh content regularly for all the pages!

So, I thought I might throw this question out to those who read the ol’ Web Journal. Do you prefer to follow one author’s site or Facebook page, even if they write series that don’t interest you? Or, do you prefer to simply follow those series which interest you? I’m guessing there’s no one right answer, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

12 comments on “The Author as Brand

  1. I’ve only recently rejoined Facebook after an author shared one of my poems on her page, and I wanted to thank her properly. I would follow the K.I.S.S. principle on this, David (keep it simple sir/sister).You might want to embed a post on your Facebook page with links to the appropriate pages on your website. I’m not ready to be active on Facebook, but I’ll look you up and follow.Happy Saturday!

    BTW – my grandson was born for the 4th of July, and my son named him David 🙂

  2. Thanks, Laine. I’ve definitely been thinking about the K.I.S.S. principle, and it’s the reason I haven’t plunged ahead with multiple pages. My vampire page has a good, growing following. I’ve been debating whether to simply convert that to a page for all my fiction, or perhaps create a more general page for all the rest. After all, the vampire fiction is more “adult oriented” than the rest At any rate, I definitely appreciate the feedback! Congratulations on your grandson, David! I’m definitely fond of the name! 🙂

  3. ericamilesx says:

    Frankly, I find all the posts I receive today via social media so overwhelming that it unnerves me and makes me long for simplicity. Maybe we all should take a step back and simplify our branding and advertising to some digestible bite-sized pieces of beauty.

    • I definitely appreciate the feeling of being overwhelmed. Thanks for your thoughts!

      • ericamilesx says:

        I truly think everyone feels that way. I’m just now learning the importance of NOT over-promoting. It just gets on people’s nerves. Let’s find some subtle way to entice new readers. There must be an art to it. Since you are a scientist, I know you are smart and will find the secret key. And when you do, I’d appreciate your sharing it with me (and all your other followers).

      • I know part of the art is to share those things that matter to you — and not just your writing. In my case, that means I share science, history, and other subjects that interest me. They relate to my writing, but go beyond a monotonous, “buy my book, buy my book.” The trick is finding that balance between sharing those non-book things and reminding people that there are books to buy, too.

  4. Greg Long says:

    I do both. Some authors that i follow i have never read any of their works and some i follow despite reading a bit of their work. These are writers whose social media personality and insights attract me. Actually the more i think about it even the ones whose books i like i tend to follow only if their social media personality is engaging. ☺

  5. I follow authors, not series, and my web site connects all my work, both in my name and as Lucy D. Ford. On Facebook and Twitter, I again connect everything — family events, book events, political opinions, etc. I do exercise caution, as I’m currently seeking work and I know employers sometimes check an applicant’s Facebook.

    • Thanks, Deby. Yeah, I have my regular Facebook profile where I generally talk about everything. That said, I do apply some caution because the vampire novels are a bit more “adult” than the other novels. Because of that, I did create a separate page for them.

      I should know this, but do you have a Facebook page separate from the regular profile for your work, Deby? If so, what’s it called?

      • No, right now I only have my personal profile. However, one of my goals for the summer is to set up or update author pages on Amazon, Goodreads, et all.

      • That’s basically where I’m at — with two new novels coming out soon, I know I need to update my profiles, etc. So this discussion has all be valuable for the thought process. Pages do have a few more promotional tools available through them. Specifically, you can pay Facebook for ad space. I’ve experimented with a couple of low-cost ads to see how effective that really is — the jury is still out.

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