Stay in Your Own Lane

13366864053_840b7df994Driving home after an evening out, my husband complained about a driver in front of us. “Just look at that guy, weaving in and out of traffic. He’s going to get somebody killed. He needs to stay in his own lane.”

Perhaps writers should heed his advice. Settling on one genre, such as Amish Romances, for example, lets the reader know what to expect when purchasing one of their books.

When a brand is loud and clear, it not only benefits the reader, but it also helps the writer focus their writing.

New writers often have to feel their way through two or three books before they catch the vision for their writing, however.

Recently, I discovered that my books—Runaways: The Long Journey Home and The Choice: Will’s Last Testament—have a common thread: forgiveness. Then I took a hard look at my newest book, Simon Says, and found that this story about bullying  has forgiveness as its central theme, also. (Simon Says is not, yet, completed).

So, I guess I am in full “branding mode” and I couldn’t be happier than to be writing stories of forgiveness because they assure us there is hope after we mess up or make wrong choices.

So, if you don’t want your readers to be confused and you want to bring your writing into focus,

Simply find your lane and stay in it.

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Branding: An Emotional Bond

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If I say “Western Movie Stars,” perhaps John Wayne, Paladin, or Matt Dillon come to mind.

Movie stars that were typecast because they most often played a “villain?” Boris Karloff or Peter Lorre are the first ones I think about.

When you hear the names of James Patterson, Lee Child, John Grisham, or Stephen King do you automatically think of mystery/thriller/suspense?

You do this as a result of BRANDING.

Here are a few definitions of branding from my research:

”…marketing messages that create emotional bonds with the consumer…” ~ Heidi Cohen

“…the name, the logo, the design, or a combination of those that people use to identify and differentiate…” (a person or business) ~ Gini Dietrich

“…the set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships…that account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” ~ Seth Godin

So, if I am reading this right, branding is building an emotional tie between yourself and your readers. And, this branding makes the author instantly recognizable in their eyes/minds.

So, how is this done and when?

I believe it is the perception of the author by the consumer that creates the branding.

Here is how it happens: an author writes a book, the author writes more books in the same or similar genres. Over time, readers get to know the writer as a suspense writer (Mary Higgins Clark) or a romance writer (Nicholas Sparks), etc.

The author’s work becomes predictable to their audience.

New authors may try their hand at writing in several different genres, but pretty soon they find their way and settle into one that is comfortable for them. Once they do, readers begin to take notice.

They become followers.

Because the author meets their expectations…gives them what they want.

The reward?

They buy books.

A symbiotic relationship is formed.

An emotional bond.