Friday, March 13, 2015

Do you Have a Brand? Great Insights from Jennifer Fusco

RHYS: When I got my first contract to write mysteries I thought (naively, as it turns out) that I'd write a book, send it off to the publisher and that would be that. They would do all the promoting and I would collect the royalties.
Well, no. As I soon discovered, publishers may pull out all the stops for the really big names, but for most of us we have to work just as hard publicizing the book as we did writing it. And frankly how many of know where to start? So this post by Jen Fusco is particularly useful. How to let people know what they are getting when they see one of your books. How to build your brand.

So please, take it away, Jen.

What is brand?
By Jennifer Fusco

            Over the years, I’ve talked about the importance of building an author brand, why it’s necessary and what the benefits are for having a brand. I’ve also learned that brand means different things in different genres. And, while that’s true, at its core brand is perception. Brand means the author’s identity. Collectively, it is how the author wants people to think, feel and talk about their work. It is how the author will be known and what he or she will be known for. Brand identifies the author in the mind of the reader and delivers on the promise it makes to the reader through their work. 

Brand has existed long before authors assumed they need to create a brand for themselves. Brand pioneer Walter Landor (1935-1995), founder of Landor Associates, left his mark in the business world by helping to increase the recognition of some of the world’s top companies, including, Levi’s, Kellogg’s, and Bank of America. Landor is quoted as saying, “Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind.” (
Yet, you, the author have an advantage over industry. Brand must appeal to the emotions of the consumer, and an author’s most powerful tool to support their brand is the emotions they evoke from their readership.
Some authors choose to have a brand statement, that is to say they craft a 5-7 words statement which identifies and introduces their work to a potential reader. Others let their work and cover art speak for the brand itself. The choice is up to the individual author. However, if you are interested in crafting a brand statement, here are some tips to get your started:
Write down the answers to the following questions:
·        What is it about your work that speaks to your passions?
·        What makes you unique?
·        How would you describe your voice?
·        Look at your body of work. What are the common themes?
·        Write two or three power words associated with your book. (Examples of power words are: Thrilling, Sexy, Steamy, Murder, Forbidden, Daring, Confessions, Stunning, No-risk, etc.)
·        Answer the question, what is your book’s emotional hook?
Examine the answers. Circle the power words. Then, using the selected power words, compose a statement, in less than ten words, that describes you as well as your work while incorporating the answers to the questions above. It sounds like a chore. It is. But, give the exercise a try and see if you like the results.
     Keep in mind, brand is more than just a statement. You can create a brand my blending your work and your persona. Our own Hank Phillipi Ryan says, “People want to know what they're getting. They don't want to have to guess. Having a good brand means you're reliable, dependable, and desirable. It means if they liked what they got the last time, they're going to get it again. That’s good.”
     So, do you have a brand? If so, what is it? How did you create it? And what tips would you give to others for creating theirs?

RHYS: And Jen did not mention that she has written a definitive book for writers!  Ask her questions.



  1. I have to admit that, as a reader, I never gave much thought to the publicizing of a book. I always knew what I liked to read, I had my favorite authors, and those would be the books and the writers I would seek out in the library or the bookshop.
    Jennifer's comments on having a brand are quite an eye-opener . . . .

  2. Hi Jennifer, and welcome! Fascinating stuff! (Off to check out book...)

  3. I do think that many people (authors included) sometimes forget the power of branding.

    This has never been a problem with the Jungle Reds, but we have all seen the authors in need of some advice at various conferences and signings.

    Branding is important, regardless of the industry. When I started the book blog, I knew that I had to make it stand-out if I was going to get any traction in the market-place. Thankfully, I managed to do so and now my little eyeball logo is recognized by folks far and wide.

    I am going to check out Jennifer's book, as I also think that one can never learn enough about branding and marketing. Thanks for stopping by today, Jennifer.

  4. thanks for visiting today Jennifer! Having recently gone through a round of agonizing negotiations about my next Key West book title, I can be sure that publishers think long and hard about this. They want their/my covers to be instantly recognizable as cozy murder mysteries with lots of food in them.

    Wondering what happens if an author writes more than one kind of book though?

    1. Many authors have more than one brand like Christina Dodd or Kate Locke. Kate does a great job of keeping everything seperate. Check out her website Roberta, it's for ideas.

  5. Authors at any career level can find helpful info in this book, if for no other reason than to pick up new ideas on how to find more readers. Who doesn't want that? ;)

    Jennifer's book works like a one-room schoolhouse where precocious first-graders can listen in on sixth-grade history lessons. If what you need to know is that "branding" isn't just for Kelloggs or that marketing is really just finding people who might like what you can offer them, that's in there, too.

    Once you grasp those concepts and put them in play, Jennifer's got some more advanced knowledge to lay upon your mind, including real-world examples. If you're not ready for them right then? So what? :) It's all waiting in her book for you when you are.

    For example, in the book, Hank gives a great lesson about how we each are walking embodiments, as well as ambassadors, of our brands.

    1. Wow! Thanks for the glowing endorsement, Rhonda!!

  6. I keep think of that with my own blog. Haven't done much about it purposefully, but I do think about it.

  7. I worked with a graphic artist to create an original symbol for me and my work--a fleur de lis and a pen--because I write a lot about my French-Louisiana heritage. It it not my only subject, however, and I worry about limiting myself via this brand, so I'm very interested in crossover. Will check out your book and the authors you mention. Thanks so much!

  8. Timely post. I'm one of those authors writing in more than one kind of book - middle-grade and mystery. The concept of "brand" is why I have two different names. M.E. Sutton (the middle-grade) has one look; Liz Milliron (the mysteries) have another.

    Hopefully my website blends the two and people know exactly what they're getting when they look at each work, but as you can never learn enough, I will have to check out the book.

  9. I have four series: two cozy, one historical, one traditional amateur sleuth. And two pen names. I decided to unify them all with one web site and an original oil painting called Edith's World, which my best friend commissioned for a local artist for my sixtieth birthday. The only subtitle after my name is "Mystery Author" - not too specific! So I need to do a bit more work on those power words and a single statement. Thanks so much for sharing, Jennifer. I have heard many positive words of your work.

  10. I do think about branding, for some authors and for my blog. Kristopher, it's a problem that I need to address concerning my blog and its readership, and it's one that you have achieved the fait accompli in branding your blog. I intend to pick your darling brain at next fall's Bouchercon.

    To me, it's interesting that I haven't come up with the right brand for my reading blog, but I get ideas for certain authors, especially newer ones, and even some ideas for the top dog Bouchercon convention.

    I plan on buying your book, Jennifer, as I believe your advice on author branding will definitely carry over to branding in general. Thanks for this timely (for me) piece.

  11. Many grad programs at various universities and specialty schools will require you to write a personal statement in order for you to apply to the school and if you are not sure what to write then you need to know where to look so that you can figure it out. sop writing