This is an old blog that I started in 2006. I keep it because it has a lot of historical data and people still come here. As of September 2016, no new updates will be made here. All new blog posts and writing/publishing related news will be posted over on my new site at

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Choosing An Author Brand

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor 

I once had an agent say to me, “I don’t think you know what you want to write. And you need to decide that or I can’t market you.”

I was stunned. What did she mean? I wanted to write historical romances and that’s what I’d been writing. Was she crazy?

Let me clarify the broad range of what I had written: a Civil War novel, a Regency, a Scottish Medieval, an Irish historical, and a prairie romance.

Not exactly one brand with one readership in mind was it? Yes, you could say that I was a historical romance writer, but how did that narrow me down from all the other hundreds of historical romance writers? What would be different about me and my books? Pick a number and get in line. That’s essentially what I was doing to myself.

Choosing an author brand is sort of like choosing a career. It’s a very personal and individual decision. Regardless of how you came to be a writer, if you intend to sell your work, you need to be promoting it and thinking of how you want to be known.

When you hear the names Steven King, Nicholas Sparks, Nora Roberts, John Grisham, Rick Warren, or Jannette Oke, what comes to mind?

I think of the following:
Steven King – Horror thrillers
Nicholas Sparks – Love Stories/Drama
Nora Roberts – Romance/Women’s fiction
John Grisham – Court Dramas/Suspense
Rick Warren – Self-help Religion
Jannette Oke – Historical Christian fiction

What do you want people to think of you when they hear your name? It can’t be a long, drawn out paragraph that distinctly describes your writing like a company mission statement. It should be short and categorical, because that’s how your book will be shelved in the stores and listed online. Where do you think people will go to buy the kind of books you’re writing? This is important as you think about your author brand.

Next, what do you like to write? If you’re a new writer, what do you like to read? If you can narrow this down to 2 or 3 genres, consider which one you could write about for thirty years without getting tired of it. Then consider the other subgenres as elements in your books.

I’ll use myself as an example. In addition to writing, I research family history. I had been to half the counties in the Carolinas researching the historical archives. I’ve lived in the Carolinas my whole life, and traveled extensively throughout the region. My family roots go back 250+ years. I know the historical culture here, the changes that have evolved, and I know how it is in the Carolinas today. I know the kinds of families and ethnic backgrounds that immigrated here. I know the land, the climate, cities, towns and rural areas. I know the slang language of old of today. The architecture of the buildings today and back then are implanted in my brain.

God has shown me that what I thought was boring because I was so used to it, may not be boring and old to people elsewhere. God gives us our experiences as a testimony to others. He has given me the gift of writing and a love for the history and culture here in the Carolinas. I can make the history of the Carolinas come alive again, and I can bring the Carolinas of today, to someone that may never get a chance to visit this wonderful place that I’ve come to love so much.

This way I’m not limited to a time period. I can include the elements of romance, suspense, mystery, and most importantly, my faith. The Carolinas are known as part of the Bible belt. I can also include pieces of Europe with its history and culture as my characters immigrate to the Carolinas.

My new author brand is: Historical & Contemporary Fiction in the Carolinas

Check out my new website at:


Janette Oke goes hand in hand with prairie to me. I'm not a huge fan of hers because of that.

I've already given a lot of thought to my author "brand", even though I'm nowhere near even being ready to search for an agent. My passion is Russia, and 95% of what I write can be directly connected to Russia through setting or characters. So that's what I'm building my "brand" on.