Thursday, March 17, 2011

Branding or "Who am I???"

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this in another blog, but I have recently received word that the release date of LOVE LIES BLEEDING is July 26th. And although I’m really excited about the new book, it also brings with it a dilemma—a new identity—Jess McConkey and the job of branding that name.

What’s branding you may ask? I look it as fixing in the reader’s mind a certain image, a certain vibe that’s associated with that author’s work. The best examples I can think of is Nora Roberts/J. D. Robb and Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels. In both cases, which ever book you purchase, you have a pretty good idea what to expect because of the name associated with that particular work. It even extends to the author photo. On the back of the J.D. Robb books, Ms. Robb is wearing a long, leather duster and is striding down a city street. On the Elizabeth Peters books, Ms. Peters is standing amid what appears to be ruins. (Both are very appropriate considering the plots of these books.) But on the Nora Roberts books and the Barbara Michaels books, their photos are different. (In a few of Ms. Michaels’ photos, she’s holding a cat and wearing a floppy hat. Ms. Roberts is propped on a high stool and smiling at the camera.)

Okay, as an avid reader myself, I know if I like a book, it’s really not going to make a difference how the author looks in their photo, and I would expect others to feel the same about LOVE LIES BLEEDING. Either a reader is going to enjoy it or not. (I, of course, am praying for the former, not the latter!) But still I have put some thought into what “Jess” looks likes so we, as in my youngest daughter and myself, have designed a new look for dear, old Mom. Jess has longer hair (thanks to extensions) and wears more color, not so much black. She’ll also have her own website with a different look than the one I have now, which, I might add, has not been updated in a long, long time!!

Now all this image and branding stuff has presented a problem that I hadn’t originally anticipated. I’ve two conferences coming up this summer and are right before my publication date, so the question is who will be attending these conferences??? Jess or Shirley? Or both? Do I introduce myself as Jess part of the time and Shirley at other times? (I can see it now—someone is going to call me “Jess” and I’m going to have this confused, “Who? Me?” look on my face. ) Will I need to run into the nearest phone booth and change identities??? *g* It really is very confusing for me and I honestly don’t know what approach to take.

I guess in the end, whether I’m called “Jess” or “Shirley,” all I can do is be myself and that will just have to do!!!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day—have a safe one!!!



Sharon S. said...

I never thought about that problem! and I have no idea how you should solve it. I would go with the just be yourself idea and wear two name tags.

Diane P said...

It is nice to know if the author you enjoy writes under another name. There used to be a book that would list authors and their pseudonyms. I'd say use both names on your name tag so that people would look for your books under both names.

Sharon S. said...

I've been thinking about this...(scared yet? ). You should carry two masks (you know the kind with a photocopy of a face on a stick and the eyes cut out)
Then when people ask to talk, you can say "who would you like to talk too?" Then based on the answer you put up that persona's mask! You can even do an interview with both. It would be cool to make them argue with each other ;)