brand new

This is going to sound hokey, but I’m reading a book on personal branding. One of my goals for this year is to find a better, more efficient way to market my writing. It’s basically a given that, in the 21st Century, authors are responsible for a lot of their own marketing, and sure, putting a good book out there goes a long way, but you have to let readers know it exists. And my problem is that, at the end of the day, once I’m done with my day job and I’ve put in some solid writing time, there just is not much time leftover for marketing. So how do I make the most of the little time I have?

During the dot-com boom, I had a job as a copywriter at a startup that was primarily concerned with helping out executive types. My boss was a retired CEO who had once worked at one of the biggest insurance companies in the country, so that’s the sort of person I was dealing with. He was the Idea Man. We’d have these long meetings where he’d talk and I’d take dictation and my job was to translate his ideas into copy for the website. Branding was a big thing with him, which is probably why I thought the whole concept was silly for a long time. But he put forth the argument, one that is pretty true actually, that the way you present and market yourself goes a long way toward how people perceive you, and if you have a cohesive brand, that’s something people are going to remember.

But how does this relate to writing?

There was a post on Jessewave on Friday about crossing genre lines. When writers write in a different genre than the one they’ve become known for, how do readers react? This is a mild concern for me; while I will probably always write romance, I am interested in trying out different sub-genres. Sometimes the muse wants what it wants, you know?

This got me thinking about brand, though. If you buy six books by the same author, even if they are in six different genres, what do they all have in common? The author’s voice, for one thing, and probably similar sensibilities, senses of humor, moral bases. When you ask editors what they look for when singing new authors, they often answer “voice,” and that’s something that is unique to the writer. So if you buy those six books, no matter how different they are, they’re part of the same brand.

I as a reader often follow authors through different genres (with some limits—I avoid anything with graphic violence because I am a weak-stomached wuss, for example, but that is not the author’s fault, obviously) particularly once I’ve found an author whose style I mesh with or appreciate. I have genre preferences, but I’ve picked up books by authors I like in genres I usually don’t because, to a certain extent, I know what I’m getting into. I even bought a book recently that had gotten some pretty negative reviews because I’d read many other books by the author and really liked them.

I don’t really have any conclusions yet beyond that this stuff is just on the brain. I’m trying to get a head start on swag for the events I’m attending this year, which means I have to think about design and come up with a slogan and all that. Slogans are hard, because it’s difficult for me to figure out what I represent as a writer. I like to write books that are smart and funny and romantic and a little angsty. So how do I put that into something readers will remember, the sort of thing I could slap on a tote bag? That’s what I intend to figure out in the coming months.

The Boy Next Door in Paperback

I got my author copies of The Boy Next Door in the mail today. It was pretty darned cool to open that box. I’m a huge proponent of ebooks—ask me about my Kindle backlog!—but holding your book in your hands, that is amazing.

You can get your hot little hands on a copy your very own copy. It should be available from the book retailer of your choice very soon. I’ll also be giving away a copy during the Beat Your Winter Blues Blog Tour during the week that I’m hosting in February.

Here the book is shown on my living room bookcase, next to my other paperbacks and miscellaneous books.

Today was apparently Kate Gets Lots of Books In the Mail Day because I also got a box of stuff I ordered from Amazon, all of it nonfiction. Now if I could just find the time to read all these books in between writing. Deadlines abound!

Beat Your Winter Blues Blog Tour: Intro

How do you beat the winter blues? I’m doing it by hanging out with fifteen other fantastic authors between now and April. Head on over to Coffee and Porn in the Morning for the inaugural post, which includes a little about each participating author and how we beat the winter blues. Also go to that post for your chance to win a $200 gift certificate to the e-retailer of your choice. There will be other prizes throughout the tour, too. Who doesn’t like prizes?

Considering how mild this winter has been in New York, it’s hard to get too upset about the weather. I’m currently knitting a hat in between bouts of writing, and that’s part of how I beat the winter blues.

Here’s a little more info about the tour. I’ll be hosting a leg of it in February, so stay tuned!

happy 2012!

Happy New Year!

2011 was a really amazing year both personally and professionally, and I’m hoping for even bigger and better things in 2012. I wanted to reflect a little on how this year has gone. As far as my writing goes, here were some 2011 highlights:

The Boy Next Door was published in January. This was my third book, and my second novel-length work. The story has a lot of emotional resonance, at least for me. And it’ll be out in print sometime this month!

• In March, I went to the Rainbow Book Fair here in New York City and spent the day hanging out with a bunch of my fellow Dreamspinner authors. Everyone I met was wonderful. I think I met a dozen authors that day, and they were each friendly and welcoming and I thought it was great to feel a part of this community of m/m writers.

• In June, my friend A and I went to the literacy signing that kicked off the RWA conference in NYC. I talked to a few m/m writers there and I got to meet Suzanne Brockmann, who is one of my romance-writer idols.

Blind Items was published at the end of July. It’s funny to me that this became my breakout novel in a lot of ways. I was so unsure of how it would be received. It’s a funny book, and it’s quite New York in its sensibilities, and it’s as much about the main character’s relationships with the people in his life as it is about his romantic relationship. But I continue to be delighted by the way it’s been received, and I’m thrilled so many people enjoyed it.

• Two big things happened in October. Across the East River Bridge was published, and that is a book I’m enormously proud of. That same week, I got on a plane to New Orleans and spent four incredible days at GayRomLit, an event I’m still giddy about. I had such an amazing time meeting authors and readers and talking about books and everything else. I’ve been looking forward to Albuquerque since I got on the plane back to New York.

• In December, my fourth published work (if you exclude freebies) of the year came out, a Christmas short called A Walk in the Dark. I also accepted a job that I’m really excited about, but we’ll get to that soon.

So now a new year! I rang it in last night with good friends who live in Manhattan. Just after midnight, we went up to their building’s roof to see if we could catch a glimpse of the fireworks being shot off from Times Square. We heard them, but the view was blocked by other buildings. Still, I had one of those moments, looking up at the familiar parts of the skyline, when I was reminded just how magic this city can be sometimes.

I have a lot to look forward to this year. I just this morning got the contract for my fourth novel-length work, a romance between two baseball players tentatively titled Out in the Field. I’m hard at work on a number of other things as well, but more about that later.

A happy, healthy, prosperous New Year to you all!!