Defining your writing brand

Caitlin Kelly – who runs the Broadside Blog – posted the other day on author branding. I was going to offer my thoughts in a comment – but there is far more than I could reasonably write there.

I thought instead I’d offer them here – and see what you think. First, check out what Caitlin says. She’s absolutely right. Branding is so important for authors. And to be able to sum that up in a few words helps give direction.

What’s my brand? To me it falls into two parts; the way I approach the content – which I won’t go into here, it needs a post of its own. And approach: professionalism. To me, professionalism means:

1. Reliability. Doing what I say I will, and when, and making sure I follow through. This includes meeting agreed specifications, deadlines, and making sure that if there is a variance, it’s signalled and discussed well ahead (you can’t predict chance). It means accepting my mistakes. It also means not abandoning agreements, even if they start to not go my way – but where doing so would let down someone relying on me.

2. Planning. The way to achieve (1) is by forward planning – by understanding the processes needed to write.  This also makes it possible to solve problems. Things don’t always pan out – but don’t panic. Work the problem. Don’t blame people. Find answers; adapt flexibly to new circumstance.

3. Quality. There is no room for second-class work in a competitive field. To me, quality means everything from making sure the writing is of publishable standard, properly and tidily presented – to all the intangibles of content.

4. Abstraction. This is the key to professionalism – keeping emotions out. It means not getting angry when things don’t go right, or other people are performing like imbeciles. It means not conflating the work with your own sense of self-worth (think about it!).

5. Inclusion. Accept that others are going to be doing something similar. Welcome them. What’s the point of difference between their work and yours? Find out. Emphasise it. That’s why readers want your work – and theirs – together.

That’s how I see it. And needless to say, I expect the same standards from those I deal with professionally.

What are your standards? Do you have a brand? Talk to me!

 Copyright © Matthew Wright 2012


8 thoughts on “Defining your writing brand

  1. Matthew, one of my favorite authors, Donald Hamilton, had a favorite line for his character Matt Helm: “There’s nothing like a pro, in any line of work.” I try, every day, to be professional. Some days it’s harder than others. I think I would add just one thing more to what you’ve written: every day, be on the lookout for something new, something you’ve never done before. That isn’t easy to do consistently, but try to do it anyway, and when it comes along, embrace it!

  2. PS: I very much liked Caitlin Kelly’s post. “Passionate authenticity” and “insatiable curiosity” I get immediately; still turning “nuanced investigation” over in my mind. Maybe it’s all the possible nuances…

  3. Excellent points, Matthew, and I agree with you on all of them. It’s essential to think and act like a professional, and keep your head cool and your work focused.

    Thanks for the great post!

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