Multiple award-winning author, Jacqueline Seewald, has taught creative, expository and technical writing at Rutgers University as well as high school English. She also worked as both an academic librarian and an educational media specialist. Fifteen of her books of fiction have been published to critical praise including THE INFERNO COLLECTION, THE DROWNING POOL, THE TRUTH SLEUTH and DEATH LEGACY. Recent releases are her co-authored family mystery THE THIRD EYE and an historical romance THE CHEVALIER. Her short stories, poems, essays, reviews and articles have appeared in hundreds of diverse publications and numerous anthologies.
Is branding a help or hindrance to writers?
There’s been a lot of discussion among writers as to whether it benefits authors to be branded–by that I mean that writers want to market themselves by promoting their name, associating their name with a particular type, genre or style of writing. The premise? This is the best way to build a readership. For example, when we see the name Nora Roberts we immediately think of romantic suspense. The name Stephen King is immediately associated with horror. But these writers have also chosen to write under other pseudonyms as well. Jayne Ann Krentz, for example, writes her contemporary romances under that name, her sci-fi’s under Jayne Castle and her historical romances under Amanda Quick. The advantage is that her fans know exactly what to expect.
Many writers choose to use pen names. They write in a variety of genres and assume a different nom de plume for each. The theory is that it will confuse readers if writers use the same name for different types of work. There is also a tendency for publishers to try to place writers in neat categories. It’s more convenient to connect a name to a particular format.
But what if you resist branding? Are you destroying your chance to be taken seriously as a writer or build a readership? I don’t have the answer to this question. I can only admit that I don’t limit myself to one particular format in my writing. My books are not “in the box.”
I recently won a contest with an Australian publisher for a sensual historical romance THE CHEVALIER. Set in the Georgian era in England and Scotland, the novel isn’t category or “formula” romance. This will be my first novel published initially as an e-book.
However, my latest co-authored mystery THE THIRD EYE is a family-oriented novel suited to adult and teenage readers.
In addition, I write series mystery novels like THE INFERNO COLLECTION, THE DROWNING POOL and THE TRUTH SLEUTH. The fourth novel in the Kim Reynolds series, THE BAD WIFE, is being edited for publication at this time. Each of the novels stands on its own as a unique murder mystery although the main characters existing in each book grow and change much the way real people do. Harlequin Worldwide Mystery has brought out four of my novels in paperback that were originally published in hardcover by Five Star/Gale.
I also write books and stories for children as well as novels for young adults like the DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER which will be released by Astraea Press.
My poems, short stories, nonfiction articles and plays, are all published under my own name with a variety of publishers. In October, for example, three of my horror stories were published in three different print anthologies. Yet I am not limited to horror short stories. I write romance, mystery, science fiction, fantasy and literary fiction as well. See Beyond the Bo Tree: Ten Tales of Romance.
Will I confuse readers and reviewers? I sincerely hope not. I suppose if you were to ask what my “brand” is I’d have to answer I really don’t have one. To paraphrase Shakespeare’s description of Cleopatra, I am a writer of infinite variety.
What is your opinion. Does branding benefit writers or not? Your thoughts, opinions and comments are most welcome.
Thanks for an informative and timely post, Jacqueline. I was also conflicted about using a pseudonym for different genres, but finally decided that I wanted all my work to show up under the same author name for booksellers, especially the online sites. Whether it’s a wise move or not remains to be seen.
You can learn more about Jacqueline and her books on Facebook.