Writing for the Brand
If you’ve read Louis L’Amour, you might recognize the phrase “Riding for the brand.” Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings tell us that “They'll never stay home and they're always alone...” (Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be Cowboys), but not all cowboys were drifters. Some stuck around, true to the ranch - the brand - that gave them a home.
In marketing it’s called brand loyalty.
John Locke, the author who has been dominating the trade news by being the first indie to join the million eBooks sold club, devotes pages of How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months to the importance of brand loyalty. He tells us to “find your target audience and write for them” and to develop readers who will read anything you write for that brand (you can have more than one). Locke is applying principles to writing fiction and e-publishing that Jay Conrad Levinson shared with us in Guerilla Marketing. Find your niche and stick to it.
What about artistic integrity?
We aren’t cowboys - we’re the ranchers. We create the brand. Our loyalty is to what we’ve crafted and the readers who ride with us. Fortunately, loyalty doesn’t preclude variety. We can have more than one brand that can serve different target audiences.
Under A Texas Star combines mystery, romance and “accurate settings, genuine voice, and unexpected humour” (Amazon Reader Review). When you pick up its sequel (which will have “star” in the title) you can expect the same style of story.
My near-future mystery series, debuting next year, will have a different brand. You’ll know that you’re reading Alison Bruce as surely as I can tell whether I’m listening to Mozart or Beethoven, but the brand will be different. You might like my westerns but not this series - or vice versa - but I intend that if you like one book in the series, you’ll enjoy them all.
I’m writing for the brand.