A week and a half ago, I was at a workshop put on my publisher, Dreamspinner Press. Damon Suede and Ariel Tachna led a great discussion about what is probably one of the toughest parts of being a writer: marketing and self-promotions. If most of us had our way, we would sit a quiet room somewhere--or maybe in our favorite coffee shop--making magic with our keyboards.
Long before my book was picked up by Dreamspinner, I knew I had to learn to market myself, to build a "platform"--that's part of why my legal name (or at least my initials) appear on my book cover. I had been publishing fanfiction as H.B. Pattskyn for years and had a small following (still love you guys!) So when Damon started talking about branding, I had at least half a clue. The idea is to pick a few words that describe one's work. I guess I'd already done that when I started using that Judy Garland quote; and really "Romance for your heart and soul" sums up what I think I write.
And yeah, I know "branding" is a bit of a dirty word--after all, it's so commercial, and we're creating art right? Yes, but we're creating art we'd like other people to enjoy, that means other people have to be able find us. Besides, I seriously do want to earn my living this way. And that means marketing, because even though I am a part of a wonderful publishing family that does want to see us all succeed, who can sell my book better than me? I lived with it for 8 months. I know ever detail. I LOVE my characters.
And I have a certain advantage in that I'm not the least bit shy ;-) I really don't mind talking to strangers, and I'm comfortable selling myself. But even for those who weren't s comfortable with marketing, Damon gave us a great analogy. You guessed it, it has to do with cats, specifically with the upkeep of a long haired cat. And of course, my mind immediately conjured up images of Mrs. Slocombe, who was always so very careful of her pussy.
Long haired cats require lots of care--and you can't skip a day, either or you end up with a very unhappy pussy.
A long haired cat must be brushed daily, fed the right food (I'm not about to post the picture of the hairball I found while searching for cat pictures. Dee-gust-ing!)
And like any other cat, your long-hair requires lots of exercise, it needs its nails clipped, and you had better deliver up the requisite amount of love and affection.
Your "brand" needs just as much attention and takes up just as much time. So much for just writing good books....
But here's where it gets interesting; if you have more than one brand, you have more than one cat. Anyone who has more than one cat knows that the more cats you have, the harder it is to keep them happy.
Currently, I have three "brands" to deal with: there's me the artist, me the m/m writer, and me the non fiction writer.
Now, I don't care if the folks who read my romance learn about my ghost book, I doubt any of them are going to get offended. I'm in the beginning stages of writing a book about runes that also falls under the category of non fiction...but if y'all haven't figure out I'm a witch by now...
I guess in a way, that makes the cat analogy even more appropriate ;-)
I certainly don't also care if people who see my artwork at a science fiction convention know that I write m/m romance, I usually have copies of my book on the table as well--and enough of my artwork is LGBT themed that it would hardly come as a shock. I'm hawking the ghost book at sci fi cons, too. So in that respect, me the artist and me the writer are fairly well integrated. (Really, I'm just lazy. I didn't want to maintain an artist site and a writing site separately, although I am putting together a site that features my artwork; frankly, I'm very unhappy with the representation I've had at other sites, and would rather just show case my work, myself).
And speaking of business cards, I just ordered a set of cards that represent me only as a writer... I kinda wanted cards that looked more like everybody else's, for when I go to things like the Rainbow Book Fair, or to head off to Animazement in May. Since I'm really only there selling myself as an author, I wanted cards that were just for that part of my creative life.
I cannot in good conscience write YA books as H.B. Pattskyn, no way I want kids finding my adult material. Even though I'm most likely to write for the upper end of the YA spectrum, I would be utterly mortified anyone under the age of 18 found Heart's Home or the BDSM themed book I just finished.
I know it can happen, kids are smart, but I need to at least try to keep that bubble of insulation there, so I'm going to take my grandmother's maiden name, Bobbish. It's robably still a pretty thin disguise, but it's something.
|and my husband thinks its bad when our |
cats sit on the table!
So there you have it. I am officially:
H.B. Pattskyn -- m/m romance novelist and artist
Helen Pattskyn -- non fiction author
Helen Bobbish -- YA and fantasy novelist
otherwise known as the crazy cat lady...
Mrs Slocombe's pussy...
and of course, my favorite cat of all time...