Write Your Novel In A Year - Week 51: Finding Your Identity And Power As A Novelist

Welcome to week 51 of Anthony's series that aims to help you write a novel in a year. Read last week's post here

Goal setting
  1. A bit more work on brand building
Breaking it down

Back to basics
Last week, we spoke a bit about your author brand. This week, I’d like to explore that a bit further.

A brand is the emotional relationship you have with your readers. As a writer, the more primal you can make this, the stronger the psychological bond will be with your audience.

Your brand is your identity as a writer and how that identity finds its way into every single one of your novels. If you want to make a career as a novelist, having a defined brand is one way to ensure you have longevity or ‘legs’ as a writer.

Someone like Nicholas Sparks has a strong author brand. You always know what you’re going to get with this author – powerful love stories, inspirational characters, and an emotionally involving story.

On the other hand, think of another iconic author like Bret Easton Ellis on the polar opposite of Nicholas Sparks – hip, nihilistic and violent stories told in a cool detached voice. Both have powerful brands.

There must be a personality, a strategy and, most important, a consistency and commonality to your brand. It’s the only way to stand out – and stay – in the market.

A single image, a powerful idea
Al Ries, a PR guru, writes that, ‘A brand is a singular idea or concept that you own inside the mind of the prospect.’  This is a good place to focus on your brand.

When you’re writing a novel, you often have an image or symbol that captures the theme or plot of the story. You can do the same for developing your brand. If you had to boil it down to just one image – what would it be?

For example, if you’re a writer of modern romance, you could have an image of a striking silhouette of a couple looking over a glittering city.  If you’re going for historical action and adventure, for example, you could perhaps see an embellished Viking cross as your symbol.

And then, as a next step, you can create a brand pay-off line. A unique and powerful sentence that captures who you are and what you write about.

If we go back to the writer of modern romance, your pay-off line could be, ‘Real characters, real passion – real love stories for lovers of contemporary romance.’ And for the historical writer, it could be, ‘Discover the bloodiest, bravest, boldest heroes of the Viking era.’ OK, not great – but you get the idea.

Be real
I don’t think you can fake or manufacture a brand identity.  Authenticity is key – because readers will know if you’re an imitator, they will know if you write your books from an honest place or not. The truth is you can only be yourself in your writing and your life.

I believe there’s true power in knowing yourself, of knowing your faults, your dreams, your aspiration … in fact, everything that makes you unique. The stories and scripts I’ve written that have been most successful always explore the themes that resonate with me: identity, sexuality, and obsession.

As Natasha Ilumberg, the great memoirist says, ‘I was born without mental eyelids.’

Timelock — 2 to 3 hours

Spend some time exploring your brand identity.

5 Quick Hacks
  1. Design or draw a logo for your brand as a writer.
  2. Try an experiment. Each day for a week, work on one of your potential brand ideas. Which one did you connect with the most?
  3. Write on a card. Write: My name is … and my brand is ….because …
  4. Write a profile of your ideal or perfect reader. Who is she? What does he want from your stories?
  5. Make strong decisions and be confident.
Pin it, quote it, believe it:

‘Innovate – don’t imitate.’ Anthony Ehlers

Look out for next week’s instalment of Write Your Novel In A Year!

 by Anthony Ehlers

If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. 

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