Hi. folks, this week is a response blog to Janet Lee Carey's post "I am not a brand." For more on this topic, check out a manifesto statement from Maureen Johnson.
This is another meandering post. I felt fire and pain while writing this one. I will wander here some. I hope that something strikes a chord.
Branding is a human activity. We are inherently drawn to symbols. We slap them on everything from our faith to our hamburgers. A good brand offers a clear message. It also offers assurance you will receive a similar experience with branded products. A good brand will also stir up a targeted audience emotionally, will motivate a customer to place money on the counter, and will bring back customers again and again.
Here's a question I circle around. Should my work be branded?
On the surface, it seems to make sense. A book is a commodity. It's sold at the store with a publishing brand stamped on the book's spine. Beyond this, authors who offer readers similar fare time and time again usually find the most success. If the author writes one thriller, then writes ten more, that usually attracts a greater readership. The writer will have to tend that stream of content for a lifetime. Hey, this is a business, folks.
Branding helps writers stand out in the marketplace. So, authors, get in line. Learn the formulas. Refine your message and sell it! Be all bossy and pushy about that message. Hog every stage. What you have to say is the most important thing. To Market!
Sigh. Do you ever think you were born into the wrong world? The problem with "comodifiying" the story journey and branding imagination is this for me: We are all quicksilver. You can't really pin us down. We shift and change on you. We are fickle. We are not who we were yesterday. We will not be the same tomorrow. If I go all branding on myself, instead of being who I am, I ditch who I am. Not okay.
For me storytelling is an ancient human art. This art circles around two questions: Who are we? What do we want? These are the two things you own in this life. No degradation can put out the spark of you. Your hunger for what you want will cause you to risk everything. You may have to join a team who dared to have a dream and ended up martyred. But take to heart, they shaped the future.
Storytelling is too precious to mankind to force it into the branding mold. I'm with a little band of others that hop and holler, "Your heart, that's the holy ground! It sure is! Here is a lodestone for you." That said, we have no intention of sparing your feelings. We understand suffering has a purpose.We are immersed in the life-saving art of creating lodestones for the human heart, story maps that will help readers navigate through the rough seas of their lives.
A great book sets you on a journey toward your true north. It will turn you away from stupidity. It will rattle your cage. It will break your bonds. It will help you understand your days. It will help you find your best possible self. No question!
I hope you create something priceless. If you get some money for that, well, people need to eat. If you don't get money for it, well, people don't live on bread alone.
Here is a doodle for you.
and a quote for your pocket from the great poet Bob Dylan:
Come writers and critics who prophesy with your pen
And keep your eyes wide the chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon for the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who that it's namin'
For the loser now will be later to win.