To Behave or Not To Behave, That is the Question


Writers create a brand, yes? Do you work on your brand?

For some authors, their brand has become them, plain and simple. You see their name or their face, and there is nothing else you need to know. The emotional attachment from the reader to the writer is wrapped up in personal recognition. When I see a favorite author’s name or headshot on a book, I don’t need to read the blurb before I buy. I know the brand, and I know what I’ll get.

I suppose I’ve started working on a brand. My brand is pink. My brand is breezy. Wow. That’s impressive. /sarcasm

My brand is blonde. She runs amuck, as opposed to amok, but I think I should stop using that word/phrase. The connotation is messy. Things go haywire for Susan in every book, but I need a better catchphrase or line. The books don’t specifically revolve around the racquetball club or the weight loss center, so there isn’t anything to draw from either location.

I know from reading all of Janet Evanovich’s books that Stephanie Plum is a bounty hunter with attitude. Janet, of course, has name and face recognition with her brand, but any fan also knows the name Stephanie Plum is synonymous with bounty hunter (and Ranger and Morelli!).

Who is Susan Hunter? In every book, she does something innocuous, ultimately putting her life in danger. Susan Hunter, Unintentional Blonde. That doesn’t work. Susan Hunter, Blonde Impulsive. Yikes! Susan Hunter, Trying to Get Killed One Book at a Time. … Susan doesn’t swear outside of one or two uses of the word crap in the books. Her exclamation phrase is always, “Oh my gosh!” … Susan Hunter, Oh My Gosh! … I admit, I have nothing.

Then we come to me personally. I’ve allowed enough of my personality to show that I think followers of my blog already know we’re a silly family. Humor brightens our days.

Yesterday was a lightning and thunder day. My husband rode his motorcycle to work. I won’t share my email messages to him throughout the day, but the final one was in all caps and expressed my enjoyment at his certain soaking to come. He was sure he would make the half hour ride home without running into rain. When he came through the door, I was delighted to see his shirt was soaked. “Five minutes!” he whined while laughing. “If I would have left five minutes sooner, I would have made it.” It was a fun moment for us, and my competitive nature chalked up a win for me.

That story is fine. I don’t mind some personal branding showing the silly side of my life. But how far would be too far before it hurt?

I wrote a blog post earlier in the week, and I liked it; it made me laugh. It was about playing a computer game, how maddening it was, and my continual reaction to the game. The game is, after all, what I choose to do when I don’t want to write. The post would have fit in with my blog theme.

I ran the idea for the post by my husband and asked, “What if some day my books take off. (Don’t laugh! Stranger things have happened.) What if someday Susan Hunter is known to an audience? Do I really want someone coming back through my blog and reading this type of post?”

We both agreed it needed to hit the trash can. Just as I don’t share the negative, depressing things that might creep into our lives at times, I don’t want to share the more crass side that raises its head every now and then – no matter how funny it may be. There are certain aspects of our lives that aren’t necessary to my developing brand, and I realize I don’t want them creeping in.

Are you cautious while developing your brand? Do you behave – or not?