Shannon Stacey

My branding iron's bent

Charli’s talking about branding again: Careers, branding, labels. It’s a great post, but it also makes me want to crawl under my desk with a blanket, a bag of Doritos and several Dunkin Donuts iced coffees.

This is one of those “I’d rather talk about jock itch” discussions for me. I know about branding. Trust me, you don’t target Harlequin/Silhouette for years without learning about branding.

As a reader, I appreciate branding. I know if I grab up the next Lisa Gardner book and it’s a zany comedy about two misfits being thrown together by their matchmaking Italian grandmothers, I’m going to be pretty damn shocked. (But then the writer in me says “You know what? Maybe she doesn’t want to write about dead people all the time. Maybe she wants to write a comedy with a cat who’s really the hero’s reincarnated mother. And why am I, as a reader, trying to keep her in a box?”)

Anyway. Thank you for flying Tangent Air…

So Twice Upon A Roadtrip is an erotic romantic comedy. A pretty nutty comedy, too, with Joe Jackson, a skunk and a narcoleptic sheriff all having walk-on roles.

Forever Again is not an erotic romantic comedy. It’s a traditional romance with a highly emotional premise.

72 Hours is an edgy, clock-ticking romantic suspense. I’d call it steamy, with a few tension-breaking funny moments, but not a comedy.

Do I know how to blow off an important aspect of career planning or what?

— Branding builds a loyal readership and makes a promise to the reader which will bring her back time and again.

— Diversity is good. You grow your readership and have a reduced chance of burnout.

As far as my first release being an erotic romantic comedy and my second being a traditional romance, I’m hoping the blurbs, excerpts, and most especially the cover art convey the difference. It was very important to me that the cover for Forever Again be light years from erotic, and I think the cover artist did one hell of a job. But it’s something I worry about. A lot. (Just ask the poor Breakfast Bitches.)

As far as branding? Who knows. When I look at the schedule of books I’ll be writing in the near future, branding didn’t come into it, other than the books I submit to Samhain Publishing and the books I submit to Ellora’s Cave will be distinctly different.

Other than that, all I can say is me. Whatever it is that I bring to a story is in all three of those books, whether my heroine is being frisked, crying herself to sleep, or dodging bullets.

And since Roadtrip has received wonderful reviews and neither of my editors have stopped returning my emails, I’ll just keep wading through the chaos that seems to be the Shannon Stacey brand.

8 comments to “My branding iron's bent”

  1. Ann Wesley Hardin
      · December 15th, 2005 at 6:45 am · Link

    I can see where branding is important. I’m doing it myself–not by design, just by what I happen to write. But I also think it’s the new pink and it’s not going to look good on everyone.

    In the end, your voice is your brand. Keep doing what your doing and try not to get worried, babes. You must be doing something right, afterall ;)

  2. Selah March
      · December 15th, 2005 at 10:10 am · Link

    I feel your pain.

    First release — erotic contemporary horror/romance.

    Second release (coming soon) — erotic urban fantasy/romance.

    What’s ready to sub? Medieval-set erotic fairy tale.

    What I’m working on now? Regency-set erotic Gothic romance, erotic romantic suspense, and erotic Chick Lit.

    A trend? Yeah, I’m a smutty kinda gal.

    But is it a BRAND??

  3. Anna Lucia
      · December 15th, 2005 at 10:39 am · Link

    I came in here bound and determined to say something wise and reassuring.

    But Ann’s already done it, so I’m good. :wink:

    Branding isn’t the One Right Answer. Like all else in writing, it depends what you want now, what you want in the future, and what works for you.

  4. Charlene
      · December 15th, 2005 at 10:42 am · Link

    Poor Shan! I didn’t mean to send you under the desk. I really do believe that voice IS brand. But with my first three books (Catalyst, Yule Be Mine, Love and Rockets) I had to practically sit on my hands and stand on my head to keep from putting any Weird Stuff in. It was an effort to make them straight contemporary romantic comedies (with lots and lots and lots of sex).

    When I first started writing fiction, I wrote everything. Mystery, horror, comedy, erotic, SF, romance. And then it hit me that what I really wanted was to put ALL of that in the same books! So now I write funny erotic romance with Weird Stuff. Some funnier than others. :write:

    Anyway, I think all your books have your voice, and you’re right, the cover, blurb, excerpt, even the title all tell readers what KIND of book to expect. So I think you can have a range and still not confuse readers with what kind of book they’re going to get.

  5. Jaci Burton
      · December 15th, 2005 at 3:58 pm · Link

    Branding? Wazzat?

    I’ve written contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, futuristics, BDSM, vampires, werewolves, faeries, demons, funny, heart wrenching, deeply emotional to deeply amusing.

    I’ve written erotic to tame, action/adventure to rocking chairs on the ranch. Now you tell me my brand, darlin’. Yet it’s worked for me and continues to do so.

    Quit worrying about that shit and write books. :type:

  6. Charlie
      · December 15th, 2005 at 9:47 pm · Link

    :censor: it took me half the blog to realize you weren’t talking cattle :neener:

  7. Diana
      · December 16th, 2005 at 11:34 am · Link

    Selah, I’d say you write mostly erotic paranormal stuff. But I agree with jaci. Don’t worry about brand Just write books.

  8. Daisy Dexter Dobbs
      · December 16th, 2005 at 8:45 pm · Link

    I’ve been writing romantic comedy for years now, simply because it’s the most automatic and natural for me. Basically, it comes easiest and it’s what I do best. I didn’t do this intentionally for branding purposes, it just turned out that way. Within my romantic stories I’m easily able to include eroticism, paranormal elements, SF/fantasy, or emotional turmoil, etc., so it’s like having the best of all writing worlds. :-) If I do step outside of romantic comedy, I do so using a different pseudonym because my readers expect to laugh when they buy a “Daisy” book.

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