No, not the kind that involves a hot piece of metal applied to flesh.
And not the kind that sits on a grocery store’s shelves, although that might be a closer analogy.
No, I’m talking about recognition and expectation.
(I am far from being an expert on this (I’m probably as non-expert on it as you can get!) but I do have a few thoughts and things I’ve learned so far that may or may not make sense to anyone else and may or may not help anyone else, but I thought I’d put them out here for people to take, leave, or laugh at. )
Let’s start with recognition.
Is there something about your book covers that people can look at it and say, “Hey, that’s by So-and-so! I like his/her stuff” without even seeing the name?
Yeah, mine either.
Of course, I only have one book out right now (Song and Sword) but Sanguine will be out next month (knock wood) and will have a totally different look to it.
Of course, one is fantasy and the other is sort of science fiction.
(On the other hand, all of my science fiction books may end up with similar covers. Sadly, I write fantasy more than I do sci fi.)
I am hoping that the books of The Other Mages trilogy will have similar covers. (I haven’t even thought that far yet!) and all of the books of The Academy of the Accord series will (hopefully) have an identifying logo on them.
Future books? Hard to say, but unless they belong to a series they probably won’t be immediately recognizable as mine.
Why not? Well… Because I didn’t think this whole “brands” thing through very well because I didn’t really understand what it was. (I’m still not sure that I do and I never did find a good explanation of it other than, “you’ll know it when you know it.”)
I’m not quite sure how to fix it, so for now I’ll muddle along the way I am until I get an “Aha!” moment. (If I ever do I’ll share it with you.)
So, moving on to expectation, because that’s pretty much what sparked the idea for this post.
When you go into a bookstore (remember those?) and see a book by your favorite author, you have certain expectations of what is inside. Examples from a couple of my favorite authors:
Philip K. Dick: sci fi that is not far from current reality but that is going to break my mind into little pieces and scatter it across the cosmos and then reassemble it into something that looks almost but not quite how it looked to start with. His books always bend my mind.
C.J. Cherryh: I expect to encounter alien worlds and alien cultures and a human trying to adapt to it or understand it.
Now, as above, I don’t have enough stuff out there for people to have a set expectation yet, and this is where my current dilemma lies.
In Song and Sword there was some romance, all M/F, but nothing erotic.
The Other Mages doesn’t have any, really. (There may be some in Book Three but since it’s in for a drastic rewrite when I get to it, there may not be.)
Sanguine has a fair amount of M/M erotica (even after cutting one scene that was pretty much just gratuitous sex.) (The other sex scenes may still get cut or at least toned down, depending on feedback from my beta readers.)
The Academy of the Accord series… is complicated. The bond between wizard and Warder does sometimes lead to physical relations and there are some gay male characters.
But in none of the books is the focus on romantic or erotic relationships. Yes, in some of them it happens, but it happens in real life, too.
So readers of my books can expect that, regardless of any relationships, there is more to the book than whether or not two people are going to hook up.
But lately a friend has been urging me to write some erotica. (I mentioned the Love Spanks weekend on Friday. I’ll have more details on it this Friday.)
But erotica… it doesn’t fit my brand.
So, if I yield to temptation, it will be written under a pseudonym and will be kept completely separate from my other stuff.
And maybe this time I’ll do the recognition thing right…