So, somewhere along the line, I kind of got it stuck in my head that I need to build a “brand” (or “platform”) for my work. Basically, you hope to gain an audience with the first work, and then they’re going to expect something… similar for the next work. Not identical, not repetitive, but in the same vein. That way, the people who liked your first book will look at your second and say, “Hmm, I’ll probably like that, too.”
Okay, so I am fully aware this is ridiculous to think about at this stage. It’s kind of like worrying about how you’re going to afford your new wardrobe before you even start working out, or worrying about new hours for a job when you haven’t even been called for an interview. It’s not that it’s bad to be concerned with things that may never happen (be prepared!), but it feels arrogant to even be worrying about a potential audience when you barely have a product.
That said, because my potential first work is a standalone, the second work can be anything. And my concern at the moment is that the “anything” won’t be anything like the first. On top of that, I kind of feel like I’ll write a bunch of things that are similar to each other but not to my first book, so that will be the random anomaly…
So is it important to build a brand? If you read a book by an author, and let’s assume you like it, would you read their next book if it was a different genre or style entirely?
For me, the particular issue is YA vs. Adult. My first project is YA, and I love that. But I don’t know if I want to write any other YA books—at least, they’re not really coming to me at this point. But if my first book is shelved in the YA section, and my other books… aren’t—how will people find my books?
Again, this is crazy. No one’s finding me because there’s nothing to find, and there might not ever be. All of this hinges on actually being published, and then actually being read (and liked…), and then actually being published again—all things that are NOT guaranteed, not even close. I know this.
But I worry. It’s what I do. And I wonder where I should write other projects to get a better sense of my overall style and voice so I can plan my career and build the right audience for my work. Yet time is not on my side here…
I like thinking about the future, and a potential career, in the same way that every dreamer ever has imagined future success. It’s fun, and it’s motivating, and I think it’s perfectly healthy. But it shouldn’t substitute for doing actual work, and if it keeps you from pursuing the opportunities right in front of you in favor of the mirage of potential options, it’s a problem.
Ultimately, I think this is just a new manifestation of doubt keeping me from working on revision, postponing actually letting anyone read my work. It’s still just fear and resistance.
It just manifests in the most absolutely ridiculous ways. 🙂