"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


I remember when the TV series Mork and Mindy aired in 1978. It was a sweet, gentle comedy about an egg-centric alien, played by Robin Williams, who comes to Earth.

I also remember when Robin Williams had his first large-venue comedy concert during the TV show's run.

If you weren't around, or conscious, during this period, let me give you a hint. Many, many people went to see Robin Williams expecting Mork from Ork. Many of those people brought their children.  All of those people were surprised... none of it happily.

This is what happens when you are not clear about your brand.

My buddy, Michele Scott knows her audience and has branded herself accordingly. Readers who like fun, romantic mysteries, or young adult stories, can read Michele Scott. (By the way, Silent Harmony is being released May 28. Get it!)

Readers who like dark thrillers, read A.K. Alexander.

All of her books have surprises in them, but none of them should be that a reader thought they were getting a light-hearted mystery and they got a psycho-sexual thriller instead.

This is what happens when you communicate your brand correctly.

I began life writing humor essays under my own name. Then I wrote a mystery and thought briefly about a pseudonym, but I was talked out of it. According to my publisher, if I published under another name, any payments would be made out to THAT name, which meant I'd have to jump through a bunch of legal hoops to create an alias.

My shin splints don't like it when I jump.

Now after eight years as a humor columnist, three mysteries and two books of my columns, I'm releasing something completely different with Snoopy's memoir. It has been hell trying to figure out the genre, but it's not mystery and it's not strictly humor.

Although it's "By Snoopy, as told to Gayle Carline," I did consider the pseudonym route again. (I have learned that the hoops I have to jump through are not as high as they used to be.)

I'm nervous about my brand. What if I'm diluting it?

After much thought, I made the decision to stick with who I am. Although the genres are different, I believe my style of writing - the easy, conversational, hopeful stories that come out on the page - remain the same no matter what name I assign to the cover.

Am I making the right choice? There's no way to go back and do it over to see if it works better if I call myself Abby Normal. All I can do is study my options, make my pro/con lists, and try to choose wisely.

Sorry, I just had to include this one.

How important is an author's brand to you?

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