“I” am my brand
One of my critique partners said something today that got me thinking about blogging.
Blogging is hard-
I thought about her words and smiled. It sure as hell is!
What I said to my cp made me think even more about my early days on Blogspot after I had submitted my first manuscript (MS) in 2005.
When I first started blogging I thought I had to be like everyone else to get noticed. Blog craft, my writing, nothing personal (for seemingly obvious reasons) and maybe invite an author or two in when my brain froze.
The problem I ran into with this formula was that I was just learning what ‘craft’ even meant as a new writer and my own writing? Didn’t exist yet. Not only that, I didn’t know any authors to invite as guests on my blog. Brain freeze meant no posts for months on end.
I don’t remember just how I found it, or who said it- but (on someone’s blog) I read something that forever changed my way and style of blogging. It was by either an agent or editor and said they want to read a little personal stuff and a variety of blog topics because that was how they got to know some authors they were interested in. Really?? That shocked me. You see- back in those early days I pictured editors/agents inside a bubble, untouchable, certainly above writers and unreachable. To think those illustrious ‘beings’ actually might read MY blog! I doubted it to some extent. They don’t have the time (well, maybe if I was Ms. Nora or Brenda Novak…)- but for someone like me? Not likely.
Still, that blog crept in and changed the way I blog. Okay, let’s assume Angela James/Diedre Knight is reading my blog. What would it tell them about me? Well, for starters, they can check out “My complete profile” since isn’t that what it’s there for? Then what? Does it really tell anyone who I am? No. It’s the internet and I’m not stupid! I have a husband and family to consider before handing my life to a stalker on a silver platter. Right- I don’t have any stalkers to worry about. But I have three daughters just the same; and each of them have little daughters. Am I willing to take a chance with their security for the sake of my NYT status (that may or may not happen in the next 50 years)? Is it big-head syndrome that I don’t put my everything about me out there in cyberland? (Full of myself that I’m all that?) Not at all. It’s common sense. Yes, I live in Oklahoma, USA- along with an estimated 3,751,351 other people as of the 2010 census (Wikipedia). I live in a remote area south of Oklahoma City… have you ever BEEN to Oklahoma? It’s 82.7% * remote to some degree…everywhere!
So how do I tell them about me without putting my life out there?
I share a touch of me/my life and not always craft/guests. I had my RWA chapter Christmas party this last Saturday and had some red wine and LOTS of chocolate and crack! Now what editor doesn’t want to know their prospective authors are crack addicts? LOL Well, I blame my critique partner, and fellow author, Callie Hutton for that addiction. She brought the most scrumptious Christmas candy to that party! Yep- candy. Crack- because you crack it into pieces and eat it! But now you know a little about me. I have a (strange?) sense of humor, enjoy a little wine and chocolate (a normal romance writer).
I write under a pen name. That was a personal choice. My husband has a large family and I don’t want to cause any of them discomfort through my writing. I have a lot of friends through church who know me by my real name. I don’t want them to feel compromised by my writing if they don’t approve. It’s not erotic, but they might consider it close enough. I don’t know.
I write romance. I’m proud of it, passionate about it.
Does that make me less of a Christian? Do I love God less because I embrace love intimately? Am I less of a person? I don’t believe so or I wouldn’t write it, but I don’t want to upset those who might feel differently. Do I care too much about what others think? Maybe. It’s a part of who I am.
Here’s something you might not know about me: I am an editor, a romance book editor for epublisher Still Moments Publishing. I intimidate myself now! I’m in that once-thought-of elusive bubble while trying to get to me from the outside as an author! Lol But over the last few years I’ve realized editors (and agents) are often struggling writers just like you and I. Editing doesn’t give them any special power over authors. In fact- it’s a very intense feeling to know I might hold another writer’s career in my hands! It is not liberating at all to be on that other side of the bubble. It’s scary as hell. But more on that later.
But, you never know when I will talk about craft or art. Music, inspiration or what my granddaughters did over the weekend. It’s my blog- why shouldn’t I talk about me? What’s important to me. Who I am. Not just for editor/agents- but for you…the reader. Why shouldn’t you know who you might or might not read books by? I saw an article about Nora Roberts last week and I inhaled it as a reader, a fan. I had no idea she lived in a small southern town, was a good ole’ southern gal like myself! Now I do. What does it do for me? Not a damn thing but know she’s doesn’t live up on that golden pedestal she’s often stored on (yes, by me, too). Wow- she bleeds red just like my hubby does (proof neither are aliens but are, somewhat, similar to me and you). Oh- and it helps me understand why so many of her stories are set in similar settings. Like you and I have been told over and over to do- she writes what she knows.
So, I have begun over the last few months to keep guests to Tuesdays (though during my blog tour those visitors are all over the place) and talk about what I want. What brands me as an author. My posts don’t fall on a particular day of the week- other than guest Tuesdays. I might think of something today and post it even though I might have a scheduled post tomorrow. I almost did that Friday, and then realized I had a guest on!
Most of all I try to brand myself through my blog. I write sensual contemporary, mostly but not all, cowboys. I have begun to venture into more steamier paranormal as I get more comfortable in my writer’s skin and my own ability as a writer. That is just part of who I am, though. My brand has to include who I am as a person. I’m a little shy still, a lot insecure and passionate about my art, writing. That’s my brand. That’s who I am.
I am author of HOME, coming December 28th from The Wild Rose Press. I am Cherokee/Irish/French. I am an over-forty grandmother. I favorite colors are dark red and dark green. I am romance writer Calisa Rhose.
Happy Holidays my friends!
Dodadagohvi~*non researched number I threw out for the sake of making a point
Posted on 12/23/2011, in Welcome. Bookmark the permalink. 34 Comments.
Great post — it really is a fine line. I use my own name, but never put relatives or friends names in the blog –at least, I don’t think I have. Hmmm. I promise to be more careful in the future.
I might use their names, but not full names or last names (usually). I try to be respectful of their privacy more than anything.
You raised several interesting points. I remember reading an interview a few months ago with a panel of agents and editors, and when asked how they felt about author blogs, they almost universally said no more craft blogs. They said they like to see their authors blog about things that would interest readers, not just other writers. I think everyone has to strike their own balance, and it sounds like you’ve found yours.
Which again just goes to prove they do read our blogs! Thanks for sharing Ally.
I also wanted to use a pen name, but my blog wouldn’t let me. You see, I’d gone to the VA Festival of the Book a couple years ago and heard a speaker talk about blogging as a way of getting your name out there. I was so gung-ho, I came home and set a blog up that night. Never gave it a thought that I should use the pen name I’d so carefully chosen, instead of my real name. Duh!
I was blogging for 6 months before I got my first contract. Somehow I’d gotten a fair amount of followers and traffic–dumb luck. So when I went to put my lovely pen name on the contract, my agent put her hand over that line. “You’ve already started buildling a name for yourself, using your real name. I suggest you stick with that.” Yikes! I’d written a sensual book…have 6 grandchildren…AND a minister for a brother. Red face here.
So I blunder along, learning as I go. Lesson one: think things through.
Great blog. I’m starting to read a new book in bed tonight….can’t wait!!!! HOME.
That’s almost funny, Vonnie! I was using my real name for a while, then mixed varied versions of my name and grew quite a following on Blogger. Then I decided to make a website with a new blog here in WordPress and came up with the name I now use. I was worried I had messed around so much with other names that it was too late to brand myself as Calisa Rhose- but I made it before my book sold and I can’t be happier!
And- SQUEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!! How did you get it before release day? I’m so nervous-excited!!!! I look forward to hearing what you think hon! Thank you! I just hope it doesn’t put you to sleep!
How did I get your book? I went to Amazon and pointed my mouse on “Buy with one click.” Done! I’ve read 1/2 of chapter one and connected right away. I graduated from high school in ’66 and married my first husband two months later. He was in the Navy, and many of my friends were in ‘Nam.
I thought it wouldn’t even be on Amazon yet and certainly not before release day! Thank you!!! I really hope you enjoy it!
Very interesting and thought provoking blog post. You know I’m still learning and struggling. Your question about branding ourselves is one I’ve heard often. I’m still not sure what it means. Does it mean having a tag line? Or, a great blog? Or, writing only specific genre? My own blog needs much work. I try to post regularly but rarely keep it as regular as I would like. A cyber friend of mine at another group got noticed by several agents and publishers because of her blog. She posts in her blog routinely. One agent said that he/she knows he can go to her blog any given day and she will have done just as she says in her personal information. She has quotes every Friday, interviews another day, and her personal thoughts another. This before her book is even finished.
So, my New Years Resolutions now include having someone help me jazz my blog up and post as I promise.
HOME is great, by the way.
Hi Nona. Branding… Let me ask you a question; When you read Nora, Sherrilyn, Jane Ann- why do you read their books? What is it about that writer’s work that draws you to them? Is it the genre in which they write? Is it their style (voice) that speaks to you? Or is it just the way they come up with plots you connect with? That is their brand. What and who they are as a writer is their brand. So yes, to answer your question- it’s all of the above that is your brand. Not a tagline, because each book you write gets its own, but how you write it? I suppose even that could be part of your particular brand. But what I was saying here is that who I am is what makes my brand specific to me.
Danish/English/Cherokee, here. I, uh, know where the blog came from and like you, changed my way of thinking. I tried to stick to a particular subject but I’m scatterbrained, clumsy, and a human fountain most of the time, so that’s where I came up with my Wacky Wednesday. I can just be myself – wacky! You’re doing a fantastic job and I’m excited for the release of “HOME.”
Spill. Did I get that post I read from you? It’s been so long now I can’r remember where I read it! Thanks for being here again. You brought wine, right?!
I just started my writer blog in September after it sat on the shelf. Like you, I tried not to talk about myself but everything related to writing (not craft, etc. since I’m still learning). Yes, it got a bit bland LOL. Thanks for the tips!
I should have mentioned the one thing that helps more than anything, Maggie is writing. Just post and keep going. Your blogging craft will grow as you do.
Saw the mistletoe – consider yourself kissed.
Blogging is hard but I like the way you put it in perspective today. It might just free me up to be more me at my own blogging attempts. I would blog more if I was comfortable with it.
Hope you and your family have a very merry Christmas.
You blog great Christina. Thanks for the kiss and I’m glad I might have helped someone!
Great post! I’ve always had trouble figuring out what to blog about. Most of my posts are book excerpts and historical posts of things I had to research for those books and, of course, news of new releases and such.
But years ago, I didn’t have all those books out and sometimes went for weeks without anything new on my blog.
I’ve read your blog. It’s informative and interesting. I think you might draw in the historical crowd very well.
Great post, Calisa!
Blogging doesn’t always have to be about promoting a particular book, it’s often much more about promoting yourself. Readers get a taste of what you’re like when posts don’t always focus on writing. Getting to know a little bit of personal information about an author can make them seem more real! Of course, even posts that focus on writing can let a reader get a feel for an author’s voice, which might lead them to read a book or two of yours…
I particularly found your thoughts on using a pen name interesting. I use one for almost the exact same reason!
That is true Debra. We have to promote the writer to sell a book. No not always- but I believe from what I’ve seen and heard from other published authors that it definitely helps when you put YOU out there with (TITLE) book.
I didn’t even realize you use a pen name. 😉 I like it. Very nice ring. Happy Holidays!
Nice to see you Clancy! Thanks and Happy Holidays!
It’s tough to write a blog, and tougher to make it worth reading week after week.
Thank you for sharing this bit of yourself.
Balancing personal information in the right amounts is a skill well learned.
Thank you for sharing your path.
Lol Sandy, there are times I have to rein in those wild words of ‘me-dom’! But there are times I say “what the heck” and let them flow. I hope it helped you. Merry Christmas!
Informative, entertaining, and strangely soothing post, Calisa. Soothing in that I’m not the only one who faced the mysterious world of blogging, looking like a deer in the headlights. As newbie, I feel as if I’ve been dropped, not only in another country where I don’t understand the language or culture, but on another planet! Building a web presence, and a brand, is a must I’m told, and so I’ve spent the last few months haunting blogs like yours, trying to pay attention to what touches the reader in me. I enjoy learning about an author’s latest release, but posts like this one impact both the writer, and reader. I also suffer from ‘Golden Pedestal’ worship, awed by those who weave those stories that touch the heart. Learning that an accomplished author also has goofball moments, just like me, makes them more approachable and less intimidating. So, lesson learned, thank you very much.
I’ve read your blog Mac. You are doing great! But I hit those tough blanks days and my blog has gone for almost a year with nothing new. That’s when I decided to host guests to help fill those days and help someone else in the process. But these posts are what keeps me going. When that one epiphany of wisdom hits and I know it might help someone else in more ways than a book promotion…that’s what I love about blogging! It’s not all about me, or selling a book or even how to sell the book. Sometimes we can see what works in an obscure area, and then share that nub with others. Times like this is what makes having a presence worth it to me.
Thanks for stopping by and Merry Christmas!
Good post, Calisa. Did you end up keeping all that Christmas Crack? Or did the rest of them sabotage you at the door? Merry Christmas.
Lol Callie. I avoided ambush by leaving some there! But my sil liked it!
Great post and advice, Calisa..it’s definitely a fine line: what to share and how much is too much. Good luck with Home!!
Thanks Kristi. Happy Holidays!
Great post. As a newbie I have made the mistake of putting too much out there. I have pulled back and am going to take what you said to heart and write a little about me and a little less about writing.
Oh Lynda- if you go to my beginning blogs down in archives (been there-done that) you may find some of my earliest oopses! lol You might even get ideas on how to put yourself out there without feeling like you’re stripped nekkid in front of the world. It’s a live and learn process but if I can prevent no-no blogging, help improve for one person, it makes it worth it. Good luck!
Nice post Calisa! You have to be you when blogging, but you don’t have to give away all y our secrets. Write your blog as if you are sitting down with a good friend over a cup of coffee 🙂
It does get easier…and way too addicting at times!
Right Christine. I shudder when I read blogs (some call it journaling) that disclose every small detail of a person’s life. My brother does that. We’ve had a few differences of opinions when he mentions me in his journal and I felt it was a private topic that he posts. He’s good about deleting or encoding those for me though if I ask him to. lol I don’t mind sharing some things like my day at the ER yesterday. I may very well blog about that excursion soon. Details? Well, maybe not the color of my whitey-tighteys (oops ;)), but maybe some deets like how I ‘threatened’ my dr with putting him in a future book. And I may soon have a heroine named Rachel who gives shots with care! (Thanks hon. Did I mention I hate needles?)
But I think you can share parts of you/life and make it safe and fun and that’s what I try to do.