Author Branding

June 27, 2012

As authors, we’re advised to promote our brand to readers. What does this mean? Think about your favorite writers. You know what kind of story you’re going to get when you pick up one of their books. It could be heartwarming characters, small town settings, or fast-paced thrills and chills. Or maybe it’s a recurring theme that strikes a chord within you. But if we’re the writer, how do we define our own brand?

Sometimes we have to wait until we’ve written a few books to see what reviewers say. We can glean an idea of how our stories affect readers by their responses. Or we might recognize the core story in each of our books, those defining elements that call to us. Or we can ask other people what they see in our work.

You’ll want to showcase your brand in several places:

Signature Line

This would be a tagline that goes under your name every time you send out an email or make a post on a listserve.


You’ll want to deploy metatags that mention your branding elements. So tag yourself in the header and in perhaps a sub-header as well, and then in the body of your text.


Here’s an opportunity for a pictorial representation of what you write. You can even put your logo, along with your website URL, on T-shirts and such as contest prizes for your fans.


In my opinion, deciding on a tagline—like a blurb for a book—is harder than writing the story. It’s especially difficult when you write in more than one genre.

So here we come to the point of this post. I need your help.

I’m having an identity crisis. When I post to a romance loop, my signature line says Warrior Prince: A Drift Lords Novel. When I post to a mystery loop, I say Shear Murder: A Bad Hair Day Mystery. But I need something that encompasses both the genres I write. For example, my website says Author of Mystery and Romance. (Should I have a sub-header? And if so, what should it say?)

In other words, I need a new tagline.

Here’s my current signature, when I’m not using an actual book title:

Nancy J. Cohen
Romance and Mystery
Where passion & danger collide

I could change it to:

Author of Paranormal Romance and Humorous Mysteries
This one is good, but what if I write a new mystery that isn’t funny? My agent cautioned me against being too specific. Too narrow of a brand can box you in.

Here are some other suggestions. Quotes come from reviews. Please let me know which ones you like the best!!! I need a zippy tagline that reflects both the genres I write. Or make up your own combination and let’s hear it!

Sassy Sleuths, Sizzling Passion, and Suspense
Tales of Mystery, Romance, & Otherworldly Adventure
Tales of Murder, Love, & Laughter
Fun, fast-paced Florida mysteries and paranormal romance
Fast-paced humorous mysteries and paranormal romance
Hot heroes and sassy heroines mixed with intrigue and murder
Author of Paranormal Romance and Fun, Fast-Paced Mysteries
“Murder, Mayhem, Humor and Romance”
“Humor, Romance and Mystery”
“Humor, Action and Passion”
“Fun, entertaining, out of this world reads”
“Amazing heroines, sexy heroes, lovable sub-characters”
“Great characters, strong storylines…”
“Strong, sexy heroes, ….”
SciFi/Fantasy Romance and Fabulous Florida Mysteries

As for a logo, do you have any suggestions for an image that would combine the types of books I write? Murder mysteries and sci-fi/fantasy romance with paranormal elements (note that my new series takes place on Earth).

What would catch your attention? And feel free to share your tagline here.

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0 thoughts on “Author Branding

  1. Dear Nancy,

    I love your Bad Hair Mysteries! I am about to mail two to an ill friend.

    But I don’t read any paranormal, fantasy, passion or romance. However, I have a young friend only interested in paranormal, romance and fantasy. So in branding if we can be careful not to mix up the reader in what they will be purchasing seems a good idea. Maybe you need two logos:)


    Ann McAllister Clark, author

    A Bone In Her Teeth, a St. Augustine Florida Mystery

  2. Nancy, I like “Tales of Murder, Love and Laughter.” True,the paranormal element isn’t in there but how about “Tales of Murder, Love and Laughter. Paranormal and Otherwise.”

  3. Your second one is gettng a bit too long. I’ll put a vote in for “Tales of Murder, Love and Laughter.” I’m tallying up the responses. Got a vote for number two on Goodreads.

  4. Nancy, I like Murder, Mayhem, Humor, and Romance, though that doesn’t encompass paranormal. I think you DO need two taglines

  5. As for which one entices me the most, I vote for: Fun, fast-paced Florida mysteries and paranormal romance – but then, I’m from Florida and love Florida mysteries (all of which seem to be both fast-paced and full of quirky characters). I’ve just started (today!) my first read on one of your books and it is Permed to Death. I don’t know if it will fit the idea in my head of Florida mysteries (think Carl Hiaissen (sp)), and may seem more like a cozy. I’m not a reader of paranormal (I don’t think, tho I have found when writers in my critique groups write something like that, I tend to like it), so don’t feel qualified to say what that really is – yet. Is it aliens? Special powers? Super-heroes? Vampires? I’m not really sure what it says other than something that is not normal. I’ve had a similar question raise itself several times – both in signature lines for my SinC groups and in setting up a blog for freelance writing versus novel writing. Seems all of them are about our split personalities and when we split, we may throw confusion in those who come to us for one thing only (which I would guess is the norm). Maybe less is more here, or to name the series and the genres. Or maybe that’s why our pseudonyms are useful. Good question, Nancy. But then your posts are always very interesting.

    1. Thanks for your input, Di. I’m tallying up the logline votes.

      What is paranormal? You said it–anything out of the ordinary. This can encompass psychics, supernatural beings i.e. vampires, werewolves, angels, people with special powers, and in the case of my new series–mythological elements.

      Yes, our split personalities may confuse readers who come to us expecting a particular genre, or fiction versu nonfiction. Heck, I’m confused myself! The hardest part is hitting two totally different marketing targets. It dilutes our effort because we have to appeal to disparate groups. Branding works best when you can stick with one thing but publishing cycles didn’t always support us that way.

    1. I like this! Although I would put otherworldy romance, because my new paranormal series takes place on Earth. The creatures may be from different worlds, though, like other dimensions or the realms of myth. It’s such a hard call what to tag oneself.

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