We’ve all heard how important author branding is, but how do we go about branding ourselves? One way to do this is to explain how you’re similar to some authors and different from others.
Editors, agents, booksellers, and readers want to know why they should buy your book and whether your writing fits their needs. The best way to do this is with comparisons. Although, I wouldn’t recommend comparing yourself or your writing in a query letter. See my previous post on this topic.
When comparing, you need to articulate the genre you write. It’s no longer enough to simply say you write romance. What kind of romance? Be specific, but don’t go overboard. I could describe my work as dark romantic suspense with a touch of humor, but I wouldn’t write that in my query because it’s too wordy and risky. I wouldn’t want anyone to think I don’t know the market or my place in it. I’d just say the story is romantic suspense. However, when I talk to the agent, I’d mention my more detailed description because I’d have the opportunity to elaborate. I’d also say that my writing can be as dark as Allison Brennan’s, but is more focused on romance where she’s more of a thriller writer. This shows the agent that although my writing is similar to another author’s, it’s different enough so that I’m not considered an Allison-Brennan-clone, or worse, an Allison-Brennan-wanna-be.
The important thing to remember is that you need to show how unique your writing is without sounding like you’re all over the place, blending too many genres. For example, if an agent is only getting offers for vanilla ice cream and she’s getting a little tired of it, she might be intrigued when you say although your ice cream is vanilla, it has sprinkles and chocolate sauce dripping all over it. If you told her you knew she wanted something other than vanilla, so you came up with a new flavor: pickle, pizza, bubblegum ice cream, she might be more turned off than excited. It’s a fine line. Make sure you don’t cross it.
How would you compare your writing?