If I think of my writing as a business that I want to develop, and I want to be successful, I need to think about the Brand I want my name to sell, or what I want potential readers to think when they see my name emblazoned on a book.
Brand Management basically begins at the product development phase, by defining the audience for which the product is intended and how the product will meet the needs of that audience. To guide the development of the product, and the brand, a Brand Manager crafts a “positioning statement” that basically summarizes these points.
The positioning statement targets the brand’s “core user”, the group at the center of the audience who give character to our target audience. The rest of the audience may lay outside the definition of our core user, but they in some way identify with certain traits of the core user. The next part of the positioning statement is the competitive frame of reference. This is how the brand considers itself positioned compared to its competitors, and is crafted in such a way as to highlight the brand’s strengths. A good competitive frame links back to the benefits and value the brand offers – the thing that makes it different or better. Next, the position statement explicitly references the benefit of the brand, or the payoff of what makes the brand different or better. The benefit can be either functional or emotional, or some combination. Finally, the position statement offers the support – the evidence or reason these claims can be made.
That means, to make a career in writing successful, I have to think about how I, as a writer, answer those questions. Who is my “core user”. Is “Fantasy and Science Fiction Readers” to broad a demographic? My gut tells me so, but how do I more narrowly define that? Is there a way to frame my writing that highlights what makes it better and different? For that matter, just what does make my writing better or different? Why would a fantasy or science fiction reader choose to read my work over someone else’s? Those are hard questions to answer. But I suspect I must at least begin to have an inkling of the answers before I will be able to make my writing work for me.
In the mean time, I have this blog. As of this writing, I have no readers (so, yeah, I’m sort of talking to myself ). But in the near future, I hope to change that. Hopefully some of what I say here will be of interest to others, and with a little luck and work, I can start to reach those who might be interested in the things I’ll be writing about, as I continue to explore these and other questions that arise from the challenges of trying to be a writer, student, valued employee, and a loving husband, father and provider.
Now that my semester has drawn to a final close, I’ll have a little break from class (I’m not taking an ACE over the winter break). Of course I’ll largely still be working on the job during this time, but during my free evening, in between cleaning up around the house, starting to set up the nursery, and taking care of other “honey-do” projects (between the three of which most of my “free time” will most likely be absorbed) I plan to start working a little more at writing. Besides these must-do projects, my wife suggested I take some of that “free time” in the next month and dust off an old short-story, work on proofreading and editing it, and trying to submit it to a short story magazine for publication. I’ve already got a few old ones written that could stand some edits, and I’ve got just the one picked out. I hope you’ll follow along as I start work on this project.