Monday, November 7, 2011

What's My Line?

Two buzz words in the writing profession right now are "brand" and "platform."

For those unfamiliar with the terms, brand is the word or phrase that tells the buying public what to expect from you, and your platform is where you stand to throw your brand at everyone (figuratively speaking, of course, though standing on a platform and throwing books at people might work. The subsequent lawsuits for head trauma would probably zero-out any profit gained from such an event, though).

For example, Stephen King's brand (at least until recently) has been horror. It's what people expect from him. John Grisham's brand has been legal thrillers.

I've been thinking about my brand lately, and believe me, coming up with a brand (and catchy tagline to represent my brand) isn't as easy as it sounds.

I write in three main genres: horror, fantasy, and sci-fi. I write so very little sci-fi that it probably doesn't matter if I leave it out of my brand.

So okay. I write horror and fantasy. Makes it more succinct.

BUT, now there's the problem of how big the fantasy genre is. There's a HUGE difference between the humorous contemporary fantasy I write and sword and sorcery fantasy. Somebody looking for a book like Lord of the Rings is not going to be interested in my story about the vampire having a mid-life crisis, but they are both "fantasy."

So instead of just saying I write "horror and fantasy," a more apt description would be:
"I write horror and humorous contemporary fantasy . . . and occasionally sword and sorcery fantasy or sci-fi."

Ick. That's not catchy at all!

Of course, if you want to complicate things (like they need complicating), some classification systems list horror as a subset of fantasy. So I could just say, "I write fantasy." But most people looking to read horror aren't going to head for the fantasy section.

Sigh. What's a writer to do?

Okay. How about, "Horror and Dark comedy," since most of my fantasy is humorous urban/contemporary fantasy? It clears up the whole sword and sorcery expectation. And it's certainly better than "horror and horrific comedy," which just makes it sound like I write bad comedy (which I certainly hope it isn't).

My warped brain next came up with, "Shits and Giggles." It fits! But I don't think it's appropriate and a lot of people won't get it.

Side note: for a while, I wrote under my initials, "B.M. Kezar." Then my husband said he didn't like it because "BM" made him think of "Bowel Movement." I almost kept it, because I think that's a very appropriate name-association for a horror writer, don't you think?

I finally came up with:
"Monsters and Magick"
"Zomedy Writer"

Zomedy writer is nice and catchy, but it's one of those things that needs explaining (I write about zombies and monsters, and I write comedies that often have monsters as main characters: zomedies). And having people read my tagline and saying, "I don't get it" is not the reaction I'm looking for.

I think Monsters and magick is more descriptive because most of my horror involves creatures and "magick" makes one think of the fantasy genre. . . but again, it doesn't take into account that most of my fantasy isn't sword and sorcery and that it's usually comedic.

Then I came up with "Wicked and Witty," but "wicked" makes it sound like I'm writing erotica (and won't erotica fans be disappointed when the only heavy breathing in my stories is from people running away from zombies?).

"Nightmares and Necromancy"? Ick.
"Shivers and Smiles"?
"Ghouls and Gags"?
"Monsters and Mirth"?
Ick. Ick. Ick.

So what's a poor spec-fic writer to do? How does one turn: "Horror (usually with monsters), humorous contemporary fantasy, sometimes sword and sorcery, and sometimes sci-fi" into a short, catchy brand tagline?

I'm still working on it.

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