The easiest way to build your author brand is to consistently publish the same type of content
I remember when I started taking writing seriously. I moved from simply writing to being a writer. The shift was huge.
I had so much to learn about the industry (and I still do). Of the many surprises, I encountered as I learned about writing was the importance of focusing on one niche. I didn’t like that. Don’t tie me down to writing one thing; I need variety. Yet the advice I received said to pick nonfiction or fiction or memoir. Just one. Then narrow the focus even more. If fiction, which genre? If nonfiction, what slice?
The thought that I had to pick one, and only one area, parallelized me. First, it sounded boring. Second, what if I picked wrong? Yikes! Though once I established myself in that one area, I might have an opportunity to branch out. But the idea still sounded too restrictive for too long.
Another person suggested I try all three options and whichever one sold first, that would be my niche. Though that made sense, it seemed I’d waste a lot of time and effort.
I went back to agonizing between nonfiction, fiction, and memoir. (Yes, memoir is technically nonfiction, but it contains elements of fiction writing, so it’s really a both-and pursuit.)
A third person opined that memoirs were selling, so I pursued that. I later learned this person was in error, or I had heard wrong. Writers can only sell their memoirs if they are famous, infamous, or suffered through the mother of all tragedies. As a regular guy with a normal life, I had none of these. Though I’ve written a few memoirs, none have sold.
I next moved to nonfiction and wrote a couple more books in this category. I also pitched several other nonfiction book ideas, but nada.
Between waiting for publishers to decide on my nonfiction books and book ideas, I dabbled in fiction, the remaining area not yet explored. First I wrote short stories and then wrote a couple of novels, too. Interestingly, I receive better feedback on my short stories and novels than on my nonfiction and memoirs.
In this way, I ended up writing in all three areas, and I’m waiting to see which one pops first. When it does, the wise career move will be focusing on that as my niche. But my interests are too eclectic to do that. I’ll probably end up pursuing multiple paths simultaneously. I’ll have to, or I will surely get bored.
By the way, besides memoir, nonfiction, and fiction books, I also write for publications and am a commercial freelance writer, in addition to blogging. I like the variety; I need the variety. It keeps me from getting bored.
Yes, the best advice is to specialize in one area and build our author brand around that. But that’s not me. Don’t force me into a corner.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.