Sunday, October 25, 2015

What I learned about Author Branding from the Thoroughbred Makeover

by L. R. Trovillion

On this, the last day of the wildly successful program which takes Thoroughbred ex-racers from the track to various other riding disciplines known as The Thoroughbred Makeover ,  I'm put in mind of all sorts of career changes and opportunities for second chances. The makeover has grown exponentially over the years and I for one hope that it enjoys continued success in its effort to "redeem" the Thoroughbred's image as a versatile show and pleasure horse. Years ago, the American TB dominated the show world in at least hunter/jumper and eventing disciplines and there was sure to be several on every Olympic team. In recent years, however, the TB has been dismissed for the more popular European warmbloods, which are now enjoying their time in the sun in our sometimes fickle, "breed prejudice" world. I good horse is a good horse and if you find a good TB, you can't beat it.

So what does this have to do with writing and author branding? Just this: If an ex-racehorse can be re-trained and happy as a cowpony or a therapeutic riding mount or a competitive trail horse, why can't a writer change as well? What do you mean, you may ask. Authors these days are strongly encouraged to create a brand for themselves, something that is uniquely associated with their books, their genre, their style. This branding goes so far as to lock the writer into the same style book covers, endless serialization, and the same genre. What happens if a writer wants to "break out" into a new genre. Like the ex-racer, what if she starts out successfully as a historical romance writer but in her heart really feels the call of techno-science fiction? Can she take her established name and brand and move into that new territory? Does she need to write in a new genre under a new name? I know some who have done this and have a different pen name for all their different brands.

I would like to believe that a good writer, like a good Thoroughbred, is a winner no matter what he/she choses to pursue. I also believe in trying new things to see what you're good at, hopefully without the crippling fear that a "failure" would tarnish your author brand forever.  I don't want to be locked into one genre, one restrictive type, one career as a runner and then retired forever. Writers and readers, what do you think? Is it worth the risk to sign up for The Makeover?

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