Friday, May 16, 2014

Southern Speak ~ Finding the Author 'you'

As part of my graphic design business run by my alter-ego, HelzKat Designs, I ask writers to think about the look of a banner or website/blog that I create on their behalf.

I get them to think about their author brand. To think about what public face and image they will have as an author. This is not the personal you. It's the professional you related to your writing.

Branding helps you and the reader know where you fit in. Humans love to categorise things. And because there are different ways to brand yourself, an author can find a way to market themselves that suits them.

Genre as your brand

For example, the author me writes mostly fantasy and paranormal stories, with the tagline, Doorway into Fantasy and Paranormal Fiction. I use a fairy as the avatar on my website banner and blog, and even on my business cards. I love the fairy as it indicates the fantastical, it can be bright and dark at the same time, which reflects my writing.

I've changed the look of my banner a few times over the years.

But early last year, I realised that I use the fairy for identiy on my business card and that I should change my banner it to reflect this.

My client and fellow SARA member, Maggie Mundy writes Dark Speculative Fiction and so the banner I created reflects this.

But how about if you are a writer that has many different genres?

That's okay, too. You don't have to be genre specific with regards to brand, though many authors like to keep their different genres seperate by different names.

For example, Nora Roberts writes her romances as Nora Roberts, but her futuristic crime series as J.D. Robb.

Jayne Ann Krentz writes as as Jayne Anne Krentz for romantic suspenses, Amanda Quick for historical romances, and Jayne Castle for her paranomal romances.

You know what type of stories you will get when you pick a book by the author name. This is reader expectation.

But as you can see with the J.D. Robb cover, Nora's name is mentioned - this is marketing and in the hopes of getting readers to pick up the book.

My client, Tracey O'Hara writes Dark Urban Fantasy but wrote erotic romance as Tracie Sommers. She's since changed this to have all her writing under one name - Tracey O'Hara - which is becoming more common. With the book cover to the right, I created the look of the short story that went with the rest of her Dark Brethren series.

Another client, Dakota Harrison writes both contemporary romance and fantasy/sci-fi. I created two banners for her to distinguish the two styles.

Your writing 'voice'
This can indicate your brand as well.

For example, Meg Cabot, writes adult, YA, and MG books. But it's her writing voice that makes it Meg Cabot. It's a fun, quirky style with bits of seriousness thrown in.

Cecilia Ahern writes quirky stories usually with romances and magical elements. Therefore the style of her website is generic but her books have an illustrated approach. The stories are set in this world but not quite of this world but in no means are what is called paranormal romance - that has a different connotation.


My client and fellow SARA Claire Baxter, writes fun, sweet, entertaining romance.  This is indicated with both her romances with publishers such as Random Romance and Entangled Publishing, but also with her self-published work such as More Than Just One Night.

You can go by theme

For example, Nikki Logan writes sweet romances, sexy romances, and romantic suspense under her A Romance with Nature tag. Her work involves nature in some way.

The name as the brand

Tara Moss writes both crime fiction and young adult paranormal stories. Her brand is her name - Tara Moss. This has seen her through her careers as a model, journalist, and TV presenter and most people relate to her.

Client and SARA member Virginia Taylor writes both historical romance and contemporary romance (with mainly a romantic comedy slant). Her  brand is her as is reflected in this design.


Fiona McIntosh (who will be a special guest at the upcoming A Fair to Remember) is now focusing her fiction on historical romantic adventures alongside her fantasy stories which she built her career on.

So have you thought about your branding?


  1. Great article and love your work.

  2. Wow, I found this really interesting. Loved reading about all the different authors :)

  3. So many great covers! Bravo, Eleni!


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