Monday, February 17, 2020

Guest Blog from Marjetta Geerling/Mara Wells

Branding: to Pen Name or not to Pen Name?

Marjetta Geerling is a teaching colleague of mine at Broward College, and when I heard that she had written a romantic comedy set in Miami and featuring dogs, I was all in. I've asked her to give some of the background as to why she chose a different pen name for her debut romantic comedy, when she's already published a YA novel under her real name.

The book, the first in the Fur Haven Dog Park series, is under the name Mara Wells

Here's what Marjetta has to say about author branding.
Order from Amazon

When I decided to jump genres and enter the world of romantic comedy, I had to decide whether to use my legal name, which I’d used to publish in children’s literature, or a pen name. Ultimately, my agent’s advice struck a chord with me: a romance novel doesn’t belong on the same web page as a kids’ book. She talked to me about the advantages of having what she called a “clean brand,” and in the year and a half since I made the decision to use a pen name, I’ve come to see the wisdom in her advice.

A clean brand means that when readers see an author’s name, they know exactly what they are getting. When readers are confident in the brand, they are more likely to pre-order, and pre-orders are good for authors for all kinds of reasons—book buzz, print runs, and the all-important first week of sales numbers. Pre-orders count as sales on the day the book is released so contribute to the perception of how the book is received in the market. In other words, preorders help the book stand out in a crowded marketplace.

You are probably already thinking of beloved authors who genre hop. Mixed-brand authors do well, too, of course, especially if they have a big name. For me, though, starting out in a new genre with no platform to speak of, I decided that a clean brand was the way to go. The next step: What exactly should that brand be?

My agent and editor had lots of opinions, and after many discussions it boiled down to three key words: romance, dogs, and humor. Unlike my actual life which is complicated by, well, life, my brand identity gets to focus on the things that make me happy: talking about dogs, reading romance novels, and wryly observing the world around me. It’s me, boiled down. And I’m loving the experience.

In many ways, branding has simplified promotion for me. When I’m putting together a gift basket, shopping for conference swag to give-away, or deciding what to post on social media, I have my brand key words to help guide and focus my decisions. I was worried that branding would make me less of who I am, but instead, it’s helped me express myself more clearly and concisely than I otherwise might’ve done. The result? I’m creating relationships with readers based on our shared passions, and that feels real and meaningful to me in a delightful way.

Here's the delightful blurb for Cold Nose, Warm Heart:

A poodle, a black lab and a Chihuahua walk into a dog park...
All Caleb Donovan has to do to redeem his family name is take a rundown Miami Beach apartment building and turn it into luxury condos. Easy, right?
Unfortunately, that would also turn the local dog park into a parking lot and the neighbors aren't having it. Caleb is faced with outright revolt, led by smart, beautiful building manager Riley Carson and her poodle, LouLou.
For Caleb, this project should have been a slam dunk. But even more challenging than the neighborhood resistance is the mutual attraction between him and Riley. It would be so much easier just to stay enemies.
Can Riley and her canine sidekick convince Caleb that what's best for business isn't always best for the heart?

I'm looking forward to reading this book and I hope you all are too!


Dee S Knight and Anne Krist said...

The book sounds great!

I had the same conversations with myself years ago when I decided to write a sweet(er) romance rather than the erotic romance I had been writing. I split from Dee S. Knight to Anne Krist. The same thing again when I ventured into menage and shape shifting romances, and Jenna Stewart. I think developing pen names for really different genre (like yours between romance and YA) is a smart thing to do! Good luck with your new adventure!



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