Ep 156: In a World of Author Branding, What If You Want to Rebrand?
In the last episode, I finally attempted to define an author brand. Before that, we talked about staying consistent with the core you—the brand you’ve developed, the tone you take, the voice your readers have come to enjoy.
The episode before that, we discussed setting aside a place to play online—perhaps on a social media platform—so you can let your hair down and play with new topics or new approaches to your writing.
While you’re playing, you may find a new love, a new passion, a new you. Even though you understand you have a core you, the process of playing led you to realize you’d like to change focus and shift to new subject matter or new genres using a new tone or voice.
And by gum, you’re gonna redesign the whole website to match.
Despite gaining a following and discovering readers who like what you have to say and how you say it, you decide you want to pivot—to rebrand.
You Can Use Your Platform
First, let me say you certainly can write whatever you want to write. And if you’ve built up a substantial readership and have a good number of fully engaged followers, you may feel compelled to use your platform to talk about something important to you.
That’s the privilege of having a platform. You can use your influence to impact the people who are listening to you, even if it means writing off topic once or twice and publishing content that’s off brand.
Think Twice Before You Pivot
But if you’re feeling the itch to make a global shift, a true pivot where you change dramatically and permanently to speak and write differently from now, you might think twice.
You’ve been writing about food, let’s say, and now you want to focus on travel.
Or you’ve been writing about family and now you want to switch to politics.
Your novels are selling well, and now you want to publish nonfiction.
I’m not stopping you from rebranding. But before you make that decision, consider some questions.
What’s Behind the Shift?
If you’ve worked hard to develop a platform and got results—you gained a following—why the change? What’s behind this shift?
I’ll toss out some questions to help you think about what’s behind it:
Are you tired of the topic? Bored by the subject matter?
Do you find this new passion has completely captured your heart and mind to the exclusion of your original focus?
Do you love a billion different things and hate being pinned down and pigeon-holed?
Are you gravitating to shiny new possibilities? Does this new idea seem fresh and exciting compared with what you’re currently known for?
Is the desire to change rooted in avoidance—that is, are you avoiding doing work related to this audience and this project and this commitment?
Are you afraid of success?
Do you worry your words will be taken the wrong way by your growing audience?
Now that you’re more visible and prominent, are you wondering if people will grow tired of you?
Are you afraid you’ll run out of things to say?
Do you sense a deep discomfort in your spirit, like you need to abandon something that feels wrong?
Do you sense a deep stirring, like a call to step into some new vision?
Are you yourself changing and you want your writing brand to match the person you’re becoming?
See if you can diagnose the motivation and then decide if you want to change. You may rethink things, or you may conclude it’s time.
Just know that it’s a big decision with ramifications. So do think twice before flipping the switch. After all, you developed your existing brand because you believed in it. Aspects of it must still feel true and right and good.
Remember Your Readers
And your friends, followers, and fans—your readers—are turning to you for a reason. They know, like, and trust your brand. They love how you write and what you say. They enjoy the stories you tell and the tone in which you tell them.
Before you rush to rebrand yourself, think of those readers. Whether you have three, 93, or 10,003 readers,