This is Part 7 of “Let’s Discover Your Author Brand” using Emlyn Chand’s and Robb Grindstaff’s book Discover Your Brand: A Do-it-Yourself Branding Workbook for Authors. I’ll refer to the book from now on as “Discover Your Brand”.
For those interested here are Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6.
In Part 6, we looked at chapter 6. Chapter 6 focused on finding your genre.
In this post I work through Chapter 7, which is entitled “Creating a Hierarchy”. As with Chapter 6, I was disappointed with Chapter7. I feel it to be weaker than the earlier chapters.
Chapter 7 is entitled “Hierarchy” and I immediately had a problem with it.
The chapter plunges into a description of genres. It is only after reading over half the chapter is the concept of hierarchy mentioned. The chapter’s main idea is that your writing may fit into several different genre types and you’ll have to decide which is the most important, and which is less important — in other words, establish a hierarchy that will guide you in your branding efforts.
This is a good idea, but the chapter does not present a structured explanation of it.
The chapter begins with an overview of four major genres though, confusingly, this overview is contained within a section called “Determining Your Writing Style”. The authors state, with regard to the four writing styles, “each of these is generally considered genre on its own”, then says that each of the styles relates more to how you tell your story rather than what the story is about. Unless I am misinterpreting things, the authors seem to be saying:
writing style = genre = how you tell your story, not what the story is about
This confuses me. I can think think of many different ways to tell a western story, but the story would still be clearly identified as a western.
The authors present four genre (writing style) examples:
- Sweet Fiction
They did a good job of explaining each (particularly the literary genre), so kudos to them for that. However, some of the explanatory text is just, well, fluff; there is no other way to describe it:
If one of your major goals as a write is to make people laugh, you might be a Humor writer. If people constantly compliment you by calling you “hilarious” your might be a Humor writer. If you can’t help but crack a joke even in the bleakest of circumstances, you might be a Humor writer.
It might just be me, but I found little value in the foregoing.
Moving on, the authors say that genres are frequently mixed, but point out that it must be done carefully, both within a book and across multiple books, so as to not confuse readers about your brand. They then provide some direction on taking the results of your work in Chapter 7 and determining your most prominent or important genre.
Good advice is provided on the mixing of genres according the hierarchy you came up with. The explanation is a bit brief, but it’s a useful nugget of information for novice writers.
Finally, the authors give advice on what to do if you have already released several books across different genres without considering branding. They provide a personal example to illustrate the points made.
Trying to apply the concepts to my upcoming novel was a bit frustrating.
My genre (writing style) is fantasy, though of a particular type — there is no magic nor strange beasts, elves, wizards or other commonly accepted trappings of the genre. What I thought of as my style (but it’s apparently a genre?) is gritty realism. Hierarchical ranking was pretty straight forward as I don’t really have “sub genres” to speak of. Western Watch is not, for example YA.
i would say this chapter is only useful to the (very) novice writer. It covers concepts that most beginner writers probably have some inkling of.
It’s primary value lies in linking genre with branding, but I feel more explanation could have been provided on this issue. The chapter could be better structured. The conversational tone is not entirely to my taste, but your mileage may vary.
Thanks for reading, and I will see you again soon.