Unbranding.

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Branding.

As far as I’m concerned, this is a bizarre concept.

For as long as I’ve been writing and publishing, I’ve been told I’ve got to “be a brand.”

“Sell my brand.”

“Become my brand.”

“Promote my brand.”

And it’s weird, I think, because a brand is something like, Suave shampoo. Or a GMC truck. Oil of Olay lotion.

And I am a human being.

I am not a product. I am not a brand. I am not for sale.

I mean, I sort of understand what this advice is trying to tell me. I’ve got a product, my books. And if I want to sell them, I’ve got to be a business person. I get that.

But most of this advice feels like it’s trying to turn me into something I am not. Acting as though I am a brand or a product instead of just myself is like insisting I wear my hair straight because that’s what’s in style. Or that I dress properly in the latest fashion, name brand clothes.

Sorry. I can’t be that.

My hair is an unruly, curly mess, and I like it that way.

I’m a jeans and T-shirt, or peasant skirt with combat boots kind of girl. That’s me.

It goes entirely against my grain to pretend to be something I am not.

If I can tell you anything honestly about myself, it’s that I’m pretty transparent. What you see is what you get. I love Jesus, but sometimes I cuss. I try to be organized, but my house is always a chaotic mess. I am a terribly awkward human. I’ll help anyone out to the best of my ability, but I won’t be taken advantage of. I have an abnormal addiction to potato chip dip. I read so much sometimes I forget to fix dinner. Sometimes I’m too loud. Sometimes I can’t tolerate being around other people at all. If I make a promise to you, I will do my level best to keep it. I am imperfect.

I am all these things.

But I am not a brand. Not a product.

I am a human being who writes. Yes, I tell people about my work. Yes, I want you to buy it.

But not at the risk of giving up on myself, or turning myself into something I do not wish to be.

So if you follow me, you’ll see promos, sure. You’ll see me talking about my books, the highs and lows of writing them. You’ll see pictures of my kids and my dogs, because my family is my world. You’ll see jokes, and stories about my life. And I try to stay involved with the people who faithfully follow me around on the internet, liking my writing, sharing it, reviewing it, talking about it. I appreciate you, every one of you. You make me smile. You are helping me to do this thing I’ve wanted to do since I started writing really bad, really dramatic poetry in the seventh grade.

You are important to me. I love to see your posts, your kids, your pets.

I want to see you, as YOU. I don’t want to get to know a fake you.

I appreciate realness and honesty.

I can’t pretend to be something I am not. But I will keep writing books, and telling you about them, and hoping you will buy them, so I can keep writing more.

Please never think of me as some nameless, faceless brand.

I’m not. I’m just me.

The wild-haired hippie chick writer who lives on the corner in the house with all the kids and the unkempt yard with the hysterically barking little dogs in the window.

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2 responses to “Unbranding.

  1. I agree Val. I think it’s more about building your platform (which social media suits you best for people to get to know you.) You’re great on Twitter, Facebook and blogs. You’ve got the whole package. I’m jealous. 🙂

    • Thanks. I’ve deleted a bunch of social media accounts this year, even my website. Just trying to really focus on the few that work for me, and that I find easy to use and connect with people on.

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