The quarantine has changed the way we do things this year, and one of those changes has been having my kids at home. All. The. Time. It's been nice to spend so much time with them, but we had to find things to do inside the house, which has included a lot of Netflix and Disney+.
While my daughter and I finished all of Supernatural, my son and I went with a slightly younger and, well, cheesier direction by watching a LOT of Disney Channel shows.
Tomorrow night we'll finish Hannah Montana for the umpteenth time, and tonight I was thinking about why people wouldn't figure out Miley Stewart and Hannah Montana aren't the same person. Sure she has the wig, but people would see through that as well as her dad's mustache and Lola's bright colored hair.
So then I thought about other characters who have two identities.
You get the picture. (Get it? Because there were pictures. Ahem. Sorry). Anyway, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it wasn't about the wig or the glasses on Clark Kent.
It was everything.
They hold themselves differently. They dress differently. Hannah loves bright colors, glitter on everything, tiny skirts, flashy jackets, and so on. Miley does her best to stay in the background and survive high school. She's silly, gets into all kinds of trouble, and is completely awkward. SOMETIMES Miley will sneak into Hannah, but it doesn't usually go the other way around.
Hannah is her brand to sell her music, and a way for Miley to remain "normal," which in turn is MILEY'S brand.
Superman and Clark Kent are the same way. Sure, Superman can lift buses, fly, and stop bullets, but really Clark can do that as well. I mean, they're the same person, right? So what is it that keeps people from knowing they're the same person?
It's not the glasses.
No, really, it's not.
Think about it again. Superman is not afraid of anything, man of steel. Clark is nervous, stays in the background, and even though he can scoop everyone else on the Superman stories, he stays unpopular with the chief because he doesn't show that he'll be more than a simple photographer.
Superman is the brand everyone knows, but Clark is his own brand. It's his 'safe' brand.
Hulk? Well, he's a whole different story. Got hit with gamma rays so he comes out when Banner is mad, yada, yada, yada. BUT there's still something there for me. I watched all three recent Hulk movies. Know which one I loved? Well, they're in the above pictures, so I assume you can probably guess. Mark Ruffalo brought humor and sadness to the Hulk and helped me love him when I never thought I could. Especially after the countless nightmares I had of a giant hulk coming after me when I was a kid. *shudder*
So what does that have to do with us as writers/bloggers/people in general?
Think about it for a second.
You don't want to annoy your friends and neighbors with your books, so you sit silently waiting for someone—anyone to find it among the thousands. If you're NOT that person, congratulations, you win the world. No, seriously. I'm impressed. For the rest of us, we have to figure out a way to get our name out there while still being the introverts that no one seems to see.
Is it just me that feels like that? Maybe.
Sooooo. Let's change that.
Let's hulk up, pull on our capes, and grab our sparkly microphones. We're going to make ourselves a brand.
Yes, you. I'm talking to you especially.
You wrote a book. I can guarantee most of your friends and neighbors can't say the same thing. And even if they can, who cares? We're talking about you. That book is your baby. You've worked countless hours agonizing over it, editing it, finding the perfect cover. So do you and your book a favor and show it off!
Please PLEASE understand I'm not telling you to spam everyone on your friend's list. The fastest way for me to delete a friend is to have them try to sell me their products through messenger.
What I'm trying to say is, use your inner sparkle. Or cape. Or, uh, Hulk up if you want. Find the person YOU are and make a statement.
Love bright colors? Sweet. Use them. More of a fan of pastels? Those are awesome too.
Love bold fonts? Good. Love curly fonts? Those are awesome too. In fact, find a little of both. It'll help.
Textures, colors, images that remind you of YOU or your books. Anything that says YOU.
Now comes the fun/hard/important part. Use them everywhere. When you send out newsletters, use those colors and fonts and pictures that are YOU. That reflect you AND your books. Have those same colors on your website. When you share things on social media, try to find away to tie them together.
Because those are how you show YOU without having to sell your soul for sales. People will see those colors and fonts and images and think of you. That's what you want. And the more they see it, they more they think of you, and the more they look up your products.
But Jaclyn, what happens if I grow out of that brand? Well, person I don't know, I'm going to tell you my own story, but first a Hannah Montana story.
When Miley and her dad decided to create Hannah Montana, she was young. Twelve, I believe. It was the easiest way to keep her out of the spotlight, and it worked. But by season four, Miley had changed. Real life things were beginning to happen. A boy who was caught between Miley and Hannah, college admissions that wouldn't take her because she hadn't done extracurriculars—even though she was selling out stadiums. You get the picture.
When I started writing, I was all about four leaf clover everything. My books were about leprechauns, so I went all out with the green, including my hair. But then I started writing other series, and broke into the romance genre where it didn't feel quite right. A year later, I decided to split into two people. Yes, I AM two people. Jaclyn Weist, YA fantasy and romance writer. Jaclyn Hardy, Romance writer.
I HAD to break them up. It was too hard for me to brand my fantasy without bleeding into the romance and vice versa. It's been SO nice to have two completely different pen names because they're two completely different worlds.
I started a Pinterest class. And even though I'd learned branding countless times before, I couldn't figure out how to make me ME I didn't know what I liked. I was even shocked when I realized half my friends thought my favorite color is blue! It's not! My hair is just that color half the time, and that's what I wear if I'm not wearing black.
I think that should have been my first clue...
And then suddenly this happened:
And you know what? For the very first time in the seven years since I published my first book, I felt like ME. For both of them. I found the fonts, the colors, the images that were ME. I could have cried. (Okay, I probably did. I mean, I just cried during Hannah Montana).
For the first time, I stepped away from my awkward introvert me and grabbed my sparkly microphone, cape, tiara (Hey, it's mine), and okay, so I didn't turn into Hulk, but it's ME. I can now share those images everywhere and people will see them and think of ME.
Anyway, my point is, things can change. And that's okay. Make them subtle so you don't blindside your readers. Change your colors or fonts to match who you've become. It's okay. I may not use four leaf clovers in everything I do now, but my hair is still blue/green, I still get all St-Patrick's-Dayed up (totally a word) every March, and people still know me for that. I've just morphed into who I really am and what best represents my books.
Now, go forth and conquer!