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Voice … Brand … Platform … Yikes!

by Ane Mulligan

Each of these is something a writer must discover or develop. They have nothing to do with the mechanics of our craft, yet everything to do with getting published.

Platform takes time and development. It equates to how wide your circle of influence is-or how many books you can sell. There are tons of great articles out there on platform, so I’ll leave it to them. I want to talk about voice and brands.

Voice means when someone picks up a book, whose cover was torn off ages ago, and looks at the first page can say, “Oh, this is a Cynthia Ruchti novel.” Why? Because of voice. The way she turns a sentence. The way she strings words together. The sound.

When I read Les Edgerton’s book Finding Your Voice, he says look to your old letters. Friends of mine told me my Christmas letters were the only ones they read, because I waxed humor over all the year’s happenings. And Edgerton says that’s where you’ll find your voice.

Sandra D. Bricker says in an interview in CFOM: “When an editor at Summerside Press asked me to help launch their Love Finds You line by writing something “light and funny” for them, I wondered why they thought of me. After all, everything I’d submitted to them had been serious. It turned out that they’d found my emails amusing and quickly spotted what it took me a while longer to figure out: looking at the world through a sideways, funny spin is who God created me to be.”

The same can be said for brand. Not always, but often someone else will notice your brand before you do. I know Brandilyn Collins’s brand wasn’t developed from her emails, or no one would ever answer her. Yet, everyone knows what to expect in a Brandilyn Collins book.

I wasn’t even looking for my brand, when during a Southeast Zone loop discussion, Rose McCauley branded me from my emails with “Southern-fried fiction.” And she was right. It describes what I write … Southern towns and Southern people with a little deep-fried humor.

When Pam Meyers was talking about brand with me one day, I saw what she hadn’t noticed: the commonality of all her stories is a sentimental journey.

So, don’t try to brand yourself until you’ve got a few completed manuscripts or even published books. Then talk to your crit partners about their commonality.

Ane Mulligan Flowers

Sr. Editor of Novel Rocket, Ane Mulligan writes Southern-fried fiction served with a tall, sweet iced tea. She’s a multi-published playwright, a three-time Genesis finalist, a humor columnist and a syndicated blogger. She resides in Suwanee, GA, with her artist husband and two very large dogs.

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