Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Stetsons and Stilettos, Pantomimes and Phrases

Your novel is available on internet sites, and maybe a real bookstore or two. It’s picking up a little momentum, your Facebook page rocks, and your reviews are 4s & 5s across the board. You are pushing your brand, and life is good. But what do you, as a writer, use to set yourself apart, other than your writing? Is there something about you, outside of your novel, that makes people take note? Makes folks recognize you on the street?   

Several of us who have books published with Intrigue Publishing hooked up a week or so ago to discuss stealing (he-he) “borrowing,” an idea our femme fatale counterparts came up with. They, the gals, thought it would be a good idea to join forces to do a little marketing, so they formed the Book Divas on Tour; their mission—to promote their work as a group. They felt they’d have a broader appeal if they offered a little something extra. They came up with the tour idea. Four writers for the price of one. More bang-for-the-buck, as they say. So we, the guys, formed Meet Myster Write.

(Get the wordplay? Myster Write? Mister Right? Mystery writers? … never mind).

The idea is to tour and make ourselves available to book clubs, bookstores, coffee shops, libraries … anywhere readers gather to talk about reading, writing, the writing process, publishing; anything. We think it might catch on. We’re not billing it as books for sale, although we might just keep a few copies in the trunk of the car, just in case.

When the email organizing the meet came along, it included suggestions of physical items that lent themselves to the image of the mystery genre; things such as trench coats and Fedoras, leather jackets and switchblades, .38s and blackjacks. I thought it was a great idea, especially since I owned a Fedora and leather jacket, and not a .38 or a switchblade. But the Fedora was too dressy for the jacket, so I settled for my Stetson since it looks much like a Fedora. Yep. That’s me in the pic. Bogie would be proud. Those other good-lookin' writers are Larry Matthews, Dana King, and Austin Camacho. 

I have decided to adopt the Stetson and the jacket as unofficial trademarks; something I can use to promote myself, an idea I’m beginning to warm to. One of the Divas is already doing this. She loves her stilettos. And she points them out every chance she gets. That’s self-promotion, although it mystifies me how you gals can walk in those things all day long. Now when I see a pair of 5” heels or hear the name, I think of her. The shoes are her unofficial trademark. Johnny Carson’s golf swing, Charlie Chaplin’s unique walk, The Rifleman’s Winchester … all unofficial trademarks. If you hear someone say, “I’ll be back,” in a heavy Austrian accent, who do you think of? Or, “Excuuuuuse! Meeeeee!” Do you remember who said that? It became his trademark line.Trademarks such as these come along naturally. They just happen. But nothing says you can’t create one to suit your unique persona. So I have decided to use the Stetson and the jacket. And I already know it works.

Last weekend I attended the Bay to Ocean Writer’s Conference on Maryland’s eastern shore  sporting my new trademark look. As I walked between buildings to the next panel, I heard someone behind me say, “I thought I recognized that hat!” It was one of the Myster Write authors. Oddly enough, he has a mystery series in which he equipped his protagonist with a trademark of his own: a pair of wrap-around Oakley sunglasses.

What’s your unofficial trademark?
(Sorry. The hat’s taken.)

Best Regards,

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