Swagger in the Age of the Author Brand

I recently read a blog post that completely changed my approach to my work. The author focused on gender, and how female writers can be reluctant to form a brand and promote their books. She went on to say that when men begin to write, they’re far more likely to call themselves an author instead of an aspiring author. They’ll develop a business plan, buy business cards, hire a PR person, and generally plan for success.

I-remember-tellingI don’t know whether or not gender defines this drive as much as a writer’s personal tendencies, but I’ll definitely raise my hand in the air and say even after writing my book for years, I NEVER talked about it. I never told anyone I was an aspiring author, never mind an author, full-stop. In fact, it wasn’t until my work was validated by an accomplished fellow writer that I began to come out of my shell.

Old Souls is close to being finished. So close I can taste it. Once completed, I’ll submit the book to agents for a period hovering around a couple of months. And, if no one bites, I’m going to publish the damn thing myself. The stigma behind self-published books is ebbing. We now live in the age of Hugh Howey, Andy Weir, and Amanda Hocking. But, when an author takes on the task of publishing their work themselves, they must begin to look at their book(s) as a business.


In today’s changing market, no longer are authors merely responsible for writing, we are responsible for tweeting, blogging, facebooking, advertising, and endless-self promotions.

Today, the person who shouts the loudest often gets the prize. This is the age of swagger, my friends. It’s the age of the author brand. So, it’s time to tweet, blog, Facebook, and promote. Does it matter if your book is not yet published? Movie trailers can be released years before the actual movie comes out. No one cares. No one says, isn’t that cute, Stephen Spielberg thinks he might make another movie. He just does it.

Think of the most powerful brands you know. Off the top of my head, I think of Coke, Johnson & Johnson, Crest, and Bounty. Coke was at the top of my list. This is a soft drink that can clean the un-cleanable gunk off of pennies. It’s a product that causes diabetes in children. And yet, many authors are afraid to build a brand out of their name, for their book, which they actually believe in?!

 I spent a huge portion of my life in the hospitality industry, and mucked up more orders than I care to admit, but I still called myself a waitress.A fear of failure, of “looking bad” and making mistakes, is probably the number one reason so many authors fail in today’s market.  But, as Kristen said in the blog linked above, “If you don’t make mistakes you probably aren’t doing anything interesting.” Mistakes are how we learn. A friend of mine messaged me the other day in CAPS to tell me to fix a glaring error on my blog, and my critique group is currently tearing my last submission to smithereens. These things would have horrified me a few months ago, but today, I’m taking it in stride. Because I am an author.

I wake up early in the morning to write. I spend at least an hour on social media every day building my brand. I take time out of my schedule to offer critiques to my partners, hoping they will take time out of their schedules to return the favor. Because, I am an author. I’ve spent a huge portion of my life in the hospitality industry, and mucked up more orders than I care to admit, but I still called myself a waitress. The time has come to talk about it. If you’re an aspiring author, own it. At first, you may cringe as the words tumble awkwardly from your mouth, but that’s okay. The first time a butterfly takes flight, their wing-strokes aren’t perfect, either.

In today’s market, you can’t afford to do things halfway. Write your book. Tell people it’s awesome. If you look back on your novel one day and realize it was awful, you will still have climbed the mountain of writing it, and that’s pretty awesome.


37 thoughts on “Swagger in the Age of the Author Brand

  1. I love the attitude! When somebody starts to “get it” the steps start becoming smaller and smaller for them, like a snowball rolling down a hill. They pick up speed and the mountains become molehills.

    The Age Of Swagger.

    I like it.

    I have no doubts about where things are headed for you and I look forward to your successes. Brilliant post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love it! And, you are exactly right: Aspiring to be a BETTER author and person should be what it’s all about. Congratulations on the upcoming release of your book. The cover looks great.


      • Wow … I’ve know you for 4 months now and what a change – positivity and confidence oozes out of you (in the nicest possible way) … author … writer … its just a word … its how you live and feel that makes a difference … and you’re living and feeling everything a writer is … can’t wait to damn well read you!

        Liked by 1 person

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  3. Great post. I read a quote once that said “aspiring” doesn’t really mean anything. If I drop a paper on the floor and aspire to pick it up, nothing will actually happen. The paper will stay on the floor. I can take steps to pick up the paper, but until I’ve bent over and grabbed the damn thing, nothing has happened.
    I’ve noticed “aspiring” is a word unique to the arts – aspiring writer, artist, etc. No one is an aspiring doctor, lawyer, or businessman. They go to school to do those things and then that what they are. I don’t aspire to be an author; I work my ass off to be one. I wonder if the language we use contributes to our inclination to not talk about our work until it’s “official”.
    You were correct to cross off aspiring in the post. You’re not an aspiring author. You’re an author. You’re doing the thing!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you, Allison. That’s great to hear, especially when your book has been so successful!
      I love that paper on the floor analogy. I feel like I should use that at home. I am an “aspiring” homemaker, so please don’t judge me on my house right now!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I like it. Every business or success books talks about the “fake it before you make it” attitude, but I’ve always thought writers, artists and musicians never had to “fake it.” Do you rap? You are a rapper. Do you paint? You are a painter. Do you bang on the drums all day cause you don’t want to work, you just want to play? You are a drummer. Do you write? You are an author.
    You may say it’s a distinction, but then I’d want clarity. I had my very first poem published when I was 8, so I’ve been a writer ever since. I know I’m not alone since almost everyone has at least had their work displayed on the fridge in a prominent position.
    Writer’s write. Baker’s bake. Player’s play. I say Swag on and carry it. Own it.
    Aspirations are like wishes, and wishes can’t be wasted on something that you are actually doing. Save the wishes for goals and dreams, and write about that. Cause if your fingers are on the keyboard, or pen in hand, or charcoal on a sheet of papyrus you’re already an author.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I had the same response to Kristen’s post — I’ll never say “aspiring” again! Well, not in that context, at least. As others have already said, I do aspire to being a BETTER writer, but I don’t just aspire. I sit down and actually work on that, day after day after day.

    So I shout it with you: because I *AM* an author. Go, us!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The first time I introduced myself as an author was nerve-wracking. To me, it felt like I was about to reenact the scene from Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion when they get called out for lying about inventing post-its. I kept waiting for someone to shout faker. What happened instead was I sold a book. Go figure.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Excellent post. Swagger’s a challenge. I think it’s been bred out of women for so long (not to use gender as an excuse but…), it’s a hurdle to bring it back. Call it sass, perhaps and more women will jump on the bandwagon. Ah marketing, can’t live with it, can’t sell without it. I like your style, though. I may steal it. Okay, I won’t but I may steal your commitment to an hour a day building my brand. My brand’s a tough one, I write nonfiction, most recently a memoir about extreme family dysfunction. If you think building a brand is hard, try selling a “fun” read about a feuding family! But you’ve encouraged me and I’m off to sell, sell, sell! (or die trying?)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great post Jenny, thank you. It feels very true to me, I struggle to sell myself, always have. I must take what you say, work harder to open up and shout out loud “I’m an AUTHOR!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you’ve explained the author’s dilemma perfectly, without even realizing it, Tess! We think sometimes think we are selling OURSELVES. In reality, we’re not. We’re selling our work. Our work does not define who we are.


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