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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Help Me Build My Brand

The people have spoken! I offer you a poll to help me choose my brand name. 

What made the list are ideas from girls and women ages 15 through 50. Two boys also contributed, ages 11 and 15. Thanks to everyone for great submissions. 

Image found here
If you’re going to self-publish, it helps to have a brand. Genre authors (mystery, romance, sci fi, etc.) have the luxury of a recognizable type--a guarantee regarding content and style--but as an author of hybrid works (literary and commercial), I’ve got to find ways to communicate the personality, essence, and passion behind my books.

I want the audience to know what it might get from my next book. I want my work to stand out from the crowd and be discoverable. I want to have a say over the perceptions of my work. Most importantly, I want readers to feel my words connect with their life experiences, concerns, and joys—that through my writing, I know them, and they know me. I want girls and women ages 15 and up to feel their voices heard when they read my books. Empowered, positive, inspired: a brand they can trust. I want the brand name to communicate strength, positivity, and intelligence. I don’t want to deter or alienate boys and men; that said, when I look at my books, I realize I have a niche and it will help readers to know what it is.

Before you vote, here are some points to consider:

I like to write about teen girls who are scary smart and pretty weird. I like to tell tales of their social misadventures with popular beauty queens who don’t take kindly to quirky, nerdy, and wise. I like to break all these stereotypes in the course of the story and leave the audience believing that each character is very, very human. I have one book finished about wise Wendy and two in the hopper about MENSA Minerva and academic Alastrine. Look below to learn about each of them.

Below the synopses, you will find comments from various respondents who contributed to the poll names. They might sway your final vote.


At 16, Wendy Redbird Dancing flies her freak flag high; she’s a precociously smart white girl with a hippie mom, a missing father, and a rabid Michael Jackson obsession. And it doesn’t help that Sunny, her mother, just uprooted them yet again, this time from California to North Carolina. It’s May 2009, and now Wendy has to survive a new school’s exams, track Sunny as she hunts men, and fight off bullies like Deanna Faire, a mean Taylor Swift who rules this Southern roost. But one girl reaches out—Tanay, the only black girl in AP class—and she and Wendy forge a friendship to help Wendy defy Deanna. And Sunny’s new boyfriend turns out not to be the usual sleaze but instead, a charming and attractive guy. Shaye Tann brings peace to the household by taking Wendy under his wing. As he gains her trust, a crush ignites, and her confidence soars. When Shaye makes sexual advances, Wendy is flattered and confused. When Shaye rapes her, Wendy goes underground. Michael Jackson—St. Michael when he dies on June 25, 2009—is now the only one she can trust.

Minerva, a nerd girl ready to become an ace investigative reporter, uses the power of her pen and its propaganda to get ninth grade girls thinking boys want chaste girls. Girls start choosing celibacy as a way of life when they realize they are happier, healthier, and safer without the threat of sex too early. In the process of manipulating others, Minerva discovers her own sexuality and how much she has tricked herself.

Alastrine: (note, this is a genre novel with dystopian themes)

It’s 2077 and America has loosened up. Sex is fine, whether you’re a teen or an adult, as long as you don’t get pregnant; do it with whomever, whenever, and however many times. Just make sure you have the Freedom Ring implanted, girls. The seven dirty words are allowed on every TV station, all hours, and everyone can drink anytime when alcoholism can be deterred by a pill. In other words, the Kardashians have won. As wildly free as it sounds, life is managed by high-security cameras, body scans, and government intervention—led by a fascist Founder Party that keeps citizens well fed and compliant. Girls with naturally good genes, no assembly required—the Naturals—are fodder for this dominant political party that keeps the trains running, the rich richer, and teenage girls groomed to become First Ladies, part of a Presidential harem. 16 year-old Alastrine Bantam may be a leggy blonde Natural who doesn’t need modifications like almost every girl she knows, but she hates her celebrity status. She prefers staying home studying history to standing dumbly on a pedestal of beauty. She has not had sex like most girls, and it’s a terrible, embarrassing secret she hides quite well. She still harbors a hope she can somehow hide and avoid the inevitable future of political stardom due a Natural. But that pipe dream is exposed the day she learns a terrible secret from her best friend, Seagramme…

Knowing what you know about my stories, what should the name of the series be?

Other Ideas:

A writing colleague suggested that the titles be specific to the storyline: that each begin with a HOW (insert character title) DID SOMETHING... A series that has a formula for its titles might aid in the recognition and discoverability factor. She said, "focus less on the series and more on the book at hand. You could have a title that could be used for later books with a subtitle then.  I was thinking of 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid,' which was the first book in the series. The rest of the books have that title along with another title."

Former students suggested the following: "Since your target audience is probably pretty intelligent, I don't think they'll be drawn in by creative spellings of 'girls.' 'Nerd'...might be past its prime, or it never really got there. 'Geek' is the cool thing to be now.  On the other hand, 'nerd' is broader in its connotations than 'geek.' Geeks, I think, tend to be more game/fantasy/electronics focused. Nerds just have a thing they really, really like. Just a thought.  I'd also try and avoid anything that sounds like it was written by a well-intended adult; loving your inner nerd sounds kind of preachy.  Could you focus more on a specific character trait of these girls?  When I think of Wendy, I think of resilience."

A friend and fellow writer wrote, "Grrlz is cool. Feminist connotations. Gorilla Grrlz."

Other ideas that didn’t make it into the poll:
  • The Girls Outside
  • Precocious and Proud
  • Smarty Skirts
  • Overachievers
If you don’t like any of the poll choices, please do leave a comment. Bring on the ideas!

Thank you for your time. Crowd sourcing makes me a wiser woman!