Loree Lough

At last count, best-selling author Loree Lough had 74 books, 63 short stories, and over 2,500 articles in print. Dubbed “the writer whose stories touch hearts and change lives”, she has earned dozens of “Readers’ Choice” and industry awards. Her most recent release, Be Still…and Let Your Nail Polish Dry! will soon be joined by Prevailing Love, Tales of the Heart, and Beautiful Bandit (#1 in her “Lone Star Legends” series from Whitaker), and One Forsaken Man (#1 in her “First Responders” series from Abingdon). Loree and her husband split their time between a little house in the Baltimore suburbs and a really little cabin in the Allegheny Mountains, where they cater to a formerly-abused Pointer whose numerous vet visits inspired the nickname ‘Cash’. She loves to hear from her readers, so feel free to write her at loree [at] loreelough [dot]com. Visit her blog (www.theloughdown.blogspot.com) and web site (http://www.loreelough.com).

Have Y’Been Branded Yet?

Seems that’s the question being asked all across Publishland, doesn’t it?

It’s no great surprise, really. Thanks to buyouts, mergers, and takeovers, fewer publishing companies now exist than there were a decade or two ago. At the same time—thanks to the sagging economy—the number of people lining up for writing jobs doubles every day. At least, that’s how it feels as we struggle to stay afloat in these stormy publishing seas.

Those of us who’ve taken the Great Leap (quit our day jobs to write full time) stand toe-to-toe with serious competition every time we aim a query or cover letter toward an editor’s desk. And even those of us who’ve adopted a Great Expectations attitude (signing with an agent) cringe and wring our hands, hoping our ideas will stand out from the hundreds of others in the slush pile.

The advice for separating yourself from the herd? Walking through it is a little like trying to cross Times Square intersection. Against the light. During rush hour. Information whizzes past us at an alarming speed. So fast that we barely have time to make sense of it . . . if we get a glimpse at all:

“Create a Web presence so editors can ‘check you out.’” Yeah. Like they have time while digging through the massive stacks of stuff on their desks. Nevertheless, like most of you, I’m doin’ my darndest to “be everywhere” online. Not an easy feat while meeting multiple deadlines and trying to live a somewhat normal life.

“Teach classes, give speeches, arrange book signings, get your press kit to TV and radio stations.” And do it in such a way that the show hosts don’t see you as a self-centered, shameless, self-promoting jerk.

“Develop a Web site, where editors can ‘learn more about you’ when deliberating whether or not to issue you a contract.” Uh-huh. I can see editors now, visiting the Web sites of every author with a proposal on their desks.

“Come up with a one-word title that will tell the world what your book is about, while providing editors with a ‘hook’ to help sell your books.” When I hear hook, I see the long-handled staff stagehands used to pull annoying Vaudeville acts off the stage.

“Develop a back cover blurb that’ll tell editors (and hopefully, someday, readers) that your book is “. . . fascinating!” “Riveting!” “A must-read!” Provided they read both of your carefully-crafted paragraphs, that is.

“You need a platform!” Really? As in “soap box”? I’m pretty handy with every tool in the shed, but build one of those? On my budget? sigh

“You need a Brand!” When I hear that tidbit, I see company logos, like Nike and Campbell’s, and Ford. Yet this advice, say the marketing gurus, is probably the thing that’ll make the most difference. Those glowing-hot iron things pressed into horses’ withers and cattle’s behinds. Or maybe a tattoo. (But which design? And where-o-where to put it?) The big question pinging in my empty head was “What is branding, anyway?”

And near as I could figure, it’s like flypaper in that Your Brand grabs readers and doesn’t let ’em go. And then once you’ve got ’em, Your Brand is what holds on to ’em.

Okay. That makes sense. Sorta. But how to come up a one-of-a-kind brand that’s unique to you and your books? Especially if, like me, you write in more than one genre? What buzzword(s) = YOU? And how do you choose words that, like flypaper, will continue to hold as your career develops?

I banged my head against the Branding Wall for months. Then one morning while organizing my files—Letters from Readers in this folder, Reviews in that one—something jumped off the pages. Almost every one of the thousands of letters from my readers said, “Loree, [this or that] element of your story changed my life!” Likewise, most of the hundreds of reviews I’d accumulated consistently stated, “Loree Lough stories touch readers’ hearts.”

Touching hearts. Changing lives.

Whoa. Could it really be that simple?

In a word, yes.

And I’ve been using the phrase as My Brand ever since. It’s on my Web site. My social networking “walls.” Every video Book Trailer produced to help hawk my books.

Changing lives. Touching hearts.

It tells editors and readers that whether the Loree Lough novel they’re reading has a contemporary or historical setting, a comical or serious plot, a storyline interwoven with suspense and intrigue, a romance, or a gritty cop story, their hearts are gonna be touched and the message in the story will somehow change their lives. Hopefully for the better.

My dilemma now? What font to use when I have it tattooed on my . . .

Okay. So I have two dilemmas. But thankfully, I’ve got My Brand and I’m stickin’ to it, ‘cause it’ll be just as valid in ten years as it is now.


Prevailing Love
Tales of The Heart