Kelly Mortimer

Kelly Mortimer of Mortimer Literary Agency represents clients in both the ABA and the CBA. Kelly gives each client personal attention, including editing. She’s in the top 10 of the Publisher’s Marketplace Top 100 Dealmakers - Romance Category, a two-time nominee and this years winner for the American Christian Fiction Writers “Agent of the Year” Award, and her agency is Romance Writers of America recognized. Kelly is also President and CEO of Underdog Press.


Think up a tagline that sums up what ya write about...

Ouch! (I was gonna leave it at that, but my editor would tan my hide. Sorry, couldn't help it.)

Kelly Mortimer, the Extreme Agent, here. So, what exactly is author branding, and is it a good thing (ask Martha), or does it stick an author in a tiny box and seal the lid with several rolls of duck (pardon) duct tape? Go with Martha. Yep, take that brand right in the manuscript.

Branding tells your readers who you are and what type of read they can expect when they buy your books. Your brand makes you unique, like your voice makes your writing unique. Let’s ya stand out in the herd (sorry). Once you’ve branded yourself, readers will expect some consistency in your writing—one reason your editor wants you to write in one genre, or use a pseudonym if you wanna divert from the trail.

Here’s an example of great branding. When a reader goes into a bookstore, do ya think they ask for X title, or do they ask for the latest Nora Roberts book? They don’t care about blurbs or endorsement quotes; they want Nora (and she head-hops!). They know her brand, and that’s all they need to know.

How do authors brand themselves? (No, ya don’t hafta be a contortionist.) Get your name out there. No one’s gonna wake up one morning and say, “Last night I dreamt about Kelly Mortimer, so today I think I’ll buy her book. Yeah, Kelly Mortimer. Kelly Mortimer. Kelly Mortimer.” (Has a nice ring to it, don’t ya think? Now that you've read my name four times, we can move on. Just be thankful I didn’t type it seven times, which is the usual number someone needs to see your name to remember it.)

Think up a tagline that sums up what ya write about. Something readers can identify with. Even a cliché is acceptable at times if it fits. As an agent, mine is “Kelly Mortimer, the Extreme Agent.” For my humorous narrative nonfiction, Welcome to My World: A Bipolar Christian Tells All, I’m “The Lucy Ricardo of the 21st Century.” Be creative. No whinin’. Are you a writer, or what?

Don’t stop there. You hafta feed readers your brand until they acquire a taste for ya. (That made me think of prime rib. Sigh.)

Humans have short attention spans (husbands, even shorter), so this ain’t a one-time deal. Ya gotta do promo, and keep doing promo until readers start asking for your books by droppin’ your name.

I’m not gonna recite a boring laundry list of how to promote, as most of ya know how (at least you should know). Some writers are introverts (this particular affliction doesn’t affect moi) and need to step away from their keyboards and embrace the many wonders of meeting new people and making friends. (“Friends” is a code word for contacts. Yeah, I know, but I don’t mean You.)

Never underestimate the value of the friends of your friends. Word of mouth from someone a person knows is a bonanza for a writer. Establish a network and keep people informed of what you’re doing (and for goodness sake, do something!).

Why do some think branding limits a writer? What if ya wanna write in multiple genres? Why do y’all think Nora writes as J.D. Robb? Your name should be your brand, but who’s stoppin’ ya from having more than one name? IMO (yes, I know I skipped the “H,” but lack of humbleness keeps me from perfection), the only way branding can hurt you is if you muddle your message. If your brand tagline is “Stories from the Heartland,” and ya write about New York socialites, you give the reader the wrong impression of your writing. They’ll feel betrayed, and won’t be comin’ around to buy book two.

If none of the above moves you to brand yourself, mayhap this will: Well-known brands means big bucks to publishing houses, which means your Extreme Agent can get ya a better deal.

Kelly Mortimer