I’d like to talk about Author Branding.
You’re no doubt already wondering why no fucks were given. I’ll get to that. But to clarify: Author Branding ITSELF is not the thing about which no fucks were given (or if that is confusing wording, I DO give a fuck about Author Branding).
So what is Author Branding? Well, to me, it’s your public image. It’s who you present yourself to the public as. Your professional persona. The idea, as I understand it, is that you need to present yourself in a way that will connect with your potential readers. Your image is going to help sell your book.
Well, here is my image:
Yes, that is me. This is the image I currently use as my Twitter avatar. I wear that “Author” shirt in public. I also have a “NaNoWriMo” shirt and hoodie I wear. I am proud to present this image: the geek author who owns swords and isn’t ashamed to wear a cloak (Fyi: That is a cloak, not a “cape,” because it wraps fully around the body and reaches all the way to the ground. Capes are lighter, purely fashionable garments. Cloaks are for keeping warm. This has been your regularly scheduled Geek Chat).
And now you can see why No Fucks Were Given. If any fucks HAD been given, would I be willing to portray myself in this way? No doubt, people look at me funny when I go out in public wearing an “Author” shirt (I don’t wear the cloak in public just because it’s too bulky and snags on things). If fucks were given, I would hide my geek-author side out of shame or embarrassment. I know how I’m viewed by most people. I know the looks I get. And I don’t give a fuck.
This is my author brand. The Geek Author Who Doesn’t Give A Fuck. Because the not giving a fuck is PART of the brand. If you follow me on Twitter (@cantrelljason), you’ll see I curse casually, I talk about boobs, I rant about politics, and I blatantly tell people what I think about them. When other people say “I don’t want to start an argument” or “I’d rather not say anything,” I say “I don’t give a fuck.” I’ll call someone an asshole straight to their face, because I believe in calling it like I see it. I’d rather say it to someone’s face than behind their back.
Am I rude? Sometimes. Mostly, I think my attitude comes off as friendly/sarcastic/bold, though I’m sure there are some people who will say “No, you’re just an asshole.” Well, that’s fine, as long as you say it to my face. I have no illusions about who I am. I know my strengths, and I know my flaws. Poor social skills are definitely one of my flaws.
But this is who I am. Now, I COULD change my Author Brand. I could portray myself as a professional, clean up my language, and put on the public persona that would make me seem more well-to-do. Many people do this, and that’s fine for them. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a professional public persona and a more casual at-home persona. After all, I’m pretty sure EVERY executive who puts on a suit to go to the office can’t wait to take off his tie at the end of the day and go spend time with his family, or drink, or play video games, or whatever.
So why don’t I portray myself that way? Because no fucks were given. I don’t care. If I cared about that kind of thing, I’d be in a very different place in my life right now. But I like where I am. I don’t want to work a boring office job, punch a clock, and live the 9-5 grind. I want to write, even if that means I have to struggle. Even if it means I’m 33 and the only things I’ve published are in online free magazines. Even if it means I’ll never be “successful” in the traditional sense.
All through grade school and high school, I hid who I was. I didn’t tell my classmates that I played video games, because they would make fun of me. I didn’t tell my family, or anyone else, that I was always writing stories about dragons and wizards. I hid who I was. For years, I wouldn’t wear any clothes that weren’t plain colors without words or logos, because I was teased so much in junior high for wearing things that weren’t “cool.”
That author shirt I’m wearing there? I’m wearing it now as I write this. Buying and deciding to wear it was a big step for me. I spent my youth (and even most of my 20’s) being too afraid to express myself with my own style of clothing. Today, no fucks are given, and as soon as I have the money, I’m going to be wearing stuff like this out in public:
And if people stare at me for my style of clothing? Well, you know what I’ll say.