Friday, November 21, 2014

A Writer's "Brand" (or lack thereof) with Guest AMY MATAYO

In the past six years I’ve written eight books, and I’m currently working on the ninth. That number
doesn’t include the four books I’ve stopped and abandoned for one reason or another, the main reason
being my extremely short attention span. For the finished books, their titles and genres are as follows, in the order they were written:

Walking in Circles (YA)
The History of Me (YA)
Don’t Ask Why (YA)
The Wedding Game (Contemp Romance)
Love Gone Wild (Contemp Romance)
Sway (NA)
In Tune with Love (Contemp Romance)
The End of the World (NA)
Title not yet public (NA)

So far only three books have been published. Next year, four more will follow—two of which are
complete and two others in varying stages of nowhere near complete. But this is what I do.

So why am I telling you this?

Because I love to write. And because I hate to write. Because I need to write. And because I often wish I didn’t need to write. And this is how the cycle goes for me. Every single time. Each time I open up a blank document to start a new manuscript. Every time I begin a new chapter or sit in wide-eyed panic as I face the dreaded kissing scene/fight scene/turning point/end of the book.

I love it.

I hate it.

And as you can tell by my very inconsistent genres, my moods often flip back and forth.
Just like my real-life moods. Sometimes I’m happy and feeling a bit on the snarky side (The Wedding Game, Love Gone Wild, In Tune with Love, Title not yet public).

Sometimes I’m feeling a bit reflective (Walking in Circles, The History of Me). Sometimes I read a local newspaper headline and write a story about it (Don’t Ask Why). Sometimes I’m wondering what the world would be like if we could all just get along a little better (Sway). Sometimes I’m feeling a bit sad and trying to find the hope in life (The End of the World). And sometimes (always) I’m feeling a little scatterbrained (all the books I haven’t completed).

Again, why am I telling you this? Because in the writing world, there’s a little term often thrown around calling “branding.” Authors are often encouraged to find their brand (funny, serious, reflective, etc.) and stick to it. And that’s a good thing. A great thing actually, because it makes you very dependable to a reader who wants to know that if they spend hard-earned money on your book, they’ll enjoy it. I’m just not very good at branding.

Kind of like a songwriter who has a plethora of subject matters on a single album, my books sort of
follow the same format. I’m never sure what I’m going to write about next—whether it will be happy or sad or somewhere in between—but my hope is that whatever I write, I do it well. At least marginally so. My next book, The End of the Word, (out Feb. 10) is a bit different than my other books. But I hope that’s okay, because sometimes I need different. A different place, a different mood, a different kind of story that will pull me in and show me something new. And that’s my hope for The End of the World. That you will be pulled in, and that no matter what mood you’re in when you read it, it will be a halfway pleasant way to escape for a few hours.

But in the meantime, I hope you’ll read Sway. Because that would make me really, really happy.

Amy Matayo

Amy here (the other one!): I for one, LOVED Sway. Anyone else read it? Having read Amy's other books I suppose I went into this with some expectations, but Sway threw me, and that is precisely why it was so spectacular. The story was layered just right, the dialogue witty and perfectly tuned, the story poignant and complex and again, just so unexpected I was riveted. I loved how the precisely frayed edges in this story were woven back together with a message of grace. This story will challenge you like only the best stories do. You will not walk away unmoved. Thank you, Amy (Matayo---sheesh! That's confusing, right?) for this refreshing change of pace. Can't wait to see what you come up with next!

So tell me, Alley Pals... Do you have a brand? Do you write one specific genre or do you change with your mood? Leave a comment... tell us a little bit about what you are writing now and I'll giveaway a kindle copy of Sway! Happy Friday! Now go write something fabulous!

Amy Matayo has a degree in Journalism from John Brown University. She worked for seven years as Senior Writer and Editor at DaySpring Cards until the birth of her first child. Amy was a freelance writer for David C. Cook before pursuing novel writing full time and focuses on edgy, contemporary books for women of all ages. She is the author of The Wedding Game, Love Gone Wild, and Sway. She lives with her husband and four children in Arkansas. Please visit her online at or @amymatayo

Click here to check out Sway


Jeanne Takenaka said...

Amy M, it's fun to hear a bit about your writing process and thoughts. :) I had no idea you'd written so many books! :) I loved The Wedding Game. :)

As for brand, I don't know exactly what mine is. I'm working to write "stories where faith and grace hold hands." Not sure if that's my brand, but that's what weaves through my stories. :)

Very fun to read your thoughts here, Amy squared! :)

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

I loved The Wedding Game too! Such a fun debut! Once I finally have readers my brand will be something that involves a romance story, heavily character driven, with threads of suspense and mystery woven throughout with a message of grace. That's a mouthful, HUh? :)

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for having me, Amy (and everyone else)! This blog is so fun!

Cynthia Herron said...

Waves to both "Amys"! *wave* (See me?)

Amy M, my "brand" is Heartfelt, Homespun Fiction. (Think Debbie Macomber. ;))

Nailing our brand is an on-going process, I think. I know a lot of authors whose name is their "brand" and then their are others like Brandilyn C with taglines like Seatbelt Suspense. Readers know what to expect and taglines/brands drive forever fans. :)

Loved your thoughts today!

Jessica said...

I don't really know anything about branding but would be interested in a free book.�� I surely don't know how you all have the patience for writing novels but good job!

Pepper Basham said...

Amy, (er...both Amys)
Great post!!
You like hopping around with genres too, don't you Amy M :-)

I'm notorious for genre-hopping but my agent has been great to give me a bran that 'mostly' encompasses my writing
"Blue Ridge romance"
(of course this doesn't include my YA fantasy - but most of the others)
WE'll see how it works when I'm published

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Love that tag line, Cynthia!!!! It's good for readers to know what to expect but I would guess it's more fun for writers to dabble with different genres. I've certainly got my wheelhouse where I feel comfortable writing. Maybe someday I'll be brave like Pepper and Amy!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Jess, I think you'd really like Sway! Very different, but very captivating and powerful!

Rachelle O'Neil said...

Yay, someone else who skips around genres! :D My own stories tend to fall under different headings, too. Right now I'm editing a Beauty and the Beast retelling for a contest, and I just wrote a short story in journal form that's rather dystopian and sci-fi. But then you've got my novel WIP that's a somewhat cross-genre fantasy. So, that's me. I'm just glad I'm not the only one!

Your books look really interesting, Amy M.! I'd love to read some of them!

Terrie Todd said...

I love this, because I'm a pretty eclectic writer as well (the closest I've come to narrowing down my blog/newspaper column theme is "faith and humor." I remember once coming across a very serious piece written by the very funny Dave Barry. He'd written it in the aftermath of losing a loved one, and it was every bit as brilliant and emotionally moving as his humor pieces--it just hit entirely different emotions. I think you've nailed it when you say whatever you write, you want to write it well.

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Rachelle and Terrie... So glad you could stop by! And I'm glad to see other writers venturing outside the mold. You got your comments in just in time. Drawing out of a hat very soon! Winner posted tomorrow! But either way I hope you check out Amy's book!