On Branding

I’ve been told more than once that I should “brand” my writing and myself as an author. A writing friend uses several pen names, each in a distinctive voice and each in a specific genre appealing to a select audience. That’s how she’s branded herself and she’s recommended that I do the same. Another friend has a son whose fantasy artwork is quite unlike anything any other artist might create, just as Frank Frazetta’s work can be picked out from the many heroic fantasy book covers found in a bookstore (if you can find such a fabled place). He has a brand. He is the brand.
I’ll admit it: I don’t know how to brand my work. I’m all over the place, skipping from sub-genre to sub-genre, with no body of any of my writing large enough to warrant a pen name to individualize it, and, also, no desire on my part not to give my own name credit for the effort.
I write some humorous fiction, though not much. Some horror; not much again. Lots of SF where there’s little science but lots of social extrapolation from today’s world. I even write stories set in modern times, but perhaps removed by only a few years. Then there are my steampunk and dieselpunk efforts. Add some light fantasy to the mix to round out my list of stories.
“Some” is the operative word here. My published work is not actual fantasy. No elves, but some demons. A witch here and there, but no wizards. Heroes and villains, yes; roaring mountains of fire, no. I recall magical animals and strange oaths have made their appearances in past works, but so few of my stories contain such elements that I can’t call myself a fantasy writer.
I’m not a steam or diesel or solar or even cyber-punk, although I’ve written stories in all those categories. Even some of my SF is more slipstream or magical realism than anything else.
So how do I brand? It’s a mystery to me, a conundrum that I can’t resolve.

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