The Question of Brand Dilution

If you’re following along, you know I’ve decided to self-publish some of other books. Books not about Sinners. Loving on Borrowed Time was actually written before I wrote Backstage Pass, so it’s kind of funny to see the two compared. They are nothing alike. I didn’t intend them to be. So now that this is out there, I start to worry about my “brand”. What does the name “Olivia Cunning” mean to readers? What are they expecting when they read a book with that name on the cover? A book about a rock band (or even more specifically, about Sinners)? A sexy book with a hint of humor? Something that’s fun and at times emotional, but doesn’t take itself too seriously? A book about a tattooed guy and a girl who is a bit too straight laced until he helps her chillax? Or most simply, something I (the person sitting on a couch in Nebraska) wrote?

That last one obviously isn’t the case, because I’ve written a lot of books. A LOT OF BOOKS! Very few of them fit into any of those categories. Well, most of the books I’ve written are at least a little sexy, but many don’t have a lick of humor. (Ha! I said lick.) I do think that an “Olivia Cunning” book has to have humor.

I have a folder on my laptop labeled “Fiction”. It contains everything I’ve written P.S. (pre-Sinners). You wouldn’t believe the variety in that folder. Almost every genre imaginable. Short stories. Epic fantasy books 600 pages long. Young Adult Science Fiction. Horror. Scientific thriller. Humor. Romance of various sub-genres. Yeah, it’s a mosaic of just about everything. So I was in that folder yesterday looking for the original file for Don’t Look Before You Leap. That’s what Loving on Borrowed Time was called when it was a stand alone novel, before I decided to try something a little “out there” and change it into a series of serial novellas. While I was in that folder, I came across the novel I thought would make me a published author. Alas, no. It’s a dark, paranormal romance called The Wolf Huntress.

So I opened the file for The Wolf Huntress and started reading. And I remembered why I loved that book so much. Oh, Nash! How could I have forgotten about him? He’s such an “Olivia Cunning” hero. So sexy and mysterious, with a subtle sense of humor. And the heroine, Maralee! Sassy, smart-mouthed, too-independent-for-her-own-good. Yep, totally an “Olivia Cunning” heroine. The setting? The tone? NOT “Olivia Cunning” at all. It’s very dark. It takes place on a fantasy world, similar to Earth, but different. I know most urban fantasies take place on Earth, but this one doesn’t, because the logical person in me KNOWS that shape-shifting wolves do not exist on this planet. But they might somewhere else.

As I’m reading the book, I’m thinking: Wow, this is pretty good. I should do a little work on this book and self-publish it. I LOVE it. It’s finished. It’s been edited extensively. It wouldn’t take much to make it ready for publication. I was all excited about the idea last night. And then I slept on it. And somewhere in the night, the question of brand dilution started swirling about in my subconscious. Damn, subconscious mind!

The two new series I’m working on, Perilous Edge and Eternity, those are unquestionably “Olivia Cunning” books. If/when I write about Exodus End, that will definitely an Olivia Cunning series. The Lovers’ Leap series? Hmm, I’m starting to wonder if I should have used a different pen name. The Wolf Huntress? Not an Olivia Cunning book, but maybe it’s an Olivia Downing book.

How do we feel about that new pen name?

Anyone want to read the first chapter of The Wolf Huntress? It’s on my new pen name’s blog. Olivia Downing

Oh lord, what have I done?