Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Maureen Johnson's Manifesto

I have had SUCH a personal battle with this whole idea of "branding" that when I read this wonderful "Manifesto" by Maureen Johnson on the subject, I knew I had to pass it along. Many of you may have seen it already, but I so appreciated what she had to say that it's worth a repeat (or twelve).

I wanted to become a writer to share a number of ideas. Not just one. I wanted to try to touch upon subjects that cut across a range of human experiences that people (women like me in particular) might relate to in some way. Not just two or three things that can be stamped with a single branded phrase, categorized absolutely and then hammered into the heads of anyone willing to stand still long enough to read it online or off.

I'd like to think we're all far more than products in an already over-commercialized world, and I love that those of you who usually visit this blog leave your real thoughts and ideas in response to mine. Like an actual conversation. THANK YOU!! I don't consider you "commenters," I consider you friends. And while I hardly blog frequently enough or controversially enough to gather a huge reading audience, I love that the people who DO visit have become people I've enjoyed getting to know in the 3-D world whenever I can, not merely in the virtual one.

ENORMOUS hugs of gratitude to each of you. Wish I could give you all a hot cinnamon roll this morning for being so wonderful, too. While I try to figure out how to do that, please take a peek at Maureen's post if you haven't seen it. I very openly agree with her, but I won't go into a blog-screaming hissy fit if someone else doesn't. I can understand the flip side, in moderation... Sometimes we don't want surprises. Sometimes it really helps to have a sense that what we're getting when we buy something won't be a total shock. That makes sense to me, too. I don't think branding is worthless, just that it's not everything. And it's hardly the only reason I'm online.

Anyway, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject -- both as writers who have to deal with this issue from a creation standpoint as well as readers who have to face all the brands and labels out there. Wishing you all a wonderful week!!


Maria Geraci said...

Great post, Marilyn. Maureen Johnson is one smart lady! I love Facebook (my personal page where I interact with my friends and co-workers) but Twitter makes me twitch (I blogged about this!)
End result: there's nothing better than face to face engagement. The art of listening, sadly, seems to be dying.

Edie Ramer said...

Enormous hugs back at you, Marilyn. I read Maureen's manifesto this morning, and I love what she said. I do mention some of my guest blogs on Twitter and FB, but once a day is enough for me.

And does that cinnamon roll have no calories? I'll take a cyber one. Our scale broke over a month ago, and I just got a new one day. I'm afraid to step on it. lol

Michelle Diener said...

Marilyn, I honestly couldn't agree with you more (which doesn't surprise me in the least!). The whole concept of 'branding' has always switched my brain right off. I have never fitted into easily defined categories, and I like it that way :). Like you, I also rebel against the idea of being a commodity.

Marilyn Brant said...

Maria~Face to face is the BEST!! But, yes, if I had to choose between FB and Twitter, I'd always go with FB. For me, it's just more sensical and intuitive. But then, I don't have tweetdeck or one of those organizational tools, so I'm not really on top of the tweets... I spent most of my 10 min./week on Twitter very, very confused ;).

Edie~I never have a problem with authors announcing where they are, if they're a guest somewhere else that day. Because I don't have something that tells me what my friends have been tweeting, I only know if I'm actually on their Twitter page attempting to read the comments or if I see an FB announcement in my news feed, which means I miss a lot of good information, even from people I always like to hear from! But when I can figure it out, I love getting to read blog posts by friends on different sites. It lets me learn about new sides of them ;). p.s. And, yes! The cinnamon roll is calorie free!!

Michelle~Being labeled and stuck into a category is something I've battled since junior high. I unequivocally hate it... I'd like to blame it all on human nature, but I'm not sure that's the case. I think it's just as much a societal value and, to me, it feels as though the tendency toward branding *everything* (even people) has grown through the decades. I think there are fewer Renaissance men or women today. Fewer family/general practice doctors and more specialists. You can't just be a fiction writer anymore, you have to be a "humorous historical romance writer with paranormal elements and some suspense" -- and if you do anything else, you have to do it under a different name. Ahhhh!! Makes me crazy!

Pamela Cayne said...

Wow--I'm going to have to take a look at Maureen's thoughts (after my cinnamon roll, that is!) Thanks for an awesome post!

Caryn Caldwell said...

I love Maureen's manifesto post. She put it up while I was away from blogs for a while, so I missed it the first time. I think if anyone - author or otherwise - is super commercial people pick up on it, and many are turned off. Readers read because they want connection, they want authenticity, they want escapism, and they want human stories. An author screaming in their ear, "Buy my books! Buy ALL my books!! Buy them NOW!!!" would, I think, turn most readers off. That said, I met you because of blogging, and now I buy your books and tell others about them, so there is that. :-)

Robin said...

Maureen's post was really great - thanks for the link. And your post was pretty awesome too. I *always* admire and respect what you have to say, and I'm with ya on the branding thing.

Susan McBride said...

Marilyn, thank you buckets for sending your blog readers to Maureen's manifesto. I read it and LOVE it. Totally agree with everything she says. I am very grateful for social networking in ways that have more to do with connecting with fellow authors and book lovers than pushing any brand/product on anyone. I don't want to be a brand anyway! It rather reminds me of labeling people, which is never a good thing. Speaking of books and pushy people, I'd better get back to writing my latest, or I'll have no shot at all at wrestling microphones from branded women any time in the near future. ;-)

Marilyn Brant said...

Pamela, you're very welcome ;). Hope you liked the cinnamon roll and that it helps fuel your energy as you revise!

Caryn, {{Hug!}} thank you. I think that's why I prefer blog posts to tweets -- if you read someone's thoughts (and it's not just about 'buy my book'), you do get to know a few things about them. Then, if you're lucky enough to meet them in person (like I've been to meet you and everyone who's commented so far on this post!), you feel like you already on the road to being friends. I just love that. ;)

Robin, I'm glad you liked what Maureen wrote, too! I have to say, I'd heard of her and her novels before, but her 'manifesto' was enough to get me to start ordering her books from Amazon...

Susan, I'm not at all surprised that it resonated for you, but I'm so glad it did!! Actually, after reading your comment, I realized that you and everyone who'd left a message so far was someone I met online FIRST and THEN got to meet in person! It gives me such an added appreciation for what's truly GOOD about online networking because it's led to such real and wonderful connections. Doesn't make me wanna slap a label on myself any more than before, but that's only because -- to me -- that *isn't* real, whereas these conversations, even when they're short, actually *are*...

Off to find you all some hot coffee, tea or cocoa to go with those cinnamon rolls ;-). xo

Vesper said...

Marilyn, I haven't read the Manifesto - thank you for the link.

Many hugs to you, my friend. And I'll take a virtual cinnamon roll... it looks delicious! :-)

Marilyn Brant said...

Vesper, you may have a pan full of cinnamon rolls ;). Thank you for your comments and your kindness. xo

Maureen McGowan said...

That was a great post and I both agree and disagree with her, because I'm like that. :)

I agree that it's a bad idea to use social media (or any media) to constantly push yourself or your message. If nothing else, it's tactless and people won't like you.

What I don't agree with is that I think Maureen Johnson has a brand. I think she is a brand. But that brand has developed naturally through her body of work and her online personality and the genuine way she interacts with the public.

I think as readers we do need to put ourselves out there... and it's hard. And some people just suck at it and the funny thing is, sometimes the ones who are the worst are the ones who THINK they are the best and do workshops on it. ;)

(I really want to know who was on that panel with her...)

Maureen McGowan said...

PS for the people who aren't on twitter. Not saying you should be -- at all-- but just wanted to point out that Maureen Johnson is one of the most active users of Twitter in the writing community. I rarely look at twitter when she's not in my feed... She must tweet at least once an hour. Sometimes more. But it's not "buy my books"... her tweets are funny and honest and interactive -- conversational.

I just checked. So far today, she has tweeted 12 times. (That's a lot.)

Marilyn Brant said...

Maureen, as usual, you make some excellent points. I agree that there's a BIG difference between using social media to just push yourself and your books on people vs. actually interacting. I recently encountered someone (no names, of course, to protect the guilty ;), who was absolutely HOUNDING a group of people on a writers' loop to get on FB and start building up a big base of "friends" so they could be targeted by the writers when new books came out. It was spoken (well, okay, written) like a command from Moses pointing to stone tablets:
You MUST do this!
You must do this NOW!
You must do this OR ELSE you'll suffer grave career consequences.
Listen to me or be considered an idiot...
It was, literally, all I could do to just log off and not respond to these dictates. (I won't be buying that author's books either.)

But, LOL, about all of M.Johnson's tweets today. I'm impressed. I was proud of myself for tweeting twice :). And, yeah, I can see what you mean about her already having a brand but building hers up naturally. I think, like everything, it's those extremes that are getting to me -- and the self- or society-imposed limitations that come with them.