Thursday, August 26, 2010

What's in a name?

Moving from one identity to another.

A lot of people on the Internet know me as LeaPetra. There is a long history with that Internet handle. Before I seriously took my writing from hobby to profession (still need my day job, damn) I signed up with Twitter with that name.

Now, with over 1500 followers the question is; Was that the right thing to do?

Author branding, that phrase gets thrown around a lot now-a-days. Some people are scared when they see it, some shrug. I thought about it. I am familiar with branding, where I work, everything we do is a reflection on the image the store wants to promote. And we are told that is exactly why we do things a certain way, why we say certain phrases, etc.

So what is your brand? At it's simplest, it's your public face. The image you want complete strangers to have of you. The polished look, if that is what you want.

Some people take personal branding to the extreme. Look at Lady Gaga; she has a certain look, a certain attitude, all in the public eye. But I will bet you that if she wants some privacy, she will do nothing special to her hair, wear no make up, throw on jeans and a t-shirt and NO ONE will recognize her. Her outrageous look gives her a bit of freedom in her private life.

You do not have to go that intense. Terry Pratchett has his beard and hat. Neil Gaiman has his black t-shirts. Willie Nelson had his ponytails (fans mourned when he cut them off). Simple little things that will always be associated with you.

So what the heck does this have to do with LeaPetra?
Simple, that was my brand, so to speak, when I wanted to be unknown. It was my safe name. And now, my real name is being connected with that one. Which might cause some issues when I get famous (think positive!). But nothing that should harm my image, besides if it becomes controversial, embrace it and use it.

Now I am getting my real name out there. Slowly Mari Miniatt is becoming more noticeable than LeaPetra, and LeaPetra has over ten years of internet time backing it up. My twitter account is the nice bridge between the two. I do have a twitter feed, that I do nothing with, for Mari Miniatt. I will admit I am sitting on that one, you know, just in case.

So what is my brand? Me, just me. What you see is what you get. I did make a decision to wear t-shirts, either homages to my heroes and mentors, or ones I decorated myself. I could wear outrages items, but why. I would feel uncomfortable, and it would show. Otherwise, nothing special.

The hardest part was using my real name. I hid behind LeaPetra. But now I have to come out and let the world know who I am. I not really a shy person, but extroversion is hard for me. This was a big step.

I could have stuck with LeaPetra, I realize that now. I think I will save that for some special niche writing. Or something else. LeaPetra isn't going away,  she's just has to share the light with the person behind the curtain now.

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