Monday, March 14, 2011

Names, Branding, and Who The Heck Am I?

I was tempted by a number of different titles for this post. One of my favorites was “The Importance of being Cricket.” Another was “Janet doesn’t live here anymore.” A few weeks ago I had to make a decision about my writing name and whether I was going to continue to try to use my real name, Janet Miller, on my covers instead of my erotic penname Cricket Starr. With the change my erotic alter ego would become my main alter ego leaving the question: who am I anyway?

Jasmine-Jade Enterprises, under whose corporate umbrella Ellora’s Cave operates, decided last fall to no longer continue the Cerridwen imprint and instead fold all the non-erotic Cerridwen books into Ellora’s Cave as a line called Ellora’s Cave Blush. As a part of all this they wanted to consolidate my Hollywood after Dark series, some of which were Cricket books and others were Janet books so that there wouldn’t need to be two pages of books associated with that series.

So they asked me to move those books to the same writing name, that name being Cricket Starr. I decided I wanted to keep the Hollywood After Dark stories together, and since that would only leave one book, Christmas With Sarah, under the Janet name, re-authoring that story to be a Cricket book made sense. So now all but my books at New Concepts Publishing would be labeled Cricket Starr, and there would be some Cricket books that weren’t hot erotic romance.

So what to do? If Cricket books could also be non-erotic, did it make sense to continue using the name Janet Miller?

I decided the answer was to rebrand Cricket to be my main writing name regardless of the heat level of the book and gradually close out using Janet Miller on my covers. But how best to do this?

I started this by revamping my website, and redirecting all traffic from my other sites there. I had to convert Cricket from her hot and spicy persona to include books that were mild and even occasionally sweet. My husband had already decided that a short tag line under the name Cricket Starr was needed. This needed to be something that described my writing, mild, hot, and everything in between. Using the word Hot or Erotic would not work and since I write in so many genres it couldn’t be as specific as the “Visit the stars with SF Romance” tagline I’ve used in the past.

Often sexy, always bright, is what I came up with. Sexy works because it is a lighthearted word that can mean erotic or hot, but also works for books with less prolific sex. Bright is a play on my writing last name, the shooting star as my logo, and the fact that my books are a lighter kind of erotic work. There is a lot of humor in my stories, even the ones that have serious subject matter in them. I think the tagline reflects my writing better than anything I’ve come up with before.

With a new clean look that emphasizes my books and featuring a wonderful sorting and search mechanism, the new website’s branding is now appropriate for erotic and non-erotic Cricket books as well as the few books still under the Janet name. Instead of using half-naked men on the site, I use the book covers and blurbs to carry the message of what kind of story the book is.

So at the next RT and RWA conventions I’ll be handing out new business cards that simply say Cricket Starr, and gives my tagline and one and only website. It will be a little weird answering to the name Cricket but bigger authors than I have done that for years. 

Cricket Starr (aka Janet Miller)


Jill James said...

Cricket, love how you melded your two selfs into one. You are the branding goddess. Love the tagline, it is brilliant. hahaha another play on starr.

L.A Lopez said...

Cricket aka Janet, it's hard to rebrand yourself. So many authors are faced with that, since the industry is changing and evolving very quickly these days. You were fortunate to have both names and writing in different genres to start. I love the tagline. Best of luck.

Janet/Cricket said...

Thanks L.A. and Jill,

I hope this name change works out pretty well. The only thing I'm wondering about now is what to do with the Gaian series since it is all that's left in the Janet M. name. Something to think about in the next phase of the rebranding exercise.

morgan said...

You go Cricket Starr. It is an easy name to remember which is always important.

Mona Risk said...

Often sexy, always bright!!! What a great tag line. I love it.

Josie said...

You've done a good job by redesigning your website. And your dh sounds like the perfect helper. Best wishes on your new "look!"