• Zetta Brown
  • [Reality Check] What’s in a Name? Your Reputation.
This blog was featured on 09/04/2016
[Reality Check] What’s in a Name? Your Reputation.
Written by
Zetta Brown
April 2012
Written by
Zetta Brown
April 2012

It doesn’t matter what you do for a living. If you do sloppy work, no one will want to deal with you, especially if they don’t have to.

When it comes to writing, “crap” is subjective.  Can you believe some of the crap being published today? Who would pay good money to read such crap?

Have you ever read a book by an author and thought this? Which pained you more: the fact that you wasted your money or that you wasted your time reading their crap?

Would you spend your time or money reading anything else by that author again? Certainly not, unless you have to for your job or you’re a student. You do have a choice.

The public do not have to part with their hard-earned cash or spend their valuable time reading the sloppy work of others. There is a plethora of books on the market today with literally thousands more being added daily. To say that it is difficult to stand out as a writer worth reading is a gross understatement.

This isn’t about money but about taking pride in your work. “Crap” doesn’t always mean “cheap.” How many times have you bought something that was a generic or store brand only to find it is just as good if not better than the more expensive name brand? On the flip side, how many of us have paid top-dollar for some expensive bling only for it to fail when put to the test?

Speaking of brands, I recently read a book called Brand You by John Purkiss and David Royston-Lee. The book is mainly geared towards jobseekers, but I recommend it for authors because it will help you to start thinking of yourself as a brand, which is important if your goal is to establish yourself as a writer and take the craft of writing seriously. One of their favorite quotes (since they use it more than once in the book) comes from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos who says: “Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”

Think about it. If your “brand” develops into something that becomes synonymous with “crap,”...what does that say about you? Here’s a bit of word association:


Don’t let it happen to you. And don’t think that hiding behind a pen name will protect you because covers can be blown. Your name says something about you. It identifies you. It is important for you to be true to yourself and whatever it is that makes you unique. People will either like you and want to get to know you, or they won’t.

I attached this image to this post because one of my Facebook friends posted it on her wall. It made me smile and it also serves as a boost for whenever I’m feeling demoralized. There will always be someone ready to criticize you and “tear you down to size.” When it happens, it may be very hard not to take criticism personally—even if the person hurling it intends for it to be taken that way.

Nevertheless, I would hope that when it comes to your writing—or any work you do—that you take pride in it and make it the best it can be.


©2012 Zetta Brown

If you like this post, then stop by my blog Zetta’s Desk or any of my other blogs.

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  • Jayha Leigh

    Cosign...cosign...cosign to the infinite power.  Wasting my time bothers me more than wasting my money but both p*ss me off.  I work hard for my money.  I'm like most authors...meaning I work a full time job in addition to writing in order to make money.  While I'm not money hungry, money still buys things so yeah, it's important.  However, as the preacher preaching Mrs. Rhonda Scales funeral said...time is the most valuable thing you have.  You will never again get this moment back no matter what you do.  Saying that, what also bothers me is for authors to know they're putting out BS and still put it out because they know they'll make money.  It pains me to hear authors say they thought the book they just released sucked but not only did they put it out half-a**ed edited (and their publisher let them) but that they sol 5K copies of it.  Meanwhile, so many authors deliberate over a book because they care and they spend good amounts of money and time editing, and maybe see only a few hundred sales.  So not fair, but such is life.  Still, it should matter to you what you do...because when you stop not giving a d*mn...it reaches into more places than just your prose.

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    Revolutionizing the publication of short stories for the internet age, online publisher Alfie Dog Limited has, through its internet site www.alfiedog.com, brought together quality stories from current writers across the globe. In the same way that mp3 files have transformed the music industry, publisher and author, Rosemary Kind, believes e-publishing can do the same for short stories. “If you can buy a single track of music for 69 pence, or cents, then why shouldn’t you buy a story for just 39 pence?” 


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  • Laura Brennan

    See, I don't see a "brand" as evil at all - necessary or otherwise.  It is so useful - it helps people who would be interested in your work actually find your work.  That's it.  Like Zetta was saying - some people will love your stuff, some will hate it.  If you have a clear brand - and by clear, I mean accurate and honest, as well as clearly-stated - it cuts through the clutter. 

    It's not even about crap vs. not-crap; it's about finding the subsection of people who adore reading, say, historical mysteries involving ninja penguins.  And letting them find you.

  • Zetta Brown

    Hi Terri,

    Yes, it is a necessary evil, unfortunately. Branding works both ways. You got brands that scream luxury, if not quality (e.g. Tiffany & Co.) and you got brands that you know are cheap (e.g. Goodwill) and sometimes poorly produced.

  • Zetta Brown

    Hey Hillary,

    I know what you mean. These days it's practically impossible to keep anything private. Social networks are good but you never know who's really out there and what they're doing with the info you may share.

    When it comes to your writing, why not develop a pen name and develop that into your brand. And, if/when you feel like it, "come out" as yourself. But there's nothing saying that you ever have to "out" yourself.

    Plus, we all make mistakes. We're only human. It's also important to keep telling yourself that your work is NOT geared for everyone. Some people will like it, some will hate it. If they hate it, then you don't have to worry about pleasing them! :)

    Fortunately there is more than one book and one author on the face of the planet. Can you imagine how boring the world would be if this was not the case? Also, can you imagine the pressure on the single author and their book if it was!

  • Hillary Waterman

    Words of wisdom, though in my case I worry that I've let the fear of having my name become associated with "crap" keep me from utilizing social media, sharing my writing, and writing what I really feel. I wonder how to manage the tension between wanting to present your best "brand," or self, and making some mistakes in learning how to do just that. Any insights?

  • Zetta Brown

    Thanks, Laura!

    In this day and age with social networking, etc., word gets around the world faster than ever before. If the "wrong" impression/message is sent, you will have a hard time trying to get people to think otherwise--even if it was an innocent (or mindless) mistake.

    Did you hear the recent story about the couple accused of stealing a ball from a child at a baseball game? They have been villified. But no one wants to know their side. The damage is done.


  • Laura Brennan

    I completely agree with your post.  I am constantly amazed that people don't put their best work forward.  I don't even let my writers group read stuff until it's as good as I can make it - and then they invariably make it better before it goes beyond that room.

    The thing about branding is, it has to be true.  You can't sustain a brand that isn't accurate.  When I work with my clients, either on their personal brand or their book pitch, my first rule is: is it true?  What are truly your strengths as a writer?  What is truly the heart of this book?  Your mission in life?  Build your career around your highest truths and then LIVE INTO THEM.

    It gives you a different level of confidence when you speak, when you make requests, when you engage with the world if you know that what you're saying is not, in fact, crap.

    Great post, Zetta!  Thanks so much!

  • Faith Freewoman

    Thanks, Zetta. I HAVE seen way more of the garbage than I want to! Any garbage, when I've paid for it and am looking forward to a diverting and engaging read, is too much.

    I even had the privilege of rescuing one book whose author had felt pushed to rush into publication, and which was full of errors in spite of the fact that nine different readers had proofed it. It was always a terrific story, but now readers can enjoy it without being sidetracked by mistakes.

    I'll have to remember "you only get one chance to make a first impression ..." Good one!

  • Zetta Brown

    Hi Faith!

    Actually, I do have an opinion. There are many authors who have a good product that deserves more exposure, etc., and then there are those who glut the market with, in my opinion, pure garbage. You should see some of the sloppy "books" out there that are full of bad grammar, bad punctuation--bad writing. It's true when they say you only get one chance to make a first impression. Newly published authors and NYT best sellers all have an equal chance in this case. If someone wants to put their name (or pen name) to it and claim it as theirs, that's their choice.

    I know authors who have hurt themselves by being in a rush to get published that they find themselves in horrible contracts with publishers who don't play fair or they self publish without taking the time to get proper editing and proofreading and typesetting to make the customer feel they have purchased a good product.

    While publishing and getting published may be easier than it ever was before it doesn't mean that it's easy to do AND get it right. 

  • Faith Freewoman

    Say, Zetta ...I do have a question.

    I've recently been exposed to a couple of motivational gurus who are promoting Amazon ebooks as the next greatest font of limitless wealth and success. And they're encouraging people to crank out any and all kinds of crap about any subject that has Google results within prescribed parameters.

    Do you have any thoughts about how much of the crap out there is a direct result of these get rich quick workshops?

    I'm still boggling about what I saw and heard during a 3 hour workshop teaser that I endured.

    So, what do you say? Faith

  • Faith Freewoman

    My sentiments exactly, Zetta! And no pussfooting about it, either.