What’s my brand? What does it matter? And a giveaway! by Daryl Wood Gerber

Hey all, Liz here – and today I’m happy to host the lovely and talented Daryl Wood Gerber. She doesn’t need much of an intro with this crowd – so take it away, Daryl!

blue_small_headshotBranding oneself – what does that mean?

When the first Cheese Shop Mystery came out, I “branded” myself as the cheese lady. I did my research. I became knowledgeable. I had fun. Readers at conferences didn’t know my name, but they knew I was the cheese lady.

When the first Cookbook Nook Mystery came out, I re-branded myself as a culinary  or foodie mystery author. It was a no-brainer. I know food. I love recipes. The Cookbook Nook Mysteries are set in a cookbook shop and feature food. Plus I was already posting GTS_coverrecipes and photographs on Mystery Lovers Kitchen.

However, when I decided to publish a stand-alone suspense novel, I hit a wall. How was I supposed to brand myself so that readers knew what they were getting? Would my readers feel that I had betrayed them? What about the food and the recipes and the small town flavors they had come to expect from me?

As I was redesigning my website, I came up with some food terms that I thought might help define my work: Tasty ~ Zesty ~ Dangerous.

Tasty and zesty are pretty self-explanatory. Why dangerous? Think of it like three-alarm-chili dangerous.  At first it was a designation for some of my short stories. They are not all cozy. Then I realized that dangerous could also work for my future suspense novels.

However, I got to wondering if that was the brand that would help my fans feel comfortable reaching for my other genre titles on the shelves? I asked myself: Why have my readers truly enjoyed my books? It can’t be just because of the food element. I’m not a celebrity chef.

Then it hit me. My readers like that I write about family. The protagonists in all my books are closely bonded to family. They are loyal. They follow their hearts. Not all families are built the same way, of course. In the Cheese Shop series, Charlotte’s family includes her darling grandparents, her cousin and his daughters, and her good friends Delilah and Meredith. In the Cookbook Nook series, Jenna’s family includes her dad and aunt but also her good friends, Bailey and Katie. [Just between you, me, and the lamppost, I think she would like to make Rhett family sometime soon, too.] No matter what, the protagonist’s devotion to protecting those she loves is vital to her—just like it is to me.

So, though all my novels might be tasty, zesty, or dangerous, the theme is always family.

For example:

GOTR_pngIn Girl on the Run, when Chessa wakes up beside the body of her husband, nauseous and confused, unable to explain to the sheriff why her princess costume is covered in blood, she runs. Over the course of the novel, she must delve into the truth about her husband and her family.

In Grilling the Subject, Jenna’s father becomes the suspect in the murder of one of his neighbors. The woman and he have been at odds over property rights. Jenna won’t sit back and let him go to jail. She has to prove him innocent.

Now, a question you might ask: can my cozy readers read my suspense even though they are categorized as dangerous? Yes. I still avoid using bad language. I do not write explicit sex or violence. The pace is faster, the ante greater, but the theme—family—is the same.

Some might wonder whether writing in multiple genres means I’m scattered. I don’t think so. I’m creative. I have lots of ideas. There are plenty of authors who write for more than one audience. It can be done.

What’s next for me? I’m going to publish another suspense. It will come out in November. I’m going to continue writing more cozy mysteries, too.

No matter what, each novel—whether tasty, zesty, or dangerous—will focus on family because family matters. That’s my brand and I’m sticking to it!

Daryl, thanks for visiting!

Readers, leave a comment for Daryl for a chance to win any of her published books in print or e-book format: Cheese Shop Mysteries (1-7), Cookbook Nook Mysteries (1-4), or Girl on the Run. 

Agatha Award-winning and nationally bestselling author DARYL WOOD GERBER ventures into the world of suspense with her gripping debut novel, GIRL ON THE RUN. Daryl also writes the bestselling Cookbook Nook Mysteries. AsAVERY AAMES, she pens the bestselling Cheese Shop Mysteries. Fun tidbit: as an actress, Daryl appeared in “Murder, She Wrote”. In addition, she has jumped out of a perfectly good airplane and hitchhiked around Ireland by herself. She absolutely adores Lake Tahoe, where GIRL ON THE RUN is set, and she has a frisky Goldendoodle named Sparky. Visit Daryl at www.darylwoodgerber.com.
Twitter: @darylwoodgerber
Facebook: www.facebook.com/darylwoodgerber
Website: www.darylwoodgerber.com

92 Thoughts

  1. Daryl, I love that you can find the common ground of family between your cozies and your suspense novel – which I need to get to! Best of luck going forward, and thanks for visiting us today.

  2. Daryl, I’d love to read any cookbook nook book. All of your stuff is great

  3. Hi Daryl. As an avid reader of mystery fiction for over 35 years, I enjoy reading many cozies including your Cheese Shop and Cookbook Nook mystery series. But I am eclectic in my reading taste within the mystery genre, so I had no problem in picking up your Girl on the Run thriller, and I liked this one, too. Each of your series/books have distinct settings and likeable/unique characters that I want to keep reading. I like how you link family as the common theme in all your writings. Looking forward to reading your next books!

  4. Thanks for this, Daryl. Although my current Witch City series is cozy, there’s another one spinning around in my brain which is more in the traditional mystery or suspense category. Your experience is helpful.

  5. Can’t wait to read “Girl on the Run”. Tahoe is one of my favorite places.

  6. Hi Daryl,

    I love your cozy series and I enjoyed reading Girl on the Run. Don’t enter me in the contest. I just wanted to say that I love your writing and happy that you have a new cozy and suspense book coming out soon.

  7. Branding? In the acting theater it’s type casting. Whatever. (eye roll) An author is an author. An actor is an actor. What does it matter that they cross genres. Others have done so. Look at Joanne Fluke. Video Kill was great! And I think it is great that people “broaden out”. Who wants to be narrow and limited in their thinking. Boring. And I really like the premise of Girl on the Run. I would like very much to read it. Della at deepotter@peoplepc.com

    1. Della, thanks so much for your support. Yes, as an actress, I too found the type casting so difficult. Add a witch nose, a hunch, and a good wig, and we can all be hags. Oh, wait, do all witches look like that? Hm, me-thinks not. LOL ~ Daryl

  8. Daryl–thanks so much for visiting us today. I think all of us in the cozy niche have thought about how we extend our brand. Thank you for explaining how you approached this daunting prospect. I’m putting Girl on the Run on my TBR list.

    1. Barbara, it’s all a process. We face writing daily. We face our career in the big picture, right? One project at a time (though sometimes it’s three or four projects at a time!) ~ Daryl

  9. I think lots of readers cross genres — I’m always looking for a good story — cozy or not. What a great blog and it’s very helpful as I pondered expanding out of the cozy world.

  10. Daryl, I really enjoyed today’s blog. Fun & informative. It made me want to read your new line of books & that was the point you were making. Thanks for the giveaway!

  11. I’ve thought a lot about this, since I’ve self-published a middle-grade series, and now I’m having a bit of success with mystery short stories. Not exactly sure where the common ground (if any) is. It’s something to ponder.

    1. Mary, I’m not certain that you “need” to have a common ground. My mystery short stories don’t necessarily reflect the same theme. But it’s interesting when you can find one and see that it’s truly your essence as well. ~ Daryl

  12. Really interesting interview. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I admire your ability to write different series and all good stories.

    1. Candy, thanks so much. There are been some critics (LOL), but I’d like to think I am giving my readers good stories, too. I know I’m trying my heart out. ~ Daryl

  13. Hi Daryl
    I am really wanting to read Girl on the Run. Sparky has the coolest job.

    1. Daphne, Sparky definitely has the coolest job. He loves when his mom puts his pictures up so he can shout out his love for me. LOL He’s such a cutie. ~ Daryl

  14. Great interview! I love different kinds of books. My book club pushed me out of my comfort zone and I’ve been trying different kinds ever since. I do love a good cozy mystery though.

    1. Judy, good for you to read outside your comfort zone. I have to admit that I don’t do that a lot. I like to read the genres I enjoy. However, I’m starting to really enjoy certain research and history and I never did before! ~ Daryl

  15. Fantastic way to tie everything up and you are right a lot of the attraction is family at least to me…thank you for the contest. P.S. I love ebooks too and glad you are offering a choice.
    Marilyn ewatvess@yahoo.com

    1. Amanda, yes, writing what you love is very important. But sometimes “selling” yourself (that PR thing that authors have to do nowadays) needs a brand. ~ Daryl

  16. What stands out is your enthusiasm for writing- and your talent evidenced by the sales of your books. Keep going- whatever comes to you should be put down for us to enjoy. Thank you for sharing your inner world! ps- Murder She Wrote? I’ve seen every episode….which one? It’s still on Cozy TV.

    1. Jennifer, I was on “Color Me Mine.” I was brunette (back then) and I was a mean mother who accused a boy of stealing my son’s bike. I got to work with Angela Lansbury, and she was such a delight! Such a pro. ~ Daryl

  17. I’m willing to add another author to my list. If I win a free book I’ll be glad to review on Goodreads and Amazon.

  18. Looking forward to getting to your books. They are in my TBR.

  19. Hi, Daryl — You’ve raised some interesting points. Having a thread run through all of your books, regardless of genre–is a terrific point and something we can all keep in mind. I’ve loved all of your books!

  20. Hi Daryl, I’m an avid reader of your books and love hearing there are more on the way!

  21. Hi Daryl. I am a cozy mystery fan and love to read. I’d love to win one of your books. Thanks for the chance!!

  22. So very excited to read your cookbook nook series as well as the others.

  23. Your books look very interesting
    thanks for the chance to try one out!

  24. I enjoy both of your cozy series. I haven’t had a chance to read your new suspense book yet.

  25. You are so right! It is family whether by blood or by choice that draws me to most books now days. I appreciate the information on your newer books because I have anxiety and didn’t think I would be able to read them.

    1. Jeanie, it’s really interesting how telling my fans what is or isn’t in my new suspense books has helped my readers find a modicum of comfort, which is also why the reviews have been good. My stalwart fans are also reading the new suspense and loving it. ~ Daryl

  26. I really enjoy reading your books, Daryl. Interesting that you write both cozy mysteries and also suspense. Also to find out that you appeared on “Murder, She Wrote” which is one of my all time favorite series. I’m looking forward to reading “Grilling The Subject”.

    1. Dianne, thanks. Please tell your friends about Grilling the Subject. I’m very excited about this particular story, which is already earning good reviews from early readers. ~ Daryl

  27. I dont need to be entered in the contest since I have read everything you have written. I just wanted to say no matter the brand, your writing speaks for itself. Thanks

  28. Hi Daryl, thank you for sharing your thoughts . I enjoy all your books. The intersection of family and friends as family of the protagonist is always appreciated by this reader. I would adore Cookbook #4 if I may.

    1. Lori, thanks so much. I enjoy making my protagonist have to consider family as well as friends as she faces the challenge of the mystery. ~ Daryl

  29. I’ve read several of the Cheese shop mysteries and Cookbook nook mysteries. Love the family ties and learning about cheese and cooking. If I win, I’d prefer a print copy.

    1. Dianne, lovely to see you here! I do have to admit that writing about cheese and cooking has been a lovely aspect of writing my culinary cozies. I mean, I have to eat, so I might as well experiment while writing, right? ~ Daryl

  30. Hi Daryl, great blog! I’ve read many of your books and look forward to this one. Congratulations on the new release and I hope Girl on the Run is doing well.

    1. Thanks, DM. So good to see you here. Girl in the Run is doing pretty well. I still need to get the word out more. Hope you (all) will help. 🙂 Self-publishing has been an incredible journey. ~ Daryl

  31. I’ve been a fan of both your series but haven’t read the standalone. I have no idea why the Cookbook Nook became my favorite , but it did. Hint, hint I’m hoping Jenna makes Rhett family soon too.

    1. Ruth, I’m so glad to hear this. I love the Cookbook Nook series, and I really adore Rhett in Jenna’s life. Wait until you see what happens in this one! ~ Daryl

  32. I haven’t read any of your cookbook nook mysteries … my curiosity is piqued!!!

  33. Fascinating reading! I have often wondered how an author pulled this off. I was thinking pen name change, but that means building an audience from scratch. One thing that helps to set the two genres apart is your book covers. As soon as I glimpsed the Girl on the Run cover I knew it wasn’t cozy. Thanks for this article.

    1. Melissa, yes, I have a terrific virtual assistant who helped with the artwork and process of self-publishing, which made it so much easier and a fun journey. But, true, we made sure that the cover would definitely give my readers a clue. 🙂 ~ Daryl

  34. I do love the family and friends. I also love that there isn’t bad language. I am definitely going to read some of your other books, I like variety. Thank you

      1. Honest to gosh, the random generator chose the last name that commented. Jess Dimovski, you have won your choice of my books. I’ll make sure to contact you to let you know! Congrats and thanks to all for chiming in. Love all my readers! ~ Daryl

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