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It appears, that I have . . . entirely by accident . . . developed a manifesto. Let me tell you how this happened.

So, because I am an author and am generally presentable and have shoes and things . . . and because I spend a lot of time online . . . I sometimes get asked to speak at conferences and panels. I laughed until I fell over the first time I was asked, but it’s a fairly regularly occurrence now, and I look forward to those weird, squat water bottles they often give you when you are up at a podium. I can spend a good five minutes of my speech just thinking about those little water bottles. That’s why I smile so much up there.

Anyway, more and more, I get asked to do talks and panels on social media. Lots of times, I don’t even know what people really want these panels or talks to be about. “Social media” is new and big and weird, and there are very few true experts. So they just scoop up whoever is around (like, for example, me) and stick us in front of a room and call us experts.

A panel of experts.

I did one panel very recently, and it broke me. On that day, the MANIFESTO came to me. And now, I want to share it with you.

I took my place up on the dais and immediately looked for my little water bottle. I was seated next to a woman I’d never met. We shared a microphone. I noticed that she had already grabbed it and was CLINGING to it like it might try to escape. I put this down to nerves until the panel started, at which point it became clear that if I ever wanted that microphone, I was probably going to have to engage in some form of physical combat.

My neighbor had a lot to say. She had a MESSAGE. She talked longer than anyone, and over everyone and through everyone. Her message, as far as I could determine, was that the internet is all about getting out there and SELLING yourself.

“I’m a brand,” she said, every minute or so. “I’m always thinking of ways to promote my brand.” It was all brand, brand, brand, brand, brand.

The other thing she said that made my head swivel around uncomfortably was, “Get your message and repeat it OVER AND OVER. Just keep saying your message OVER AND OVER in the same way. Just tweet it and put it out on Facebook OVER AND OVER.”


She was certainly not the first person I’d heard this from. I hear this almost everywhere I go where there are people talking about social media, and I feel that it is time that I rise up against it. In fact, I did, right there and then. I grabbed the microphone from her grasp and said, “I am not a brand.”

She grabbed the microphone back and started clarifying that she really, really, really is a brand and brands are awesome . . . and the more she went on, the more I thought: I am not a brand. I wanted to whisper it, but that would have been creepy.

Just to be clear on this thing I am not, maybe I should define my understanding of personal branding. A personal brand is a little package you make of yourself so you can put yourself on the shelf in the marketplace and people will know what to expect or look for when they come to buy you. For example, Coke is a brand. When you see Coke, you expect a dark brown effervescent sweet drink that is always going to taste like . . . Coke. McDonalds is going to sell you inexpensive, fast food. The Ritz or the Four Seasons is going to sell you a luxury experience. BP will now be known as the brand that destroys the costal ecosystem of the southeastern United States.

And yes, authors sometimes have these “brands.” Nicholas Sparks is going to sell you a roman . . . love story, excuse me . . .where someone dies of cancer/similar disease at the end. V.C. Andrews will sell you something awesomely insane and creepy. Dan Brown will sell you a series of puzzles, facts, and clues leading to the unveiling of a huge secret. Tom Clancy will sell you something with a submarine or some kind of large weapon in it. You get the idea. I don’t know if any of the above actively works on his or her “brand” . . . (well, V.C. Andrews won’t, since she died in 1986 having written only eight books—her official ghostwriter has written over sixty more in her name since that time, which is pretty impressive work).

I am not saying that it is a bad or dishonest thing to try to sell your work. It is not. What I am saying is that I am tired of the rush to commodify everything, to turn everything into products, including people. I don’t want a brand, because a brand limits me. A brand says I will churn out the same thing over and over. Which I won’t, because I am weird.

So there we were, grappling for the microphone, polar opposites in every way. And then I noticed that when people on the other side of the table were talking, the woman pulled out her phone and started reading messages. She didn’t listen to what the others were saying.

I was having a difficult time listening to all of this.

Some people don’t get it. They don’t get that the internet is a conversation. They think the message only goes one way—out. Things must be shouted. Things must be thrust in your face. Things must be sold.

This certainly applies to what I do. The more the internet expands, the more people—okay, authors, who are a KIND of people—are being encouraged* to go online and PROMOTE, PROMOTE, PROMOTE! To aid in this endeavor, these poor writers are being shipped off to conferences where they roll out people like me under the guise of being experts on something. And in general, the quality of advice is pretty craptastic. “Get a Facebook page!” “Get lots of people to LIKE you!” “SHOUT THE TITLE OF YOUR BOOK AT PEOPLE UNTIL THEY START CRYING AND BUY IT.” Or, more annoyingly, we experts use the genuine language of community (“Make authentic friends!” “Network!”) to do the same thing, just with a softer sell. But it’s still all about selling.

On rare occasions, you get to hear someone amazing, like Cory Doctorow or John Green . . . people who have really good, sound ideas about how to make the internet MORE AWESOME. Personally, unless I’m with them or people like them, I don’t think I really want to do any more of these panels. I’m definitely repeating and boring myself at this point. My message is always:

  1. You should probably not be taking advice from me
  2. Don’t write boring stuff
  3. Have more fun online
  4. The people online are real people and they matter
  5. Please bring me a snack

There is usually a lot of emphasis on numbers one and five.

I think the divide is pretty basic. I think there are people out there who see the internet as a way of employing the same old techniques of SHILL, SHILL, SHILL. A hundred years ago, they would have rolled up to you in a wagon, shouting about their tonic. Fifty years ago, they would have rolled their vacuum cleaners up to your door.

The other side, the side I am on, is the one that sees an organic internet full of people. Sure, when I have a book come out, I will often say, “Please, could you buy a copy? I need to buy food and post-it notes and hamsters.” But in reality, I wouldn’t suggest it if I didn’t think you would like it. I have a lot of fun writing my books, and hey, if you can buy one, great! I think it’s just as great if you take it out of the library. I write because I actually like doing it, and through some miracle of science, I get paid, so wayhay!

Anyway, we had a fun afternoon, she and I, wrestling for the microphone. Every time I got it for a moment, she instantly dragged it back to talk more about HER BRAND. We were polar opposites, battling it out to the death. The difference was, when I stepped down off the stage, I was greeted by a row of readers who had brought me snacks and just wanted to hang out. I was happy to see them. And I’m not saying the other woman IMMEDIATELY went off and clubbed a baby seal, but I have no evidence to the contrary, so let’s say no more about it.

MY POINT IS . . . it’s early days yet on the internet, and lines are being drawn. We can, if we group together, fight off the weenuses and hosebags who want to turn the internet into a giant commercial. Hence, the manifesto. It goes something like this:

The internet is made of people. People matter. This includes you. Stop trying to sell everything about yourself to everyone. Don’t just hammer away and repeat and talk at people—talk TO people. It’s organic. Make stuff for the internet that matters to you, even if it seems stupid. Do it because it’s good and feels important. Put up more cat pictures. Make more songs. Show your doodles. Give things away and take things that are free. Look at what other people are doing, not to compete, imitate, or compare . . . but because you enjoy looking at the things other people make. Don’t shove yourself into that tiny, airless box called a brand—tiny, airless boxes are for trinkets and dead people.

And remember the previous points one and five.

We still have a shot at this. Let’s do it.


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Posted: Tuesday, June 8th, 2010 @ 6:37 pm
Categories: advice.
Tags: , , .
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369 Responses to “MANIFESTO”

  1. Lex Says:

    I was talking to someone about this the other day, and saying that I thought it was probably a BAD thing that people couldn’t put me clearly into a category through my videos, tweets and blog posts etc, because people love to love the things that are presented to them in neat little packages. I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing in life, or in all professions, but a bad thing if you’re trying to pursue some sort of career in social media where what you’re offering to people is essentially just your personality.

  2. Lindsay Eland Says:

    Hi Maureen! I just wanted to say how much I loved this post!

    Have a large chocolate eclair on me…really, I insist :)

  3. Lex Says:

    Actually, scrap “bad” altogether, because I’m not ashamed of the fact that one day I might be uploading a song about how much I hate Milk and another uploading a scripted sketch about getting drunk with Death Eaters; I just think that people in general are more accepting of that packaged personality.

  4. Brittany Landgrebe Says:

    I don’t like the idea of being a brand. It’s scary! Also:

    A) There’s no guarantee the brand will be *pretty*
    Llama) I don’t want to be yanked from my jar and stuffed in a brand
    Triangle) Brands can get stale real quick
    %) Friends stick around, ‘customers’ not so often

    *signs manifesto, puts on hat*

  5. Jenni Says:

    Great post!

  6. colorlessblue Says:

    It’s so irritating when people insist in being small-minded over the possibilities of new technologies. Just yesterday I saw my roommate watching on tv a “comedy news” show doing a report on Twitter.
    First they did a homophobic joke (hahaha this guy tweeted about being in love so I’ll ask him who’s the bf I’M SO FUNNY) then a sexist joke (hahaha women can’t tweet cos they talk too much for 140 characters I ROCK), then they mocked people who were poor/didn’t speak foreign languages/english (not american tv)/didn’t know what social networking was. THEN they mocked everybody else who’s on Twitter as being airheads obcessed with following celebrities.
    Because obviously, the way they use Twitter is the only way and nobody is organizing communities like Nerdfighters or following news and certainly last year’s election protests from Iran didn’t happen!

  7. Terry Towery Says:

    Exactly! God, how I agree with you. I am so sick and tired of feeling like I need to become some sort of brand or commodity in order to get published.

    Frankly, I long for the days when writers were secluded oddballs who were rarely seen in public. ;)

  8. Cynthia Says:

    An absolutely fabulous post…I could not agree more!

  9. Jamie Harrington Says:

    Thank you!

    I am so sick of this hard-sell-yourself on the internet thing. That is NOT what these communities are about, and it just won’t work.

    You’re a badass.

  10. Maggie Stiefvater Says:

    I will not bring you a snack, because that’s creepy, Maureen.

    But if we’re ever on a panel together, I will let you have the microphone.

  11. Lisa Gail Green Says:

    I just have to say how much I LOVED this post. I laughed out loud. And yes, we do need to buy more hamsters, but I’m enjoying the internet (blogging, twitter, etc..) because of the people I’m getting to know. So hooray for you! and long live the manifesto!

  12. Lynsey Newton Says:

    I’m not a brand, I’m just me :)

    Love this post Maureen, if I ever meet you I will come talk to you and bring snacks :)

  13. Caitlin R. Kiernan Says:

    This is just…brilliant.

    Thank you.

  14. Loretta Nyhan Says:

    This is truly awesome.

    (And I like those midget bottles of water, too. They’re just enough, aren’t they?)

  15. T. H. Mafi Says:

    I could not possibly agree with you more. You are so, so, so right.

    Thank you for taking the time to emphasize this point. The internet is made up of humans JUST LIKE ME AND YOU, and failing to recognize that means failing to be human.

    You are all kinds of awesome.

  16. T. H. Mafi Says:

    ALSO! and more importantly: if you are ever in orange county i will bring you LOTS OF SNACKS. and maybe a hamster.

  17. Holly Black Says:

    You are a genius. That is all.

  18. Linda Godfrey Says:

    You said this so well. Imagine if Twitter got to the point where it was only brands talking to brands. Might as well be done with net bots — and some of it already is. Here’s to real humans and little water bottles for all.

  19. kirsten hubbard Says:

    just fantastic.

  20. Manuel Says:

    This is a great manifesto!
    I really love the last sentence. :)

    Thank you, Maureen!

  21. WendyNYC Says:

    God, yes. I’m so with you on this. I can’t deal with BUY MY BOOK! BUY MY BOOK!

    Unless your brand is “I’m hilarious and will make you laugh with every tweet,” no thank you.

  22. Shannon Messenger Says:

    You can’t see it, but I’m pumping my arms and whooping and humiliating myself, but it’s okay because the only one who can see it are my cats. Though my cats are eyeing me with disdain for my behavior, but I’m ignoring them. :)

    *whispers* I’m not a brand either.

  23. tehawesomersace Says:

    I love this. I’m actually to the point where I unfollow the people who spend the majority of their time tweeting about their books. If that’s all you have going on, why would I follow you? It’s like watching that Chas guy push his Wen hair stuff on QVC/the TV guide chanel: after a few minutes my head wants to explode.

  24. Greg Pincus Says:

    It still amazes me when I hear people promoting the “sell, sell, sell” method. Doesn’t work. The net, as you say, is all about people. Now, a personal brand doesn’t have to be an ugly thing – it’s taken a beating and become so – but no matter what, it’s not about the siren song of selling. To me, the mantra is “connect, connect, connect” for all the reasons you note.

    So, in other words, I’m buying your manifesto. Nice job selling it :-)

  25. libba Says:

    I am crocheting you a snack RIGHT NOW. Or as soon as I learn how to crochet. Did I ever tell you you’re my hero? You’re everything, everything, I wish I could be…

    Love this. You=awesome.

  26. Mary Says:

    I must say the first thing I like about you is that you have photos up of Cary Grant. There is no easier way to win my friendship then a good b&w movie ;)

    But beyond that, you are absolutely right. I think people fight so hard to be compared to a big business that they forget why people like the “little guy” It is because they create things from the heart not just quickly and exactly the same every time.

    This is the first time I’ve read anything by you, but I find out wonderfully honest and down to earth :)

  27. Carolina Valdez Miller Says:

    What a relief it is to hear someone say this, and in such a brilliant way. I’ve blogged on this before–on my resistance to branding. Because, dang it, I’m not a brand. I’m me. I’m real. And there are loads of different me’s–all of them equally real and genuine, and you may never know what to expect from me. And I want to believe that everyone else out there is real and that they want to be treated as real, as people that also have lots of different sides to them, different things to say. I’m not selling me. I’m letting you meet me, just as I want to meet you, not your brand. Sometimes, I want to say, forcryingoutloud, let me SEE you–don’t LOL me…LAUGH.

    So okay then, where do I sign?

  28. Maggie Says:

    Branding? What is this branding thing people keep talking about? I DON’T GET IT. I heard you speak at the Book Blogger Con and loved your REFUSAL to BRAND yourself. Also your picture of the nuns falling into a mass grave.

    Anyway, thank you for the manifesto! =D

  29. Olivia Says:

    Yes! Yes!
    I’ve met Cory Doctorow (well, not really. I’ve been in the same room as him, and he was talking to me as well as about 50 other people at my school), and yes, he is awesome and has awesome ideas. For The Win is on my counter right now, waiting to be read.

  30. kathleen duey Says:

    I did a panel with that same woman, or her sister, or her twin, or maybe her business partner…

    I had to tap her shoulder and keep tapping if I wanted the mike. And if I took a breath between words, she reached out to get the mike back. She did indeed repeat her branding “sales points” over and over. She handed out little flyers directing us all to her website so we could buy the book on branding she had written.

    I walked away feeling a little soiled and uneasy, and hoping the new, shiny electronic village commons we all share was not going to allow billboards *everywhere*.

    Maureen, you have said all this perfectly and I agree with all my heart.

    I learned how to de-seed pomegranites on YouTube today. Thanks, guy from Arizona who put it up. I have wrestled with pomegranites all my life and now I won’t. I really, really appreciate it.

  31. Rebecca Says:


  32. Oldbitey Says:

    Maureen, thank you for championing originality over becoming a homogeneous six pack of internet fizzy drink.

  33. Candyland Says:

    I couldn’t have said this better if I’d had a gun to my head (well if my life depended on it I might have). Simply brilliant. I don’t want no stinking brand. Buck the system. Woo! Here’s to weird!

  34. Tami Says:

    Great post. It makes me think of a debut author who I was “friends” with on Facebook. Leading up to her book launch, she sent out an email and her status was about her upcoming title. Understandable. Once the book was out, I was receiving 3+ emails on Facebook a week about her book and items, plus her Twitter feed became a huge promotion. In the end, it made me not want to read it anymore. This was a book I was actually excited about before she started cramming it down my throat. To this day, I still have yet to read the book and probably never will. Branding can backfire as easily as it can work positively.

  35. Kristin Gray Says:

    Bravo, Maureen!
    Yes, yes, yes!

    People matter.

  36. Lisa Schroeder Says:

    I’m glad I wasn’t on that panel. I’m pretty sure I would have hit that lady over the head with the microphone.

    Just recently, I told people on my blog I was going to start posting more pictures of cute animals and cupcakes – two of my favorite things. And, things I think other people enjoy as well. I agree with #3 – let’s have more fun, damn it!!

  37. Laurie Mann Says:

    Sorry you had such a problem – I HATE to hear about panelists like that.

    Did your panel have a moderator? Or, worse yet…was the “branding expert” the moderator? Or maybe, if you had a moderator, she or he needed a cattle prod?

    Good luck on future panels and I hope you wind up with more panelists.

  38. Laurie Mann Says:

    Meant to say “I hope you wind up with more sane panelists.”

  39. Daniel Poeira Says:

    I wish I could send you some snacks right now.

  40. Jennifer Brozek Says:

    This is brilliant. Every single time someone tells me to get a platform, all I can think is, “But, I just want to write and edit.” The word “networking” used to give me hives. As it turns out, I do “networking” pretty well as it is nothing more than me talking to people and having a good time. If you’re not enjoying yourself, what’s the point? Thank you for this post.

  41. Anna Says:

    I totally agree with u on the brand and selling yourself thing. Your not one of those flakes who all they care about are brands and scream buy me buy me!

  42. Katie Anderson Says:

    AMEN, sister!

  43. Bridge Says:

    also signs Manifesto.

    This is why you are on the board committees things, Mj. You tell people to be their own person, not follow the brand-way. Keep stealing the microphone from them!

    *Bakes you cookies*

  44. risa Says:

    Hello Maureen -

    You have now made me want to go and purchase your books in hardcopy about a thousand times more. Thank you for this!

  45. Conrad Rader Says:

    Yes. Thank you for clarifying what has been bothering me for weeks. The tyranny of the marketplace is only as strong as we allow. I am not a brand and I have no interest in brands. People and their stories, what they love and what makes them and me vulnerable. I stand up for stories.

  46. shannon Says:

    Hi Maureen. Don’t know you, never read your books. Found this post from a re-tweet by @lilithsaintcrow – Love her, read her books, she seems to like you and having read your manifesto I really like what you have to say. I am pretty darn likely to read your books now. I’m pretty excited about it too. I can’t think of anything more horrifying that becoming a brand. I would have paid good money to watch the fight for the microphone. Kudos to you, and to snacks.

  47. Simon L. Says:

    Okay, Carolina up there said I should read this or suffer the consequences. I was never really very clear on the consequences, since she said that on Twitter, where I was busy promoting my brand, but I figured since she was so emphatic about it I should swing by and see what all the fuss was about. And it turns out (as it pretty much always does) that she was flat-out, dead-on right.

    I’ve chatted with several aspiring authors now who refuse to be put in a box. “I just write,” they tell me, not wanting to be limited to this or that genre. I agree with them completely. Because if the essence of this whole writing thing is creativity, why put bounds on that? Why not explore in whatever direction you feel led?

    So I’ve decided I like you. If you ever swing by Philadelphia, I’d be happy to direct you to the best Italian bakeries in South Philly–you’ll never find a better canole. I’d offer to buy you a canole myself, but I’ve got three small kids, and the high-speed internet that supports my blogging habit costs a lot of money. I’m sure you understand.

    I’m going back to promote my brand on Twitter now. When I figure out what I’m actually selling, I’m pretty sure I’ll make a mint.

  48. Hayley Says:

    It’s a little late, and I’m forming incomplete thoughts. But, the ones I have about this are:

    I like off-Brands, because they are the best-kept secrets.

    And also, your blog is definitely a living testament to your manifesto. Therefore, is this…MJ-ism?

  49. Notable Quotations « Prone to Laughter Says:

    [...] Maureen Johnson, “Manifesto“ [...]

  50. Shveta Says:

    This! This, this, this.

  51. Darius McCaskey Says:

    Huzzah! It seems that readers prefer real people to brands anyway (shock!). I would point to folks like Kevin Smith, Wil Wheaton, and Neil Gaiman as stellar examples of how to use social media the “right way.”

  52. Julia Karr Says:

    Maureen – you are awesome! That is all… well, not all – but enough for this little blue & white box right now.

  53. annemariewrites Says:

    Posts like this are why you’re asked to speak at panels. Thanks for being another great author in a genre full of great authors.

  54. Susan Kaye Quinn Says:

    Love, love your manifesto! I spend most of my life trying to avoid being a dead person in a box, so that last line really did it for me. :)

    It’s exhausting to try to be someone you’re not, so I pretty much don’t try. Funny thing, people still like me. Or maybe it’s the cats.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts! :)

  55. Karen Yuan Says:

    Oh my goodness. This post really sounded with me… it’s just classic. I mean, social networking, in the first place, was made to meet new and old friends. And now I really really want to read your book. :D

    Please have a snack made of love. THANK YOU.

  56. Mercy J Says:

    People have tried to convince me to be a “brand” before, and I just don’t buy it. Maybe it’s easier to get to know someone if they’re presented to you a neat little package, but why should everyone have to condense their entire self into a specific product that can be counted on to be exactly the same?
    As I’m thinking about this I’m thinking about this frozen yogurt I get at Costco sometimes…I always get chocolate and vanilla swirl, and every time the flavors taste a little different. I don’t know what to expect when I order my frozen yogurt, and rather than being irritating, that’s what makes the frozen yogurt FUN. Sure, the frozen creamy sweetness is delicious, but it’s FUN to sit at a table with my dad and brother and discuss the varying chocolate and vanilla flavors.
    Maybe it was a weird analogy, but it makes sense to me. It just doesn’t make sense for everyone to be a “brand.” People are spontaneous, people have personalities, people aren’t the same thing every single day. If I made my whole personality into a single message to tweet 24/7, I wouldn’t even by myself. I’m not a brand. I’m a person. I’m a person with ever-changing moods and feelings, and I’d rather have conversations than tell people exactly who I am.

  57. J. Roussell Says:

    I feel sorry for that woman because not only is she missing out on all of the good things on the internet, she’s probably killing her sales as well. She’ll be that person at the party that just won’t stop talking about Avon. Eventually, everyone has heard it, and everyone learns to avoid her.

    My personal experience has been that I sell far more when I’m just being my normal, boring, old self than when I’m actually trying to promote anything.

  58. Kelly Fineman Says:

    Well-said, Maureen. I find that I agree with you 100%. 100% and a snack’s worth, even. Sorry you had to sit next to a commercial for so long.

  59. Rick Novy Says:

    Hoarding a microphone to announce your brand is BOORISH seems a bit self-defeating. Really would like to know who that was, but I suppose I shall run into this person eventually.

  60. Lisha Cauthen Says:

    Be yourself. That IS your brand. That’s what Maureen does, and that’s what I try to do. Well, as much as the general public can take.

  61. Sami Says:


    I definetly agree. I have long had the opinion that we think oo much about what will sell, make the most money, create the most hype, etc. “Branding” people is doing the same thing. You are putting people into different groups and categorites and forcing them to stay there.

    I don’t envyy you having to sit next to a repetitve, mic-hog, commercial for so long. I would give you cupcakes but I don’t have any so………VIRTUAL CUPCAKES!!!!!

    Enjoy! :)

  62. Amanda J. Says:

    Well, that was not only funny, it was refreshing. I think I’ll pass that along. :)

  63. janflora Says:

    Very right on :) but you knew that :)
    I remember when I found out VC Andrews had died and I thought the books would end, along with my adolescent world. Then I learned that her name had somehow become a product and all about the world of ghostwriting. I haven’t been the same since DAWN (or that horrible FITA movie).

  64. Rissa Watkins Says:

    I love this! Very well said.

    When I was writing for online content websites, I saw a lot of this from other writers. They constantly tweet or push their articles on facebook etc. Annoying.

    All it does is drive people away.

    Write a good article and it will get read.

  65. John Barnes Says:

    Found this on a retweet from Tobias Buckell.

    Brilliant and right. Spend enough years writing enough books, however, and you will discover that there are readers who really, really get mad at you for “diluting the brand” and for writing series that keep changing into “No, but actually it’s this. No, this. HA! GOT YOU AGAIN!” And occasionally being accused of being a writing collective. All of which happens to me fairly regularly.

    I think of myself as a producer of boxes labeled BRAND X SOMETHING which contain BRAND Y SOMETHING ELSE, and can’t imagine doing things any other way. The “website” here, by the way, is my Amazon profile, which links to the wimpy Amazon Author Central thing (Amazon insists that we all behave like brands, instead of as in the good old days when they just gave us a blog; among other things they don’t let people tell us off anymore,and where’s the fun in that? A branded world is a dull world. There must be some way out of these parentheses — oh, look, here it is). Somewhere on that page is an essay of mine about my Edmunds — an Edmund being defined as something that isn’t what you usually write, written because you just wanted to, so there, so what, and pbbbbt.

    And my Edmunds aren’t a brand either.

    Anyway, thanks for saying so many things that needed saying so well. And you mustn’t hesitate to use your elbows to keep that mike next time. She’s a person like the rest of us — so elbows should work on her.

  66. Michelle Witte Says:


    To your manifesto I would like to add sincerity. I’ve seen a lot of people trying to network just to get “friends” but all they’re really doing is shooting themselves in the foot. People can see if you’re being honest and sincere. As someone above mentioned, be yourself. I still love the lines from the Dr Seuss* book, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU:

    “Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!”

    Be that person and you won’t have to worry about being a brand. You’ll be yourself.

    *People should listen to Dr Seuss more. Like always.

  67. Kyle Says:

    To quote my favorite fake psychic, “I’ve heard it both ways.” The thing is, the people who are just hawking their products can sometimes get me to buy something from them. You on the other hand… Well, I’ve bought your books, but that’s just a side-effect of, y’know, wanting to marry you. *smiles awkwardly*

  68. Debra Driza Says:

    I’m still rolling over the clubbing baby seals line. Great post, and so true. I think the social media communities are much like any others–you get out what you put in. If you don’t have a genuine interest in talking to others, why even waste your time there?

    But more importantly…where are the snacks?


  69. Tania Murphy Says:

    Loved it – and timely for me as I am starting a speaking gig soon teaching people about social media – luckily I will not have to fight for that microphone – well maybe not! –

    A friend suggested your post to me and after a few red wines tonight – Oh that I have already consumed (are there any typos already) I sit here laughing to myself – please don’t let that be me!!

  70. Amanda Says:

    “And I’m not saying the other woman IMMEDAITELY went off and clubbed a baby seal, but I have no evidence to the contrary, so let’s say no more about it.”

    If I laughed any harder I’d have coughed up a lung. I have just been introduced to your blog, I cannot be happier, even if I do risk losing a lung.

  71. Kimberly Says:

    This post is so excellent that it made my insides cry. (It didn’t make it to my outsides. I’m too sleepy to do any real crying yet.)

    True truth: You’ve reminded me of things I had forgotten about the Internet. Thank you.

  72. DeAnn Says:

    Maureen, you rock.

  73. Dena Says:

    Just found a link to your manifesto via Tina Laurel’s site!

    This was the best post ever!!! You had me laughing the whole time, and I am in total agreement!

  74. Jonathon Arntson Says:

    Well, alrighty then. I like this. I will live this.

  75. Magdalen Says:

    Ah, but this manifesto serves your self-branding so well. And it works: I just ordered Let It Snow!

    There’s both room and a need for more smart, funny, self-deprecating & mature people on the Internet. And if they communicate their own personalities and we can buy products that also deliver that same mix of fun & common sense, all the better.

  76. Dorothy Dreyer Says:

    *high-fives you*

    What a breath of fresh air! :)

  77. Elizabeth Flora Ross Says:

    This is fantastic! All I can add is, “Amen!”

  78. Tiana Smith Says:

    Amen! As a long time follower of yours, I will admit that you are THE ONLY person I follow on Twitter or on a blog where I actually bought one of your books. I follow a lot of writers to see what they have to say, and the people who only push their book on me, well, I unfollow them pretty quickly.

    And here’s why I actually bought your book – Because I like you. Not because I like your brand, or because you told me repeatedly to buy your book. But because you are a real person. This is the real type of “marketing” that works – being yourself and not marketing. Thank you for saying it. Simply brilliant.

  79. Shelli Cornelison Says:

    YES! Enough already with the “I am a brand” crap. I never read a Judy Blume novel when I was growing because she told me she was a brand. Sadly, however, the publishing industry is pushing this ideal a little with the desire for everything to have series potential and a marketing angle. Because a “one-off” novel is a terrible thing, right? Yeah, that TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD was really a shameful waste of Harper Lee’s time. Yes, it would’ve been nice to have seen more from her. And, no, you probably won’t be remembered with the same level of adoration for a single novel. However, it IS okay for an author to put out varied works. It’s also okay for an author to write the same characters over and over, if that’s in them and they can pull that off successfully. But, for the love of God, please put yourself out there as an author, a person, not a brand. As a reader and a fan of many authors, I don’t want to be considered a brand on that side of the fence either. No branding! Just writing, reading, neworking, respecting, and enjoying the ride.

  80. RFLong Says:

    Awesome post.

    Although you should have whispered “I am not a brand”. Over and over. Sometimes creepy is good. And sometimes its very very funny.

  81. Malnurtured Snay » How To Approach Blogging Says:

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  82. Phyllis Says:

    I was at Borders yesterday, in the Business section and a book caught my eye that was about branding yourself. I briefly glanced over the cover, and put it back on the shelf because it made me nauseous.

  83. Jacqueline Windh Says:

    Thanks for this, Maureen – it is refreshing and grounding and, I think, much needed.

    I think it is really important for authors to get followers or fans or a platform – whatever you want to call it. And there is so much advice out there – much of it really good and consistent, but some of it conflicting, too.

    I’ve been really resisting the idea of “branding” myself (I, too, am weird, and all over the place in the type of stuff I write) – but I have been questioning myself, too: Am I just being old-fashioned and stubborn? Should I get with the times and develop my brand? (As distasteful as the idea seems…)

    So thanks so much for this… gives me more strength and confidence of continuing the way I am going, to trust myself and what I am doing, to work to get it out there so people find it, but then let my “brand” or “image” or whatever you want to call it just follow from what I am doing anyway…

    Definitely that “sell sell sell” message is a big turnoff. When people tweet to sell themselves more than once or twice, I’m so gone already.

  84. Tierney Says:

    I loved this…so darn funny. Thanks for sharing!

  85. Katie Ganshert Says:

    I know this wasn’t your intention, but I am totally going to go read your books now because this post was awesome! So hilarious (and so true)! Thanks for such a refreshing take on things!

  86. Sandra Parshall Says:

    Great post. I’ve come to hate the very word “brand” and I run the other way when I come across a sell-sell-sell type. I don’t buy books because of an author’s “brand” and a hard sell is much more likely to turn me off than prompt me to buy.

  87. Larissa Says:

    This is why I love you.

  88. Glenda Worrell Says:

    Though I’ve been a freelance writer for 20 years — long enough to know how to support myself — I’d grown increasingly dismayed by others in “my field.” Everybody wants to make a connection. Everybody wants to assure you that you can’t live without their how-to book/seminar/course. BINGO! — your blog put the pointer in the middle of my pain. Readers can tell when a character’s authentic. Writers can too. Heck with it. I’m goin’ old school. Stay true, Maureen.

  89. Patrick Says:

    I’m not an outwardly social type (my convention button is “Available introvert. Say Hi.”) and was told to Facebook and Twitter my business. I get that social media is about conversations and I enjoy talking with my customers more than selling the books. After reading your Manifesto, I agree. I hate branding or campaigning to get fans for the sake of fans, but I am using the Internet to promote my bookstore. Like you, selling books pays my bills and occasionally feeds me (which is an effective diet method). My new website has a Let’s Chat section for conversation, not branding. If I get my store reopened, I’ll have coffee and doughnuts ready for you.

  90. c.d.b. Says:

    I think I will forever think “Maureen Johnson” every time i hear the words “snack” and “hamster.”
    Good work!

  91. Denise A. Agnew Says:

    Ah, yes!!!!!!!!! You said this so well and far better than I could have. I am definitely right with you. Tried being a brand. Didn’t like it. :)

  92. Lisa Says:

    A pretty awesome manifesto that I totally agree with. Rock on.

  93. Against Branding at IanLeTourneau.ca Says:

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  94. Jen Says:

    My first time visiting and already I already feel important! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your manifesto! I learned a few things along the way and one of them I’d be more than happy to do!!!

    I’ll bring you a snack! (any favs??)

  95. xdpaul Says:

    wait. the internet is people? Isn’t Soylent Green people too?

    Are you sure the “snacks” you received weren’t surreptitiously provided by Ms. Brandy McBrandpants?

  96. jeremy lassen Says:

    Nice manifesto. I particularly like the part where you say it’s still the early days of the internet. It made me laugh and feel old and jaded at the same time.

    I also like the screen caps from classic movies for section headers. Good branding, that. :)

    Seriously though. Very nice sentiments that should be expressed often and loudly, so that the “magik tonic” people aren’t the only ones people hear.

  97. Jennifer Ashley Says:

    The minute I signed my first publishing contract, eight years ago, I was bombarded with people telling me, “You’ll never have a career if you don’t get branded!” I thought, “Branded? OMG, won’t that hurt?”

    Since then I’ve written in different genres and subgenres, made bestseller lists, won awards, and have grown a fairly solid career. I don’t even have a slogan.

    I think I’ll go post some cute cat pictures on my FB page.

  98. Kristina Says:

    I’m curious who this other woman is, because I have a poweful suspicion that I would find her writing really dull. But then I have no interest in Nicholas Sparks or “James Patterson,” either. And four V.C. Andrews books were plenty for me. I could go on, but you get the picture. I haven’t yet read any of your books, but I like the variety I see in your sidebar, and I suspect I’ll snap up one of your titles next time I’m in front of them at the bookstore.

  99. Lis Says:

    Loved this! :)

  100. XiXi Says:

    Just so you know, you are the only author whose social networking led to me buying your books and becoming a fan. Therefore, you must be doing something right. :)

  101. Jerseygirl Says:

    Okay, so I’m going to be leading “break-out” sessions at a social media conference next week. Which is scary, because, um, I just like blogging and tweeting – I have no actual expertise. But I like money and free trips. Anyway, I found this post through a link on Twitter and I love, love, love it and I hope you don’t mind if I share it with the poor people who expect me to educate them about social media. I love it.

  102. pete275 Says:

    you’re giving me flashbacks to 1995. don’t stop

    also, great post, as usual, definitively up to the standard of quality we’re used to expect from the Maureen Johnson(tm) brand.

  103. Carmela Martino Says:

    Hooray for you and your Manifesto! Thanks for sharing it with us.

  104. Jenny, Bloggess Says:

    Yes. Yes, yes, yes.

    I’m high-fiving you right now. I bet you can totally feel it.

  105. Ellie Di Says:

    As someone who is raw-new to trying to share an idea that I love on the internet, an idea that I think can make a real difference, this both made me laugh and made me think. I thought I was the only person scratching my head and going “what the hell are you people smoking that you think you’re a brand?”. Thanks for sharing and lessening the fears that I might really be schizo.

  106. Kerri Anne Says:

    I don’t know you at all*, but this post, and the manifesto herein, made me want to read every single book you have featured in that there sidebar. Summer reading list, ahoy!

    *Hello! I’m Kerri (Anne). I enjoy puns, pugs, alliteration, and well-timed cinematic montages. I would totally give you a high-five if I were standing next to you right now.

  107. Genevieve Says:

    Oh. Yes. Oh, yes, yes yes. This is exactly what I desperately wanted someone to say.

    I’m always talking about how pukey the term “networking” makes me feel. I am online, and I do want people to buy my writing services, but SWEET JESUS, I do not want to use people in real life and I will not use them on the Internet.

    I am who I am. I use Twitter because it amuses me. And because I hope it amuses other people. But mostly ’cause it amuses me. And I have hope that, someday, enough people will realize and appreciate my authenticity that I can become rich and eccentric beyond my wildest dreams. Or just eccentric. Hell, I’ll settle.

    Thanks once again, Maureen.

  108. Elisabeth Hendrickson Says:

    OK, now I have to buy all your books. You’re wickedly funny and I love your writing. And you’re wonderfully insightful and totally right about the brand thing…and I’m saying this as someone who totally bought into the Tom Peters Brand You thing.

    But most importantly of all, you referenced hamsters. You might not believe me, but I have a crew of stunt hamsters. Seriously. See http://www.agilistry.com/gallery/waykhamstr/

  109. Jan Markley Says:

    Awesome! love it, especially the part about cat pictures! hope you got your water, I’m thirsty for you.

  110. Jonathan Says:

    You rock. Fake people suck – she sounds like a real estate agent I fired once…gleefully. Personally I intend to be a super hero, but that’s real shit…sort of…anyway, you still rock.

  111. JoniB Says:


    Thank you!

  112. SaltyDroid Says:


    It’s much easier to be a brand than a genuine person. Genuine person takes time and self investment. “Brands” can be contrived over breakfast.

    I’ll bet that if the mic grabber was keepin’ it real … she’d have be even worse {maybe bitten off a piece of your ear}.

  113. Melissa Dinwiddie Says:

    Beautifully put. Thank you. Consider snacks virtually sent (and more coming on the Virtual-Snack-of-the-Month plan).

  114. Cary McNeal Says:

    Bravo! Best thing I’ve read in months. Couldn’t agree more.

  115. melanie Says:

    I can’t believe the bloggess put this on twitter and out of all the overwhelming stream of stuff, I clicked on it because she just don’t steer you wrong, and you just addressed this huge dilemma I am having, essentially because I am broke. So I joined up with this company that’s supposed to make all your dreams come true by giving you step by step instructions on how to “drive traffic to your site” and now I know what SEO stands for and what an aweber account is and that I actually want things to go viral. But here comes the bad part, the part where I always just throw up my hands and go and get a snack: they say you have to sell yourself, and develop your own personal BRAND and they even talk about COKE, too. The broad with the vice grip on the microphone is probably one of them. Shortly after signing on, my fb and twitter stuff was slowly overtaken by new “friends” each trying to out-do one another with inspirational messages. And they all start to sound the same. And everything they post is a quote from a dead person. Talk about a creepy conversation – not too much potential there. But I digress. Remember, I am broke. Hang on, ’cause here comes the really ironic part. As near as I can tell, I need to BRAND MYSELF in order to sell their set of at-home university type courses on how to manage your wealth…and I have none. At all. I can’t afford to buy the stuff I am supposed to brand myself into selling…I think. And they are like this big cult with phone calls everyday and people from all over the world call in and get cyberpatsontheback and shout outs from this guy who I keep waiting to start praying, which they are smart enough to know would be a deal-breaker for many, but it’s such an undercurrent like you wouldn’t believe.
    And I just want to be myself, but then this stupid mommymakesmoneyathome handle hits you on the head, because they said your name should have KEYWORDS in it, and so I bought it from GoDaddy because I used to live around the corner from Dannica Patrick (BEFORE I WAS BROKE). And then, whatever I may have written to start a conversation with people, who matter, leads them to my “landing page” where they are supposed to sign up. And that’s the only way I will make any money. Which I didn’t used to need to do, but now I do, and it’s all just so sad that I am spending money on this thing that I can’t even explain…SO, your Manifesto spoke to me in so many ways, and the timing was incredible.
    THanks very much.
    WHere do you stand on Funny Bones?

  116. Shelley Moore Thomas Says:

    This is the best post I have ever read….EVAH!!

    You put into words everything I have felt as an author dealing with the internet.

    I heart your manifesto!


  117. Tony hunt Says:

    You’re totally going to get hooked up with snacks for like a year ;)

    This was an awesome read. Don’t stop ;)


  118. Devyn Says:

    Would you like some Vegan Bacon with that?

  119. Robert S Says:

    So, you are saying this internet thing is more than a television with a typewriter attached?


    I’ll bake a batch of brownies in support of that idea.

  120. Cynthia Says:

    This post was so refreshing, Maureen. I often find myself nostalgic for the mid-90s non-commercialized internet. A cat picture would take hours to load, but I loved those ad-free cats.

  121. membership accepted « my mumblings Says:

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  122. Tawna Fenske Says:

    Love this, love this, LOVE THIS! Especially this line:

    “They don’t get that the internet is a conversation. They think the message only goes one way—out.”


    My agent dragged me kicking and screaming to the world of tweeting and blogging, and since I worked in marketing for most of my previous career, I insisted on neurotically researching social media before I dared to dip a toe in it. That’s the #1 take home lesson I recognized that I might not have grasped otherwise — social media is NOT about relentlessly selling yourself. It’s about making connections, forging relationships, and trusting that those will eventually prove to be mutually beneficial. Maybe it will lead to more book sales for me, or maybe I’ll just have a chance to interact with some really cool people. Either way, #win.

    Thanks for writing this!


  123. Kellie Says:

    Dear ghod, yes. I am not a brand. I’m a person. I make stuff. I hope you enjoy my stuff. Even if you don’t, I appreciate you took the time to look at my stuff. Now I’m going to go be a person and make some other stuff.

    Primo manifesto.

  124. Alwyn Hamilton Says:

    This is so very very relevant to me right now. I was filling in a job application the other day (in advertising, I’ll grant you that much) that asked me “If you were a brand how would you sell yourself to us”. God, I don’t know…by promising you cake?

  125. Robin McCormack Says:

    Thank you so much for this post. Generally, when I see someone shouting me me me me loudly, I’m saying bye bye quietly and walking away.

  126. Wesley Faulkner Says:

    I have been saying/thinking this for a while. Thank you for putting it into words that are clear. I have a problem with doing that. :)

  127. Taryn Tyler Says:

    I completely agree with every word of that manifesto. A problem not just in the internet but in daily life too.

  128. MotherReader Says:

    Great thoughts, and well-stated. I was thinking in terms of author and book reviewers that we need to step back and think that it is to publishers advantage that we be nicely, neatly branded. It certainly makes it easier for them to promote authors and to evaluate bloggers. I’m not saying that it’s an absolute wrong for them to see it that way. But is it good for the bloggers?

  129. Backpacking Dad Says:

    Brand happens.

    Some people chase it, some people make choices that nudge their path gently, and unsuspectedly, to brandhood, and some people resist it. But being a brand or not isn’t as up to you, I fear, as it should be.

    Because what brands have in common is marketshare. The only ways to have zero marketshare are to either not go to the market or blow it up. The internet IS a market, and everyone in it is running their little stall. Some say they run their stall just because they like to see what their stall can do; others because they want their stall to be the best stall of all the stalls.

    The problem with posting more pictures of cats as a way to resist or reject the “be a brand” message is that if you are talented at finding pictures of cats to post, even if you are, in your own mind, not participating in the market, all of a sudden you HAVE marketshare and you ARE a brand (I CAN HAZ BRANDZ NAOW PLZ?). Unless you self-destruct on the way up you’re a brand whether you thought that’s what you were about or not.

    Because it’s not just YOU that makes the brand. It’s the consumers in the market who recognize, trust, respect, promote, and engage you.

    Is it a necessary condition on brandhood that you participate in your own branding? No, excepting that you always have the option to not participate. By unplugging.

  130. Reverend Mojo Says:

    The Internet is an interconnected network of thousands upon thousand of parties. Mingle, drink, talk, sit in the corner and brood, or write, but socialize! It’s not fucking billboard.

  131. Mireyah Wolfe Says:

    Y’know, I was recently thinking about brands–wondering what mine was, and I even wrote a post about it, but I like your thinking better. I’m not a commodity to be bought, I’m a person who creates something I want to share. *nods*

    Awesome post, Maureen!

    (So…tomorrow, can we have pictures of cats? maybe a hamster or two with hats?)

  132. Cory Says:


  133. Shari Says:

    *stands & applauds*

  134. Jon Gibbs Says:

    Here by way of Katherine Quimby Johnson.

    What a great post!

    I agree 100%, except for the bit about showing your doodles – there’s enough of that kind of thing on the net already.

  135. Anna M Says:

    hear hear! seriously maureen, I 100% agree, you shoulda just pushed that crazy lady off the stage.

    also, when you said Dan Brown, I was thinking…”Dan Brown? pogobat? He’s written a book? How did I miss this? more importantly, how can I get this book? Puzzles, facts, and clues…? OHHhhh…”

    I am such an internet whore haha.

  136. Bascha Says:

    I have been playing w/ my blog for a few years now (bad! nasty!) I know! I should totally commit to it!! I just have these fun experiences, and then, like the proverbial 6 second memory goldfish I forget before I write. I don’t respond to other people’s blogs often, and, honestly, I’ve never heard of you before 15 min ago… my husband sent me the link to this… But I have to say a) you are frickin’ hilarious! b) I really actually feel inspired by your writing to write more, myself and c) I think I’m going to take one of your lines, and make it my personal mantra: “It will go on the Internet or it will get the hose!!!”
    Thank you.

  137. Ren Says:

    Thanks for this Maureen!,

    I haven’t read any of your works, but your attitude and intelligent reasoning definitely make me want to, I don’t even know what genre or type of writing you work with, or if it will even appeal to my tastes… yet. lol.

    Anyway this was an inspiring post, And i’m sharing it. Hopefully people will start to see the potential in what the internet could be… instead of it just being a marketing tool.

  138. Maureen Johnson's Manifesto, "I Am Not A Brand!" | Coffee House Poetry Says:

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  139. Julie Weathers Says:

    Thank you. There is one woman in a writing chat group I attend who:

    1. Tells everyone she knows everything you need to know about writing even though she has never published a novel.

    2. She is AWESOME with a capital B.

    3. Tells everyone they MUST be professionally edited in order to sell and did she mention in the last five minutes she’s an AWESOME editor.

    4. Tells everyone many times how she’s been writing a writer’s advice blog for umpteen years.

    5. Did she mention she’s an editor?

    6. She has some self published books that you need.

    7. Your opinion doesn’t matter because she knows what she’s talking about.

    8. Did she mention she’s an editor?

    9. She’s really sexy and her avatar doesn’t do her justice.

    10. She’s an editor and since she doesn’t work for anyone, she has plenty of time to edit your manuscript, which MUST be professionally edited before you query.

    Yeah, people who beat me over the head with their products, services or books quickly get blocked.

    Be interesting and fun and I will follow you, and I’ll probably buy your book if it’s anywhere close to what I like to read.

  140. Danny Mack Says:


  141. Bon Says:

    weird. i wrote on the same topic on the same day. except with the almost-opposite point of view. (and i swear i’m not that lady clinging to the mic. honest)

    i’m actually with you on the horrors of people who treat the internet like Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show and shout the same damn message about their tonic over and over.

    and i’m definitely with you on the organic, conversational internet being better.

    but…but. i’m not sure the weeding out the hosebags and their promote promote schtick is actually gonna happen. i just don’t follow ‘em, but they’re still there. more important, i don’t think they’re the ones shaping the future of the internet. i think it’s the inbetweens. you are an author. i am an academic-ish sort of mommyblogger who wishes she were an author. you have a separate platform for commerce, though the blog amplifies your profile as a writer, i’m sure, for a lot of readers. i have a separate platform for my ideas in the dark dank lonely halls of the academic journal.

    but particularly in my circles online, there has been a significant infiltration of the discourse and practices of self as business. it’s not entirely out in the open, but the messages bleed through: there is influence and cash to be had, mommybloggers. at the lower echelons it’s crappy product review and that same promote promote stuff, at the higher levels, sponsorship and regular drama-tweeting to sustain traffic. it is an economy, and an interesting one…but undeniably an economy. it’s the same, though with less drama and less pin money, in the meta-social media side of education…but the stakes for speaking gigs and building reputations as experts are far higher.

    so my read, as a result, is yeh, we ARE all brands. but not in the cheap shill same-every-time way you mean. rather, i think we’re all selling ourselves, even unintentionally and even if we don’t want to, every time we interact out here. brand doesn’t have to mean sheer, reductive commodity. i think of it more like online identity, but with recognition that these identities exist in a sphere whose ethos, in part, is monetization. building reputation builds capital – which doesn’t have to be capitalized on, in the literal monetary sense – but which CAN be.

    anyhoo…a pleasure to make your acquaintance.

  142. Mike Robataille Says:

    Does branding imply consistency?

    I design video games. Some are mainstream and some are completely off-the-wall. All my “brand” really says is:

    “This is my history. Based on that, and a two-line game description, decide if you want it.”

    Nothing less, nothing more.

  143. Peter Says:

    Yeah, I had a “friend” who seemed to be pretty obsessed with selling her band on the web. I had nothing against her but it became so absurd and invasive as she never contacted me for anything else except promoting the awful, awful music her excuse for a band makes. The result is I blocked her in every way possible and hope to never hear her music again, even if through some miracle it becomes actually listenable down the road.

  144. Amy McLane Says:

    Comment #140 woo! You’ve hit a big nerve. Those of us who are trying to get in the game are just getting bombarded with heavy sell messages. I’m starting to feel like Crystal Pepsi, and I haven’t even finished my effin’ book yet. I’m quite shy, so this little reminder that turning into Sellbot McLane will repulse other people as much as it repulses me was much appreciated.

  145. Rechelle Says:

    Was the other woman Ree Drummond? Was this panel taped by someone for You Tube? Gawd – I wish I could post her texting during a panel discussion.

  146. kayster Says:

    Thank you for this manifesto. It encapsulates everything I’ve thought and felt about this topic.

    Much of my life I’ve encountered this attitude from people, in the workplace, on the Internet, and writing conferences with these oh-so-wonderful comments:

    “You’ve got to sell yourself! How are you going to sell that? Your degree is in what? OMG, how can you sell that?”

    And my favorite comment about my writing: “Who would want to buy THAT?” as if it were a pair of platform shoes from the 70s in a vintage shop and as if there were no Disco Stus out there who would be interested in such an item.

    I am so damn TIRED of it, as a writer, a person who works, as a person, period. I am tired of the tyranny of small minds and mic grabbers. Readers and writers should simply have the opportunity to connect, be it through print or Internet. That is all.

    Indeed, whatever happened to fun? A competitvely capitalistic mindset is grim one.

    Human beings are not brands and are not exploitable material for reality shows and ads, we’re…human beings.

    Why is it so hard for people to understand that?

  147. Alison Rosen Says:

    One of my viewers (did I mention I have a web show? Allow me to mention it 800 times) directed me to this post because lately I’ve been talking about my feelings about “passion” as a buzzword and how everywhere I go, especially in social media, people ask you what your “passion” is (code for “how are you branding yourself?”) and unless you’re a a tropical fish enthusiast or a rare coin collector or someone into urban farming or video games you end up wondering how you got this far in your career being such a clearly insubstantial person. I could go on, and I have, but anyway, I loved your post!

  148. @collentine Says:

    Sometimes I’m a brand but I am also personal and try to build relations instead of just selling. Talking and listening is much more important. Your manifesto is right on what I believe as well. Quoting the manifesto in my blog, hope you don’t mind.

  149. The internet is made of people. People matter. | Transparency, Social Media and Cultural Patterns Says:

    [...] To read more about this manifesto and see how it came to be go to Maureen’s blog post [...]

  150. Taylor Trask Says:

    I love your writing style, but think you have a very singular idea of what a brand is. Unfortunately, this woman at the panel didn’t help matters.

    Brands CAN be big and unwieldy and cover a wide range of stuff. Just look at Virgin. Or Neil Gaiman. I think what a brand really is, fundamentally is the expectation your fans/friends/consumers have about you. That expectation can be as flexible or as inflexible as you’d like, but I would still say you as an author have it.

  151. lauren myracle Says:

    Here here! And, you are funny.

    But I am eating your snack.

  152. Julie Polk Says:

    This should be required reading by EVERYONE. No exceptions. Genius.

  153. “brand” is not a dirty word- Strategic Blend Says:

    [...] [...]

  154. LJCohen Says:

    Thank you for this. Thank you so very much. I am a poet and a writer just taking the first real steps toward publication. It’s nice to read something sane for a change, instead of feeling like I have to drink the cool aide of branding and marketing, even before my first publication.

    I blog and post on FB because I love the weird and wonderful interactions I have with other people, some writers, some not. If I hear one more thing about how social networking is the be all and end all for writers, my head may explode.

    My favorite point: it’s a conversation.

  155. Lorie Ann Grover Says:

    *standing ovation* BRAVA!

  156. Putting Away the Brand Stamp - Dissecting Words Says:

    [...] was on Boing Boing when I came across this article about authors and branding. Maureen Johnson is an author and she’s decided to not be a brand. [...]

  157. Miranda Says:

    You are amazing, and I’m so glad I read this.
    (Also, came here via The Bloggess on twitter.)

  158. JJ Says:

    I think I love you.

    I totally agree, being a “Brand” leaves you no room to f* up, which let’s be honest, is going to happen.

    If you’re brand-less, you remain human with all your beautiful faults and eccentricities intact.

  159. James Patrick Gordon Says:

    Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Your authenticity is very refreshing, and you’ve given me a lot to think about.

  160. Meera Says:

    Maureen, this is exactly what I needed to read right at this moment. Lately I’ve heard a lot of advice directed at early-career writers (like me) that sounds like it might have come out of the mouth of that woman on the panel with you, and while I grasp it, and even appreciate it on some level, I was starting to think I was crazy for not really wanting to follow it. So thank you.


    P.S. I did get here because of a Twitter post. ;)

  161. Jennifer Ouellette Says:

    Dear Maureen Johnson:
    I now wish to be your BFF for life. And also buy your books. And bring you snacks.
    a fellow author

  162. Sophia Says:

    Thanks for fighting the good fight!

    Be interesting and be interested and you’ll do just fine on the internet.

  163. Nicole Peeler Says:

    Brilliant! Great advice and I’m totally integrating the snacks thing into my contracts. Whatever contracts. They must specify snacks galore. ;-)

    Thanks for reminding us that we need to enjoy and have fun.

  164. MarillaAnne Says:

    Hi Maureen, this is the first thing I’ve ever read that you have published.

    Thank you.

    I found you via MitchWagner on Twitter.

    Oh, I did subscribe so I can read more.

    MarillaAnne (unpredictable, UNbrandable! And I’m fine with that tyvm!)

  165. Tim Says:

    I think it’s funny that you mention John Green considering he formed Vidcon, where he’s charging fans a bunch of money so various YouTube “stars” can sit in front of an audience and give the same advice to them as your annoying, mic-hogging neighbor did.

  166. Valerie Alexander Says:

    Word. I’ve ridden the author promotion train and let me tell you, it made plenty of stops at Billy Maysville. There’s an entire cottage industry of self-appointed experts who convince authors they must spend major money and time on promotion that will all pay off in sales. Except that it doesn’t a lot of the time.

    I think a lot of people in the arts don’t differentiate between their friends and their fans; you think you’ve friended your pal online to stay in touch and instead you get a nonstop hard sell urging you to come to their gig, buy their book, request them on the radio, etc. It’s pretentious and alienating.

    I’m off to blog about this. This post is turning into the shot heard round the Internet.

  167. Tony Muckleroy Says:

    It’s a good thing Billy Mays is dead, because this article would have killed him! Nicely done and well said. I take the Sally Fields approach to the Internet, I just want people to really really like me. ;o)

  168. Fusenews: Me no know art. But me know what me like. Food! « A Fuse #8 Production Says:

    [...] [...]

  169. Claire Dawn Says:

    Thanks! I totally agree. I’m not a brand. And my blog, while small, is more of a community. When I have something to sell, I will say “Lookie here. I wrote this.” But that will never be all that is too it, because really who wants to hear that all the time?

  170. Vincent Eaton Says:

    I was putting together ideas for just such a blog, and now I can scrap it and link to this. I’m an author, publisher, spent years in international communications, and understood within seconds the internet isn’t the same old same old business model. Pushing back at the corporate types and those who have a limited, linear educations in old ways promotion (and so they stick to that, desperately), selling the same old soap is a constant. The internet is finding your way, authenticity it the main ingredient necessary, and I have found the only real way to “sell” anything online is this way:
    1) Make (write) something of quality,
    2) Let people know about it,
    3) Repeat.
    It comes slowly, but it comes.

  171. Martin Says:

    best manifesto since the cluetrain one!

  172. You Are Not A Brand | Start Being Your Best Says:

    [...] [...]

  173. Shaun Hutchinson Says:

    Maureen – This rocks. ‘Nuff said.

  174. Kate Coombs Says:

    Oh, thank you for writing this! (And for your third of Let It Snow, by the way, also very funny.) Bravo to you for resisting the urge to pummel that woman with the mike–or with a full water bottle or one of your books, for that matter.

    Your post comforted the little anxious person inside of me who’s been worried about not wanting to Twitter, Tweet, or be a Twit. Plus the part of me who just wants to blog about children’s books because I love them so much and then write in any damn genre that comes to mind.

    Hooray for hamsters!

  175. India Harper » Aloha from Antarctica Says:

    [...] [...]

  176. Friday Clickfest | Sarah Enni Says:

    [...] Maureen Johnson took to her blog to issue a manifesto against people who want to use the internet like soapbox activists use a bullhorn — to blare out their message, to be the loudest voice in a crowd of loud voices and shove their product -themselves- down our collective throat. Some people don’t get it. They don’t get that the internet is a conversation. They think the message only goes one way—out. Things must be shouted. Things must be thrust in your face. Things must be sold. [...]

  177. Steverman Says:

    Maureen- I stumbled across your branding ideas from the Gawker sites, and I have to agree with you completely. Slap that woman’s hand away when she grabs for the microphone again.

    I am trying to write, and I have story ideas that cross the easily divided lines that divide the fiction market, so obviously I can not be a brand. If I write something you like that’s a story of the old west, maybe you’ll like my science fiction story, or the story of my search for my ancestors, but that’s not the same thing as Original Coke, Diet Coke, and Coke Zero. Thanks for the well thought out argument.

  178. Kay McGriff Says:

    Awesome. I would love to share this with my students (8th graders) next year. Alas, this year’s students have moved on to bigger and better things. I have started blogging with them and this would be excellent to start a discussion with them.

  179. Southpaw Says:

    It’s so wonderful to hear someone finally say this. It takes the pressure off and let me relax. I just want to have some fun, write, and maybe make someone else happy. Thanks.

  180. Why social media does/doesn’t matter and why you should/shouldn’t just shut up about it already | Quillblog | Quill & Quire Says:

    [...] Author Maureen Johnson’s hilarious rant on the tedium of social media marketing: I Am Not A Brand [...]

  181. Reyna Says:

    I loved this post so much. I’m not a writer, celebrity, or anything of the sort. Just a college student who enjoys making YouTube videos once in a while, and posting tweets and blogs that people might find interesting. As a PR/Marketing/Communications major, branding is definitely something that is thrown in your face a lot. I’ve always known there’s more to it than that. One’s got to have interaction with their audience, but it should definitely be genuine. Not talking for the sake of talking.

  182. That thing that I am. « My Multi Faceted Existance Says:

    [...] http://www.maureenjohnsonbooks.com/2010/06/08/manifesto/ [...]

  183. tatere Says:

    “The internet is made of people.” I want to put this on bus ads and coffee holders and everywhere. Maybe make website badges (retro?) saying “I AM SOYLENT GREEN”.

    But the sad thing is, you could slightly modify Point #4 to

    4. Other people are real people and they matter.

    and it still would never sink in for lots of folks.

  184. Jeanne Birdsall Says:

    Bravissimo!(Or is it bravissima?)I’ll not be a brand with you any day.

  185. raresilk Says:

    good on you, Maureen. i say we all get together and bring her hamster snacks.

    snacks for hamsters. not snacks made of hamsters.

  186. links for 2010-06-11 at DeStructUred Blog Says:

    [...] Maureen Johnson Books » Blog Archive » MANIFESTO (tags: blog books Brand branding Manifesto marketing online culture interesting internet) [...]

  187. Surveillance Solutions Inc Says:

    Awsome,I get so tired of having to bow down to all the social media wish I could just do my business and get on with it

  188. Elizabeth Says:

    You see, this is why I like you Maureen Johnson. When I first read a book you wrote (13 Little Blue Envelopes), I thought “Hmm, this is good, but what will the next one be like? The same?” NO. Absolutely not, I read Devilish and I was like,”DUDE, This is like a horror movie, and so well written!!!” The point is, you don’t just write the same old thing over and over so a bunch of teenagers can keep buying their favorite soft drink. You mix it up! You add Pomegranate Green Tea to the shelves in a store FILLED with Coke. Your blog is now on my bookmarks bar in Google Chrome. Thank you for being brilliant/fantastic.

  189. mary Says:

    Yes! Awesome post, and you are so right. The biggest problems I’ve run into on the net have basically been caused by people apparently forgetting that there are other people at the receiving end of their insults, etc. As for being a brand, I hope every writer is more complicated than that. Well said.

    I’m here from Jon Gibbs’s livejournal, btw.

  190. Twitterly musings | ***Dave Does the Blog Says:

    [...] who are too obviously obsessed with branding [...]

  191. Barbara Etlin Says:

    Platforms are for high divers (or for shoes to make you look taller) and brands are for cattle.

    Thanks for being a mensch, Maureen.

  192. heidi r kling Says:

    The word brand makes me itch.
    Great manifesto!

  193. onslaught86 Says:

    That was the best thing I’ve read all week.

  194. Mr. Topp and the Big Bad Blog » Links, featuring monsters, manifestos and radar ears Says:

    [...] Johnson wrote a manifesto … well, she wrote a blog post, and titled it manifesto. If Manifestos have a minimum length, I don’t think it qualifies. But it’s still pretty [...]

  195. Allie Says:

    (Found this through the Ning Creators newsletter)
    Thank you!
    Putting this in my tool box of badassedness.

  196. Old Hag Says:

    [...] they are ambitious. (So much so that Maureen Johnson just had to write a wonderous, excellent Manifesto about untangling blogging from personal branding.) My pet peeve is not the branders, who are funny [...]

  197. Danny Mac Says:

    You seem nice. . . I’ll buy it!

  198. Brent Robison Says:

    This is just right — thanks! I gave it a mention and a link in my own blog post today.

  199. chezjim Says:

    But all this is really just saying that Maureen’s brand is distinguished by… denying her brandness.

    Once you’re on the market, you’re a brand. The only question is whether you define it or others define it.

  200. Books About Just for you… Books About Says:

    [...] This Post Contains Scenes of Graphic Violence and Dangerous OpinionsMorals and Values in YA LitManifestoWhat It Means to Say Brand [...]

  201. Amy Nichols Says:


    And also, AMEN.

    Thank you so much for expressing what I’ve been feeling for a while now.

    I’ve noticed a creepy spillover effect into real life with my writerly friends. Our once-pleasant conversations over coffee have turned into them pitching their products to me.

    I don’t go out for coffee so much anymore.

    How refreshing to know there are still people out there who want to be real. Thank you!!

  202. Keepin’ It Real « Amy writes… Says:

    [...] then I read this post today by Maureen Johnson: Manifesto. And I shouted, “AMEN!” Okay, well, I thought “Amen”. And then, encouraged [...]

  203. Melissa Walker Says:

    Lovely and amazing, as expected.

  204. Carol Horton Says:

    Thank you! Sorry, but I don’t agree with chezjim, the previous commentator. There’s a huge difference between being an author or other type of public figure who was something to say and being boxed into the mentality of “being a brand.” We need more people to reject this commodification of everything and reclaim lots more space for mindsets and ways of life that have something to offer other than the strictly commercial!

  205. Barbara Caridad Ferrer Says:

    I love you. That’s pretty much it. Well, and you rock socks, but you already knew I thought that.

    So wish I could have seen this panel.

  206. Interesting Writings — I am Woman, So I Write « The Open Window Says:

    [...] http://www.maureenjohnsonbooks.com/2010/06/08/manifesto/ [...]

  207. John Brown Says:


    What a fab post. Alas, that woman’s brand was Ms. Hard-Sell Blah Blah. And I doubt anyone cared for it. However, I think you might be conflating brand with method of selling. There are all sorts of ways to let people know about your products or services and see if it’s something they might want to try. She was using the dreaded IN YOUR FACE method. You, me, and most everyone else hates that. But this is different from brand, which is just type, which is just our shorthand way of estimating what to expect from a given thing.

    Cats generally rub up against your leg, dogs bark, sharks bite . . . You can’t ever get away from types. It’s hardwired into the brain.

    In the marketplace types are useful because consumers can’t deal with unlimited choice. Not enough working memory. And sometimes if a brand is strong enough it works against itself if you try to put it in another category–can you imagine Tide (red and yellow laundry detergent) trying to use its brand as toothpaste or doughnuts?

    Doesn’t work. Because the type evokes laundry detergent and doughnuts and the consumer says yuck.

  208. JETaylor Says:

    I really liked this blog – the point of the internet being a two way conversation as opposed to cramming your product (whether it be a book, a movie, a news piece or a zippo lighter) down someone’s throat consistently is right on the money.

    In any conversation, listening is key – it sounds like that woman sitting next to you could have used some duct tape and a not so subltle lesson in the art of listening. :)

    As far as branding is concerned, I guess I veiw it a little differently. Branding to me means name recognition. Like you, I don’t necessarily want to be pigeon holed into a “box” – I like being able to surprise people.

    I’m glad this post was highlighted and I’m very glad I clicked on the link. It’s been a pleasure meeting you Maureen!

  209. brianyansky Says:

    Brilliant post. Thanks for putting the whole use of the internet as a sales tool vs. a community of people trying to communicate in perspective. I hadn’t really thought of it as a battle before, but a manifesto definitely focuses us on the need to take a stand–in whatever personal way we choose, even if it’s just recognizing that there is a struggle going on out there.

  210. AlexKost Says:

    Wow. This is an awesome post, and I couldn’t agree more. Plus, not only do I hate people who don’t listen when people are trying to make counter points, I hate when people insist that the Internet is one big telemarketing extravaganza.

    *files post under “things to remember if I ever become an author”*

  211. Tina Chaulk Says:

    This is perfect! You’ve said everything I feel about this whole self-promotion thing. I hate doing it and cringe every time I have to while I see others sucking it up with a straw (and often sucking the air out of the room). For some it seems to work, though, and that’s what ticks me off the most. The Internet is great for promotion but it really works when you relax and enjoy it. I love when the Internet lets me find someone like you to read.

  212. S Says:

    Having read this through a bump off another site, i was quite looking forward to the revelation within, but what you’ve described sounds similar to many entanglements with clients that people in advertising within an online sphere get to deal with regularly; if not on a daily basis. Online media consumption – social media, facebook or twitter or bebo – just allows human beings to very often canvas facelessly for what they think of, as you put it, the Brand. Not that these nutjobs would have been any less psychotic in pursuit of their own stardom minus the internet and the web – this seems (to me, anyhow) intrinsic to what’s happening now, circa 2010. It may simply be case of things being a -lot- simpler in terms of ejecting one’s message into the ether over the last year, or two, if not less.

  213. ana ulin .org — "The internet is made of people. People matter. This includes you. Stop trying to sell everything…" Says:

    [...] [...]

  214. Sylvi-Ann Says:

    “And I’m not saying the other woman IMMEDAITELY went off and clubbed a baby seal, but I have no evidence to the contrary, so let’s say no more about it.”

    Thank you for making me laugh :D

  215. links for 2010-06-13 « Spinneyhead Says:

    [...] Maureen Johnson Books » Blog Archive » MANIFESTO My neighbor had a lot to say. She had a MESSAGE. She talked longer than anyone, and over everyone and through everyone. Her message, as far as I could determine, was that the internet is all about getting out there and SELLING yourself. [...]

  216. Rules for Interviewing : Edward Champion’s Reluctant Habits Says:

    [...] in what the other person has to say. I’m not talking fake excited. You’re not a fucking brand. You’re doing this because you like to do it. You really want to talk with this person. So [...]

  217. Wade Campbell Says:

    I think I worked for that other lady… ; )
    Awesome stuff. Couldn’t agree more

    “A brand says I will churn out the same thing over and over. Which I won’t, because I am weird.”


  218. Monday Tally: Studying Sleep and Dirty Cookies Says:

    [...] [...]

  219. “I am not a brand” | The Brayn Says:

    [...] [...]

  220. Christy Weese Says:


  221. Monday. Wish it was Sunday. — TheBloggess.com Says:

    [...] [...]

  222. So You Have a Platform; Now What? | Guy LeCharles Gonzalez Says:

    [...] -Maureen Johnson [...]

  223. gorillabuns Says:

    i’d totally be on a panel if someone would provide me a nice bottle of Chianti and some fava beans.

    wonderful post.

  224. Caroline Clemmons Says:

    Maureen, you are my hero! Or is that heroine? Anyway you say it, I loved your post.

  225. Christina Katz Says:

    Guy LeCharles Gonzalez pointed me to your post today and it is pure music to my ears. Thank you for agreeing with something that I’ve been saying for years, which is that writers are not brands. At least this writer is not a brand. And you are not a brand. And I suspect the 200 plus folks who have commented might also not be brands. It’s a start. :)

  226. Jo Schaffer Says:

    Finally. I’m telling you–when the “Network!” thingy was thrown at me during a recent writers conference I felt sick. I didn’t want to become like one of those people–like the ones that join an MLM… act like a friend and then “AMway-bush” you with a sales pitch when you come over for dinner.
    I’m about people. So I need to find a balance.
    I like your take on it.
    So. I won your book, Devilish, from another blog. And I read it so fast! Never put it down. It was adorable and fun. WIll check out your other books because I like it and you seem cool. (=

  227. Mark (Dudge OH) Says:

    One of the first things I did when I became unemployed in October is gather all of my presence online that is under my real name, link it all and clean it up with the intention of using it so sell myself as a great person to have as an employee.

    Unfortunately, I’ve always been crap at interviews, because they’re all about selling yourself and my shilling of myself online was very short-lived.

    Ironically, this persona is closer to me than my “brand” and I feel more comfortable as Dudge OH than Mark Realname.

    So… for what it’s worth…

    *gets ink all over his laptop’s screen as he signs the manifesto*

    (Here by way of The Bloggess, btw).

  228. Julie at MDMA Says:

    Fab post .. thanks so much!

    I just started blogging a few months ago and was becoming disillusioned by this very issue. There’s so much craziness about honing your brand and using social media to your advantage and blah, blah, blah.

    I used to write romance novels and this kind of shit ABOUNDS in that arena … it all gets a little sticky and yucky and inauthentic. I just want to write a little every day or so. If someone likes it, yea. If not, they don’t come back. Can’t that be enough?

  229. Alexandra Says:

    Came over via SuzySoro…I just want to bring you a basket of snacks.


  230. Inkblot Says:

    So, I’m totally sure that 221 comments on one post is enough. In fact, if there’s anywhere near this many comments on a post, I don’t usually comment, because I pretty much assume anything I wanted to say will have already been said.


    THIS. IS. BRILLIANT. And relieving. You have no idea how relieving this is. You mean I’m allowed to be a *gasp* person, after all?! Not some weird and wonderful mechanical sales cow? HUZZAH!

    Maybe I do like this whole internet thing after all :) ;)

    Thanks, Maureen. You rock.

    (Also, you = totally qualified to give advice. But you know that already.) O:)

  231. Holyoke Home Says:

    I kind of wish you’d grabbed the microphone and – in one gracious movement – clonked her over the dead with the ‘live’ end. It would have made such a nice noise.

  232. Andre Says:

    Bravo! Maureen, this is awesome! Early on I was drawn to social media, because I thought it had the potential to help unite people and create a real global kind of common sense (eventually), but I soon became a little discouraged with the marketing aspect that seemed to dominate the discussions. I worked in the marketing industry for over 12 years. I hated it and finally left a year and half ago to work for a non-profit and pursue other goals. I want to contribute society, not sell or peddle goods.

    Again…great post. I just wish I could have been there to see the battle over the mic. :)

  233. Ashley Says:

    Really loved what you had to say. I even reposted it on my own little blog for all 6 of my regular readers to see :-)

  234. Media 2.0 Day: Jeff Pulver’s “The State of Now” - All About Content – SEO Blog Says:

    [...] He asks how many people consider themselves brands. He is adamant that we are all brands. (I cringed. I’m tired of people insisting they are brands.) [...]

  235. Is Russell Brand His Real Name? | Fishclock Says:

    [...] [...]

  236. cathy Says:

    I’m a J cloth, or a fizzy drink. NO! I’m a hamburger… with bacon mushrooms and cheese. Or a ping pong ball…

    Darn it I’m feeling dizzy, I will just be me chatting, reading, occasionally writing something, but mostly enjoying the company of the folk I have met here. That’s better, thankyou.

  237. Darcia Helle Says:


  238. Tammy Says:

    Gee, this post made me want to buy one of your books……. How’d THAT happen?
    (Great post. Really.)

  239. Media Manifesto « "A Simple Enquiry" Says:

    [...] http://www.maureenjohnsonbooks.com/2010/06/08/manifesto/ [...]

  240. CMD Agency Blog » Blog Archive » Wake up: You Are Not a Brand Says:

    [...] absolutely bizarre way of looking at the world! Anyway, it pleased me tremendously to come across Maureen Johnson’s Manifesto recently, via io9. She reminded me that the most important thing in life is you, not your [...]

  241. klc Says:

    I’m not a writer. I sell glass. Please buy my glass so I can buy food, post-it notes and hamsters! Great post!

  242. Angela Crocker Says:

    BRAVA, well said and alleluia! Let’s hear it for real people who enjoy life (online & offline) and are themselves for their own sake.

  243. Katrina Lantz Says:

    You are awesome! I linked this fabulous article at my blog, and give you an award for unique awesomeness. Thanks for your shining example!

  244. I’m not a brand Says:

    [...] [...]

  245. Jessica Owen Says:

    This is completely awesome and made my day. It also made me laugh out loud. Thank you for sharing this view of things!

  246. Angie Says:

    I actually had to stop blogging for a while because I was getting so confused with all the “brand yourself!” and “if you’re not in a specific niche then you’re not cool” crap. Having made a few little promises to myself like this, I decided to come back and blog just like I used to. I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this way!

  247. ninjac Says:

    I don’t know who you are, and have never read your books. I came here by way of The Blogess. I now love you and will read your books. The next time you are in this situation you should try humming loudly until it confuses the rude person…then you can steal the microphone while they clutch their ears in terror.

  248. Sara Says:

    This was just wonderful to read. I feel a little disheartened by some of the bloggers I have been reading for a very long time. Somewhere in the past couple of years there has been a switch from sharing your life to making money off of your blog. I know you can do both, but you have to be very careful to keep it authentic and most people just aren’t there yet. Thank you for writing this.

  249. I am not a Brand, I am a Human Being! | Spleenville Says:

    [...] think I’ve found the motto to my life. Anyway, read the horrible story of this poor woman and the monstrous creature she encountered. Actually, did I say horrible? I [...]

  250. I am not a Brand, I am a Human Being! | Spleenville Says:

    [...] think I’ve found the motto to my life. Anyway, read the horrible story of this poor woman and the monstrous creature she encountered. Actually, did I say horrible? I [...]

  251. I am not a Brand, I am a Human Being! | Spleenville Says:

    [...] think I’ve found the motto to my life. Anyway, read the horrible story of this poor woman and the monstrous creature she encountered. Actually, did I say horrible? I [...]

  252. Leah Says:

    Thanks for writing this Maureen. I think the ‘brand’ thing – the fact that someone was trying to find the balance between the two categories but leading towards branding herself and talking about how awesome she was all the time – is why I got a little sick of social media and stopped using Twitter. That being said, because I stopped using Twitter, I also stopped talking to a bunch of people I consider friends, and still sometimes feel guilty about that.

  253. aelfheld Says:

    Soylent Green is . . . brands?

    Just doesn’t work.

  254. author::brand::pigeonhole « fomagrams Says:

    [...] topic was raised recently with a quasi manifesto written by YA author Maureen Johnson on her blog, which was further discussed on Coleen Mondor’s blog Chasing Ray, and later [...]

  255. dan "not a bulk commodity" Says:

    Thanks for the post (of course I tweeted it, with full irony). I couldn’t agree more that there has to be a rollback of the commoditization of every damn thing.

    Reminds of the attempt during the dot-com inanity to call everyone a “content provider”. Technically correct, but it flattened (in the… uccchhhh… Friedmanish sense) writers, editors, graphic artists, commenters, shills, PR, all into one bulk commodity that could be bought and sold. Expertise and quality were irrelevant, since it was all “content”.

  256. Andrea de Michaelis Says:

    I loved this. I suppose I am a brand by definition although I never say “I’m a brand”. The only way I repeat myself is when I repeat the same behavior over and over because that’s who I am. Who I am speaks for me and it shouts out just fine. My attention is immediately turned OFF by people who do the type of marketing you mention – and that includes friends who do it. Great blog post. Fer shure.

  257. KayTi Says:

    Sing it, sister! Fabulous post. I have been singing my own lament, the Perils of Being a Generalist, because I’m simply interested in too many things to peg myself down to one thing/one idea/one logline. Yet the message I get from the blogging/authoring world is that I need to have a brand and stick to it like glue. How about I be a writer and have something interesting to say, instead? That sounds better to me.

  258. Julie Kirk Says:

    Fantastic post. I’ve been trying to ‘brand’ myself a lot lately then just yesterday had an idea I wanted to follow but which went against that ‘brand’ notion. All day I’ve been wondering what to do, getting advice from friends … and now discovering this post. I think I know what I’m going to do. Wehn you said ” A brand says I will churn out the same thing over and over. Which I won’t, because I am weird.” you spoke my exact thoughts.

    And in between solving all my life’s problems you made me laugh … ;)


    Julie :)

  259. allenwentz Says:

    Excellent article. Its great when somebody can articulate what you want to say so much better than you!

  260. John Heaven Says:

    I can’t believe how many people are being taken in by this! This is a brilliantly effective post, with one very clear message all the way through: this possibly fictional character with whom you shared a microphone represents the worst excesses of brand-mentality, and you are the opposite of that, or the “heroine” as one reader would have it.

    Your blog is beautifully designed, you have a community and forum that unites people under the Marueen Johnson banner, and I notice you collect stats on your readership. This post itself is a very effective piece of branding: the “entirely by accident” in the first line starts a thread that runs through the whole article.

    I’m not denying that excessive branding is desirable, nor disagreeing with you that the social web is about being yourself. But you of all people can’t deny that part of your succcess (257 comments and counting!) is about maintaining a tidy, consistent web presence.

    Like almost everything in life, it’s not about black and white: the right answer isn’t to be like the branding-obsessed woman you describe, nor about the anti-brand you claim to be; you’re somewhere between the two and are extremely successful for it.

  261. Lunchtime list for June 23rd « Talk Issues Says:

    [...] Maureen Johnson’s MANIFESTO – The Internet is about conversation, not about branding or selling. [...]

  262. Interesting elsewhere – 23 June 2010 | Public Strategist Says:

    [...] Maureen Johnson Books » Blog Archive » MANIFESTO Some people don’t get it. They don’t get that the internet is a conversation. They think the message only goes one way—out. Things must be shouted. Things must be thrust in your face. Things must be sold. [...]

  263. Three things to read about The Internet « ASH-10 Says:

    [...] Manifesto by Maureen Johnson [...]

  264. Lynn from For Love or Funny Says:

    I found your article via BlogHer and when I read it, I laughed. Then I let out a sigh of relief. I can totally relate to a woman who loves snacks!

    It’s nice to meet you! :)

  265. Jennifer Says:

    Wow! This was a wonderful post, and I am happy to say….I KNEW I LIKED YOU! : ) Thanks for your ground standing, and wit, and your wisdom. “Weird” is almost always the best way to be, except for peanut butter and pickles….too weird for me. Together at any rate. Individually they are fine, I like them, but together……am I rambling now?

  266. Quid plura? | "They let us in, so I'm feeling all right..." Says:

    [...] for self-promotion make the ShamWow guy look like Emily Dickinson. That’s why I relished author Maureen Johnson’s contrarian manifesto about “branding.” (Via [...]

  267. The things we do – or don’t – for an audience « Words and Things Says:

    [...] Maureen Johnson had a thing or two to say about that. In a Manifesto that was going around the internet**, she spoke out against that whole crusade with the statement that she is not a brand. She [...]

  268. Sarah Brown Says:

    I want to high five you, over and over.

  269. Danielle Says:

    You nailed it.

  270. A. M. Harte Says:

    Shall I join the legion of people shouting your name in triumph?


    This post really made me giggle, especially after having two separate authors today on Goodreads who I’ve never spoken to before recommend their own self-published books to me (and probably everyone else on their friend list). No surer way to turn me off reading their books!

  271. Liza Says:

    Oh my God, thank you!

  272. Graham Storrs Says:

    You’re a writer and you can afford shoes?


  273. SydRose Says:

    sounds like you should of branded (haha play on words!) her with that microphone. just kidding, maybe.

  274. Keep Your Lip Stiff | Scott Tracey – Young Adult Writer Says:

    [...] [...]

  275. Maureen Johnson’s Manifesto, "I Am Not A Brand!" | Marci Sischo Says:

    [...] Manifesto, "I Am Not A Brand!" Posted by MarciSischo on June 10, 2010 Go read Maureen Johnson’s Manifesto. Do it right now. It’s amazing, and brilliant. Check this quote out: Just to be clear on this [...]

  276. Lori Says:

    you are awesome.

  277. How Not To Be Annoying On Twitter – The Task Wrangler Says:

    [...] novelist Maureen Johnson gained attention with her Social Media Manifesto, in reaction to the school of Social Media marketing that says you should bombard your followers [...]

  278. Dr. Sallie N. Cheinsteen Says:

    Okay, okay. This is the first time that I have ever written on your website and unless you spend all of your time reading the millions of comments left here because we all think you’re a genius, you most probably will not read what I am writing at this very moment. Talk about a run on sentence. Two things, though, just in case:

    1. Cary Grant.
    2. Cary Grant. :)

    I know I’m supposed to write something about your brilliant manifesto and all of the woes you endured, but seeing as how you are a writer who actually just wrote all of those things and I have nothing wittier to expand upon, I thought I’d stick with the obvious.

    Cary Grant. Let me just pray that I spelled it right.

  279. Show & Tell: July 09/10 | carlyanne.com Says:

    [...] [...]

  280. Kimberly Frost Says:

    I loved this post. If I ever spot you at a conference. I will bring you snacks.

  281. Jim Goad’s THE REDNECK MANIFESTO Says:

    [...] MANIFESTO [...]

  282. Bill and Jan Moore Says:

    this post is brilliant…

    Would you please attend our event (world’s largest ever – http://www.festivalofenlightenment.com)and share your wisdom if you wish to participate!

    Smiles, love, abundance and gratitude to you,
    J William (Bill) Moore and Janet A. Moore

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  283. Janet Moore Says:

    I love this humorous and oh so true blog post and I must add that as well as the ‘brand, brand, brand’ message I’m also tired of the internet marketing ‘bludgeon you with a club until you buy it’ culture. Dare to do something different!

    Confession time: as an ex-Social Media expert I preached the brand thing to my clients. But I now realise that personal branding is another way of forcing conformity on someone.

    As a fifty-something I’ve decided to embrace non-conformism and today I’m getting married on Malibu beach in shorts and t-shirt with a couple of passing surfers as witnesses.

    I’ve ditched the brand of responsible mother, grandmother and business woman and decided to ‘colour outside the lines’ for the next 75 years.

    Let’s all start being ourselves (as quirky as that might be) instead of worrying about how we look to everyone else. if you keep looking over your shoulder you may fall down a hole and probably no-one will notice because someone who looks just like you will take your place.

  284. the internet, like soylent green, is made of people « journal/notes Says:

    [...] http://www.maureenjohnsonbooks.com/2010/06/08/manifesto/ [...]

  285. Adam Williamson Says:

    I found this post via a link from Seth Vidal, with whom I work at an uber-geeky software company.

    Then I saw comment #13, from an awesome author whose books I own mostly because of Neil Gaiman’s old blog.

    In some odd way I’m sure this only goes to prove your point, though I wouldn’t be able to explain exactly *how*, I don’t think =)

  286. Bookmarks for July 13th from 09:15 to 11:45 | jordibares Says:

    [...] Maureen Johnson Books » Blog Archive » MANIFESTO – [...]

  287. Webconomist (Giles) Says:

    Brilliant. Like someone thinks a) mass media doesn’t matter anymore and b) that everyone is going to like you. That doesn’t matter. Quality of engagement, not quantity.

  288. Heather Says:

    Well said. That “Get your message and repeat it OVER AND OVER.” mentality is a really fast way to make me *not* read someone’s blog or Twitter, or to defriend that person on Facebook. I am a person, not just a target market/target audience. I try to opt-out of a lot of exposure to advertising: I don’t watch television, I use an add-on to block ads in my web browser, I tune out a lot of the ads on the subway. I sure don’t want to read something that comes across just as an advertisement/branding/marketing-speak/a push to purchase.

  289. Hazy Friday Links « Bib-Laura-graphy Says:

    [...] [...]

  290. Kansas Bard Says:

    Your manifesto made my day. Supplanting humanity for the sake of advertising seems to be the goal of most people in social media. Maybe it’s time to remember that it’s really a tool for sharing and communicating. My name is Kevin (aka Kansas Bard), and I’ll be reading your blog regularly.

  291. Queen of Fifty Cents Says:

    Okay, obviously you must be sick of all this praise, but I can’t help myself.

    I LOVED this.

    I had pretty much decided I’m just going to have to be myself and let the people who want to read my book be the ones who buy it. How nice to have corroboration.

    Thank you.

  292. Ari Says:

    Maureen, pleeeeze be my new bestest friend. I’ll bring you snacks.

    Your manifesto came at just the right moment for me. I’ve been reading “How to” books and articles on marketing myself as a writer, on how to play the writing game. I found myself punctuating each chaper with a whine, “Please, God, noooo. I just wanna write.”

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned about this old broad it’s that she’s lousy at anything she doesn’t want to do. She doesn’t play games she doesn’t wanna play. (Blackjack, yes. Poker, no.)

    Okay, so maybe I will never be a “successful” writer as defined by the self-appointed gurus. That really IS okay. Really. No, really. I just wanna write.

  293. Andre Lefebvre Says:

    LOL! I just love how you shoot from the hip with flair and elegance… :O)

    Thank you thank you thank you (!) Finally someone with a bigger voice (than mine) saying where things are at. Actually, there are tons of blogs now that solely exist to be plastered with Google Ads and generate money.

    As a man, I also notice how many websites use lots of pictures of women with all sorts of “gazes” or suggestive poses. That bothers me greatly as I’m not going on websites to be sensually aroused. I now use a nifty little gadget which blocks all images from those sites (a flash-blocker is also needed nowadays).

    Yes, the internet has become a giant billboard, and it won’t stop. The same marketing methods that have turned our TVs and movies into one big massive sex shop (sex sells) are being used to effectively take over this otherwise potentially idyllic organic network you described.

    Unless we have a “moral” revolution, and effective regulations, I don’t expect things to change. But it’s a good thought, and it helps those of us out there to know that we’re not alone to discern the beastly trend dressed in pomps and Versace, that we’re not “buying it.”

    I believe in continuing the conversation about this, as it is necessary to maintain our dignity and right of way into altruistically oriented content.

    Or something like that… :O)



  294. Manifesto Internet-o Says:

    [...] add to your life with laughter and inspiration. Social media screening is needed. So when I found Maureen Johnsons Manifesto and read the story behind it I finally felt that someone else got it. Someone finally encouraged [...]

  295. Thursday Links « Interrobangs Anonymous Says:

    [...] a lot that applies to fashion blogging as much as any other sort of blogging. The linked post within it about branding is well worth a read [...]

  296. Maureen Johnson Books » Blog Archive » EVERY PICTURE TELLS A STORY Says:

    [...] My last blog was republished on io9.com, and one commenter described me thusly: “YA girl-adventures author, [...]

  297. Has Social Media Made Us Too Brand Conscious? | Beyond Nines Says:

    [...] [...]

  298. Jenae Says:

    You are officially the coolest person I’ve ever not met. Marry me in two years?

    That is all. :)

    PS. Loved The Bermudez Triangle.

  299. The Art of Darkness » Blog Archive » The Phantom Link Dump Says:

    [...] Manifesto – The Bloggess pointed to this recently, and I think it’s an excellent summary of how the Internet should operate. [...]

  300. Savannah Says:

    You never answer my questions on Twitter, I don’t know why, but… Will you be speaking in Providence sometime? I still haven’t gotten a chance to read any of your books, but your blogging and tweets have inspired me to write more, and sometimes churn out some good stuff. And maybe not speaking, but at least a book signing?
    I’d just like to meet you and tell you how much you make me want to get up and write, every day.

  301. Savannah Says:

    OH And if you come to Providence, my beautiful city, I /promise/ to bring you a snack, a blankie, a teddy bear, a beach bucket, anything you’d like.

  302. Elizabeth Kolodziej Says:

    wow. that is quite a statement. and i do agree that the woman must have been to forward and not willing to listen to others from what it sounds. which is wrong. if you are going to give advice you must be able to get advice as well.

  303. Jack Everett Says:

    I loved your blog Maureen but had to ask myself the question as an author would I rather be known as a nice person or a brand? Well I suppose most of us wish to be nice but many of us also wish to be known and if being a brand is the answer…Well.
    I see what you mean about Brown and his puzzles and Clancy and his submarines but I write in several different genres: thrillers, mysteries, Sci-Fi, Fantasy(yes,they are different) and historicals so far with a chiller on the pad so how exactly could I become a brand ? Coming from England I should have probably picked a village Bobby-policeman- as my hero and been content to think up more story lines each day. But I’ve always been one for adventure whether it be in the past or the future so I think I will have to accept my Karma even if I never will be a brand.
    Being known a little more though might still be nice.
    Website provided for anyone interested.

  304. Karyne Corum Says:

    If I ever write a post as amazingly intuitive, funny and just plain all around awesome as this, I really will have made it. Thanks for the best advice, laugh and just plain great reading of my day.

    Oh and I would love to bring you lots of snacks, if I ever get so lucky as to meet you.

  305. Pat Brown Says:

    I love your manifesto. I like that I can allow myself to just enjoy the people I talk to online without feeling the need to bludgeon them to buy my books. I’ll leave bludgeoning seals to your microphone nemesis.

    Oh, and I’ll bring snacks.

  306. Alli Says:

    So much has already been said that I agree with, so I will just say “brilliant”. Thank you!

  307. Sheila Connolly Says:

    Yowzah! Three hundred reponses? You have really hit a nerve here. (And look at how many more people have now heard of you–including me!)

  308. Lesley Diehl Says:

    Years ago I attended a conference for women at which some ersatz counseling type had us take a test to determine what personality we were. As a psychologist and a feminist, I could barely tolerate such testing, but when it was required that we wear the results of the testing on our name badges (Hi! My name is ——– and I’m a TIFP (or some such thing), I rebelled and had to get on my soap box and do my thing about sticking people into categories, a way of not really getting to know them at all. Branding appears to be much the same thing. I write many different protagonists and cross genres. So do real people. I’m humiliated and insulted by the idea of branding my work. And just plain thrilled by how well you got that message across in a fun way. Since you already have many bringing you snacks, maybe the two of us could attend Weight Watchers together.

  309. Illy Says:

    wow, i read your blog often and i’ve noticed that you may not usually post very often but when you do wow! it’s like you’ve written a chapter of a book! impressive! i could never blog that much!

  310. Dilyara Says:


    Nicki sent me here. What a breath of fresh air! Thank you!

    I am so tired of people around me listening to the SELL, SELL, SELL message. The Facebook feed has become a stream of noise instead of personal connections. Argh!

    Thank you again for putting it out here!

  311. Eterne Says:

    If I sign your manifesto, will I become a Communist? Because the last time I signed one people got very made at me and now mother says I can’t wear red anymore.

    I don’t think I’ve ever written into you, but I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and I’ve read almost all of your books! I love the stuff you write, and can actually connect with the characters. :)

    Don’t be a brand! Keep being whatever you want and writing all sorts of things, because that makes you super awesome and interesting!

  312. Elana Says:

    Maureen, thank you so much for being real and human and big enough to say FUCK THIS SPAM FLAVOURED PAP we’re being fed. I decided – recently not sure exactly when – that I was just going to be. And write. And love the people who love me. And that’s it. What comes comes. I’m not going to put out a fucking e-book on How to _______ in 35.94 days just to make money. Does that make me stupid that I’m not participating in that whole commodification/branding thing? Nope. Maybe a little poorer in pocket but always richer in spirit. Thanks again.

  313. Grace Says:

    As with the others – really love your piece here. I too am at the point where I have to decide if I should do the whole shovelling my brand down folks throats – and that really isnt me at all. I too unfriend/unsubscribe folk that do that to me.
    I think with today’s non personal methods of connecting (in the days of old we talked to each other and visited each other, or phoned) we are now relying on web based stuff to connect – and alas being that it is a visual tool we get the awful ‘adverts’ much like tv. It is folk like you who are trying to keep the personal/personality alive and kicking on the web and I am cheering you on and vowing to do the same. Thank you for the inspiration.

  314. Link Roundup Says:

    [...] manifesto (via Pace & [...]

  315. Adrienne Says:

    I would say, keep an open mind about the concept of branding yourself. Yes it’s a little silly to only focus on social media as a way to “sell sell sell” yourself, because it is so much more than that. But branding is just a way of helping people understand what they’re signing up for.

    Branding is not about fitting yourself into a box, it’s about making several boxes to fit around you, which can be just as dynamic and individual and unique as you are.

    Look at Disney. Movies with the Disney logo are guaranteed kid friendly (Little Mermaid, Lion King) but Disney also releases movies under the labels Touchstone (Pretty Woman, Good Morning Vietnam) and Hollywood Pictures (The Sixth Sense).

    Conversely, Shel Silverstien is famous both as a children’s book author and illustrator, and as the illustrator of comics for playboy. His adult comics and his children’s illustrations can be hard to tell apart without looking inside the cover. And I find that confusing. As a consumer, and as a person.

    The same goes for “branding” yourself as an individual on the internet. The internet is about connecting with people, and has particular power to connect small groups and specific interests. But I am probably only interested in connecting with you about certain topics. I might love your opinions on writing, but not have an interest or connection to your messy divorce, your politics, or your intense love of fishing or genealogical research. Or maybe I can relate to you on all of them or only the first three. And I want to know what I’m connecting with before I do it. Either way, you can choose to “brand” yourself as a whole person, and share all the details of your life online, or you can compartmentalize and share only some of it, or share some of it in different places. All of those are your choices, purposeful or not, of your individual online brand. And the options, like the internet, are infinite.

  316. Monica Britt Says:

    Your manifesto just lifted a burden off my shoulders. Thank you!! I don’t want to be branded and use the green crayon for the rest of my life! The other colors speak to me, too.

  317. Miriam Newman Says:

    You’re right. And the sad thing is how much this can pit author against author. Nobody loves telemarketers, after all, and that’s pretty much how some of us come across. Even those who don’t often get tarred with the same stick. I don’t run continuous “rolling” promo everywhere day in and day out. But when I have a release or a good review or a new book cover and want to share the good news, I have occasionally been met with a wall of snarkiness. And that’s really a shame when we can’t just be happy for one another and share the journey. I think your approach would go a long way in helping that situation. So speak your truth. Sure, we all hope for sales. But the “why-can’t-this-be-fun?” school of thought needs some advocates, too.

  318. Susan Lower Says:

    Thank you!
    As an author trying to break out in the publishing world all I’ve heard about is brands. Whenever I think of a “brand” I think of old cowboy movies and cattle getting their butts sizzled – ouch!

    I love writing just as much as I love people, I would hope that my name would be enough for others to recognize me. However, branded or not, I’m not one to push myself on others, I, too, walk away from those types of people and would expect readers would do the same.

    great post

  319. Susan Lower Says:

    Thank you!
    As an author trying to break out in the publishing world all I’ve heard about is brands. Whenever I think of a “brand” I think of old cowboy movies and cattle getting their butts sizzled – ouch!

  320. Margaret Says:

    Amen! Fantastic post.

    I think so many authors miss the point when it comes to social media. I am bombarded by direct messages on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads exhorting me to buy a book. Odds are, if the author I’m ‘friendly’ with on any of these sites has posted links to their work, I’ve already checked it out and made the decision to buy or not to buy. Spamming my inbox will only result in annoying me, or worse, induce a nasty case of buyer’s remorse.

    Balance. Social media and branding are all about balance. Yes, we need to get our work out there, and we hope those who are interested will buy it. The trick it doing it in such a way that you don’t become an infomercial. These authors might entertain people for a while, but eventually their audience will look for something with a little more substance.

  321. Edie Ramer Says:

    I loved this! Thank you! I’ve been doing blogs and interviews with giveaways. No matter how much advice I’ve been given, I can’t make myself tweet about it more than twice a day. Most times just once. I have an inner “ick” feeling about it. Now I don’t have to feel guilty about my choice.

    If I meet you in person and have a wrapped chocolate in my purse, I’ll be happy to give it to you.

  322. Chris Bailey Says:

    I think I saw that woman on a panel once. I promise she lost credibility through sheer volume. After the first fifteen minutes, it was all I could do not to laugh. Especially every time I made eye contact with the moderator, a good friend.

  323. Maura Says:

    Bravo! I’ve often thought lately that the reason it’s so hard to get more people to read books in general is because the industry is so focused on selling ‘brands’ versus selling interesting, well-written, creative books that people want to spend an evening with.

  324. kabelky online Says:

    LOL, this thing is so funny. I will share this.

  325. Marilyn Brant Says:

    SO well said. I want to hug you and bring you a snack. :)
    Thank you!

  326. Maureen Fisher Says:

    Loved your blog, loved your message, loved your humor. I disagree with Rule #1 because I loved your advice, but I’m jumping all over Rule #5 and sending you a cyber-pizza, fully loaded, to take the edge off, and a cyber-cheesecake to top everything off.

  327. Beppie Harrison Says:

    By some dreadful oversight I’ve never read one of your books. I am about to order one from Amazon immediately. You sound like an honest-to-goodness human being, not a pumpmeister. (Hope that doesn’t mean anything obscene — I just made it up!)

    And I really like the way you “sell” your books. It’s like sharing, and that’s fun.

  328. TJ Downes Says:

    Maureen, I don’t know who you are, this is the first time I’ve read your blog. Maybe I’m slightly behind the times!

    In any case, what you say is probably the smartest thing I have ever heard about social media from anyone claiming to be a “social media expert” (I know you don’t claim to be, but it’s obvious that you are).

    From my experience, social media is about communicating, which means LISTENING to your audience as much as they listen to you. I tend to quickly “unfollow” those brands that do not interact with their followers. I tend to change my thinking about those brands because of the way they fail to communicate. It boils down to the age old philosophy that good customer service is what makes a business successful. In it’s own way, social media is about customer service. If you are just looking at it as a way to sell your product, and don’t give two bits about those you are selling to, you can expect to fail.

    I’m no expert on social media, nor do I want to be. On the contrary, I’m probably one of the less social people. But I see the value in social media and I use it daily, it’s been a very powerful tool to me in many ways. So I hope that more “social media experts” heed your advice. It would make my social media experience a lot more enjoyable.

    Thanks again.

  329. Caroline Clemmons Says:

    I would like to echo T. J. Downes’ comment above. Also, I would like to thank you for your post. I have felt “behind the times” because I simply can’t hound people to buy my books. Go figure. A friend sent me your link, and I’m so grateful–and a relief. Kudos to you!

  330. Bernadette Hearne Says:

    The woman you sat next to is an idiot (not to mention very rude). She picked up on a buzzword (brand) and a concept (sell, sell, repeat), and since that is all she knows, that is all she said. The fact that she is an idiot does not change the fact that branding is important. If you’re known for lush romances and you write a horror thriller, most of the people who know your work and buy it because they love your stories will probably feel betrayed. They didn’t get what they expected from your brand, and they will be reluctant to taste it again. That doesn’t mean you can’t write horror thrillers and lush romances if you’re good at both, but you probably should build a new brand under a different pen name for that new type of book. And branding does not equal rude and mindless. Anyone who knows anything about social media will tell you it isn’t just push, push, push. If that’s all you do, the world will tune you out, just like DVRs skip past commercials. Social media is a conversation, a sharing, a give and take. But please don’t dismiss the value of branding just because of one person who threw around the term without a clue of what it means or why it is important.

  331. Susan McBride Says:

    OMG, I think you struck a chord with a lot of people, Maureen! I don’t even know you, and I already like you. Love your manifesto. It would be a better world if more people adopted it.

  332. Who You Callin' a Brand? Women & the Branding Backlash | One Woman Marketing Says:

    [...] Forbes.com just published my article, “Who You Callin’ a Brand? Women and the Personal Branding Backlash.” I was inspired to write it after reading author Maureen Johnson’s recent blog manifesto, “I Am Not a Brand.” [...]

  333. Heather Anne Hogan! » Blog Archive » Open Thread: What Kind of Writing do You Like to Read? Says:

    [...] couple of months ago, one of my besties shared Maureen Johnson’s manifesto on Google Reader and I can’t stop thinking about it. The internet is made of people. People [...]

  334. Tiragraffi » Personal Branding, narrativa personale Says:

    [...] se ci pensate. Soprattutto se non leggete quello che scrivo io, ma leggete in rapida successione You Are Not a Brand della scrittrice Maureen Johnson e I’m Not a Writer, I’m a Brand di Suzanne Colon, due articoli [...]

  335. Meet Maureen Johnson | wpstage2.eoni.com Says:

    [...] Johnson and recommend just about anything she has to say, from her blog to her FAQs. Find her Manifesto here. This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. ← World Builder [...]

  336. A personal brand? « Amy Tipton Johnson Says:

    [...] For a while, I tried to figure out my brand and my message. Then I read this post, called Manifesto, by Maureen Johnson where she says all the things I’d been [...]

  337. How Do You Decide on Your Author Brand – Part Two | Jami Gold, Paranormal Author Says:

    [...] [...]

  338. Brands are for Livestock | The Saucy Scrivener Says:

    [...] For further reading: Maureen Johnson’s “I am not a Brand” Manifesto [...]

  339. Cindy Spencer Pape Says:

    Oh, my goodness. This is perfect! I love NOT being a brand, but it does seem to confuse some people (including editors and such.) Thank you for the manifesto!

  340. Surfing Saturday | Around The Writer's Block Says:

    [...] Maureen Johnson’s great post on social media and a call to authors who choose NOT to brand themselves. (Note: This [...]

  341. Chris Says:

    I was bummed after reading an article about how we all just need to self-publish and promote and we’ll make 10,000.00 a month. Then I read this article and the planets realigned. Plus, I snorted so loud while I was reading that all 3 of my dogs came running to see what was up.

  342. Barbara Raffin Says:

    I still think branding is great marketing tool. But, for me, this post gives me hope as well as a revelation. Hope, because I’m one of those writers who doesn’t fit into a neat branded product. I’m published in paranormal, sci-fi, historical, and more. The revelation, for me, was realizing why I’ve hung back so long from participating in Internet promotion. I’m one of those people who listen to what others are saying and that, in good part, tells me I won’t take social networking lightly. It’s going to cost me more investment of my time and myself than someone who bounces from site to site pushing their brand. I say this with apologies to all those who market themselves as a brand AND listen. I know there’s plenty of you out there. My comments simply suggest how ‘to brand or not to brand’ personally affect me. Good post.

  343. Cassy Campbell Says:

    Maureen, great post! You are both hilarious and right, which someone will probably tell you is your brand :) It gives me hope that I don’t have to put myself in a box, because why would anyone want to do that? Glad to see someone out there who has made it while staying true to herself.

  344. The battle of the brands « Words and Things Says:

    [...] Succeed. It was written mostly in agreement with YA author Maureen Johnson’s declaration of I am Not a Brand. I understood at the time that just writing about whatever was not going to get me a lot of readers [...]

  345. Personal branding e narrativa personale | Andrea Nicosia Comunicazioni Says:

    [...] se ci pensate. Soprattutto se non leggete quello che scrivo io, ma leggete in rapida successione You Are Not a Brand della scrittrice Maureen Johnson e I’m Not a Writer, I’m a Brand di Suzanne Colon, due articoli [...]

  346. Tim Pratt » Blog Archive » Linkadaisical Says:

    [...] Maureen Johnson has a great manifesto here on social networking and the folly of “branding.” Excellent stuff, which I couldn’t agree with more. [...]

  347. kristin cashore Says:

    Amen. Thanks for putting it so well.

  348. Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive | Says:

    [...] (who wrote Diana Comet, which if you haven’t bought and read it go do that right now): Maureen Johnson’s Manifesto about branding and social networking. It’s not just funny, but rings really true for me as someone who finds marketing himself [...]

  349. Blogging is Such Sweet Sorrow « The Artist's Road Says:

    [...] and bloggers. I plan to provide my friend that nugget of wisdom, and others (like this one and this one) to my friend, with my own observations in [...]

  350. Write Your Own Story Says:

    [...] Johnson’s Manifesto (discovered via Amy Rose Davis). This is why “branding” and “marketing” is [...]

  351. Go for it with Gusto « Write Your Own Story Says:

    [...] Johnson’s Manifesto (discovered via Amy Rose Davis). This is why “branding” and “marketing” is [...]

  352. Things I Learned This Week Says:

    [...] at the last minute, I found a fantastic manifesto that says that the internet is made of people, and people matter, so be nice. So much love for this [...]

  353. Freya Says:

    This is a simply brilliant blog post- and I COMPLETELY agree with you. it depresses me seeing all the Commercialised youtube channels, bog posts, websites etcetra on YouTube. It should be real, it should be about communication and it should be fun for everyone:)

  354. Rich Stoehr Says:

    Well said, Maureen! Thank you for saying this so well and so succinctly – I’ve met that scary lady on the other end of the microphone (well, maybe not the same one, but close enough), and I had the same reaction. She AND her brand are a good example of things to avoid.

    Rosianna talked about this article in one of her recent videos, and I’m so glad she did. We thought it would be funny to make an “I am not a brand. Damn right.” t-shirt…but it would sort of miss the point of course. So it’ll remain just an idea.

    Instead, next time I see you, I’ll bring you a snack!

  355. Lucy Says:

    I like my jar far more than I would like a tiny airless box. I can breathe in the jar… and I get food sometimes too :)

    Just watched Rosianna’s video, and she linked to here. It’s so good to read this again. I think sometimes we forget what we’re doing here and what brought us here in the first place.

    If I ever have the fortune of meeting you, remind me to buy you a cinnamon scroll or chocolate eclair or something fabulous and sweet along those lines.

  356. s Says:

    MANIFESTO this Like.

  357. Jame Cas Says:

    I don’t like the idea of being a brand. It’s scary! Also:

    A) There’s no guarantee the brand will be *pretty*
    Llama) I don’t want to be yanked from my jar and stuffed in a brand
    Triangle) Brands can get stale real quick
    %) Friends stick around, ‘customers’ not so often

    *signs manifesto, puts on hat*

  358. Getting down and dirty on the internet | Kira Brady Says:

    [...] issue a statement: I am not a brand. Author Maureen Johnson said it much better than I could in her Manifesto. Please read it. It’s funny. But most importantly, it reminds us of what we all forget about [...]

  359. New challenges ahead! | //saara Says:

    [...] [...]

  360. Jim Webster Says:

    Brands are for cattle
    That, when led to the slaughter,
    Still can’t seem to grasp
    What they really oughter:
    Their brands makes it easy
    To round up and herd ‘em–
    Which renders their arguments
    Reductio ad absurdum.

  361. Jeffe Kennedy Says:

    [...] quote is from Maureen Johnson’s most excellent blog post on how she feels about social [...]

  362. Putting Science Back Into The Broader Culture: Interview with Jennifer Ouellette | Marketing for Scientists Says:

    [...] [...]

  363. Sarah Says:

    Thank you, thank you, a million times over, for this post. Sick of all the talk of branding, I did a Google search for “I am not a brand,” and your post was the first to come up. And it made me feel so much better!

    If I could, I would send you some cookies. Seriously. I tried to fit some into that little space for the flash drive, but they just crumbled. It was sad.

    Thanks again for your wisdom and sanity!

  364. baidu678 Says:

    You are right the material is the most important thing when writing blogs, secondly if people like it they will spread the word for you!

  365. Links from the Z-list | Inflatable Ink Says:

    [...] too smart and successful. Never mind, we can at least agree with her witty and heartfelt manifesto. YOU ARE NOT A BRAND (via [...]

  366. Every now and then I have nothing to say — Gerhi Feuren's Blog Says:

    [...] just read a really cool blog post about a manifesto for blogging and social media for writers by Maureen Johnson. I’ve never heard of Maureen before today and I’ve never read anything by her but [...]

  367. Guest Post: What Inspires Mike Jung « distraction no. 99 Says:

    [...] amount of positive energy in the thoughts, feelings, and accomplishments of the kidlit community. Maureen Johnson’s Internet manifesto is one of my favorite things ever, for example. Francisco X. Stork’s blog is a reliable source of [...]

  368. kt literary » Blog Archive » Guest Post: You are Your Platform Says:

    [...] would be remiss, however, in not mentioning a counterpoint argument from Maureen Johnson, as found here. For the discussion: can these two opposing ideas [...]

  369. S.A.Tudhope Says:

    Maureen, love your comments and manifesto. Last sentence says it all. I’ve been reading, attending workshops, conferences, etc, etc, and that’s the big buzz right now…get branded. Made me feel like a cow. Not good. And the idea of stuffing myself into a box makes me feel not much different than a claustrophobic corn flake.

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