How A Former Horror Author Set Out To Launch A Romantic Thriller Brand From Addiction To Redemption: Branding A Career Path

Andre Sanders

Andre Sanders is a former extreme horror turned erotic and romantic thriller author. Born and raised in Southwest Virginia, all of his works take place in the communities that surround him.

He has authored 14 books, and amongst those titles are: CRIMSON GREETINGS, TAKER, WHILE DEMONS KISS, and I LOVE YOU NO LESS.

As well as his latest and first romantic thriller novel OBJECTION. His novel TAKER was adapted into a screenplay and currently remains at that. 

Thank you so much for doing this with us, Andre! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit more. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Yes. I’d actually picked up writing as far back as kindergarten, so it’s an art that’s been with me for practically all my life. I specialized in extreme horror fiction for the majority of my life.

I published my first two horror novels in 2015, and the second one went on to be adapted into a screenplay. Between those two books, I struggled with an addiction that I picked up at the age of 18, after experimenting with substances that I never should have touched.

Afterwards, I picked up alcohol and that’s when my troubles began. It landed me multiple DUI’s, loss of friends, hefty fines, and eventually landed me as a felon.

In 2022, I quit the addiction and laid horror writing aside and then began to pursue writing romantic thrillers under my fairly new brand THC Publications. 

Where did the idea for THC come from?

THC stems from Thriller, Horror, Crime. I carried the horror theme to pay tribute to my dark start in the writing industry. 

Can you share a story about the funniest marketing or branding mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

As far as something I had to learn along the way, I had to teach myself how to take a basic book cover and convert it for a 57-foot LED Billboard.

Fortunately, the internet provides us with every tool we don’t think we’ll ever need, so the conversion was a simple reshaping of the image on a Google application. I guess the lesson from this is the understanding that there is no tool not within our reach. 

Why do you think that PR is the tool you need to implement in your business and how does it help to grow your business?

This tool helps to bring awareness to your brand/business. We live in a time when PR and publicity go hand in hand. This was not something available at our disposal twenty years ago.

Back then, you literally had to run ads/articles in print newspapers just to reach potential buyers. Now it’s just the tip of adding a post on social media and you can reach people scattered throughout the world. I’d say that PR is probably the number one tool for any business. 

What social media platforms do you usually use to increase your brand’s awareness and why?

I use Facebook, X, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat on occasion. They increase awareness not only through group posts but are also advantageous for creating targeted ads. 

What is your experience with paid advertising, like PPC or sponsored content marketing campaigns? Does it work?

My opinion would be that paid advertising does work, however, there are instances when you may pay to advertise and end the month seeing less income.

To put things in a positive perspective, you’re still gaining exposure for every ad click and impression gained. Also, as in my experience, you may earn a review post by someone who enjoyed your work, and that provides more exposure. 

What is your main tactic when it comes to making more people aware of your brand and engaging your customers? How did your business stand out?

My main tactic on my personal Facebook account is creating posts related to my progress/book excerpts/cover reveals/sales data. Other than my personal account, my tactic for individuals who have never heard about me is to target them via ads.

Based on your personal experience, what advice would you give to Entrepreneurs considering PR for their business?

I would emphasize that you need to keep personal beliefs and opinions to yourself. Nothing too personal can be broadcast to a community that you want to consider your brand/product.

Politics, religion, and other touchy topics can be a turn-off because someone that might get interested in your product may not share the same views and expressions, so it is best to present yourself professionally and not get too involved with current events.  

What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?

Social media advertising has worked every time. 

Ok, let’s now jump to the core part of our interview. In a nutshell, how would you define the difference between brand marketing (branding) and product marketing (advertising)? Can you explain?

Brand marketing is designed for a specific audience. Take my THC Publications for example, I’m gearing it toward being strictly a romantic thriller brand.

The more it is recognized as a romantic thriller, then the brand will be made familiar with individuals who specifically seek that genre. The label defines everything your product is beneath the surface.

When it comes to brand marketing, I typically target romantic thriller readers on both Facebook and TikTok. These individuals are in the hundreds of thousands on social media, so I try to cater my advertising to them in regard to brand marketing. 

Product marketing is different in the sense that I am advertising a novel. I’m not targeting a specific group of individuals. Instead, I’m aiming to reach people who simply enjoy reading and aren’t too concerned about the genre because they read a multitude of topics.  

Can you explain to our readers why it is important to invest resources and energy into building a brand, in addition to the general marketing and advertising efforts?

The brand is the heart of your product(s). It’s the foundation of your business, and defines how you’re perceived by society–as it is your identity. Building a brand can put you a step ahead of your competitors who’ve not yet established a social identity. 

Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. Can you share 5 strategies that a company can do to upgrade and re-energize their brand and image”? Please tell us a story or an example for each.

Get out of your comfort zone and be open to new ideas. If you have multiple individuals in your field of expertise, then listen to possible improvements or recommendations that they bring to the table.

Chances are, they’ve been dwelling on perfecting this idea for a while but have been afraid to bring it up due to fear of rejection. 

Create a trendy logo. People are drawn to the visual representation of what you have to offer. If promoting on social media, then create banners. Try blue, red, or violet color schemes. Those are the colors that individuals find most attractive. 

Divide responsibilities. Depending on how many people are a part of your brand, split the workload. Have one focus specifically on advertising, another dedicated to writing social media posts, and someone else researching various methods to market the brand.

Everyone should have equal responsibility, or else you’re going to create division and division leads to taking time away from productivity. 

Avoid social dialogue. When commenting on each other’s social media content, avoid making consequential statements. While it may be harmless joking, everyone else they’re socially connected with has access to your comments.

You must conduct yourselves in the highest professional manner, or risk suffering the loss of potential clients. As owner(s) of your brand, you’re constantly under the microscope. People are judging your character and whether or not they invest in you is based on how you are presented. 

Keep your personal affairs separate from your work endeavors. Everyone has conflict and stress in their lives but if someone has taken an interest in your brand, then they want to hear specifically about your brand and not your interest in their opinion about something you’re dealing with in life.

The biggest turnoff is leading someone away from your product/brand by investing in small talk rather than engaging them with quick and direct discussion. 

How can our readers follow you online?

  • X: @ThcPublications 

Thank you so much for these excellent insights! We wish you continued success in your work.

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