I can't pinpoint the moment I stopped being a person and became a brand. But I think it was the first time I signed an email with www.deborahsharp.com instead of my actual name.
When I decided to leave USA Today to become a mystery writer, I didn't realize I'd also become something I never planned: A saleswoman. My product? Myself.
Pretty weird considering my only sales experience was pushing Girl Scout cookies in 5th grade.
But now that I am a brand, I'm all about marketing. "Positioning'' myself and my upcoming novel. Breaking out of the pack of some 276,000 other new book titles released this year. And, oh yeah, always remembering to repeat the name of the book (See above. Can't miss it)
* To keep my new business cards in a pocket instead of buried in my purse, should anyone show the slightest interest . . . and even if they don't.
* To forget my mom's oft-repeated advice: ''Never toot your own horn, honey.''
* To ignore the cringe I feel when I see my humongous photo on my website.
''My picture's WAY too big,'' I protested to the guy who helped design the site.
''It can't be too big,'' the web guy said. ''You're the brand.''
Just like Paris Hilton, Tide detergent and the George Foreman grill.
I knew I'd gone to the dark side when I seriously considered repainting my Miata in a mock-up of my book's cover. I could become a mobile ad, I figured, kind of like the Roto-Rooter man in his red-and-blue van. Of course, I wouldn't actually kill anyone. The hand dangling from my turquoise trunk could be a dummy's.
Now tell me again about self-promotion . . . how fine is that line before shameless?
I'll be out on the circuit this fall with Mama Does Time. I hope y'all will say hi. I'll be the one slipping my card into your palm as we're introduced.
''Nice to meet you,'' I'll say with a saleswoman's smile. ''I'm www.deborahsharp.com.''