Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bits O'Wisdom: Author Branding

Hey y’all! It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to put a blog post up. I have no excuse to give except that life tried very hard to swallow me whole. Good news? I won. =)

Alright, so the last time I posted one of these Bits O’Wisdom, I mentioned author branding. And next week we’re going to cover WEBSITES. *awaits screams of horror*

But for this week, let’s talk about author branding. What is a brand? And how can an author be one?

A brand is basically the essence or promise of what will be delivered or experienced.

What does your name promise your readers?

I know! I can already picture the looks on some of y’alls faces. You’re probably groaning at the screen and saying: “I just want to finish this book! I don’t want to worry about creating a public image or building a following. Heck, I don’t have time!” Or maybe: “Once I get an agent…then, then I’ll start on the whole branding thing. Right now I need to focus on writing.”

Writing should always be your main priority. Always. And yes, creating a public image can be time consuming—I’ve recently begun to realize just how much time it takes. About the same amount of time I DON’T have. Publishing can be and is a slow business. I mean, first you have to write the book. That usually takes a while. Then send out query letters in an effort to snag an agent. That can take even longer than writing your book. So it’s easy to say you’ll worry about building your public image/following later. And that’s perfectly okay. There is no rule saying that all writers must do this before getting published, but what happens when you do get published?

Anything that you’ve attached your “name” to—is now your brand.

This means Twitter, Facebook, Google +, writing groups, blogs, websites, etc….

You may not have all of these but all of you have at least one. So…what if you’ve spent all your time posting pictures of your dog? Or blogging about how cute you think pink elephants are? Tweeting about the cramps from hell….?? Guess that leads to the next question:

What Does Your Brand Say About You?

Or better yet…What SHOULD it say about you? I know you’ve heard that you should have a target audience. If you write romance, target the romantics. If you write YA—your posts and tweets should be teen friendly. The problem with this is that it does put a limit on who you can reach and what you can say. It stuffs you into a genre box. Stifles the real…You. Of course, if you write horror you’re not going to be tweeting about how adorable fluffy yellow kittens are. Just like if your audience is YA, you shouldn’t be cussing like a sailor. Obviously. You want to be relatable but the genre you write in is only half the package. Your brand is your name and it should be YOU. No, you don’t want to scare away your target audience but you should be yourself. Readers/fans will want to get to know you as a person…not just the writer.

Now I love Twitter. If you follow me, you know that tweeting is more like an obsession than a way to build a following—haha—and I tweet about everything. Anything from snippets of my writing to rants about how the washer exploded. (that’s not totally a joke) My genre is romance, but for me to tweet only sappy, sonnet like nonsense would not be true to the real me. I’m a total romantic…but I’m also a normal person that real life happens to. My followers are not only writers but people who can relate to the things I talk about and enjoy my sense of humor. Deranged though it may be sometimes.

Not everyone you come in contact with via social networks will buy your books. That’s probably not gonna happen. But some will. Even those who may not like the genre you write in. Why? Because there’s something about YOU they like. I’ve had people tell me they don’t read romance—at all—but they’re willing to buy my writing when it comes out because they like and can relate to me. And if they’ve got things in common with me…well what the heck? Maybe romance isn’t so bad either.

When it comes to creating a name for yourself…author branding…be yourself and not who you think you SHOULD be. Don’t make it all about your book either. Creating a website under the title of your first book is not a good idea. But we’ll cover that next week.

So…how are you creating an author brand? What do you think comes to mind when people see your name? How do you want to be perceived as an author?

1 comment:

  1. You are so right! I recently bought a book in a genre I don't normally read -- I wanted to buy it because I like the author as a person. And I read the book too -- because I like the author as a person. And I enjoyed it! But I haven't been converted to a fan of the genre, even though I'll probably read more of this particular author's work. Of course we don't get to "know" each other completely on social media, but we definitely recognize when we have something in common with our new "friends."



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