You Are What You Write: Building an Author Brand

I’m back at the kitchen table today–thank the computer gods for making laptops–so that I can connect to the Internet. The last two days I’ve been discussing author branding, and despite living on a ranch and owning two different brands, I am not talking about taking authors out back and branding them with hot irons. Okay, the image is just gruesome. Ick.

I’m talking about making a name for yourself in the reading world. Yes, you heard me right, reading world. Why not the publishing world? Because not all of us have to answer to publishers and their impossible dictates. Some of us only have to answer to our muses, ourselves, and sometimes our readers. Although the opinions of readers are rather subjective to tastes, so that doesn’t always work. I don’t know how many times…tangent. Tangent!

I’m trying to curb this habit of jumping from topic to topic without rhyme or reason. Some form of blogging ADD perhaps. But those are tangents I’m not touching today.

Back to Author Branding. What is it you ask? I’ve explained it in Author Branding? What is that?  and again in Author Branding: Overview. Look back and read those posts if you don’t know what Author Branding is. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

While they are gone, I want to thank Andrew Mocete, Ruth Ann Nordin, and Joleene Naylor for your impute on Author Branding. You guys are awesome.

Now we’ll discuss how to build your brand. An author brand is more than logos, color schemes, taglines, or message points. Though those things do help create an ambiance.

1. You need to have a great book. This isn’t the NaNoWriMo novel that you slapped together in four weeks and never touched again. This is the book that you revised, edited, and proofread. This is the book that you sent out to beta readers for feedback. This is the best version of the book that you created, and finally let go into the world, only to think of more things you could have done better. Like the Underworld in my novel could have been darker and more gloomy at first, oh and there was that part…

2. Define what makes your brand unique and stick to it. Find a distinctive word or phrase that defines an aspect of what you do and then make it yours. I’ll take my writing as an example. At this moment I’m a fantasy and paranormal author that dips into romance and erotic romance, maybe someday I’ll try my hand at SciFi, horror, historical, or erotica. So what would be my brand? What should I focus on? Romance? Fantasy? Paranormal?

Actually I focused on none of the genres. I noticed that my story ideas all have a common thread. Every single story idea is based on a creature from myths or legends. Every single one of my ideas has a romance running through it. So that’s what I focused on. Myths. Legends. And Love. Notice my tagline above, “Where legends live. Where myths walk. And where love is eternal.” I says everything about what I write.

3. Grab the emotions of your readers. I discussed emotional attachment yesterday. Basically readers will buy a book on the sole fact that they feel attached to and think they understand the author. My best examples were Stephen King and Nora Roberts.

4. Build every aspect of your brand equally. These are your actions as well as your visual and verbal elements. Your message points that should be used in every spoken and written communications. This would be your email signature, you sign off at forums, reviews, and interviews. Your visual elements would be your website, your letterhead, and your professional photo. Think about that one for a moment. People are judgmental; it’s just part of our nature. We judge a book by its cover, a website by its look, and an author by their photo. So take a good look at your website and author’s photo. Do they reflect the image you want to send out to others? Do they look like other authors in your genre?

Okay I can see the confusion at that last question. Just like book covers have a certain look for different genres, so should your websites and author photos. Take a look at a few of your favorite authors. Then look at some that aren’t in your chosen genre. See if you can tell the difference. And if not, look for my post on author websites, author bios, and author photos another day.

5. Be consistent on marketing your brand. Just as publicity works better than advertising in the beginning to get your foot in the door. People who visit your sites need to know what you are marketing, which means that you need to communicate with a solid core message. Your brand should be in all that you do. But I’ll agree with Andrew, in that I enjoy interacting with people even if it’s not shop talk. I want to be able to connect with people on a personal level not just because I want them to by My Lord Hade (transmit subliminal message: Buy my Book! Mawhaha…)

Enough of that! The connections you do make with readers in chats, workshops, interviews, random emails, and reviews are what sale your book. Think word of mouth. One person tells five friends. Those five friends might tell five more friends. And the cycle goes on.

6. Deliver what you promise. Whatever your brand image, make sure that you stick to it. I made this mistake earlier in the year with my co-authored work Footprints on the Beach. I didn’t want to do separate websites for them so I ended up confusing my merging brand. That’s why my fiction got a new website Writing of Timothy Reese Richards (still under construction) and this one is getting a new look. One that I hope better fits the brand I want to convey.

Consumers are loyal. But they’re also fickle. Disappoint them and you lose them.

7. Always evaluate, build, and refine your brand. This will be a constant thing as society, readers, and your career change. When your image is no longer consistent with your brand, you need to refine and adjust the brand to make it fit you as an author. This is going to be a continuous process.

 I hoped this helped and unless anyone has any questions this is the end of the series on Author Branding. I invite you to comment, question, or discuss what I’ve said below. And if you found this of help to you, please share this with your friends.

Author Branding: An Overview

I needed a change of place today, or at least my Internet did, so instead of working at my desk that I strived so hard to get in the first place, my entire office has moved to the kitchen table. But at least here my Internet is working better than it has in over a week. Yay!

For those of you who have been following me on Twitter or Facebook, you’ve probably read that I’m exploring my options with marketing and promoting this month as well as updating websites. Which brings us right into our post, and as promised I’m going to talk a little more about Author Branding.

This is something that I’ve been having a hard time with. I hate labels. I’m not talking about the labels on cans of food or clothes. I hate the labels that people place on others to create organization in their chaotic lives. Labels are harmful and can scar kids for life. And I’m going to stop that tangent right there! Because that isn’t the topic of this post.

What is an Author Brand?

I touched on this yesterday, but here it is again. Unlike the typical belief that branding comes from that “oh so barbaric practice of burning iron into animal hide,” branding actually came from the need of businesses to identify products. The product being you and your books.

Think of an author, any author. Laurell K. Hamilton (erotica, detective, paranormal, horror). Stephen King (horror, techno thriller). Nora Roberts (romance). These are their brands. How do you know that they are successful brands? Pick up their books and look at the back covers. Notice something missing?

It would be the back blurb. There’s a big picture of them and nothing to tell you what the book is about. Why? Because the author brand sales and people are attached to the author. They will buy the book regardless of the story.

1. Emotional Attachment happens when people believe that they have formed a bond with the author and they are moved by the stories they love. Note: the stories don’t necessarily have to be any good for readers to become attached to them.

2. Perception of higher quality happens when the author relieves prestigious awards or given high rating of the book. They are perceived to be of higher quality (though we all know that this isn’t always the case)

3. Ability to provide readers with something unique that no one else can offer. This usually takes the shape of author’s voice, because no two authors write the same way. Although some may try.

Opps. I’ve run out of time for the day. It’s noon and time to make my children lunch. Then I have to work on Loving the Goddess of Love. A writer’s and mother’s work is never finished.

My next post will be on how to build your author brand. If you have any questions that you would like me to hit upon, please comment below. See you tomorrow.

Author Branding? What is that?

I know the ends and out of creative writing, I taught it to teenagers for about three summers, but when it comes marketing and promoting a book, it’s all Latin to me. So the last few weeks I’ve been focusing my studies on book marketing and promoting in an effort sale more books and in the case of the last 7 days give that book away.

Last week I came across author and book branding. It’s not a new concept to me, but it’s not something I thought of before. In the ranching business, branding is placing your mark upon the animals you raise. This lets others know that the animal that might find its way through the fence into other ranchers pasture or onto the road, who exactly owns that animal.

Author and book branding is the same concept. But with a few differences. One you’re not using a branding iron to burn the brand into flesh. You are creating brand, a set of words or a concept to brand you as an author or placing your mark upon your books. So what are the other differences?

In short, author branding is you. It’s who you are as an author and your presentation of what you write. It’s the type of books you write.

For the next two days I’ll be talking about Author Branding. If you have any questions about this that you would like me to cover, just let me know below or email me at selfpubauthors@aol.com. See you tomorrow.

Blogging Tip #2: Get Readers to your Blog

Yesterday I talked about writing your blog for you readers. Today I want to discuss how to promote your blog to get those readers.

First you have to start writing your blog. Once you have a few posts, its time to start looking for readers to read your blog. Yes, I know that readers will come looking for your content eventually, finding you through search engines and other people. But that is a very slow climb upward. Trust me.

My first blog was at LiveJournal. I created it so I didn’t have to keep writing the same letter to friends and family. They could read all about my day. When I decided to publish my novels and start an author’s platform I started another at LiveJournal. This lasted about a year until I decided to create my author website. The decision to go with WordPress meant that I had everything in one place. Blog, about me page, extra pages for books, etc..

The next step was to promote my new site. And the best way I found to do this was to find other blogs and forums that I enjoyed and befriend those people. I dislike the ‘look at me, I’m so great, buy my book’ commentors or the ‘I’m only commenting because I want you to buy my book’ commentors. This doesn’t work. An honest question or comment has me clicking on their website every time. Another way to get readers is to offer something for free. People love free stuff.

What are other ways you’ve found to get readers? Do you have any suggestions for future posts or questions? We’d love to hear from you.