BRAND ME BABY!
Okay, so maybe this wasn’t what you had in mind for ‘Branding’!
That’s good. I hate to disappoint and I just wouldn’t be able to go through with this – for anyone.
Ever notice in this industry, we get to hear the oddest turn ‘o phrase. Seriously.
Head hopping, POV, WIP, WP, critique partners, galleys, plot holes, dirty drafts, genre jumping, cross genre… the list just goes on and on! But one of those odd phrases is by far one of the most elusive in understanding.
Why’s that? It’s not tangible, visual, tasteable (I know that’s not a word!), audible or buyable.
But what it is – is INVALUABLE.
Your Author Brand is what makes you YOU.
An author brand is your personal, visceral, immediate response from a reader. Your logo or trademark as it were. It’s what keeps your name in a reader’s mind when they peruse the shelves of their local bookstore or favorite website and have X amount of dollars to spend, expecting quality.
YOU and your brand have to deliver.
So the sticky part is how to build your brand. Since you along with all your readers probably aren’t willing to have the hot iron process, (not to mention you want an emotional brand instead of a painful brand) it’s up to you to define your brand, promo your brand and fuse your brand into the minds of your readers and networks like super-glued sticky notes.
Here’s an easy one: Toys ‘R Us!
The first thing you thought about was toys and that clever little jingle, right?
THAT is the response you want when people hear or think of your name. Okay, maybe not toys and a jingle, but you want your brand to click an emotional connection when a reader hears your name.
So the first thing you have to do is have a stellar product. Learn, refine and perfect your writing. It’s an art, but it’s a subjective art. Make your writing the best it can be. Leave them sighing, crying, singing or laughing.
Next - figure out what your brand is. What sets you apart? What do you offer that’s different? How do you want to be seen? Make it unique and OWN IT. It’s not enough to write ‘hot romance’. You have to find that spark of difference that screams ‘Hotter than Hell Romance.’
Then - you as the author have to build/create your brand and get it rolling before any amount of promo will help. Network, pitch in, join loops, do workshops. Get you and your brand out there and make it good. Word of mouth spreads faster than any promotional tool available.
In the meantime - make yourself remarkable and memorable. Ever met two people and walked away only remembering one name. Why did that person stand out? Did they lag in the corner, or did they get in the mix, help out, make you feel good? Emotional connection. Hit ‘em where the heart strings run.
Tailor your presence to your brand. Write hot and sexy? Play the part, have a smokin’ website, and do workshops on ultimate love scene blunders. More conservative? Tailor your presence.
(Here’s a fun example of the last point.) Think of your immediate reaction to - a Brain Surgeon.
I see a tall, thin middle aged gentleman with a starched shirt and tie, wearing a white lab coat. He’s sitting behind a desk, forehead wrinkled slightly from years of concentration. Maybe some Bach playing in the background, and a brandy snifter with crystal glasses near the antique globe that sits by the window.
NOW imagine him leaning forward to tell you that he is a Sumo-wrestler on the side.
Throws off the picture you had in your mind. Discombobulates your whole immediate reaction right? Same with your brand. Make it yours and stick to it.
Keep your brand consistent. While many authors shift their brands, starting out, you really need to focus your brand.
Beware of Shadow Branding. This is why I say be consistent. If you appear one way, and build a brand on that, but are caught on the side being or acting in a totally different fashion, you can develop a shadow brand. An alternate brand that usually isn’t very good. So keep your brand as close to who you really are unless you’re ready to commit to your brand 100% when you are in the public eye, ear, or reach.
So get out there, and make yourself available. Take on fundraising. Picth in with other authors. Blog. But you have to get out there. No agent or editor is going to come knocking on your door. As much as we wish they would. So until they do, anything you can do to cast a positive light on your name is branding. It may take years to build yourself a strong brand, but every step you take along the way just makes you and your brand more pronounced.
In the interest of defining Brands, let me know what brand an author has that stands out for you, and maybe we can pick it apart. Figure out how that author managed to make their brand so memorable.
Drop us a comment!
Monday, November 9, 2009
BRAND ME BABY!