When I talk about branding, most people think of a specific brand name such as Coke, Christian Dior, or Target. We don’t think about authors or people being a brand per se. However, authors are in fact a brand. The quicker you realize this fact, the better for your career as a writer.
We think in images. If I say newspaper, you think of your local paper or maybe the New York Times. You see the image in your mind’s eye. If we were to discuss books and I say Western you might think of Zane Grey. If I say horror, you’ll think of Stephen King, and so on. You might see the author’s photograph on the back of their last book, or at least the book cover itself. Authors are brands or, more accurately, brand names.
Prior to the innovation of social media and social networking sites, it was up to marketing departments of publishers to generate interest in their books. They’d organize entire campaigns around the author, using billboards, mailers, and even radio advertisements. If they really believed in the author, they’d spring for television commercials. These campaigns would cost thousands of dollars. They knew or rather hoped; if the author was known, they would recoup their costs. With advent of social media, anyone with some knowledge of marketing and social networking can create a brand name relatively easily.
Some authors may ask ‘Why create a brand name in the first place?’
To put it simply, branding is how you are going to stand out from the millions of others that are doing exactly the same thing you are. Any author who is in print today struggled at some juncture in their career. Personal branding will not subvert that struggle by any means, but it will make the journey easier. To use a tired turn of phrase, ‘If it was easy, everybody would be doing it.’
Three Rules of Better Branding
Before going any further into the branding discussion we need to understand one thing: Passion, plain and simple will carry you.
- If you’re one of those ‘authors’ who’ve had their manuscript(s) languishing in the box of unfinished stuff, then stop reading now.
- If you’re going to blame everyone else for the reason that you haven’t succeeded, then stop reading right now.
- If you’ve been thinking of that breakout novel for the past ten years, then you may as well just keep thinking about it. (For the best piece I’ve ever read on the subject of excuses see Robert Bruce’s’ piece Everything will conspire to stop you…so what?)
If you’re still reading this, it means you’re one of two things: Either you’re a glutton for punishment or you’re truly passionate about writing. Being passionate about writing is the above all rule for writing. If you’re not passionate it’s going to show in your writing no matter how hard you try to hide it.
The second rule of building a personal brand and writing in general is also simplistic but not enough people do it. Listen to those who have already achieved the success that you desire. Most people who are successful want to share some of the practices that got them there. The authors and resources that immediately come to mind are:
- Chris Brogan’s Personal Branding,
- Stephen King’s book On Writing (affiliate link*),
- N.M. Kelby’s The Constant art of Being a Writer (affiliate link*), and,
- The Writers Digest Handbook of Magazine Article Writing (affiliate link*).
Third rule: Use either your pen name or your real name across all of the platforms with which you interact with the public. This way when people go to search for you or your work they don’t confuse you with someone else’s name. Sometimes you’ll have to throw in your middle initial, but just stay away from monikers such as Bunny21, or FruityLooped, etc.
The Brand of You
So now you have an understanding of what branding means for writers. Now, , but what do you with this great brand that you have built? This is when you start building your audience based around the brand that you have built. You begin by advertising the Brand of You, and advertising the Brand of You starts with social networking online. In my next post I’ll show you how to do just that.
*The affiliate links are associated with John F. Taylor. Inky Fresh Press will not benefit from these links.