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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Branding? Really?

Branding. Most people hear this word and immediately think of cows and hot metal iron. Unless you're in the marketing field. It used to be an author wrote the story, turned it over to an editor who wanted corrections and sent it back, the author corrected those issues and it was sent to the printer. The author then went on to the next story. Nowadays, not even close.

As authors we have to be aware of everything that goes on behind the scenes. And of course in order to sell you have to market yourself to your audience. I've learned this last year that branding for an author can be difficult and time consuming, but you don't have to go at it all at once. Here are just a few tips to help you understand what branding is and how it can be done.

1.) Find something that hits close to your heart. For me it's the Steampunk world, which includes the clothing. Now, since I'm just a beginner in the sewing world, I don't have much. What I do have I've worn to the conventions and to book signings. One of my best noticed pieces are my tiny hats. Everyone always comments on them. My best idea for my branding is to wear one of those mini hats to the events I want to be recognized at. Now that I own a corset you'll see me in it a lot as well.

2.) Get your name out there. Put together a website, blog and produce. Though I had been writing for a long time it wasn't until 2011 that I started to blog with this lovely group. Slowly my name started making the rounds. Then in 2012 I started to write free reads for our sister blog. My name and my work started to get noticed. I've now gotten complete strangers endorsing my fiction and short stories in LinkedIn. 

4.) Get involved, either in a writing chapter or a small bookstore or book club. Once people recognize your efforts your name will get passed around. Attend conventions, both writing and within your genre.



 As a reader what are your thoughts to give an author you've read? What do you think about when the word, "Branding" is brought up?

13 comments:

Judith Ashley said...

Hi Mae,

I love your tiny hats and do associate them with you specifically which is what we want to achieve. I also think that when you have something so visible that is a tremendous help.

As a reader I think similarities in book covers can brand a series. What comes immediately to mind is Paty Jager's Spirit series and also Kris Tualla's Hansen series. From their covers I can ascertain the genre and see that the books are connected - even from a distance.

From this post it looks like you're finding LinkedIn to be a good choice. Why is that? I struggle to do much of anything other than Romancing The Genres and Free Reads so haven't set up an account although I regularly get invitations to link up with someone.

Sarah Raplee said...

I agree with what Judith said about Paty Jager and Kris Tualla's brands. Besides book covers, they both are known for their mentoring in the writing community and for interacting with their potential audiences.

Award-winning author B.A. Binns has also developed a strong brand that she links to everything she does. She writes YAs with inner city male teen protagonists that are very effective in reaching reluctant teen readers. She speaks about reaching reluctant readers and the issues of today's teens at conferences and groups to parents, librarians, educators and others who work with teens and reluctant readers. She also donates books to libraries and organizations.

Your tiny hats are a wonderful visual reminder of your Steampunk-related brand. You are very involved with the Steampunk and writing communities and generous with your knowledge through this blog and other venues. When I think of you as a writer, I think 'Fun with Steampunk' and 'Steampunk Educator.'

maepen said...

Thanks Sarah and Judith for your kind words. I like to think of myself as the person to encourage the different.
Judith, as for LinkedIn, I made the account well before facebook and twitter. I do need to go in and update but for the most part I don't touch it. I am grateful for this blog and free read for getting my work out there. Without these sites I wouldn't have started getting readers. Just keep going.

jamie said...

I do love your hats, Mae.
Hope your Dad is doing better.

Christy said...

Great points and advice about branding, Mae. Your hats are wonderful, and an immediate attraction for anyone who loves the Victorian Era, as I do.

I can't wait to read more of your writing!

Tammy J. Palmer said...

It's great to have some kind of signature, like those cute hats. I write contemporaries and I don't have any idea who to create a style that represents me. No costumes for contemporary. This branding thing is hard. Good luck Mae.

maepen said...

Hi Jamie. My dad is doing better. His treatment is almost half over and the doctors are telling him he's going to come out of it just fine. Thank you for asking.

Christy: Thank you for liking my advice. I plan to self-publish some novellas and my series this year so stay tuned.

Tammy: Is there something in your work that you always go back to? A pair of shoes or a place? You could incorporate that signature piece or one like it into your wardrobe when you go to conferences or book signings.

Sarah Raplee said...

Tammy, I agree that branding can be hard for contemporary authors, especially.

One of the things I've seen authors like Kris Tualla and Bob Mayer do is make Author Advocate a part of their brands. They've both written books to help beginning writers and books about the changes in publishing today and how to self-publish. They are authentic in that they are both passionate about giving back to the writing community and about this being a great time to be an author.

B.A. Binns writes YA with inner city boys as protagonists. She's passionate about reaching reluctant readers and about the problems modern teens face. Teen Advocate is a big part of her brand.

Opal Carew just started a Nail Polish blog to reach her audience. She writes fun erotic stories, and Nail Polish is fun - not to mention very popular - so this fits her brand. Brilliant!

I'm still getting my mind around Brands myself, but i found these examples helpful.

Sarah Raplee said...

Mae, I love that idea! There are dog characters in my stories, so maybe I'll work that into my attire.

Maggie Jaimeson said...

A lot of people are talking about branding in the author world these days, but I'm having a hard time with it. I can see how historical writers use clothing both in blogs and in their personal appearance. However, if your writing contemporary, paranormal, fantasy I'm not sure it works quite as well. If you are writing in more than one genre, you need a brand that crosses all of them.

Personally, I'm wondering if the amount of time one puts into promo is worth what one gets out. I'm not sure yet. At this point I'm convinced that the best promo is more content, more books.

Diana Mcc. said...

I like your hats too, Mae! I thought that branding was more in the type of book you are producing. Your branding is steam punk. If you pick up a Susan Crosby book you know you are getting a contemporary love story. When you pick up a Kerrelyn Sparks book you know it's a vampire romance. Buy a Marie Harte you know you'll be reading Erotica. And so on. Great post!

B. A. Binns said...

You said to find something you are passionate about. I think that is essential because building a brand takes a LOT of work. It helps if that effort is spent on something you care about. My brand involves my passion for diversity in YA fiction and getting reluctant readers back to books. That's why I do outreach to schools and libraries.

As far as networking, I am on Facebook as allthecolorsoflove, and I could always use more likes. I also tweet and blog. I have joined organizations that cater to my target reader, like Figment.Com and I am exploring Pinterest. I have not tried linkedIn, but only because I don't do justice to the networks I am already on. I can spread myself only so thin. I think each of us just needs to find the balance that works for them.

maepen said...

I'm so glad this post got a conversation going. These are all great things. I agree to find something you can contribute to that makes a difference. I love being in the steampunk community so that is where I lie. I also love being with and influencing younger children which is why I volunteer with Cub Scouts.I really do agree to keep producing.

What are you passionate about that could put your name in the positive light without taking too much time away from producing?