Marketing 101: Introduction to Author Branding

I spent the majority of yesterday reading about “author branding”, what it is, and why it’s vital to an author’s career.  What I came away with were tons of notes and one resounding message:  be yourself.

Yes…be yourself.  Your future ‘fans’, your ‘public’, your readers, they don’t want to be inundated with sales pitches and ‘Hey, hey, look at me and my book’ messages.  I see this all the time on Twitter and it really turns me off.  I want people I can connect with.  People I can talk to.  People who are real and authentic and have a story to tell…a story I can relate to.  I like people who exude passion about what they write.  I love those individuals who enjoy interacting with their readers.

I took a look at some blog sites that I follow to see what it is that attracts me to those people.  You know what I love about them?  They’re genuine, honest and passionate, and they have a story to tell.  Without even knowing it, they’re creating their  ‘brand’.  They’re gathering their tribe.  It’s so simple it boggles the mind.  

Be yourself.

Several years ago an amazing boss told me there was no single method for achieving distinction.  It was something each of us had to find through a combination of knowing who we are as individuals, knowing what our strengths and weaknesses are, as well as identifying our limitations.  He said trying to please everyone will leave nothing behind but shoddy work and a reputation for being a suck-up.  My boss was a very wise man.  It is so true.  I would rather devote myself to doing one or two things great than trying to do a hundred and doing none of them well.  

These realizations are the first baby steps into ‘branding’ yourself as an author.  It may seem trivial, but by fully understanding who you are, the more confident you will become and the easier it will be to achieve what you want in life.

My daughter asked me last night who am I. 

I smiled, took my first baby steps, and said, “I’m an author, and boy do I have some stories to tell you.”  

What about you?  Are you ready to take your first baby steps?  Go on.  Tell me.  Who are you?

Marketing? I have to do marketing? Noooo!

Yesterday, I received my marketing kit from J. Taylor Publishing, and yes, another big squeal escaped my lips.  I have to say, I began reading it with enthusiasm, but by the time I was done, my head felt mushy, tears actually fell and I started freaking out.  Why?  Because I can’t market anything.  I can’t sell water to a fish.  How in the world am I going to do this?

I felt like I was staring at that dreaded Geometry test in high school all over again…the one I studied so hard for but didn’t ‘get’.  The one I got a tutor for because no matter how hard I tried, the answers always eluded me.  There is just so much to do.  At least I’ve already started some of the crucial marketing, like having a blog, and Facebook and Twitter accounts.  But what about branding?

We hear about it all the time.  Authors have to create a ‘brand’, something unique that makes people (readers) remember them.  This means as a soon-to-be published author, I have to take a good look at what type of author I am and how I want to be remembered.

First, what kind of author am I?

Well, I love writing and reading Young Adult/New adult fantasy novels.  Anything that has to do with dragons, faeries, gnomes, trolls, castles, I’m there.  Urban fantasies?  Got it covered.  Dystopians?  You betcha.  So, is this my brand?  I think so, but what do I do with it?

I know I have to create a website, but I can’t afford a fancy one with my own domain name, which means I’ll have to  have a free one.  Hmm, Weebly looks good.  But what do I do after that?  I don’t know!  (another clump of hair lands on the floor).

What is clear is I’m about to embark on a rollercoaster of a ride, and seeing I’m such a wimp, I’m taking each one of you with me.  So strap yourselves in.  Don’t worry about the floor falling out from beneath you.  That’s supposed to happen.  Keep your arms inside at all times and hold on tight because this train is about to leave the station, and it’s going to be a wild and crazy ride!