One of the hot buzzwords in the marketplace today is “branding.” Authors need to develop their own “brand” just like the automakers, the communication industry, and the Internet companies.
While as an author, you may or may not go so far as to design your own logo, it is important that you develop a “look” and “feel” that will distinguish your products from the others in your field.
Many of us may not experience the notoriety of JK Rawlings, author of the Harry Potter series. Now there’s an example of “branding.” However, developing your brand and incorporating it into everything related to your book can help you draw recognition. Recognition builds relationship, and relationship builds name recognition.
Author Nancy Haddock writes a fun and fast-paced vampire series with some very interesting aspects which are placed in the area around St. Augustine, Florida. She knew early on that’s what she wanted to do and when NY offered her a multi-book contract, she was ready to get her “brand” up and out. “Beach books with a bite” is her theme. Her website, clothes and speaker topics, all lend themselves to support her brand.
Janet Evanovich, author of the NJ-based Stephanie Plum series developed her brand which in turn empowered her spin-off marketing business which earns her many times more than her book sales do. And she’s not doing badly with book sales, either. Tee shirts and other merchandise all reflect her “brand.”
So I propose, that even before we get that big book deal offered to us, let’s follow the advice of the PR gurus and get thinking about our branding. Write a newsletter in the tone and voice of your characters and send it to your email list. Run a contest that correlates to something your characters do or want or say. Buy the domain name and set up a Facebook fan page that reflects your brand.
Your brand might be built around your topic, or your locale, or a particular logo, or even your specific writing style, which is called your “voice.” Nora Roberts, Stephen King, Nicholas Sparks, and Steve Berry write with a specific voice. When a Steve Berry fan picks up one of his novels, they KNOW they will be getting a 400-500 page novel that will include a great deal of international historical information woven into an internationally placed thriller. Nora Robert’s fans know they will get strong characters with big challenges and a satisfactory ending to their relationship struggles. Stephen King fans know they’ll get an edge-of-their-seat tale that probably includes strong horror elements. Their styles are their brands.
Eight years ago, “branding” or “style” was called “platform.” Take a look at what your goals are and begin to define what you’d like your brand to be. Sharon Buck at Social Media Counts is a specialist in getting people set up with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages that will promote their brands. Her branding is built around SocialMediaCounts.com. The name of her company, her webpage and her social media is all built to clearly and quickly identify her as an expert in the field.
Penny Sansevieri is a specialist in public relations. She and her team take beginner and midlist authors to New York Times bestseller status. I believe the current count is 13. Her specialty? Author marketing. Her brand? Author Marketing Experts! Everything you see from Penny, from tweets and emails to her free newsletters and paid programs all reflect her brand. It’s a look, a voice, and a sense of confidence and expertise that reflects what she and her company are up to, right down to the commitment they have for client success.
When I’m hired to prepare someone’s press release and/or media kit, I have to be clear on what they’re branding is so that I reflect it in their publicity documents as well. What I do must reflect their mission so there is no miscommunication or confusion in the public eye.
So, what do you want YOUR brand to be? Does your website, your Facebook page, your business card, letterhead and your end product reflect that brand? If not, take the time to work on it or hire a professional to help. I suspect the end result—more clients or book sales—will be well worth the investment in terms of time and money.