Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Building Your Brand

One of the catch-phrases you always hear in book marketing is “building your brand.” When I first heard that, I thought, “What?” The books are the products we’re supposed to sell, not the authors, right? Wrong. You would think that technology has isolated us. After all, we either have a Bluetooth hanging off our ears, our faces bent down toward our Ipads, our fingers busily tapping our laptop keyboards, or the cell phone always at ready for texting, chatting or talking. And while we may be physically alone when we’re on these electronics, we are in no way isolated. In fact, communication has gone into hyper-drive. There are more ways now to instantly get a hold of someone than ever before. Just try to imagine yourself waiting for a friend at a restaurant. How long will it be before you take out your cell phone and “check your messages” or check your e-mail, or even go on the internet and catch up on some news? I’d wager most people don’t last one minute.
What does this have to do with why you should build a brand as an author? I’ll tell you why.
In this brave new world of face-chatting and cell phone cameras catching any and all action, people are seeing other people, up close and personal. Your buying public is expecting to know who you are. That includes, what you look like, what you like to do, what you are doing at any given time (Twitter, for instance); in other words, they want you to be accessible, just like everything else nowadays. That’s why you need to build your brand. You need to be more than an author; you need to be a person of interest.
Now, before you go and hide under your covers, understand that you are already an interesting person. You write. More than likely, you’ve published a book. You just need to learn how to share yourself and your experiences with your fellow human being. A website is an absolute necessity. This is where people can go to get the whole person – you. Blogging is good; that gets you and your voice out there so that people can get to know your personality. You can blog on your website, on a separate blog site, and you can also guest blog on someone else’s site. I’ve been amazed at how supportive my fellow writers are. You should be doing interviews and trying to get your book reviewed. Trade reviews legitimize not only your work, but you as an author. All this online marketing is cost-effective and you can reach a broad spectrum of readers; however, nothing feels as good as coming face-to-face with a buying public. That’s one thing a cell phone can’t give you.
And while you can sit alone at your computer and join groups, join discussions, leave comments, (that’s all recommended), you really should get out there and meet people in person. Try to arrange book signings at stores and book festivals. There’s something magical and energetic about a live, personal discourse. Those conversations seem to have a more long-lasting effect on readers and because of that they will not be so quick to forget you. In a way, I find that fact rather refreshing.
Now, I’m not advocating for you to become the most obnoxious self-promoter on the planet. That’s a sure turn-off. The most important thing to remember in building your brand is to be accessible. Unless he’s already famous, no writer can afford to be the aloof, affected, “I-vant-to-be-alone” type. Not in this world, not nowadays. So, stop hiding and let your communication begin!

1 comment:

  1. Your comments are spot on!

    When my granddaughter, Jessica, not only told me I should do this but helped me build my first website in August 2011, I thought, “What on earth am I getting myself into?” Yes, I wrote an autobiography but I was not exactly comfortable with the idea of exposing my inner-most thoughts to the world on an on-going basis. So it took a while but I realized that she was actually helping me get into the world of the 21st century – particularly as an author.

    So I made a commitment to Jessica earlier this year that I would be blogging once a month – although she still thinks I should do so at least weekly. As much as I love her and would like to follow her instructions, since I do have other commitments – managing our own investments – until such time when I can afford more time, I will need to stick to my initial commitment.

    Again, meeting you was one of the best things that happened to me at the LA Times Festival of Books!