Our current brave world of publishing demands that an author “build a brand.” What does that mean exactly?
Simply put, your brand is the picture that pops into people’s mind when they hear your name. Your author brand is how your fans identify you.
How do you figure out what to talk about online? [Yes, we can hear all you introverts moaning. Just go with us for a bit here.] How can you intentionally create a brand that makes you happy?
The Big Secret: As long as you can engage the people who interact with you, via your books, your blog or social media, your topic doesn’t really matter (though we warn you away from politics or religion unless that is your brand). What matters is that all your online efforts foster the picture you want to create in people’s minds.
You can blog about anything as long as it’s something entertaining or relatable about you or a character/motif from your books. A-ny-thing that interests you and helps create the picture you want in readers minds when they think of you.
For established authors, this picture is usually tied to one (or many) of your books. For the new or unpublished author, you need to get started on forming that picture in people’s mind as soon as possible. Interacting via a blog, podcasts or on social media is one of the easiest ways to quickly build a brand.
How do you distill the complexity that is you into a few words or topics?
In her book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World, social media Jedi, Kristen Lamb, recommends you free write 100 words about all the things that make up the complex story of YOU. Be prepared…This exercise will be harder than you expect it to be. (Platform building isn’t for sissies, you know.)
If the cloud idea doesn’t work for you, try the ‘ten phrases game.’ Here’s a sample writer in 10 Bullets or Less:
- Rejuvenated by creativity
- Nurtured by family and friends
- Cats/dogs/chickens are AWESOME
- Loves to give back
- Dragons are awesome
- [Fill in the blank] hits my Zen button
- Stories are the best
- I dream of being an organized person
- Intravenous coffee
Those bullet points and word clouds contain your blogging and social media topics. Note: You might have to do these exercises several times before you figure out your list of topics.
If you’re coming up blank on how to convert these topic ideas into action, here are some tips to make the process easier:
- Effective social media is a thousand drops of water sprinkled across months, not throwing a big bucket of updates out at once. High volume sharing tends to tire out most followers.
- Pick only one (or two) social platforms and really embrace them. You can do more if you have the time but DON’T do 5-6 different apps with no interaction. Pick the few you’re most comfortable with and visit at least once a day for the first few months.
- Look up the people you already know and see what they’re posting about. Jump into those conversations. If it’s online, it is open to the public…just be polite about it.
- Find the hashtags for topics you know a lot about or have interest in.
- If you’re just starting on a platform like Twitter or Instagram, go look at someone you admire and follow all the people on their list who look interesting.
- Be sure to use the 12:1 rule by responding or retweeting twelve items/links/conversations from other people for every one of yours.
How can you learn about “building a brand?”
For more detailed information on branding, here are some great blogs on the subject:
- Jami Gold’s How Do You Decide On Your Author Brand? – Part 1 and Part 2
- Jami has another wonderful post on Branding 101 – Online Brand vs. Author Brand
- 6 Branding Tips for Writers by Nina Amir
- Video: Creating Your Author Brand by Joanna Penn
- Chuck Sambuchino’s advice for How Successful Authors Use Social Media to Sell More Books
Where do you commune with people online (and why do you like it)? Are there groups of writers that you recommend above all others? Finally, can YOU write your life story in 100 words? We’d love it if you took a shot at it down in the comments!