Tag Archive | marketing for authors

Developing Your Author Brand

credit- Deposit Photos

credit- Deposit Photos

So it’s not enough these days to work on developing your “Author Platform” on social media, but you also have to think about your Author Brand. What is the difference? And if you are not yet published, should you even worry about it?

Why You Need A Brand

Like it or not, the internet has exploded the amount of opportunities and methods for marketing just about any product or service you can think of. Which means there are many options to choose from when planning a marketing strategy. The down side, of course, is the sheer volume of competition, and the end goal is how to get noticed when potential customers are being bombarded with tons of information.

As an author, your stories (books, novellas, shorts, etc) are your product, and you, the author, are the brand. Your social media platform is how you engage with the general public, and readers in particular. Advice gurus, agents, and even some publishers are currently advising authors to start building their author platform on social media as early as possible, to find their audience and gain potential readers. We’ve been told to post, tweet, blog, share photos, and engage with the public. I agree that social media engagement is important, and can be effective, but only if you enjoy it and are consistent. Pick the social media outlets that appeal to you and work them into your routine.

Your Brand is Your Promise

But your Author Brand is much more than your social media profile; it’s how you represent and market YOU. Your author brand also represents your style, your voice, the genres your write in, the themes of your stories, and your body of work as a whole. As author Roni Loren explained in a recent guest post over at Fiction University, it’s your author promise.

Just as each book (or novella, etc) you release needs a marketing plan, so does your author brand. The right tag line explains the essence of your work and not only tells potential readers what to expect from you as an author, but is a great tool to get people to remember you. For example, BDSM Romance author Annabel Joseph’s tagline, which is prominently displayed on her website, is “The Romance of Dominance and Submission.”

It’s simple, easy to recall, and if you’ve ever read her books (and if you haven’t, you should), it succinctly describes what you’ll find, from her historical romances to her contemporaries. A good author tagline should be broad enough to describe most of your work, without being vague. Another good example is author Jami Gold’s tagline, Where Normal Need Not Apply.” It gives readers a hint of the experience they’ll find, without being specific to one story or genre category.

Once you come up with that perfect tagline, put it everywhere- emails, newsletters, business cards, your blog, your website, and in your books. Be creative, but be consistent. Those few words identify the feeling you are hoping to evoke in the reader, whom you want to entice to purchase your product.

Identify Your Tagline

Even if you are a newbie and writing your first draft ever, start thinking about your potential brand. I am no marketing expert, but I have been observing how other authors approach branding in an effort to develop my own marketing plan. But how do you figure out what your message, your author promise, is?

Some writers may know what their niche or brand theme is when they begin their writing career. But for others, it may take time, and several different drafts or years of blogging to figure out what the common themes are in their work. That is what happened to me, but when the idea of what my brand might be crystallized, it felt right.

As it says in the About section of this blog, I am “keenly interested in human nature, and believe unconditionally in the power of love”. If you’ve read many of my blog posts, even though they may be on vastly different subjects, those two themes shine through. My bio also states I am a “die-hard skeptic who loves to imagine the impossible, then write stories about how it just might work”.

Yep. That’s my work in a nutshell, some of which I described in a recent post, “The Metaphysical Side of Love.” Most of my stories are romance, with metaphysical/supernatural/paranormal aspects to them. I guess real-life problems aren’t enough for me- I have to throw in a psychic, a ghost, and a witch or two, so I can explore those impossible ideas of mine!

But I had to condense all of that into a tagline, so I came up with “The Power of Love with a Supernatural Twist.”   It may change by the time I am ready to launch my product- my first novel- but for now, it feels right. I hope to have a solid marketing plan in place for my debut, which will be one less thing to worry about if I keep working on it now.

So, it’s never too early to start working on your brand, or to start marketing yourself as an author. Social media and your brand are two ways to get started.

What do you think? What are some examples of authors who are doing a great job of branding themselves?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do Debut Authors Really Have A Chance In Today’s Market?

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“The E-Book Goldrush Is Over.” “The Market Is Saturated.” “There Is A Tsunami of Crap on the Internet.”

There’s doom and gloom in the world of publishing lately. Articles and blog posts, forums and feeds all dissecting the state of the industry, and for the most part, it’s not pretty.

What’s Happening

Many authors, Indie and Traditional, report declining sales. The average price of books has dropped as well, which means more units must be sold to make the same income as in prior years. Competition has increased as self-publishing has exploded, and established authors also republish their backlist as e-books online. Even the classics are being republished as e-books, now listed for .99 a pop.

Sure, the Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy stands to rake in a bajillion bucks, but that is a phenomenon unto itself. Unless you happen to have the next mega hit (and how would you know in advance? Are you psychic?), is it worth even trying to break into today’s crowded market?

How can a newbie hope to get noticed, as one tiny drop in an ocean of content?

Trends Are Changing Rapidly

There is about as much advice out there as there are authors trying to get noticed. But with everything (new technology, algorithms, buyer’s habits, the next hot social media site, etc.) changing so rapidly, by the time you read an article the advice may be outdated. The volume of books and authors trying to get noticed is so great that as soon as a trend begins, it becomes oversaturated to the point of being ridiculous. A recent case in point- how many box sets are being offered right now? Probably more than any of us could read in a lifetime! 16 books for .99? I understand the strategy behind it, but when the market is flooded with bundles the strategy may soon become ineffective.

Becoming a published author has always been a difficult road. For a short time, it seemed that self-publishing online was the answer to the prayers of unpublished authors everywhere.

And perhaps it still is. But even if you have written the next literary masterpiece or popular mega-hit, you still have to find ways to initially get your work discovered. And traditional publishing isn’t much easier. Often publishers expect the author to do most of the marketing, and the window for discoverability (time on the bookstore shelf) is very short.

There are only so many readers, and they can only read so much, as Guest Host Dario Ciriello deftly explored in this recent Fiction University Blog post.

 

What Seems To Be Working Right Now

From what I have read the debut authors who have a decent chance today, assuming their work is professional quality, and they have a media platform and marketing strategy in place, are those that are incredibly prolific, churning our several books a year. Target numbers vary, but at least 4-12 or more (including novellas and short stories). The consensus is that having a volume of titles available creates more of a following, as binge readers can feast on a constant supply of titles. Turning out a new title every 30-60 days is almost required to get noticed, gain traction and build a fan base. Kristin Lamb wrote an excellent post recently that hones in on why “binge watching” has become so popular, and it seems to happening with readers, as well.

That kind of schedule is simply out of reach for many of us. So what can you do if you are not a high-producing author?

Slowly building a following still works well for some authors, especially if they write for a niche market.   So if you aren’t prolific or a fast producer, you can still have a successful career. Just be prepared for a marathon, not a sprint.

Should A New Writer Even Try?

So if you are new, and it is taking a while to get something ready to launch, can you even hope to have a chance by the time you are ready? Won’t the market be even more crowded by then?

It is entirely possible. But, just like the lottery, if you don’t play, your chance of winning is zero.

If you love writing, take your craft seriously, and spend the time and money to make your work the best it can be, why not take a chance?

You will never know what can happen, unless you try.

Anne R. Allen posted an article recently on this very subject with excellent suggestions on marketing for new writers in today’s turbulent world of publishing. If you get discouraged, as I sometimes do, look around to other authors who have been through the ups and downs, the cycles of the industry. There is always something you can do to move forward.

The upside is– there has never been a better time to be a writer. Even with all the changes, and the gloomy market out there, at least now new authors have options. Today it is easier than ever to get the help you need to succeed, too.

So, yes, despite the Chicken Littles who say the publishing sky is falling, I say give it a shot. As the saying goes, “The truth is sometimes stranger than fiction”.   Make your own truth!