Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Author Branding: A Simplified You

Ten years ago, "Author Branding" was going to save the publishing industry--genre writers, in particular--by improving consumer discovery. All you, the author, had to do was have a blog, a vlog, three Facebook pages, two Pinterest boards, an active Linked-In account, a pre-programmed Twitter feed, four monthly contests, a grand-prize sweepstake, a caravan on the Con circuit, and a nom-de-plume per genre.

If it sounds exhausting, it was. Plus, books weren't being written. Authors were spending all their time chasing the elusive Social Media cash cow, hemorrhaging resources they couldn't afford. Wasn't long before the "Pro-Branding" group got sideswiped by the "Anti-Branders," much like doo-wop meeting punk rock.

These days, the crux of the Author Branding movement is still relevant: Who Is the Public You? Easy, easy, there. This isn't the entrance to the Disingenuine Ball. It is, however, your introduction at the dinner party where the hosts are retailers and the guests are readers, bloggers, other authors, and assorted creatives. It is that simple and that complex.

Your Author Brand is a message, broadcasting into the chaotic universe. Be clear, concise, and consistent. That's the only way to break through the din.
  • But I Cannot Fit Into One Box! 
    • So what if you write in 16 different genres? Pick one (and no more than two) to paint on the front door of your House of Identity. Your goal is to get customers across the threshold. The foyer is what they expect to find; it's what you've advertised. Once they're interested, they'll wander into the other rooms and discover your other works. 
    • Decision Paralysis is a real thing. If a consumer is presented with too many options, they won't be able to make a choice. They'll walk out without a purchase. Sticking with the house analogy, if your foyer is cluttered, people will leave. If it could be featured on Hoarders, they'll run and warn others away.

Using Your Author Brand 

Let's say you're at that networking dinner party. Your Author Brand should be memorable for all the right reasons. You want to be unique enough that you're easy to pick out of a crowd, but not so unique that a crowd never gathers. A modified marketing Rule of Three applies here:
  1. Draw Attention
    • You can either introduce yourself to your target audience or have someone introduce you. Keep in mind, appearances matter, from your physical person (hygiene, style, poise, and the company you keep) to your digital presence (avatars, web banners, email addresses, and profiles).  How you gain someone's attention will color their first impression of you. 
  2. Deliver Your Message 
    • This is all about presentation in action. This is tone, tenor, and content. Everyone reads beyond the words. This is where your personality is judged. Are you congenial and kind? Humorous with a biting wit? Shy, stammering, uncertain? Too comfortable, over-prepared, a bit bored? Self-deprecating yet engaging? Irascible and put-upon? Are you know-it-all or a clueless wonder? It is human nature to derive a lot of meaning from very little info.
  3. Leave A Call To Action
    • Now that the audience has heard your message and judged your character, be bold and make the Ask. Some folks will go for the hard sell here, some folks with a soft. "Buy my book, this specific book, buy it now," versus "Check out my website for a list of my books." Your brand, your message, your choice. 
People have finite memories. Book covers and web-banners have finite space. Whatever you do, don't confuse the message of your Author Brand.

Hi, I'm KAK.
 I write fantasy novels about strong women, strange places, and stranger creatures. 
Check out my website for a free short story:  KAKrantz.com