When I was told (via every writing website, book, podcast, etc.) that in order to succeed as a writer, I'd have to build a brand, I thought huh? What is this brand-building mystery you speak of? This business is for the birds. Birds like the Aflac Duck and Toucan Sam (Love Fruit Loops!). But brand-building is not for me. I’m a writer. I tell stories. Crafting commercial enterprises, not so much.
Why and how should I get my brand on when I should be writing? (Ahhh, being smothered by writer frustrations!!)
Deep breath. Sigh. Okay. First, what is a brand, anyway?
Anyone and everyone can publish (and they do), so the serious ones have to stand out by creating a BRAND - a professionally wrapped package, tied with a bow, to present to potential readers who will hopefully say, “Ah, this looks awesome! I wonder what’s inside!”
In the self-publishing industry, writers aren't just selling their words, but themselves. And actually, selling themselves probably comes first - at least that seems to be the trend. People aren't going to find, let alone read you book unless you lead them to it.
So, how do I get one of these elusive brand thingys?
To solve this BRAND mystery, I first had to reflect on myself. Who am I? What can I offer? No one will read a writer's mission statement, but it might be useful to write one anyway. Outline your goals and your gifts.
INSTEAD OF ASKING WHAT DO I WANT TO SAY, ASK WHAT CAN I SHARE.
This was hard for me - a fiction author - at first. I mean, I share stories. Good ones. Isn't that enough?
Um, no. Just like there's more to me than the books I write, there's much more to being a successful author than turning out pages. But, don't despair like I did. In the end all this work will not only build your brand, but make you a better writer because you'll know exactly who you are and what you want to share with the world.
So, once you've reflected on who you are and what you can share, figure out
how to present that to the world as clearly and concisely as possible. Hello, keywords. Nice to meet you. Fancy meeting you here. Wink, wink.
Keywords are key - for your books, website, blogs, anything and everything you do. Your keywords should be branded (ha ha) to it all. And there's no pressure - not really - because you can change them as you change or as you better fine-tune your niche (I'm actually working on that now - it's a process).
The clearer your niche, the more put-together your package will be.
If people decide to open up the professionally wrapped package with the awesome, sparkling blue bow I've created, they should know what they're getting into. It's only fair.
Having trouble? Ask, what do I look like? An empty cup of coffee with lipstick on the rim? A calloused, nail-bitten finger (not the middle one)? A cluttered desk with multi-colored sticky notes covering books about the sea? A lopsided ponytail? (I ended up using this image on my homepage).
So, what’s my deal?
Mysteries. Did you guess that already? I LOVE A GOOD MYSTERY! LOVE EM! And I write em, too. Check out my homepage.
But, my love for mysteries doesn't stop in the pages I write. Everything's a mystery! So, I'm going to blog about mysteries three ways: In Faith, Life, and Fiction.
Hello, Brand! Where've you been? Nice to finally meet you. Wink, wink.
Everyday Mysteries in Faith, Life, and Fiction.
(Mystery solved!) (Though it's always under construction)
If the case of your BRAND hasn't been figured out yet, that's okay. The best mysteries are the challenging ones! Here's the gist of what to do (or at least how I did it):
#1 Take a breath. You got this.
#2 Reflect on who you are. (What you do, what you love, what gets you excited)
#3 Ask what you can offer (This is tougher for fiction authors, but can be done - you've got gifts, dang it! Use 'em!)
#4 Come up with KEYWORDS that best describe the answers to #2 & #3
#5 Construct a package (Website, Blog(s), Tweets, whatever) that brings all these awesome things together.
And there's, your brand, my friend.