Building a Brand

Hello there!

After last week’s manifesto about how publishing a book takes a village, but can’t be done without your own hard work and tears, I wanted to focus on the “village” part this week. Today, let’s talk branding.

Okay, if you are  about to jump off the publishing high-dive, here are two blogs you probably need to read before you push the “publish” button on KDP, Writing Life or Nook Press (and if those terms didn’t ring any bells, time to start your research).

First: Kristen Lamb.  She is the tough love queen of branding and marketing for writers. Don’t miss this one.

Second: Lindsay Buroker.  If you are planning to self-publish and and have questions about advertising, keywords and anything else DIY publishing, this blog has a great library of posts that are chock-full of info.

But there’s more to this than writing the story, reading some how-to’s, and hitting the publish button. Yes, you MUST have a kickass story that’s well-written, professionally edited (it’s tempting to skip this step–don’t) and has a professional looking cover (my suggestion is unless you are a graphic artist, hire a good one, like Glendon at Streetlight Graphics. PS–he has a waiting list, so plan ahead). These are the first things you have to have. Yes, they are very important. But wait, there’s more.


What’s a brand? Here’s an example. I have two different websites. This is my main author page. However, while I write contemporary YA (which this website design fits), I also write YA Action/Adventure — and the Matt Archer series has it’s own site with it’s own look and feel. From the logo design to the types of blog posts, to the color scheme, that website shouts “I am Matt Archer!”  It fits its brand.

There’s something even more important here, though. YOU are your brand, too. Yes, you’ve probably seen that elsewhere. That’s because it’s true.  Too man authors litter Twitter and Facebook with non-stop ads, tweeting “buy my book, Buy My Book, BUY MY BOOK!” I don’t know about you, but I tend to unfollow those authors or ignore their tweets. This is where being real counts. It’s okay to post things about your books, especially when a release is coming up. Here’s the thing, though…readers want to know more about you, not read countless ads for a book they may have already read. A number of the authors I follow do this extremely well, which is why I follow them and read their tweets on a frequent basis.  In an age of constant media contact, your readers are craving an “insider view.”

A caution, however. I’ve worked in Human Resources for nearly 16 years, and when I talk to teens about job searches, I warn them about the pitfalls of being too real on social media. There’s nothing worse than an employer finding a picture of you doing shots in college. As an author, sure we have a luxury of posting on an author page on Facebook to keep our personal pages private to friends only, but trust me–anything that goes on the internet can be found…and is never really deleted. So, be real, but remember your brand. It’s okay to express opinions, and it’s okay if people disagree with you. Just be real.

Finally, I’m taking a new step in my own brand development. My lovely, awesome sister Kristi has agreed to become my marketing director.  She has a degree in marketing and merchandising, and worked in the fashion industry for years, so she has a lot of experience with developing brands. Right now, we’re working out the various things each of us should be doing, and she’s already handing me tasks to complete–things I never would’ve thought of on my own.  It’s an experiment, one that’s fun and allows me to spend time with my sister while finding ways to improve my brand. I’m eager to see what happens from here.

How about you? Any advice for platform or brand-building?

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