Book Of Days
Jim Rubart

Since 1994, Jim Rubart has worked with clients such as AT&T/Cingular, RE/MAX, ABC and Clear Channel radio though his company Barefoot Marketing, but his passion is writing fiction. His debut novel ROOMS released in April and hit the bestseller list in September. His next novel, BOOK OF DAYS released in January. He's also a photographer, guitarist, professional speaker, golfer, and semi-pro magician. He lives in the Northwest with the world's most perfect wife and his two almost-perfect sons. No, he doesn't sleep much. You can reach him at jlrudini[at], or visit his website at

Quantum Marketing

Branding … Again?

We’re talking about branding again because it’s an area most writers struggle with. Last month an e-mail loop I’m part of talked about branding, and it reminded me how confusing the issue is for many of us.

Frequency—hearing a message again and again till it’s burned into your brain—turns thoughts into action. (See my column from last month on Dr. Seuss’s brilliant treatise on selling.)

So even if you’ve heard me or others talk multiple times about branding, let’s do the ol’ review to make sure we’ve got it clear in our craniums:

• Your brand is who you are
• Your brand is who people think you are
• Your brand is your promise to them
• You must know what your brand is before you get published (and why some editors and agents disagree with this)
• How to violate your brand (and how not to)

Who You Are
Have friends told you they’re going to create a brand for themselves? Impossible. It can’t be done. Your brand is already created. It’s who you already are, and unless you’re going for that whole multiple personality thing, you can’t change your brand.

Let me put it in writing terms: Voice is best expressed as our personality on the page. Each of us has an individual personality—agents and editors want to see that personality or voice come across in our writing. Should we try to create a new personality for ourselves and attempt to express it on the page? Of course not. Our job is to learn to express the unique personality we already have.

Same thing with brand. Establishing your brand is taking the interesting aspects of who you are already and promoting those elements consistently.

Last spring I talked with a multimillion-selling author who has done an exceptional job of branding himself. I knew he had some marketing in his background, so I figured he’d planned his brand precisely. I told him what I thought his brand was and how smart it was to brand himself in the way he has.

His response was interesting. “You know, I didn’t set out to brand myself that way—it just happened. I’ve just been exactly who I am.” This author had been promoting his fascinating personality (and we all have fascinating personalities) all along simply by being willing to be himself in public.

(The greatest problem in branding ourselves is not that we’re not fascinating; it’s being willing to risk being our true, strange, wonderful selves in public instead of letting peer pressure mold us into the way we think we’re supposed to be—which is usually mundane and boring.)

Your Brand Is Who Others Think You Are
You can control what elements of yourself you promote, but you can’t control your brand. Why? Because your brand is not what you say it is; it’s what others say it is.

Think about Paul McCartney. Before you read any farther, consider what came into your mind when you read his name. For most of us, what popped into our brain's first was an image of Paul as a member of the Beatles, even though the Beatles broke up forty-one years ago! Paul might say, “No, mate. I’m a painter (did you know that?), and I’m a solo artist now.” But if most people think of him as an ex-Beatle, then he’s an ex-Beatle first; a member of Wings, a solo artist, and a painter second.

(This also illustrates how difficult it is to change your brand once you’ve established it—something we’ll talk about next month.)

What comes to mind when you think Mercedes-Benz? Most people think luxury car. Did you know Mercedes-Benz spent millions of dollars promoting its cars as safe? Of course you don’t. No one remembers that campaign. Why? The public already thought of them as a luxury car company. It didn’t matter if

Mercedes-Benz told the public they were something else, the public had decided luxury is Mercedes-Benz’s identity, not safety. (Plus they violated the marketing principle of trying to brand themselves in a position someone already owned. Volvo=safety, not Mercedes-Benz.)

Ready to do some work?

Finding the Fascinating
Wondering what the interesting, fascinating things about you are? Ask family. Ask close friends. Jot down the answers and you’ll see a pattern forming. Is it your underwater basket weaving? Your papier-mache jewelry collection? Your love of extreme sports? Your incredible comic timing? Your love of the outdoors?

A high-level executive friend of mine fills his office with superhero posters and figurines. Does this make him interesting? Yes! Worth promoting? Absolutely!

Discovering What Others Think of You—Knowing Your Position in Readers’ Minds
Again, ask close friends and family, “What are my strengths? If you were going to describe me to someone who doesn’t know me, what would you say?”

If you’re published you can ask friends and family as well as readers. Don’t ask, “What kind of fiction do I write?” That’s genre. I’m talking about brand. Ask, “What do you think of when you think of me? What words or emotions come to mind when you think of my books? What word or phrase do you think of when you close the last page on one of my novels?”

The answers will be gold, and it will give you direction on what to talk about and promote on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, interviews, etc.

Whoops, we’re out of time, boys and girls. So next month we’ll:

• Explain how your brand is a promise you’ve made to the public
• Why it’s critical you know your brand before you get published (and why some editors and agents disagree with this)
• How to keep from violating your brand—and how it can kill your career if you do

And yes, if you want to shoot an e-mail and say what you think of me, that’d be cool. It’s so tough for me to read the label when I’m standing inside the bottle.


Book Of Days