that’s the question being asked all across Publishland, doesn’t it?
It’s no great surprise, really.
Thanks to buyouts, mergers, and
takeovers, fewer publishing companies now exist than there were a
decade or two ago. At the same time—thanks to the sagging economy—the
number of people lining up for writing jobs doubles every day. At
least, that’s how it feels as
we struggle to stay afloat in these stormy publishing seas.
of us who’ve taken the
Great Leap (quit our day jobs to write
full time) stand toe-to-toe with serious competition every time we aim
a query or cover letter toward an editor’s desk. And even those of us
who’ve adopted a Great Expectations attitude (signing with an agent)
wring our hands, hoping our ideas will stand out from the hundreds of
others in the slush pile.
The advice for separating
yourself from the herd? Walking through it
is a little like trying to cross Times Square intersection. Against the
light. During rush hour. Information whizzes past us at an alarming
speed. So fast that we barely have time to make sense of it . . . if we
get a glimpse at all:
“Create a Web presence so
editors can ‘check you out.’” Yeah. Like they have time
while digging through the massive stacks of stuff on their desks.
Nevertheless, like most of you, I’m doin’ my darndest to “be
everywhere” online. Not an easy feat while meeting multiple deadlines
and trying to live a somewhat normal life.
“Teach classes, give speeches,
arrange book signings, get your
press kit to TV and radio stations.” And do it in such a way that the
show hosts don’t see you as a self-centered, shameless, self-promoting
“Develop a Web site, where
editors can ‘learn more about you’ when
deliberating whether or not to issue you a contract.” Uh-huh. I can see
editors now, visiting the Web sites of every author with a proposal on
“Come up with a one-word title
that will tell the world what your
book is about, while providing editors with a ‘hook’ to help sell your
books.” When I hear hook, I see the long-handled
staff stagehands used to pull annoying Vaudeville acts off the stage.
“Develop a back cover blurb
that’ll tell editors (and
hopefully, someday, readers) that your book is “. . . fascinating!”
“Riveting!” “A must-read!” Provided they read both of your
carefully-crafted paragraphs, that is.
“You need a platform!” Really?
As in “soap box”? I’m pretty handy with every tool in the shed, but
build one of those? On my budget? sigh
“You need a Brand!” When I hear
that tidbit, I see company logos,
like Nike and Campbell’s, and Ford. Yet this advice, say the marketing
gurus, is probably the thing that’ll make the most
Those glowing-hot iron things pressed into horses’ withers and cattle’s
behinds. Or maybe a tattoo. (But which design? And where-o-where to put
it?) The big question pinging in my
empty head was “What is branding, anyway?”
And near as I could figure, it’s
like flypaper in that Your Brand
grabs readers and doesn’t let ’em go. And then once you’ve got ’em,
Your Brand is what holds on to ’em.
Okay. That makes sense.
Sorta. But how to come up a one-of-a-kind brand that’s unique to you
and your books? Especially if, like me, you write in more than one
genre? What buzzword(s) = YOU? And how do you choose words that, like
flypaper, will continue to hold as your career develops?
banged my head against the Branding Wall for
months. Then one morning while organizing my files—Letters from Readers
in this folder, Reviews in that one—something jumped off the pages.
Almost every one of the thousands of letters from my readers said,
“Loree, [this or that] element of your story changed my life!”
Likewise, most of the hundreds of reviews I’d accumulated consistently
stated, “Loree Lough stories touch readers’ hearts.”
Touching hearts. Changing lives.
Whoa. Could it really be that
In a word, yes.
And I’ve been using the phrase
as My Brand ever since. It’s on my
Web site. My social networking “walls.” Every video Book Trailer
produced to help hawk my books.
Changing lives. Touching hearts.
It tells editors and
readers that whether the Loree Lough novel they’re reading has a
contemporary or historical setting, a comical or serious plot, a
storyline interwoven with suspense and intrigue, a romance, or a gritty
cop story, their hearts are gonna be touched and the message in the
story will somehow change their lives. Hopefully
for the better.
My dilemma now? What font to use
when I have it tattooed on my . . .
Okay. So I have two dilemmas.
But thankfully, I’ve got My Brand and
I’m stickin’ to it, ‘cause it’ll be just as valid in ten years as it is