Think up a tagline
that sums up what ya write about...
Ouch! (I was gonna leave it at
that, but my editor would tan my hide. Sorry, couldn't help it.)
Kelly Mortimer, the Extreme
Agent, here. So, what exactly is author branding, and is it a good
thing (ask Martha), or does it stick an author in a tiny box and seal
the lid with several rolls of duck (pardon) duct
tape? Go with Martha. Yep, take that brand right in the manuscript.
Branding tells your readers who
you are and what type of read they can expect when they buy your books.
Your brand makes you unique, like your voice makes your writing unique.
Let’s ya stand out in the herd (sorry). Once you’ve branded yourself,
readers will expect some consistency in your writing—one reason your
editor wants you to write in one genre, or use a pseudonym if you wanna
divert from the trail.
Here’s an example of great
branding. When a reader goes into a bookstore, do ya think they ask for
X title, or do they
ask for the latest Nora Roberts book? They don’t care about blurbs or
endorsement quotes; they want Nora (and she head-hops!). They know her
brand, and that’s all they need to know.
How do authors brand themselves?
(No, ya don’t hafta be a contortionist.) Get your name out there. No
one’s gonna wake up one morning and say, “Last night I dreamt about
Kelly Mortimer, so today I think I’ll buy her book. Yeah, Kelly
Mortimer. Kelly Mortimer. Kelly Mortimer.” (Has a nice ring to it,
don’t ya think? Now that you've read my name four times, we can move
on. Just be thankful I didn’t type it seven times, which is the usual
number someone needs to see your name to remember it.)
Think up a tagline that sums up
what ya write about. Something readers can identify with. Even a cliché
is acceptable at times if it fits. As an agent, mine is “Kelly
Mortimer, the Extreme Agent.” For my humorous
narrative nonfiction, Welcome to My World: A Bipolar
Christian Tells All, I’m “The Lucy Ricardo of the 21st
Century.” Be creative. No whinin’. Are you a writer, or what?
Don’t stop there. You hafta feed
readers your brand until they acquire a taste for ya. (That made me
think of prime rib. Sigh.)
Humans have short
attention spans (husbands, even shorter), so this ain’t a one-time
deal. Ya gotta do promo, and keep doing promo until readers start
asking for your books by droppin’ your name.
I’m not gonna recite a boring
laundry list of how to promote, as most of ya know how (at least you
should know). Some writers are introverts (this particular affliction
doesn’t affect moi) and need to step away from
their keyboards and embrace the many wonders of meeting new people and
making friends. (“Friends” is a code word for contacts. Yeah, I know,
but I don’t mean You.)
Never underestimate the value of
the friends of your friends. Word of mouth from someone a person knows
is a bonanza for a writer. Establish a network and keep people informed
of what you’re doing (and for goodness sake, do something!).
Why do some think branding
limits a writer? What if ya wanna write in multiple genres? Why do
y’all think Nora writes as J.D. Robb? Your name should be your brand,
but who’s stoppin’ ya from having more than one name? IMO (yes, I know
I skipped the “H,” but lack of humbleness keeps me from perfection),
the only way branding can hurt you is if you muddle your message. If
your brand tagline is “Stories from the Heartland,” and ya write about
New York socialites, you give the reader the wrong impression of your
writing. They’ll feel betrayed, and won’t be comin’ around to buy book
If none of the above moves you
to brand yourself, mayhap this will: Well-known brands means big bucks
to publishing houses, which means your Extreme
Agent can get ya a better deal.