Consumers crave brands because they crave consistency – that consistency brings them in AND keeps them coming back. For an author, the key is to figure out what your message is and understand the look of the market.
What do we mean? People need to be able to look at your book and get who you are and what the book is about.
There’s a great example from mystery author LJ Sellers. Her first book is The Sex Club, which is not a traditional title for a mystery, and some mystery genre aficionados did not like the title. As a result, the rest of her books have titles more associated with the genre. Those titles make it easier for readers to know what they’re getting when they see an LJ Sellers book.
Do your research: Authors should do their homework before they start branding themselves. What are others in your genre doing, especially the successful authors? You don’t want to blindly copy someone else, but get a feel for the trends that could impact your brand and sales. You may see trends in color, message and/or packaging that say something important. It’s no coincidence that chick lit books tend to have colorful covers or that mystery/thriller websites often have a dark and foreboding look to them.
Look at how to brainstorm your brand and seek objective advice. You want to figure out who you are, what your goals are and then develop a plan to get there.
Help people find you: When we discuss platform building it’s about who you can reach through your message. For example, at AME our reach is around 30,000 followers, fans and subscribers based on our newsletter, blog, Facebook Page, Twitter and other social media, and that’s all part of our platform.
Branding involves a number of things: your book title, book topic, website, business cards, bookmarks, promotional materials, etc… and you want all of these properties to be consistent. AME uses bookmarketingAME on our social media properties in order to use our keywords (book marketing). This is vital because you want people to find you; at AME, we want to be found by people who seek book marketing expertise. Yours might be cozy mysteries, dark thrillers, life coaching – whatever fits your brand.
You’ll want to register your brand names before someone else takes them. Visit namechk.com, which lists a few hundred sites including social bookmarking sites, and see if your names are available. Be sure to secure all of the domains associated with your name and brand.
Know the why and what: When you’re building a platform, you must have a reason to do what you’re doing: why are you blogging or on Facebook or using Twitter or doing public speaking events? The answers provide you with a strategy to help you grow your platform.
Don’t cut corners: You’re obligated to give your readers a good experience: give them a book that’s vetted and edited and has a great cover (all areas authors are tempted to skimp on) – these are all your resume. If you lose a reader once because you’ve over-promised and under-delivered, you’ll never get them back. Also, get to know other people in your market – they may have vendors you can use, you can network with them and their followers, trade off on guest blogging or other marketing efforts and generally find ways to collaborate.
There are more opportunities than ever for people to get published, which means competition is increasing. A strong focus on your message and brand is really, really important in order to stand out.
Your website is analogous to your business card and therefore very important to your branding and platform. If money is an issue, you can start with a free Blogspot or WordPress site, and then you will be able to transfer those domains when you’re ready to purchase your own domain.
Be careful of not just Internet hype but book marketing hype in general – especially any offer promising sales – it just can’t be done. Marketing takes work and effort – you have to invest in yourself, develop a plan and market yourself consistently and regularly.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for feedback, and there are a lot of people in the industry who are happy to answer your questions – take advantage of their knowledge!
To download and listen to the entire show, go to http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepublishinginsiders/2011/01/12/branding-the-secret-to-selling-more-books.
Please join us Jan. 25, 2011 for the Smart Self Publishing Series, Part 1: Print on Demand
These days, there are more choices than ever to get published, but publishing – like any industry – is full of scams. Most publishers are not unethical but how can you avoid predators with pie-in-the-sky promises that can’t be fulfilled? Our special guests, Grael Norton, acquisitions manager for Wheatmark, Inc., and Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, will show us how to see through the hype and discuss the how-to’s of contracts, publication costs, royalty statements, book covers and much, much more.
About our guests:
* Grael Norton, Acquisitions Manager, Wheatmark, Inc. helps authors get their manuscripts ready for market and coaches them on publishing success.
He’s also a Senior Faculty member of the Authors Academy, where published and aspiring authors learn how to sell more books. To learn the 7 Steps to Publishing Success, visit www.Authors-Academy.com.
Wheatmark, Inc., helps authors write, produce, and distribute their books successfully – even if they’ve never written a book or distributed a product before.
* Mark Coker is the founder of Smashwords, where more than 3,500 serious writers and 100 independent publishers publish and distribute and have complete control over how to sample, price and market their books. Learn more at http://www.smashwords.com/.