April 6th, 2012 • Posted by Mary Rosenblum • Permalink
One of the first things I do when I start working with a new author is to check out that person’s web presence. Or lack thereof.
Do you have a blog? A website? Facebook page?
And if that author doesn’t have anything up, I suggest at least the Facebook page and the blog. If a website is just too daunting right now, we’ll ease into that, later.
It’s amazing how much resistance I get to that suggestion.
‘I was going to wait until the book is out.’
‘Well, I don’t have anything to sell yet…’
Yeah, you do. You have your brand to sell, and that means you need to create it.
‘Uh…What’s my brand?’
Now, that’s a very good question. Let's talk about that. What is your brand? It’s more than one book, it’s everything you do, who you are, your interests – it’s the entire entertainment package that you are offering to readers. Yep, I said entertainment package, not book. That’s where most authors fall down when they start promoting themselves. They don’t promote themselves. They promote a book. They promote another book. And they don’t get a lot of traffic on their sites. Or a lot of sales.
It’s sort of like putting up a billboard on the highway. People drive by. They look. They keep going.
No, no, no, that’s not how you do it! You want them to pull over, park , come on in and join the party. And then you want them to call up their friends and invite them to the party. We’re having a great time, come on over. Oh yeah, and you might like this guy’s books, too, they kind of look interesting. Or gal's books. Let us be politically correct here! The upshot is that these party goers like your brand. They like your jokes, or the links you put up, the pictures of that canoe trip or the embarrassing encounter with the Big Name Writer at the conference you went to, or the great book you just read,or the great blog, and by the way, the author is going to be your guest on the blog next week…
But...and this is an important 'but'... we’re not talking a personal Facebook page here with pictures of the shopping trip with your sis or the office party – unless that’s part of your brand. You are entertaining the readers with your brand.
Back to that again. So what is your brand? Who are you in terms of what you have written and what you will write?
Are you a kick-ass chick who writes feisty chick-lit, romantic suspense, and hot office romance, has a big-sister cat with a scathing sense of style and a bad attitude about boyfriends? That’s your brand and your readers are going to love the clothes, makeup, cat-commentary, boy-friend rants, visits to the websites of cool indie designers, a chat with a real-life cop, and so on.
Why is this not a personal Facebook page? Because you’re putting all this up on the blog to entertain those readers and potential readers. It’s not all about you. It’s all about your readers, what makes them laugh and…most importantly…what makes them post the link to your blog on their Facebook page and email it to their friends. And want to read your books.
Another author of mine is a firefighter, loves the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and is working on a great suspense novel with a lot of cool firefighting action. He’s an outdoor guy, independent type, rugged individual. He’s going to be talking about firefighter stuff, hiking, the beach, outdoorsy guy stuff. That’s his brand and that’s what is going to entertain the readers of his books. (And oh, will he have a 'wow' Pinterest board. You should see the pictures I have!).
Think about your book and the books you’re going to write. What are your interests? What parts of yourself are you going to express in your writing? Are you a heroic writer, the gal with the sword, striding ahead, not waiting to be given permission, ready for the next adventure, ready to leap onto your horse at a moment’s notice or solve a crime in the back country? Or are you the shadow on the wall, slinking through readers’ dreams, pulling aside the dark curtain to reveal the skeletons grinning from the dark corners? You read the newspaper and find that thread of horror between the lines, write about the ghost that haunts the burned out ruins of the old farmhouse down the street.
Build that brand now. Entertain your readers, create the ‘you’ brand that reflects your books, and brand it forward. By the time that book does come out, your readers have joined the party, they’re having a great time, and you bet they’ll buy that book! Let’s face it, you can’t beat a first week of sales in the thousands. Start working on it now!
Next time, ladies and gents, we’re going to talk about just what turns that blog into a party.