Note: While this is geared toward authors, there’s some nuggets for anyone with an online persona (read: bloggers).
I guarantee that at least ten authors will see the title of this post and roll their eyes saying they don’t need no brand because they’re “authentic” and “real” and corporate bullshit and…
And they should take it down a notch and listen. Because a brand is not always manufactured.
One of the best branded people on teh interwebs is Chuck Wendig. He’ll probably swear that he doesn’t have a brand, but when I think of the bag of tarantulas, I think of a few things:
- Aforementioned bag of tarantulas
- Insightful, but foul-mouthed diatribes on publishing and whatnot
- The hilarious rebukes to the reviews on his Star Wars novels
That last one is key. Because as a consumer, I associated CW with his SW novels. And that, in many cases, leads to me thinking of him if I were ever in the market to read such a novel.
The point I’m making is that Chuck is Chuck, and that’s his brand. Whether or not he sat down and thought about it is another story, but it works for him and most likely generates sales.
Whether we like it or not, Authors have to have some sort of marketing prowess or else we fade into the ether. Sure, Amazon says that it’ll get your book in front of a million KDP readers, but that’s you and every other schmuck who publishes a book. Competition is rough, yo.
And often times, sales don’t happen upon the first contact (see: Auto-DMs don’t work). The soft sale is one where you create relationships first, then the sales come later. Most books become “overnight” sensations thanks to several months of targeted relationship building with key tastemakers, bloggers, and reviewers. Truthwitch might’ve gone overboard with this, but they are a good example about how you can build excitement for a book months or even years before it comes out.
How to Build a Brand
A lot of authors get on Twitter and follow as many people as they can and pat themselves on the back that they have 5,000 followers. Then they wonder, “Why am I not selling any books to these people?” Most likely, it’s because those followers are following you because you followed them back only. If you play the Twitter Numbers Game, then it’s pretty easy to get to 5,000 or even 10,000.
But those followers aren’t going to read your book. Some might, but you can’t actually see those real followers in the muckety muck (unless you’re using lists and such, but that’s for another time).
Then you do the worst thing in the world. You go on a public bitchfest on Twitter.
“Woe is me. Nobody’s buying my book. Nobody loves me. I should just stop writing forever.”
Which works to bring out the sad sacks and the Know-It-Alls (looking at you, Suni) who send you this freaking EXCELLENT post written by my Oprah, Rachel Thompson, who has a great list of all the things you should be doing to help market your book.
But more damning, you are ruining your brand, thus turning people off, thus not selling books, thus perpetuating your public bitchfest.
Woe is Me
I’m not gonna lie: I get really bummed out when I see bloggers raving about books that aren’t mine. I get super jealous when authors have success when I’m having a bad month. But I keep that mess off teh interwebs*
*This is different, than say, I’m having a really bad day because of depression or anxiety and I need support. One is about my own personal financial gain (or lack of gain, as it were). The other is a call for help. And I’m not saying that it’s not human to have these emotions, what I’m saying is that if you wish to grow followers or readers or whathaveyou, it’s probably best to keep those emotions private to your inner circle of friends or family. Journaling is a great tool for this, too.
The point is, your online persona is your brand, whether you like it or not. And if your brand is a constant barrage of “Woe is Me, Nobody Likes Me” then people are going to tune you out (this goes for bloggers as well). If you’re constantly posting passive aggressive messages to get attention, people are going to mute you, or worse, unfollow.
On the other hand, if you’re having real, human conversations with people, they’ll stand up and pay attention. If you spend your online life helping others, most will want to help you right back. If you share interesting content and get to know your followers as people and not a number, then I guarantee you that you will find success.