Awhile back, I wrote an article, Branding 101, which detailed the basics for writers what branding is all about. Read that first if you haven’t yet, then come on back. over. This branding article by professor, author, and Forbes writer David Vinjamuri is also quite helpful.
In talking with writers and bloggers, I asked them what they think author branding means. Here are some responses (from a recent Facebook post):
I think you’ll agree with me when I say what branding is and what it’s not is not clear at all to most writers (it wasn’t to me when I first started out, either). I promise you, it’s not that complicated! There is an easier way.
Do you notice one word that is missing from every one of those bullet points? I’ll wait.
Branding is not (solely) about your books. I know, right? Weird.
So far, branding may still seem fairly nebulous and confusing, or a buzzword Mad Men came up with back in the 1950s (or the ever-present tired joke about cattle). I’m going to use my author account, RachelintheOC, as a case study here so you can see my branding in action. I’ll also mention other authors who are kickin’ it, so you can see their branding in action as well.
If you’re still kinda foggy, here’s another simple, great definition: branding is strategic. marketing is tactical.
You may ‘just want to write,’ but I challenge that notion. Writing is great, which is why we’re authors, but don’t you want people to read what you’ve written? Don’t you want to make people think? Feel an emotion? Incite them to act?
What I recommend, when working with authors, aspiring or veteran, is to identify 5-6 interests, topics you are passionate or excited about in real life, and make those your keywords/phrases.
Think of it this way: if you’re at a dinner party and looking for discussion topics, what are your go-to subjects? Not small talk; I mean the meaty stuff you know about, are an expert in, topics you want everyone to know about? Climate change, cookie baking, pet rescue, woodworking, sewing, sports, cars, cats, movies, etc. Know how you create bonds quickly with people you’ve just met? It’s by hitting on common bonds of interest.
This is how you build relationships.
(Caution: even though it’s just about impossible right now, avoid discussing politics and religion unless you’re a well-known expert, your well-established keywords/key phrases and author platform directly relate to politics and religion, and you have already established your branding through your writing and social media on these topics.
Why do I say this? It seems obvious but it’s not because writers have voices and we want to use them (believe me, I’m no exception): you risk alienating readers, book bloggers, and book reviewers–particularly on Facebook where people write novels about their opinions on politics.)
These keywords/phrases will change and are not set in stone, as you change and grow as a person and writer. However, set up your 5-6 to start (and pick 3-4 as ‘back-up’ keywords/phrases — topics you may not discuss all the time but still round you out as a person). Another tip: think like the reader you are. You use Google all the time — what do you search for when you want to find a book? Then those are the words and phrases you want to apply to yourself.
My keywords/phrases for my author account are as follows:
I also have ‘back-up’ keywords/phrases which are more fun and less serious. These are:
This sets expectations for readers. They know whether they come to my blog, social media, read a quote or an article I’ve shared, it will consistently be about one of these topics.
Here are four of my book covers and my current social media header. This header is consistent on ALL of my RachelintheOC social media. My book covers all have red. That is my signature. My Broken books have the same font, and my author name is at the bottom in a band of red.
If you head over to my RachelintheOC blog, you’ll see that my overall blog topic theme is Real Life. This goes for my blog posts as well as guests. Topics range from sexual abuse to relationships to mental health to women’s issues to survival and PTSD, etc. Again, all within my branding.
What do we share once we figure out our keywords and key phrases? This is the easy and fun part! We can’t possibly create original content constantly or our brains would implode (or is that explode?). What to do? How do we find relevant, timely, interesting content that fits within our branding?
There are honestly hundreds of options to find great content, but I’m going to share what I use. *Note: These are not affiliated links and I receive no monetary compensation if you sign up for services. I’m not responsible if you do sign up and find the service unsatisfactory.
I typically share four types of social media posts:
Here’s an example of each:
For Twitter: This is the Reason Writing Your Story Helps you Thrive http://ow.ly/AqCY30a1FbR by @RachelintheOC #SexAbuse #survivor
For Facebook, G+, Linked In, and others: This is the Reason Writing Your Story Helps you Thrive http://ow.ly/AqCY30a1FbR by Rachel Thompson, Author #SexAbuse #survivor
It’s most important that you use your face in your avatar. Why? Humans are funny creatures. We start recognizing faces as babies. Notice how you can remember someone’s face, even if their name slips your mind? If we can’t associate a face with a name, we are immediately uncomfortable on an instinctual level.
A few other key points here:
Every social media channel gives you space for your bio. I go into specifics in my BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge, so I won’t do it here, but there are a few key points to remember that hold true no matter which channel you’re on:
Here’s my author Twitter bio. You can see that I use hashtags for author, survivor, and a few of the chats I founded (remember, they hyperlink):
As you can see, all of this works together across my entire platform to create a seamless picture, if you will, of what interests me, what I’m passionate about, what I want to share with people, what connects me to others, and yes, what I write about. My branding is not difficult because I’m already writing about it (blogging, articles, guest posts, and my books), and that carries over to social media.
Here are some other authors whose author branding is spot on:
SugarBeatBC (Barb Drozdowich, Author):
Branding isn’t brain surgery. Find your voice, be consistent, and be authentic. We spend our whole lives ‘finding ourselves,’ and all that rot. Now that you have a chance to truly express yourself, don’t run from it — rock this shit.
The key to building relationships on social media is being generous — so retweet/share, comment, like, interact, and provide interesting content that’s not all about you all the time. Whether you ascribe to the 80/20 Rule or 30/30/30 or no rule at all, remember to mix it up, give back more than you take, and keep writing great books.
For a more detailed plan on developing your book marketing, purchase Rachel’s new book, The BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge now on Amazon and her brand new SEO mini-book — already #1 in 3 categories!
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Rachel Thompson is the author of newly released BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge: How to energize your book sales in a month - created to help authors market their book. She is also the author of Broken Places (one of IndieReader's "Best of 2015" top books and 2015 Honorable Mention Winner in the San Francisco Book Festival), and the multi award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, IndieReader.com, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly. Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenomenon #MondayBlogs, #BookMarketingChat (co-hosted with Melissa Flickinger) and #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with certified therapist/survivor, Bobbi Parish all live Twitter chats. She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.