Monday, June 16, 2014

Marketing Mondays: What the Heck is an Author Brand?

I've been at this author thing for almost a year now, and while there's still a lot for me to learn, I have found myself in the position of giving some pretty sound advice lately. Thus breeds a new blog topic for the coming weeks: Marketing Mondays. Marketing is a big part of being an author. It might sound like a no-brainer, but these can be very difficult waters to wade through if you're new or even looking to expand your writing brand.

First of all, lets talk about what an author brand or platform is. This question had me beating my head against my keyboard for the longest time. A brand is a simple enough term in marketing, and we see it all the time with companies like State Farm being your magical genie of a neighbor, always there for you, and Starbucks with its coffee cup on every corner because in society today some of us can't walk a block without a caffeine fix (guilty). But what does it mean for an author?

In simple terms: It's you.

Image from QuickMeme
I know. It's so simple, it can't be true. And also so vague. And also leads to existential questions of "But wait...who am I?"

That's really the question you need to answer as far as author branding goes. When I first started out, I thought I needed to go crazy with the answer. I wrote fantasy, so I should wear fantastical costumes! Or I could create a cloud of mystery around myself, hiding behind my pen name and never to be seen by the general public!
Image from PandaWhale
If that's the way you want to go, then, well, go for it. But I quickly decided those options weren't me, and definitely weren't even a "me" I wanted to put forward to readers. The thing is, I'm a geek and a fangirl, and that is how I relate to my readers. They become more than my readers when we talk about other fandoms. They become friends, and that's the type of author brand I want to put forth. I want to be accessible and approachable, someone they can let their geek flags fly high and proud when talking to, which means I am pretty involved in social media (a pretty big topic I'll be covering with Marketing Mondays).

This also means I am a big advocate of social media as a marketing tool--if it is used correctly. I probably don't need to explain to you why word of mouth is essential for authors, but I will. Just in case their are newbies who, like me over a year ago, had no idea what that truly meant. As a reader, I love talking to my favorite authors about their books. Like I said--I'm a big fangirl and quite proud of it, so if you get me hooked on your book, chances are I am going to tell people about it. And if you actually take the time to talk to me while I gush and ask you questions? I'm going to be all the more excited. I mean, I practically hyperventilate whenever I'm in the same room as Kalayna Price. I tried getting Sharon Bayliss drunk enough to spill secrets on the December People series, and her sly hints (curse you, Sharon, for being so good at being evil and tempting) have left me wanting to read the next book all the more. My friendship with Krystal Wade started with her taking the time to discuss things about the publishing business with me, and now there isn't a single thing I wouldn't do to help her market her amazing books.

Do you see a pattern here? When you get a fangirl excited over something, it pays off. We are a passionate bunch and willing to go above and beyond for the things we love and the people we believe in. And having been on the receiving end of that passion from my dear HeirHeads, I can tell you that it rocks both ways.

But there's much more to marketing than hopping on Twitter or Facebook and chatting with your readers. While that helps, there's more to it than that and marketing your books takes not only a lot of work but a fine balance as well. You don't want to get too spammy, and you certainly don't want to drop a lot of money on advertisements.

So that's what we'll be doing here every Monday. We're going to talk about social media platforms, but we're also going to talk about giveaways, advertisements, reviews, blog tours... the list goes on and on. (Seriously, it does. I'm still learning and I've already got topics for every Monday through August)

Next week, we'll start with that big social media giant Facebook, and then we'll go on to talk about Twitter, G+, Tumblr, and all the rest. Until then, tell me what you first thought of the term author brand and what you decided yours to be! Did you put much thought into it, or did you just do what came naturally?


  1. You're right - your author brand is "you". I write lots of different kinds of books (both MG and YA in 3rd and 1st person, and in virtually all sub-genres of fantasy!) but underneath the differences, there's the same recognisable voice - well, I hope so, anyway! It does make marketing tricky, though. Quirky middle-grade fantasy and dark upper-YA urban fantasy are pretty different!

    I definitely need to work on reaching my audience, but I've found that passion and enthusiasm when blogging/tweeting really helps. :) And helping out other authors, too!

    1. Same here! I've really found the best success in marketing with just being part of the community as a whole. And all the great friends you make are definitely a big perk! =D

  2. I look forward to reading these posts. I approach social media the way I used to approach blind dates - with terror and awkwardness. Ha! Just kidding...kind of...not really. It's really very awkward. :)

    1. I was the same way when I started out. I used Facebook for keeping in touch with friends and family, but marketing? Networking? I felt so in over my head. I tend to embrace my awkward now, which helps me feel better about it. hehe