As soon as I realized that I couldn’t be everything to everyone, this innate sense of calm came over me. Prior to this realization, I was panicking about how I’d be the witty author to one, the wise Yoda to another and the friend next door to you. When you try to be it all, you actually accomplish very little – shock horror, I know.
What’s In a Brand?
Writers need to recognize the importance of their brand to building their platform. Especially if you’re launching a self-published book, you don’t have the might of a publishing house behind you, promoting your book to the world. So, how do you find your niche? I’d say the first step is to ask yourself what comes naturally to you? For me, I’d call myself the tentative smart ass. I call people on their crap, but at the same time I nervously approach many a situation until I’ve got the lay of the land. It’s ironic, I’m aware. So, the tentative smart ass is step one in my personal brand. It’s the style in which I write, and the way many of my characters and – ahem – I approach life.
Style and Voice
Style is key to your brand. Consider Graeme Simsion‘s approach to Twitter. He has his own personal account, but my preference is to follow Prof Don Tillman‘s account, an account in the name and voice of his main character from The Rosie Project. It’s as though Don Tillman is bursting off the final pages of the book and continuing his life. He delivers phenomenal one-liners without realizing the effect he’s having on his audience. It’s funny.
Building your Platform
You’re launching your book, or you’re trying to reach out to new potential readers. How do you do this? Kate Hilton, author of The Hole In the Middle, was very strategic in how she approached the launch of her novel. Knowing that her book would likely resonate with career women with children, she decided the best launch date would be Mother’s Day. Deadline determined, she began finding people that fit her target demographic on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Kate set herself the goal of creating one original, funny tweet a day as well as engaging with not only her current followers, but potential ones too. Bit by bit, her following grew, and she had one thousand Twitter followers by launch day. During this time, she’d also been posting blog articles on topics that connected to her brand, but also allowed the readers to get an idea of Kate’s voice.
Kate quickly achieved over 13,000 sales of her novel, a true self-pub success, especially evident when a major publishing house made her an offer. The Hole in the Middle has since been published by Harper Collins.
Already an Established Author?
Okay, you’ve sold one or two books. Think that means you can rest on your laurels? Think again. In fact, it’s the exact opposite.
Forbes magazine wrote a fascinating article on brand loyalty in publishing and the effect that it has on repeat sales. Brand and engagement has an enormous effect on whether or not your reader will buy book two, three or four. And with all the reading options out there, you need to give your audience a solid reason to pick up your future titles.
How do you Engage with your Readers?
Whether you’re new to the game or established, your routes are pretty similar. First off, learn your technology. Social media has made life infinitely easier, provided you take the time to learn your mediums. Twitter and Facebook provide instant exchanges between you and your audience, allows you to search for new audiences, and can provide a platform for your blog or little quips on life.
Goodreads is another phenomenal option for creating your author page. Your readers can see what you’re reading, how you rate books, and chat about your mutual love – books! – together.
Ultimately, it’s simple. Engage. Talk. Participate. Communicate.