We are a group of writers who belong to CAN, the Christian Authors Network, who are passionate about writing. As published authors, we long to share our victories and struggles with regards to marketing and promotion. No one really ever told us about this part of the business of writing, so, like you, we are learners. Won't you learn alongside us?
Most people are familiar with “brands” for products and services. For instance, a can of Campbell’s soup (the original line) is always red and white with the name in a unique cursive font. It’s instantly recognizable on a grocery store shelf crammed with different brands of soup.
As an author, your brand is essential too. First, you need to know who you are and how you want to be perceived. Then, get your message to your readers—and do so consistently. By being immediately recognizable, you are in a better position for readers to find you, to connect with you and, ultimately, purchase your books.
Branding, whether it’s for a product or service—or an author—is all about identity. As an author, your brand is who you are andwhat you will deliver to your audience.
In a book publishing market jam-packed with hundreds of thousands of new books every year, how will you stand out?
To create your author brand, ask yourself:
What makes me (my books) unique?
How do I want to be known?
How do readers perceive me? (It is important to differentiate yourself from the crowd and from your competition.)
Why should a reader want to connect with me?
What do I offer him or her?
Then develop your key messages and media to support your brand promise. Just as you use emotion to evoke a reaction from readers in your books, use emotion in your marketing and branding efforts too. Finally, make sure your author brand is genuine. Does it feel like “you”?
“A great brand must reflect your own passion…It’s like trying on a new dress or a suit. You buy the one that best fits you and makes you feel confident. When you create your brand, you must feel comfortable, positive, and excited to share it with the public,” says Rob Eagar of WildFire Marketing (one of the best go-to marketing experts to help fiction and nonfiction authors to get the message out about their Christian books).
Eagar continues, “A great brand communicates the kind of results you produce for others. It’s not enough to simply have a clever catch-phrase or tagline. Your brand must express how you make other people’s lives better. In the corporate world, top brands achieve this goal.
“For example, Wal-Mart’s brand is “Save Money…Live Better.” This phrase tells me that my life will better, because I’ll be saving money. Home Depot says, “You can do it. We can help.” Do you see the implied result? Consider the value-laden expression in these brand taglines that I’ve created for some of my clients: “The Stress-Buster,” “Love Wise,” “Storm-Proof Your Life,” and “Strength for the Soul.” The taglines are memorable, and they reflect results.”
So, let’s get practical. What are some fundamental steps you can take now to begin creating your author brand?
1. Make a list of ten words that describe you and your books, words that vividly explain the essence of you. Then use these words as a foundation from which to build your brand. You have to know who you are, and what you’re about before you promote it to others. For example: humorous, relevant, authority, encouraging, knowledgeable, faith-based, etc.
2. Select the look and feel—the design—for your brand. Will you use bold colors or a soft palette? Will you have a logo? What will it look like? A good web designer or graphic designer can help you with these items.
3. Promote your brand, and do so consistently. Ask yourself:How will I communicate my brand in all my marketing efforts? Which social media channels (and other outlets) am I using now, and how do I want to expand? If you’re already on Facebook and Twitter, for example, you may want to learn more about Pinterest or create videos and audio clips for your website.
How do you build a successful author brand? First, know who you are (and aren’t). Then promise (with your key messages), deliver (through social media, book covers, speaking, and every area of your book marketing) and repeat consistently.
Jackie M. Johnson is an author and freelance writer in Colorado. She also edits book proposals and provides insight to writers as a book publishing consultant. Previously, she worked at the premier literary agency, Alive Communications, and the CBA-publisher, WaterBrook Multnomah. Visit her encouragement blog, A New Day Cafe, or website for more information.
From my living room couch I can look into my kitchen and see the glass door to my pantry. Just me, a cup of tea, my Bible, and God.
From this cozy spot I can either look through the window to the backyard trees, or glance at the glass pantry door and see a reflection of those same trees and flowering shrubs moving in the breeze.
Often this reflection in glass strikes me as a doorway to a magical place, giving me the same sort of feeling a favorite book does—like Heidi inviting me up to the Swiss Alps, or joining the children in The Secret Garden.
Like all authors, there's a strong streak of imagination to my inner person...
Hi, Dave Fessenden here to talk to you writers out there for this Friday’s blog. One of the most painful experiences a writer can have is the feeling that your writing instincts have betrayed you. You encounter a writing problem, such as a nonfiction concept that seems to defy explanation, or a fictional character that is hard to describe. All your standard, tried-and-true writing techniques seem to fall flat, leaving you frustrated.
While it often helps to set this kind of problem aside for a few days, if you are on a deadline you may not have that luxury. Even worse is when you have set it aside, and still cannot make it work. At that point it is probably time to be counterintuitive.
Greetings from Colorado where summer thunder storms roll down the Front Range in magnificent displays. Davalynn Spencer here with our guest, Karen Moore, a creative and prolific writer.
Karen, tell us how you got into writing.
I began my professional writing career in the greeting card industry. I have written and published over 10,000 greeting cards. My first book in 1998 was called You Can Write Greeting Cards, and I’ve published over 75 books since then.
Some of my recent titles in 2013 and 2014 are: Prayers from the Heart (a 366 devotional with a matching journal) with Christian Art Gifts; Little Seeds of Hope with Thomas Nelson; Heart Strings with Broadman & Holman; Your Promises from God Today with Thomas Nelson; Bible promises series: Bible Promises for Teachers, Bible Promises for Moms, Bible Promises for Graduates, Bible Promises for Couples, and Bible Promises for Newlyweds, all with B&H.
How did you get your first book contract?
I worked at Gibson Greetings and was asked by F&W Publications, the Writer’s Market company, to create a book on the business of greeting card writing. In that case, it was a specialty market that I had been involved with for many years, so they could draw on my experience and expertise for the book.
Did you make any early assumptions about marketing that proved to be wrong?
It took a while for me to understand that publishers do not actually market your books. They put new books into the hands of their sales people, and give some coverage on websites, but that’s about all. The author is primarily responsible for marketing these days. I still struggle with that part of my work.
What important thing did you learn about marketing?
One of the things I learned over time is that book signings sound like a nice idea, but unless you’ve been speaking at an event, they don’t work that well. I’ve done several that were totally unproductive. The blessing in the work I do comes from people who have purchased and read my books, and who take the time to write me a note either by email or at my website to express how the book helped them. They are the best marketing I can have.
Do you do anything unique in the way of promotion?
My work has mostly been promoted through speaking at writing conferences, and via my website and blogs, and also through Amazon. I have to confess that I have not been good at my own promotion and marketing. I’ve written over 75 books in not quite15 years and that has kept me very busy. I have to rely on speaking events to help get my work out there. I do a number of writing conferences each year and I mentor authors, so that is what helps people get to know me. I think it certainly helps to be a savvy web marketer, or to have a speaker’s bureau behind you, or a publicist or PR firm, but I haven’t taken advantage of those things very often. I am a writer. I stick with what motivates me to write, and look for some kind of grace and opportunity to get my work into the market in a bigger way. Interviews are a boost to that effort.
Grace and opportunity - what a great way to put it, Karen. If you could give tips to writers with their first book contract, what would you tell them?
Have your agent or an attorney walk through the contract with you.
Look very carefully at the rights you are giving away.
Don’t assume anything. Have everything in writing.
See if you can take a lower advance and get a higher royalty.
Honor the publisher and ask questions about any item on the contract you don’t understand.
After an unusually cool spring and month of June, our typical Texas summer has come in with the fireworks of the 4th of July this past week. But those of us who have grown up in Texas, are used to it, and we get through it every year. Some may feel like the fireworks fly when it comes to the Q&A time after one has delivered one's talk. Well, I have a confession to make ...
Here it is July already and so I'm back again with another part of Tension and Conflict. Hi from Gail Gaymer Martin at www.gailgaymermartin.com
Most authors can name the two kinds of conflict talked about most in fiction, internal and external. Both of these are important to any novel, but don’t lose sight of two more that you may not have considered—inherent and extra-external conflict. These additional kinds of built-in conflict can add extra excitement to your fiction.
Like many writers and speakers, when I travel, I don't often see the sights. I see the airport, the shuttle from the airport to the hotel or retreat center, the interior of the venue, and its view, if it has one. Most events allow little opportunity to explore the city or the countryside and even less time to relax.
Most of those trips also mean a mad dash of prep time before the event, and an equally mad dash of follow-up after the event, plus recouping all the normal work that was missed while on the road.
That's what made me take a second look at this decor detail awaiting me in the condo rental my daughter and I occupied for a rare and too-short vacation in May: