Purple Prose + social networking

Branding is Your Power

If I were to ask you what your author brand is, could you tell me?

I’d heard the term before, but until I recently read social media guru Kristen Lamb’s blog, I hadn’t given mine much thought.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, a brand is “an identifying marked burned on livestock or (especially in former times) criminals or slaves with a branding iron.”

Oh, wait! Sorry. Wrong definition. You don’t need to rush off to your local ranch and ask them to burn a symbol on your butt. I mean you can if you want, but it’s probably not recommended. And I’m not sure how effective it would be for selling your novel.

Anyway, after checking my old marketing textbook, I decided to skip on sharing its super dry definition. Instead, I consulted a number of great resources on author brands. And of course, they all had differing opinions as to what it means. But here’s the basic gist of them.

What’s in a Name?

The first thing you need to consider is your name. According to Kristen Lamb, this is your brand. Because of this, she recommends your name is in your blog’s URL. Mine is. Is yours? She also suggests your name is in the title of your blog. Okay, I fail on that point. And until I started writing this post, I didn’t realize my name wasn’t even on my blog. #majorbrandingfail. It’s now in my sidebar.

What’s Your Niche?

Shelli Johannes Wells talked about the author brand during WriteOnCon last year. The writer brand describes how people view you based on your books. Maybe you write YA paranormals. Great. But so do so many other YA writers. What differentiates your style from someone else’s?

For example, Kiersten White (Paranormalcy) writes humorous YA paranormals. When we pick up her books, that’s what we expect. Problem with this is what will happen if her next series is much darker? (btw I’d still buy it since I love dark paranormals).

Do you have a style you like to write in? Maybe humorous, dark, or suspenseful. If you blog, can you incorporate your style into your blog? Lisa and Laura Roecker are a perfect example of this. Their witty, entertaining voice captures the hearts of their blog followers. And you can expect the same from their novel, The Liar Society.

Who Are You?

Author Roni Loren explained that your book and genre are only part of your author brand. The real you is the other part. What does this mean?

Be yourself.

Of course if the real you is rude and obnoxious, then you might be headed for trouble. One hundred years ago it wouldn’t have been a big deal. Now thanks to social networking, it can be your ultimate doom, especially if editors discover this (and they will) before they offer you a contract.

Shelli Johannes Wells also covered this in more detail during WriteOnCon.

Obviously these three things aren’t as clear cut as they sound. What happens if you’re published in several different genres? When you say Stephenie Meyer, most people think of sparkling vampires. But she also wrote a successful adult science fiction novel (The Host). This is why a number of authors, such as Nora Roberts, write different genres under different pen names. Each one has a different author brand associated with it, but she’s still Nora Roberts.

Before you freak out at the thought of having more than one brand, Meg Cabot and Richelle Mead both write YA and adult novels, and each has only one brand.

So what about you, do you have an author brand? Is this something you’re considering, or are you going to wait to be published first?

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Branding is Your Power + social networking