Topical Tuesday: Brand Yourself

Before you reach for the hot iron and sear your forehead, I’m talking about making your name into a brand.

Stephen King, James Patterson, Nora Roberts, Janet Evanovich, Tom Clancy–These are authors whose names are now recognizable brands. Anything they put their name on sells. While we might not become mega-brands over night, we can’t get started down the path with a few simple steps.

Yesterday, Allie Boniface offered some great tips on promotion. Today, I’ll add to her great suggestions while still keeping with the theme of book/author promotion on a budget.

1. Join online writers’ groups. Absolute Write is the forum in which I am most involved. But, professional organization such as RWA and SCBWI usually have boards to which you can belong. Verla Kay Blue Boards are great if you are a children’s writer. While most of the time you don’t meet these people face-to-face, you begin to feel like you “know” them. I have felt compelled to buy several books from Blue Board writers. Moreover, other writers on the site tend to want to promote their own. A lot of support was thrown behind Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely and Ink Exchange as well as all of the Jennifer Lynn Barnes book by their fellow Blue Boarders.

2. Email Signatures. Put a standard signature in your emails about your book and a link to where people can find more information. This way, you don’t give yourself the option to pick and choose who you will tell about your book. You’re emailing your college professor? Ok, well, he knows about it now. Don’t be embarrassed. People are curious and will probably take the time to check that link.

3. Blog. I have been persuaded to buy books because of author blogs. The only reason I picked up Lisa Shearin’s books was because I read her blog daily. I feel invested in what she has to say. Don’t discount the importance of a blog just because it seems like everyone is doing it.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask you friends to provide a link to your site or a blurb about your book on G-chat or on their Facebook status. Word-of-mouth is a huge component of book and author success. Widen your radius.

5. Your book can have a Facebook Page. No, faces are not required to belong to facebook. Make your book a member and then add as many people as possible as your friends. Also, on your own facebook account, how many people on facebook are friends that you actually chat with daily? Yeah, probably a minority, right? Start a group and invite everyone to belong to it. When the random person you went to middle school sees the group they are probably going to be like, Wow so-and-so wrote a book! And then you pray that random middle school person is curious enough to run out and buy it.

6. Contact your local newspaper. Most newspapers don’t have a problem with running a “Local girl pens novel” story. Send them a media package.

7. Run a contest for Amazon reviews. Lisa Shearin did this recently. Every person who posted an Amazon review was entered to win prizes on her blog. Amazon reviews matter when it comes to Amazon rankings. Remember that.

8. The Internet is your friend. Book trailers on YouTube and Google Video. Twitter. MySpace. LiveJournal. Do them all.

9. Ask for interviews. Most of the time, people are not going to come beating down your door asking for an interview. It’s ok to ask someone whose blog you like to host you for a day. What is the worst that could happen?

10. Have a cyber launch party. Avoid the costs of a real live launch party and have a cyber one. You can even wear your PJs. Places like Enduring Romance host online parties for book releases and, if you have doubts about their effectiveness, they bring in TONS of comments from readers!

11. Cheap promotional giveaways. Want to send some gear to conferences or be able to provide goodies for prizes. Consider having your book title/logo put on a few goodies. There are a ton of places you can have this done. A Cheap Giveaways you can get pens with a logo on them for $.31 a pop. At the minimum of purchase of 428 pens, that will cost you $132. Not too bad.

12. Write Great Books. That’s the most important. And Guess what? The cheapest! Though the most time consuming. Look at The Shack, a book that is currently topping the bestseller list. $300 used to promote it. But, it’s a good book and, through word-of-mouth, it spread like wildfire.


 For last week’s Topical Tuesday on Ideas and Execution in Book Packaging click here.

Status: Today I’m cracking down. My goal is to finish between 12-15 pages of script today. I’m working toward that July 18th deadline of getting our proposal together to submit. The query letter is almost done. I’m waiting on some artwork. I’ve been chipping away at the script. And, I just downloaded a trial version of Comic Book Creator 2 because I think I am going to do the lettering for at least the first 15 pages in order to submit. I’m debating whether or not to purchase the software, but at $50 I think it is probably worth it.