Branding: The First Step in a Writer’s Platform

In writers’ circles, there is much talk these days about platform and branding strategy.

Established writers are being asked by publishers and agents to bear greater shares of the marketing burden. And with self-publishing and e-book sales on the rise, independent authors, too, must hone their message if they hope to make a splash in a crowded world. Social media has made inexpensive marketing accessible to anyone willing to suffer the learning curve. And it can pay off.

Unfortunately, while writers can lay down 60,000 killer words, they don’t always know how to make those words sell.

The first step in the journey is to establish a brand.

“Branding” is a new term for an old concept. Simply put, who are you? and what face do you want to or need to portray to your fawning fans?

You might be saying, “Well, I am a writer.” Beyond that, you are stuck.

But here’s the thing. Everyone has a story. You got inspiration from somewhere. You have unique experiences that contributed to your product. Your writing process is unique. You have passions. What can you take from your life that would be interesting to your readers?

Don’t know? Ask your friends. Think about what you would ask your favorite authors. What would you want to know about them?

I’ve watched a few writer colleagues perfect their brand.

Mary deMuth, a fiction author who has written with heavy themes of thriving after pain, discovered that fans were often surprised by her sunny disposition. They expected a heaviness consistent with the pain she’d experienced. Mary’s mission was not to focus on the pain, but instead, the deliverance and freedom she’d learned through her faith. Her brand had inadvertently defined itself.

Through research, self-evaluation, and lots of thought, Mary redefined her brand to reflect her passion: Live Uncaged and encourages her audience to embrace freedoms born of grace.

Lindsay A. Franklin, an author soon to release Army of Light, a young adult Christian fantasy series, discovered she had been mistakenly developing a brand for writers, not her audience of younger readers. Her blogs about the writing process were interesting but were not doing the job of establishing her as an intriguing and wise mentor to teens. She revamped her brand and now writes weekly short stories and tidbits that appeal to her audience. Her brand and what she offers through it is helping to establish trust with those she hopes will eventually buy her books.

How can you apply this?

  1. Understand your target audience. Like Lindsay, you need to connect with those who will buy your book. If you’ve written your proposal, you’ve already done some research. What do you know about them? What are they interested in? How can you add value to their needs and desires?
  2. Know yourself and be yourself. You are unique and have something to offer that no one else can give. The key is to slip into this persona (hopefully it’s authentic) and stay there. Address audiences with a consistent tone. Just as your characters need to stay true throughout your book, so do you throughout your marketing. We don’t want to confuse our followers by slipping from sister to mom to preacher to teacher. It might sound limiting, but you’ll discover there is still great latitude in your approach.

Bizziwriter Nugget: Brainstorm ten words to describe yourself. Jot down five things you are passionate about. Do you see any connections? Could you combine a few to establish yourself as a brand?

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