The Author and the Brand
Today I want to talk with you all about your brand. What kind of an image you are showing to the world. I know, the stoner who writes because he hurt himself talking to you about your image.
1. How people Perceive You.
How you present yourself to the world is everything. I know this from many years spent working in hospitals and nursing homes, getting to know all manner of people. How other people view you sets up your interactions with them in all future endeavors. I don't try to hide the aspects of my life that are controversial, but I do realize it limits me with some people. But I believe my genuine nature reaches those who want to interact with me, and makes it easier for them to approach me.
At the end of the day, people are going to think what they want to think. Raising to their bait is a fast, decisive way to place you in a hole you can't dig out of. A great rule of thumb in your interactions was one I heard from Christina McMullen. Simply, “Would Dumbledore say this?”
2. Don't Respond To The Reviewer*.
This one has a caveat. If a reviewer is asking you questions, wanting to know insights, and attempting to connect with you, it could prove a boon. I've made many a great friendship starting conversations with those who have offered me reviews.
Heck, that's how I met our very own Ann Livi Andrews at the start of this. I'm not saying it's impossible. I'm just warning approach with caution. Interaction through a private correspondence, though still possible to lead to negative impacts, you are much more likely to have a great relationship bud, even with those who have offered you a negative review. I've had more than one person state they didn't like my writing style, but still feel comfortable enough to approach me and ask for help with their own projects. This is branding, and why I have such an affable nature.
However, interacting with a reviewer on Goodreads or Amazon, other than to say thank you, is something I strongly discourage. You just never know how someone is going to take it, and the results are out there for the entire world to see.
3. Don't bookwhack!
V.M. Sawh thought of that term, and it fits perfectly. You need to give people a reason to care about your book. You can write the greatest novel ever written, but unless people know about it, it's impossible to get them to read it.
That being said, a random run by with your book, smacking people upside the head with your blurb isn't the way to get them to read your work. A perfect example of this is a banner ad.
We see thousands of them as we crawl and trawl the internet, but how many of them do you actually click on? Now, you bookwhack across a random group on Goodreads or any other forum might lead to one or two more people checking out your book. I believe a much better method is to interact and converse with people.
Get them interested in you, and they'll be interested in your work.
4. Yelling Into The Echo Chamber.
Oh gawd, finding the way to be heard on the dreaded social media. I heard a piece of advice when I first started trying to market that I feel is some of the best.
Find what works for you, and stick to it. You like Facebook? You post those posts! You like blogging? Rock it! Heck, I still know people on MySpace! The point of it all, if it works for you use it.
5. Check Out And Support Others!
I know, life is busy and it's hard to find any free time. I understand, I really do. Balancing work, children, spouse, and your own works is hard. But you've got to find the time to do it!
By looking at others' works, you're lending our movement more and more credibility. The world of publishing is constantly evolving now a days, and no one really knows what it will look like in 5 to 10 years. The more you check out other independent and small press authors, the more gems you find hidden on the slush piles of the big 5. And something I've noticed? The stories tend to be much more original. Look for the hidden gems that have been left for years to rot on the slush piles, because the author didn't double space their email before sending it.
These are just some of the things I've done to help grow my own brand, and though I don't guarantee success, I know it worked for me. And remember guys, this is a marathon not a sprint. Just keep truckin' along!