Today’s blog post is for writers who are in the same boat with me. I’ve been working on a novel for years. I hope to get it published in the next several years. I am trying to learn all I can about the craft of writing as well as the craft of being an author. In the 21st century It’s not enough to write a 100,000-word piece of earth-shaking fiction. An author has to have a brand and build a platform.
To tell you how far I’ve come in the last week, a few days ago I didn’t know the difference between brand and platform. I have a hunch I’m not alone in my confusion. I do not claim to be an authority on this subject. In fact, I’m far from it. Today’s post grew out of my need to try to figure out author brand and author platform.
What is an author’s brand?
After searching online for explanations of an author’s brand, I have concluded that my brand as an author is who I am, what I choose to share about myself, and what I want readers to think when they see or hear my name.
What is an author’s platform?
The best I can tell, an author’s platform is his or her visibility and ability to sell books.
How do brand and platform mesh?
An author’s brand underpins his or her platform. It’s part of the foundation. Brand, therefore, must precede the building of a platform.
When should I design my brand as an author?
Today, or perhaps yesterday.
How do I establish my brand as an author?
- Set goals and objectives
- Identify what readers of your genre are looking for
- Determine how you are different from other writers in your genre
- Feel comfortable in your own skin as a writer
- Don’t be shy about telling your own story
- Find your niche and focus on it
- Take care to manage how you are perceived
- Explore ways you can turn readers of your genre into fans of your work
How am I perceived?
How potential readers perceive you is created by a variety of ways. Everything from website, logo, social media presence, business cards, any printed materials, to your photo affect how you are perceived. In other words, be consistent in how you project yourself.
How can you learn from my mistakes?
Unfortunately, when I had my website set up, it was primarily to showcase the three family genealogies compiled in the 1990s by my sister and me. I knew I wanted to be a novelist, but at that time I really knew next to nothing about writing fiction.
I set up a Facebook account on June 14, 2011 in order to keep up with community events and news. Much later (August 12, 2014) I added a Janet Morrison, Writer Facebook page as a way to publicize my public appearances to promote my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
In 2010, I started half-heartedly writing a blog. I struggled with content and how often to post. It wasn’t until 2014 and the publishing of my vintage postcard book that I got serious about blogging.
Kicking and screaming, I created a Twitter account on April 11, 2016.
I did all these things in piecemeal fashion as I struggled to learn what an aspiring novelist should do in order to get noticed. The operative word is “piecemeal.” There’s nothing wrong with taking a gradual approach, but my mistake was that I did not have an overall plan and, therefore, I was not systematic. I was focusing on the individual trees instead of the entire forest. I did not understand author brand as it relates to author platform. In conclusion, I tried to build my platform without supporting it with a brand. I got the cart before the horse.
Where do I go from here?
With my website, blog, and Twitter account already in place, I have no choice but to keep forging ahead. Otherwise, I will lose my momentum and many of the followers I have. (I experienced that this summer while I had shingles in my eye.)
While I forge ahead, though, I know now that I need to design my brand. I have written the manuscript of a historical mystery. Although Arcadia Publishing reminded me during the editing process that my postcard book was not intended to be a history book, I believe it did help people to perceive me as a writer and historian.
My plan for the coming weeks is to hire a professional editor to evaluate my historical mystery manuscript (working title is The Spanish Coin) and to take the steps necessary to design my brand.
I don’t expect this to be easy. Nothing worthwhile is easy. Researching and stating facts and theories about author branding is one thing. Putting that knowledge into practice is altogether something else.
Some of the resources I used in writing this post are:
I would be remiss if I did not disclose and provide links to the online sources I used this week in writing this blog post.
- https://www.thebookdesigner.com/2015/12/how-to-build-your-author-brand-from-scratch-and-why-you-need-to/ by Kimberley Grabas on December 16, 2015
- http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2012/03/20/branding-author-platform/ blog by Joanna Penn with guest post on March 20, 2012 by Dan Blank from http://WeGrowMedia.com
- https://undiscoveredauthor.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/brand-management-for-writers-part-1-what-is-branding/ from Stephen A. Watkins’ blog, “A Day in the Life of aspiring Author Stephen A. Watkins”
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Until my next blog post, I hope you have a good book to read and, If you’re a writer, I hope you have quality writing time.