Friday, October 5, 2012

For Writers: Personal Brand

As stated in my last post, a lot of publishing companies are requiring writers to market for themselves. Rather this is to keep costs down so publishers don't have to charge as much for books or if it's to keep small and indie presses flowing smoothly, it's something we all are going to need going into the future. How do we market ourselves? In the research I've done, it seems like a pretty simple thing. All we have to do is what the business world calls a "Personal Brand".

A personal brand is simply the face we put forward into our professional scope. To create a personal brand, you really only have to do the things you're already doing.
  • Blogging
How many of us don't have a blog nowadays? Most everyone has a blog, including inkslinging monkeys banging their face against a keyboard and leaving it for the world like some primate Picasso. I have this blog  for writing and storytelling. I have another for cooking recipes and yet another for my gaming woes. When you're working with your personal brand, you need to add regular content. When your readers can rely on a post, they'll come back for more. By the time you start talking about your next novel coming out, the established reader base you already have is going to be there waiting. 
This means, however, that you're going to need a reader base. There are a few simple things you can do to draw people in. Go to other blogs and Twitter feeds. Read their stuff and comment. Open a dialogue between other readers and writers like yourself. Post reviews of the books you've read on Goodreads. You can do guest posts for other people's blogs. It's like a vicious cycle that isn't vicious. You learn things, they learn things and people follow people. Easy, right? (Just don't be "that guy" and go everywhere spamming that you're a writer and you have a great book everyone needs to read. We're all pretty sick of hearing that already.)
On that topic:
  • Be active in social media
Twitter is like an addiction for me. Since I use Tweetcaster paired with Readability, I can cruise through my Twitter feed, read all about people's lives, save interesting articles to read later and keep up on what's coming and going in the world of writing. I can comment directly in Readability and others who use the site can see what I've written. I retweet like a fiend when I've found an interesting bit of online knowledge. Most of what I post on Twitter posts automatically to my Facebook page. I can keep several options open. 
Don't do like I did and join all the things. Stick with the social media sites you'll actually use. My twitter feed posts to Facebook, but I actually have to check in on Facebook to see if anyone is replying to what I've written and do it sooner rather than later. There's nothing worse than feeling connected to an author for some reason or another, leaving them a little post and never hearing from them. You get lost in the floe of posts coming to those popular people and carried away. It could be what makes or breaks a connection with someone else.
I post not only a lot of retweets (which I do too much sometimes) but also content of my own, what's going on in my life, pictures of my animals, my new haircut... You get the idea. I take what I enjoy reading about other people and I do the same thing. I'm active there and when I publish, I might actually have a few people who are genuinely interested in hearing what I have to say. I've posted once about what annoys me on Twitter and another on what I want to see in writer blogs, but it bears repeating: Don't be "that guy". We want to know some things about you personally just as much as we want to know what you've written.
  • Do a meetup
Many people I've talked to have spoken on attending writer's groups for people to bounce story ideas off of, get information and research, cover angles you haven't thought of and to get good, honest critique before you ship your babies off to be cowboys or, in the case of bad writing, hamburger. Do a quick Google search of writers groups in the area. 
My favorite meetup is NaNoWriMo. For those of you who may not have heard of it before, it's a month of crazy writers drinking too much coffee and writing a terrible 50,000 word novel in 30 days. It's all self-paced and nominated. There are no judges, no one who picks whose novel is best or worst. A bunch of us crazy people get together in coffeehouses, restaurants, bookstores, libraries and even grocery stores and write throughout the month of November. I love it enough I work as a municipal liaison for Columbus. Previously I worked as ML in Findlay. I have met some wonderful, incredible, horribly knowledgeable people who have given me the best advice and invited me to so many fun things. It really is an experience you should try at least once. If nothing else, it teaches you to sit down and write a little every day.
The most important thing in developing your personal brand seems to be just getting out there and having a good time with other people. Do guest blog posts. Record a video blog. Do some blogging of your own. Come stalk me on twitter. Read the articles I've saved to read on Readability. Check out my reviews on Goodreads. Talk to me about your books. I'll even do reviews for you. Without sounding too desperate, I LIKE hearing from people and I LOVE making new friends. Let's improve our brand (and our chances at getting published) together.

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