Saturday, February 26, 2011

Making My Mark

I've been reading up on marketing strategies and branding for authors. With a book coming out in August or so (still on track there, as far as I know) I need to get word out every way I can.

I've taken mini courses, subscribed to marketing groups, looked into what others have done, to glean what may work and what may not. For instance, a Real Live book signing isn't going to do me much good because mine will be an ebook. What would I do? Sign the readers' computer or Kindle screens? That would be annoying. A reading at my local bookstore or library might fly, but again, I wouldn't have much in the way of tangible "goodies" to sell or share. OK, I could do give away items, so that one is still on the maybe list.

One of the things I see as working is a virtual book tour. It sounds like fun and a lot of work, but marketing is work. And if I want my next book published I'd better show some effort in getting word out. So, I've been checking blogs where science fiction romance is reviewed/discussed/revered/mentioned. I've started a list of places I will be asking about blog stops and such. Offering exchanges is important, as in, "I'll have you over this day for your book if you'll have me over that day for mine." It's a lot like arranging playdates in that way : )

One of my stumbling blocks, however, has been my "brand." Everywhere you turn, authors are talking about branding. Branding isn't about that particular book (I've leaned something, anyway), but about the author. What represents *you*? What phrasing/terms show a reader who *you* are and what they can expect from one of your stories? Does your website/blog reflect the tone of your work?


So here's my challenge. What catchy line(s) can I use as a brand? What reflects me and my writing? First, I tend to write SF/F/Paranormal stories. Even if I TRY to start off with a non SF/F/P genre it ALWAYS gets some sort of woo-woo treatment. So let's just assume everything I write will have some kind of otherworld feel to it. Second, while I write m/f or f/f romances they aren't erotic or even steamy. I think I have one love scene in each of the books I've written. Maybe two. But while they may be sensual, they aren't graphic. So the "Hot lovin' for long, cold nights (since I'm in the frozen north)" idea won't work. Really. It won't. Lastly, I don't think of my tone as overly dark or light and fluffy. There are some serious situations and places I hope elicit a chuckle or two, but I wouldn't categorize my work at either extreme.

You understand my problem now. I fall in the middle of most scales.

So what's an unbranded author to do? Help me, Obi Wan!

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At 9:42 AM, Blogger Maria Zannini said...

I had a debate with a friend of mine recently about branding. There’s a whole camp of authors who despise and decry branding, stating emphatically that they (and their work) are not commodities.

But saying you’re not a commodity doesn’t make it so. In my opinion, if you’re selling something, it is most definitely a commodity.

That said, it doesn’t mean you HAVE to brand yourself. It’s just a tool. I wouldn’t sweat it. Just keep your persona consistent. And as I was so well advised once, your backlist is the best way to create a following.

At 7:26 PM, Blogger Cathy in AK said...

Thanks for the advice, Maria. That helps take the pressure off : )

Now I just need a backlist ; )

At 11:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I say that the most important piece is to get some reviews out there as soon as possible. Consider a pre-release to a selected group or possibly a discount/refund to the first 25/50 readers if they post a review afterwards. Of course the reviews have to be positive or this could backfire. I rely a lot on reviews and sometimes buy books out of my normal genre if the reviews encourage me.

At 11:54 AM, Blogger Cathy in AK said...

I don't have an ARC, or even my cover yet, so advanced reviews are a bit difficult at the moment. If things come together with enough leeway before the release date, I can do some pre-release stuff you mention. Though a discount/refund is probably out of my hands. And yes, there is always the chance that reviews blow, but let's hope not!

Thanks, Anonymous!


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