Introducing: Marketing Mondays!

This entry is part 1 of 8 in the series Marketing 101

I’ve mentioned it before, but in case you missed it, until about 18 months ago, I worked in marketing. To be honest, I fell into the career: there was an Internet marketing company hiring writers locally, and I applied. I did it well, but I always thought it was something I did mostly for the paycheck.

At my first writer’s conference, I had one book almost ready to submit. Nothing with a publisher, no queries out—no “real” professional interest in selling books yet. And yet the classes that interested me the most? Marketing.

This was when I realized I actually like marketing.

And, like I said, I wasn’t bad at it. In fact, I was considered an expert (admittedly low-level). I spoke at a conference. I even got recognized once.

What’s the point? I hope that I learned something in all those years and efforts. And those things? They seem basic to me, but really, the general author population doesn’t know this stuff. And I’m very happy to share!

So, this year, I’m devoting Mondays to Marketing! I have a lot of ideas: we’ll start off with Marketing 101, then look at various online marketing tactics for authors including Facebook, SEO and blogging. We’ll also look at offline marketing a bit. We’ll do some of the ever-popular website reviews. I have lots of ideas and I’m very excited to share.

And (I hope) it won’t be just me: I have some really great friends who know a lot about marketing because they’ve been in the trenches for their books. They’ve tried a lot of different things and we’ll have them there to tell us what worked for them.

What marketing topics do you want to see on Marketing Mondays?

Photo courtesy of Top Rank Online Marketing Blog

Marketing 101: What is marketing?

This entry is part 2 of 8 in the series Marketing 101

An Overview, or, It might not be quite as obvious as you think

Now, most people understand what marketing is—or at least we think we do. But sometimes even marketing professionals can’t see the forest for the trees when it comes to the practice of marketing.

We all know that TV commercials and banner ads are a form of marketing, but they’re both different types of advertising, which is just one marketing tactic. The first things we think of when we think of marketing—search engine optimization, affiliate marketing, email, blog tours, giveaways—are also tactics.

Then what’s marketing? In my mind, marketing is getting your product into the minds of your audience, the people who are looking for your solution. Marketing can also help to persuade people to look for your solution, but a large part of marketing is connecting to a pre-existing audience, people who are either already interested in the type of product you’re selling or who have the problem your product solves.

Sometimes it seems like fiction authors are at a disadvantage here. Nonfiction authors frequently do have products designed to solve problems and benefit readers. Where do fiction authors fit in?

Just like with my characters’ goals in fiction, I was overthinking this one a lot. (It’s like a hobby.) I was so focused on trying to figure out what problem we solve for our customers. But really, we have it pretty easy! Your audience is built in: it’s your genre.

After all, you’re probably not going to want to put your product in front of people who won’t like it. (Sorry, there’s no such thing as “universal appeal.”)

And the problem that we solve? It varies a little bit by genre, but underlying all of them is that we give them an experience they want: excitement, fun, connection, contemplation, novelty.

Once you figure out those things, all you have to do is get your product (book) in front of that audience through tactics like those we mentioned before—but for the best effectiveness (not to mention your personal sanity), it’s best to pursue a unified strategy in your marketing tactics.

What’s your audience/genre? What experiences are your readers looking for?

Coming up: Features vs. benefits — and — Tactics vs. strategy — and — When should I start marketing?

Image, battle of Waterloo, by Ipankonin

Marketing 101: How to market fiction

This entry is part 3 of 8 in the series Marketing 101

AKA Not Features, Benefits

If marketing is getting your product into the minds of your audience, the people who are looking for your solution (or persuading people to look for your solution), how does that help with marketing fiction books?

When marketing nonfiction, it’s easy to figure out what problem you’re solving: it’s what you’re book is about. But when you’re marketing, you don’t focus JUST on what your book is about (the features). You focus on what your book can do for your readers: THE BENEFITS.

What are the benefits? Rob Eagar explains at Wildfire Marketing’s “Marketing Made Simple“:

Book readers, consumers, and donors don’t care about your topic, genre, mission, or product features. Their primary concern is how you can make their life better. Therefore, they want to know the RESULTS that you can create for them. Even people who donate to non-profits need to feel like they’re getting something in return for their donation.


To avoid confusion, I define a result as any positive outcome, life change, or tangible improvement that you create for someone who reads your book, buys your product, or donates to your cause. In addition, the description of a result must be specific enough to generate emotional interest.

That’s great for nonfiction. If your book is about blogging, you focus on how it will make your readers into . . . well, independent thousand-aires. If your book is about parenting, you focus on the result: your child will behave or you will be happy. If your book is about writing, you focus on the benefits: your writing will be better/more vivid/more engaging/actually sell.

So how does that help in selling fiction? What’s the benefit in a book that doesn’t have an easy solution to use? Last week, we established that our audience is our genre and the problem that we solve varies a little bit by genre, but underlying all of them is that we give readers an experience they want: excitement, fun, connection, contemplation, novelty, etc. That “emotional interest” that nonfiction creates is built in for fiction: it’s emotion itself.

Or as author/blogger/marketer Kristin Lamb wrote also last week:

Why do readers buy fiction?

One of the reasons readers are so loyal to authors is because of how that author’s stories made them feel. James Rollins makes me feel like I’ve had an exciting adventure. Sandra Brown makes me feel love is worth fighting for. Amy Tan makes me feel hope and power. J.K. Rowling’s stories make me feel heroic.

Fiction authors are brokers of passionate emotion.

Fiction creates emotions, and those emotions are the reason people buy and read fiction. And not just the emotions characters feel in scenes (though writing characters’ emotion isn’t easy, it’s very much worth it), but the emotions the scenes and the plot and the theme overall create in readers.

I also liked the way Vince Mooney put it, writing a few years ago on Prairie Chicks Write Romance (via):

Fans are Buying a “Basket of Feelings”

I like to think that a romance fan is really buying a ‘basket of feelings’. Fans know that some themes, like the ‘hidden baby’ theme, will provide a predictable set of feelings. When these feelings are in ‘deficit’, fans can actually develop a craving for a given romance theme.

He was addressing romance writers, but this is true in all genres. (He also has a great list of the types of “rewards [AKA benefits] per page” readers look for.)

So how do you market the feelings? You do NOT flat out say, “My book will make you feel strong/heroic/happy/victorious.” As with everything in writing, you show, don’t tell in marketing copy. Yep, despite starting off by saying “Don’t talk about what your book is about,” the fact is, in fiction, the unique value your book adds to the market, the reason why people want to buy it, is found in what your book is about, starting from the genre on down.

This is why it’s so important to make your genre clear through context in something as short as an elevator pitch. Compare these very differently focuses for the same story:

Struggling artist Margaux Williams must overcome her insecurities and face down her fears to prove to herself she deserves a successful career.

Struggling artist Margaux Williams must sacrifice her future to stop the killer who shares her home.

Struggling artist Margaux Williams has one shot at a successful career, until she falls for the one man who could ruin it all.

All those things can happen in the same story (to some degree)—but all those loglines promise very different emotional experiences. We need to be clear on what emotional experiences our audience looks for, and how our book fulfills that search.

The longer our selling opportunity, the more important it is to show readers the kind of experience we offer. Queries and back cover copy, both a couple of paragraphs, give us more time to develop the character and make the reader care about them (a prerequisite for the reader feeling those emotions in most cases), and more time to show the conflict and stakes—all opportunities to show that emotion.

And of course, the pièce de résistance of showing that emotion should be our books themselves. They don’t have to be trite retelling of the same old cliché storyline that sells in your genre, but you should know where your book fits within its genre, who your audience is, and most of all, what experiences they expect—and whether you deliver.

What do you think? What benefits (emotions) do readers look for in your genre? Do you deliver?

Photos by Maëka Alexis (the many faces), Sara (basketcase), and Malik M. L. Williams (book)

Marketing 101: I don’t know what the heck I’m doing!

This entry is part 4 of 8 in the series Marketing 101

AKA Strategy Before Tactics

Believe me, most authors feel the same way the first time they have to market a book. Maybe you have a few ideas about contests you could do or blogs you could visit, but on the whole, your marketing “plan” feels like a disorganized mess. Good news: using strategies helps you to organize your efforts and focus on the tactics that work for you.

Huh? (The difference between strategy and tactics)
We mentioned this in passing the first week of this series, but as a reminder:

The first things we think of when we think of marketing—search engine optimization, affiliate marketing, email, blog tours, giveaways—are also tactics.

Tactics are the individual things we can do to promote our book, all those online tactics listed above as well as offline tactics like in-store marketing, radio/TV/billboards, etc. Strategies are composed of our goals and plans for using those tactics.

So many people make the mistake of jumping into tactics without considering strategy—but not us!

So, This Strategy Stuff . . . ?
I’ll admit: I focused mostly on the tactics myself when I thought about my (far-off) marketing, up until last year at the LDStorymakers Conference when I attended a fantastic class by Robison Wells on marketing strategy. (Strategery? No.) Rob was so kind as to put his writers’ marketing strategy presentation online (motion sickness warning. I’m not kidding).

Hold on just a minute. I know, I know, we’re talking about marketing and we’re into it, but let me just tell you who this Robison Wells guy is first. 1.) Pertinent to this conversation: he’s an MBA. 2.) Also quite pertinent: he’s a writer. He made his national debut last fall with a YA dystopian novel, Variant (aff). This book. Is. Excellent. And you don’t have to take my word for it—Publishers’ Weekly named it one of the Best Books of 2011.

And back to marketing.

“Without strategy,” Rob says, “those tactics are just a shot in the dark.” Our strategy helps us to determine which tactics to use to suit our books, our audiences, our personalities, and our lives. A strategy also helps us to make sure the messages we send to our consumers, from our books to our blogs to our websites to our tweets, is the one we want to send.

Who Are You
(Why, yes, I do like The Who.)

To figure out this strategy, we first need to understand ourselves, our books, and where we fit in the market. We do need to understand where we fit in a genre and what that audience expects, of course, but we also need to know how our book stands out from and adds to other works in the genre.

Rob offers an example positioning statement to help us find our book’s Unique Selling Proposition, the thing that sets our book apart from others in the market—AKA the reason people will want to read it:

For the reader who wants _______, my book is (genre) that offers _______. Unlike other books in my genre, my book provides ______________.

Be specific and push yourself hard when filling in those blanks! Don’t just go for the first generic thing that pops into your head, and don’t use backhanded compliments or digs at the present state of the market as a way to set yourself apart because you’re “better” than them.

Also, don’t worry about how long this ends up: you’re not giving it as an elevator pitch. You’re using this to help remind yourself the things that are important when you’re creating your strategy and using those tactics to communicate with your audience.

Who’s Your Audience?
To state the obvious, your audience is the people who might be interested in your book. We’re going to ignore the people who are ignoring you, okay? It’s just a recipe for pain otherwise.

We’ve said before that the goal of marketing is to get your product in front of people who would be interested in buying it, i.e. your audience. These are people who read in your genre, read about the types of characters you’re writing, read your style of writing.

It’s vital to understand your own Unique Selling Proposition because it helps you narrow down your audience. I’m sorry, but your audience isn’t “everyone who is young at heart,” or “people aged 6 to 1,836.” In fact, your audience probably isn’t all mystery or romance or sci-fi readers. If you’re writing a cozy mystery, people who read exclusively hardboiled detective novels aren’t your audience.

So let’s say you are writing a cozy mystery. You know you need to target people who read cozy mysteries, right? Now you need to tell them why they should read your book instead of all the other cozy mysteries out there. How is it different from other cozies they’ve read, and how does that appeal to them? What shiny, new, novel novel concept (hehe) are you bringing to the table?

Yeah, this is where all that “market research” comes in. (Oh, come on, you’re reading this stuff for fun, right? If not, maybe you’re in the wrong genre.) You know how your detective is different from Jessica Fletcher, Miss Marple and Jim Qwilleran. You know which quirks and settings and storylines are “taken.” You know how your writing style stands out. Most of all, you know what types of things cozy readers like, and you’re giving them something new that is exactly what they want to see. These are the things that belong in a USP—and your strategy.

So, Where Do I Fit In?
Yes, about you. You play a huge role in your strategy, aside from knowing your book and what’s unique about it better than anyone else. Your role in your own strategy is the key player, the mover and shaker—and yes, the marketer.

What does that mean for your strategy? It means that you’re going to have to stick to things you know how to do or are willing to learn. It means that you need to focus on tactics and campaigns you enjoy, do well, can reach your audience through, and, yes, have the time for.

I really wish I could tell you how to figure that out, but I do know that you can look at your past Internet habits as a clue to what kind of Internet marketing tactics might work well for you. If you think Facebook is the root of all evil, perhaps set up a page there (so someone else doesn’t!) and don’t do much more. If the thought of blogging gives you thrills & chills—or night sweats—you know what to do.

A lot of people out there will tell you that you should should should do X, Y, and Q7. But worrying about what someone who doesn’t know you or your audience thinks you “should” do—and forcing yourself to use tactics that crush your soul—is seldom a recipe for long term success.

What do you think? What else belongs in a marketing strategy? How do you figure out what tactics are right for you?

Photo credits: War Games screencap via Dan Brickley; strategy graphic by Sean MacEntee; bookshelf by Josh; social media strategy by Matthieu Dejardins

Marketing 101: When do I start?

This entry is part 5 of 8 in the series Marketing 101

So, now that we’ve established that we’re designing marketing strategies instead of aimlessly using disparate tactics and touting the emotional benefits of our novels, let’s talk about when we need to start marketing. The answer is pretty simple: today. And also tomorrow.

Before you sell a book

Before you sell your first book, you can begin marketing. A lot of that marketing will be in the form of query letters, pitches and other interactions with publishing professionals. But once you’re ready to query, you’re ready to market the one thing you do have: yourself.

While I do know people who have had editors approach them based on the excerpts on their websites/blogs, most of our audience before we have a book (or a deal) won’t be agents and editors. You definitely need to make your online presence professional, especially if you mention your site in your query or email signature—but you also want to keep in mind your audience, often other writers.

One way to do this, obviously, is a blog. You do NOT have to blog about writing unless you really want to (I did and I do). But when you’re ready to enter publishing, a blog is a great way to start putting yourself out there, making yourself known. We’ll be talking more about blogging soon, but one more note before we change the subject: I also recommend approaching blogging before a book deal as a way of networking. Make friends with other writers! Aside from not feeling like a lonely schizoid, you can help and get help from writer friends in strengthening writing craft, finding critique partners, researching and just having fun.

If you feel your writing is ready to submit to agents and editors, then it’s probably ready to put a sample up on your site, too. Because that’s what it’s all about, right? However, you don’t have to treat your blog audience as potential book buyers. They may or may not be—and before you have a book, they won’t be.

When you have a book!

Whether you’re going with a traditional publisher or self-publishing, marketing a book falls pretty heavily on the author’s shoulders.

Naturally, once you have a book in the works, you want to start working on promotional plans. Of course, with a traditional publisher, you will probably have a long lead time—and even you will probably get tired of hearing about your book by the time it comes out if you spend a year or two in hard sell mode. It’s a weird state of limbo—and where I find myself now. My biggest marketing activity right now is polishing up my strategies and tactics for sometime next year. But whenever I can share some good news about the process—a release date, turning in edits, a cover—of course you know I will!

But as your real live release date gets closer, you’ll want to start putting your bigger plans in action. A couple years ago at the LDStorymakers writing conference, author Heather B. Moore recommended this timeline for marketing an upcoming release:

6 months before release: get endorsements—blurbs on the book and on your website (yes, even before the book comes out)

4–6 months before release: line up newspaper reviewers and prominent blog reviewers for a national release and get those ARCs out ASAP

3 months before release: line up reviewers—newspapers and blogs—for regional releases

1-2 months before release: schedule launch events and book signings

Also prepare your marketing materials (bookmarks, fliers, postcards, etc.) well in advance! Check on your printer’s schedule and allow plenty of lead time to have your materials in your hands (or in bookstores) when your book gets there, or a few weeks before.

When your book releases:

  • Get books to remaining reviewers (some don’t want ARCs)
  • Hold a book launch at bookstore, library or other location that is related to your book
  • Issue a press release (you MUST hit on something unique and interesting—AKA a hook—to have any hope of getting this published) or a news item—line up writer friends to feature your announcement in their newsletters
  • Schedule future book signings—talk to store owners

Now, this timeline is built for a traditional publishing schedule. If you’re self-publishing, you don’t necessarily have to wait 6 months to drum up interest first—but starting your marketing 3-4 months before your release (a bare minimum of one month) is definitely a good idea to help get your name and your book out there.

You don’t want to pour too much promotion effort into a book that might not ever see the light of day, and you don’t want to overwhelm the good information and content on your blog with self-promotion—but there’s most lkely something for you to market right now, whether that’s yourself or your upcoming release.

What do you think? When did or will you start your marketing?

Photo credits: handshake—Lea Hernandez; calendar—Tanakawho

Marketing 101: Tailoring Your Marketing Strategy to You

This entry is part 6 of 8 in the series Marketing 101

Because it won’t work without you!

We’ve talked about strategy before, and quickly mentioned how important you as an individual are in your marketing strategy. At the risk of repeating myself, I’ll say again that beyond knowing your book and what’s unique about it better than anyone else. Your role in your own strategy is the key player, the mover and shaker—and yes, the marketer.

What does that mean for your strategy? It means that you’re going to have to stick to things you know how to do or are willing to learn. It means that you need to focus on tactics and campaigns you enjoy, do well, can reach your audience through, and, yes, have the time for.

Last time, I noted how important it is that you look at your past Internet habits as a clue to what kind of Internet marketing tactics might work well for you. But first, of course, you need your strategy to guide you.

You’ve already got your unique selling proposition statement and you already know how your book fits into the market—what it’s like and what it’s different from. You know why it appeals to your potential audience—and now it’s time to figure out how to apply strategic information to your tactics.

Moving from strategy to tactics

(Just in case you missed that the first time)

A lot of people out there will tell you that you must must MUST do X, Y, and Q7. But worrying about what someone who doesn’t know you or your audience thinks you “should” do—and forcing yourself to use tactics that crush your soul—is seldom a recipe for long term success.

In that vein, I’m not going to tell you that you have to use email, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, blogs or any other online or offline tactic. (Don’t forget about offline marketing!) Instead, we’re going to talk briefly about how to identify the tactics you want to use and how to figure out the best way for you to use them.

We’ve already mentioned using tactics that you’re comfortable with or willing to learn. Using that to narrow down your options is a good way to start. Let’s use Twitter as an example, and assume that you’re already comfortable with Twitter or have taken a little time to learn. (And yes, we’ll probably discuss Twitter as a tactic some time in the future on Marketing Mondays.)

The first thing you’ll want to do is observe. Watch how people use Twitter, both for marketing purposes and for personal purposes. You’ll note that on Twitter—as on many other platforms (and in person)—constantly talking about yourself and your book is generally considered bad form, and it’s a turn off for many people.

You’ll also see how people form friendships and connections on the site, and hopefully jump in and form them as well, moving into a connect phase. With social media, it’s usually the personal connections that count the most—something I hope you’ll see if you observe 😉 . These personal connections can be the most important part of your strategy. Look for people who are part of your audience, whom you would actually like to talk/Tweet to. Their Tweet streams look interesting, and they’re having conversations you’re interested in. You can also use site features like Lists (or groups on other sites) to look for people with similar interests, and watch how they converse with one another, then connect with them as well. Remember: we’re talking about building real connections, not just saying, “I’m going to target you because you are in my audience! Now I will address you as an audience but will never actually respond if you happen to acknowledge me! Prepare to be spammed!”


Once you’ve observed and connected, you’ll want to implement your observations. Maybe you saw someone with clever Tweets about their characters, or who retweeted good reviews in an interesting way, or whose site you checked out just because s/he was so friendly and helpful.

Naturally, you’ll also want to highlight your USP when it’s appropriate—perhaps in a quick reference in your Twitter profile. (Note that there, it’s less obtrusive—you’re kind of supposed to talk about yourself on your profile, after all.)

Using a marketing model

You can also identify a book—in your genre, similar in style, or in some other way comparable to yours (or it’s not really very useful: don’t try to emulate Harry Potter with your futuristic thriller!)—that you feel was positioned and marketed very well.

Then investigate how it was marketed: stalk follow (the social-media-ly acceptable way 😉 ) the author and look back at their Tweetstream/Facebook timeline/blog from the months leading up to the release. Search out where they were reviewed. Find groups/pages/lists on social sites that liked or discussed the book. And hey, why not see if you can find anything about the offline marketing? As you do this, think about how you can do this the same, but different for yourself: maybe the same blogs/readers/sites/events, maybe something similar more targeted toward your audience or book.

If you’re very, very lucky, you might even be able to track down something I’ve seen all of one time: an ARC that actually featured a brief overview of the marketing plan on the back cover.

Thinking outside the box

As my friend Rachelle Christensen mentioned last time, the same, but different is as important in marketing as it is in writing. We want plot lines that fit into the successful structures and formulas, that are familiar enough we can understand the events of the book, but aren’t the same old clichés we’ve seen a jabillion times.

The same thing goes in marketing. If every book is marketed with the same mix of commercials, end caps, billboards, blogs and social media, it becomes easier and easier for them to run together and potential readers to tune those out.

Thinking outside the box is a great way to attract some extra attention to your book . . . although that attention might not always be positive, depending on how far outside the box you go (just like when you break genre conventions).

I can’t tell you what to do when I say think outside the box. I do recommend brainstorming and keeping a file of marketing tactic ideas. Just like when you’re plotting and freewriting, don’t censor yourself. You can always delete dumb ideas later, but sometimes even the stupidest stuff can spur you on to greater creativity.

Once you’ve generated and developed those ideas, really evaluate them before implementing them. Will they fit in an existing framework—is this possible on Twitter? Is that too self-promotional for the Goodreads crowd? Is this just too far out there for the blogging crowd?

Don’t be afraid to be adventurous! Just take a little extra care when you’re doing something “not so traditional” (because we have such long-standing traditions on teh Interwebz) that you won’t alienate your potential readers.

What do you think? What else belongs in a marketing strategy? How do you figure out what tactics are right for you?

Image credits: social media strategy by Matthieu Dejardins; connections by Matthew Anderson, Montage Communications; think outside the box—Lefteris Koulonis

Marketing 101: Author Branding

This entry is part 7 of 8 in the series Marketing 101

What is branding?
When we think about branding, it’s easy to think of all the work that companies like Coca-Cola or Pepsi put into their logos, commercials and jingles. And the American Marketing Association does use “Name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers” in the definition. While that’s definitely a part of it, the true definition of a brand is:

the sum total of all the interactions, impressions, information and expectations within the minds of people associated with a person, product, company or name.

It’s important to remember that branding isn’t just something we do on our blogs and Twitter accounts: it resides in the minds of other people. That’s not to say we don’t have any influence on our brands—of course we do. But if we don’t take charge of our brands, we won’t be able to make the impressions that we’re looking for on our blog readers, book readers and the rest of the public.

So let’s look at a few aspects of branding that authors can influence!

I hope most authors are familiar with tone from their writing: for highly dramatic scenes, we make sure our language matches the scene—we don’t use “poopyface” as an insult in an intense scene in a novel for adults (unless we really want to mess with the tension for comedic effect).

In the marketing presentation by Rob Wells that we referenced a few weeks ago, he talks about branding. (Page through—you’ll see Brandingi n big red letters, then a list of things branding isn’t, then a definition of branding. The next slide is what we’ll talk about.) We know there are dozens of marketing tactics we can use. But if we want to help people understand who we are and what we write, it’s important to think about our tone across media. There are tons of different tones we can strike—Rob lists hysterically funny, literary and erudite, mysterious and intense, folksy and warm, and hip and clever, just to name a few.

That doesn’t mean that every single Facebook page update, Tweet and blog post have to be completely folksy and warm or mysterious and intense. Just like in our books we can mix in a little of a different tone—even if we don’t write romance or humor, there’s often an aspect or subplot of romance or humor in almost every novel.

Which leads to another important question: do you have to match the tone of your books in your marketing? Simple answer: yes and no. The tone of a novel will almost always be different because we don’t generally address the audience, like we must do (or at least consider) in a personal marketing medium.

Just like with a book cover, the visual appearance of your blog, Twitter, etc., plays a big role in setting the tone. Generally, the advice that I like is to match your design to your target genre. A dark paranormal author will have a very different design than a historical inspirational romance author.

Web designer Kathleen MacIver also covered this well in our guide to aspiring author websites (PDF).

Yep, you can influence your name—ever heard of a pen name?

We see this most often in cases like J. K. Rowling: she used her initials (okay, her first initial and an invented second initial) because her publisher believed that boys would be less willing to read MG fantasy written by a woman, even with a male protagonist.

But you can also choose your pen name based on other factors: if there’s already an author or other celebrity with your name or something very similar, who you want to be next to on the shelves, hiding your identity (but honestly, this is harder and harder these days).

Make sure you’re consistent across platforms. It’s easiest to make your website/blog, but you also want to think about your Facebook page (your name, perhaps with “author” at the beginning or end), your Twitter handle, etc.

Tag line
I don’t think an a tagline is an absolute must, but it can be a nice thing to have to help signal to your visitors what kind of books you write. The tagline should be more about the type of books you write, or maybe the thing that sets you apart—your USP—in the genre rather than a single book you’re working on or that’s coming out most recently.

Vince Mooney offers some good advice on author branding & author tags, including these basic principles:

1. a tag line should reflect and support the author’s chosen brand.

2. a tag line should be original and not too much like another author’s.

3. a tag line should be memorable and intuitively attachable to that author. (By this I mean a reader might reasonably be expected pick the author’s tag line from a list of tags without ever having read one of the author’s books.)

4. a tag line should promise a benefit just as an advertising headline should promise benefits.

I have a few more general ideas on branding you can read here.

The bottom line
In his marketing presentation, Rob Wells covers the most important reason for branding very well. Studies have shown that Coke branding messages light up the brains of Pepsi drinkers just as effectively, and that the exact same drink served with expensive trappings is considered worth more money. By working to build a quality brand, by considering the perceptions of your audience, you can create that kind of emotional response, loyalty and perceived value in the minds of your potential customers.

What do you think? How do you see authors branding well?

Image credits: brand logos via Adam Crowe; Brand by Rupert Ganzer

Marketing 101: Marketing Q&A

This entry is part 8 of 8 in the series Marketing 101

Hey there! Did you see I added a Facebook page? Check out the box in the sidebar, or just head on over to like me (please)!

We’ve gone through the very basic levels of marketing 101 so far in this series—but I know there’s a lot more in this area to cover, and I’m sure you have questions.

So today is question day!

If you have anything else you want to understand about branding, marketing strategy, tailoring your marketing strategy to you, or what marketing is, now is the time to ask!

But don’t worry, Marketing Mondays aren’t going away. Next week, we’ll start in on our first series on Marketing Tactics!

So, what else do you want to know about marketing?

Photo by Svilen Mushkatov