Recently, I’ve been helping The Boy set up his own business (Kobe Renders – offering architectural services, CAD drawings and 3D modelling/rendering) and one of the first things he asked me to help with was the choice of a logo. Even for a sole trader just starting out branding is important.
And guess what? Branding is important for writers, too!
Now, I’m not talking about creating some false facade or trying to sucker people into liking you and thus buying your work. A writer is their own brand, but that brand has to be honest and true to the writer as a person for it to work. People are not stupid – in particular, the book-buying public are not stupid – they can smell BS a mile off.
Perhaps it’s easier to not think of it as a brand, but as a mission statement for you as a writer (or any other kind of business or trader) seeking to build a rapport with potential readers without actually meeting them. I’m talking about things like blogs, websites and, even, book trailers.
Having a brand lets a reader know what to expect from you and your work. (And, again, this works for any kind of business.)
“Oh, that’s Bob McBobberson, he writes humourous steampunk with a philosophical edge. In fact, I quite fancy some humourous steampunk with a philosophical edge – I’m going to buy his new book!”
It’s also about creating a style, a look that people will associate with your work. For new authors in particular, it’s a way for the cover of your book to associate itself with other novels in a similar vein – we are, after all, visual creatures and this is a way of visually saying “this book is Bob McBobberson meets Annie Anderson” or “if you liked Carrie Carrieson, you’ll like this”. In society we form little tribes, demarcated by our clothes/hair/piercings/tattoos/general style, and the same goes for branding and books.
As for my own branding… well, this is something I should probably sit down and think about, really! At the moment I’m not 100% happy about the fact that this is a blog that mixes my writing and my interests in sewing and the 18th Century. I have considered separating into multiple blogs on costuming/sewing and writing (which includes the 18th century research and so on behind that process), but they are both a part of me and at the moment I don’t blog enough on the two to make a whole blog for each. Perhaps that will change as I have more time… perhaps the love of costume will remain part of my general site – clothing is certainly a part of my writing that adds to the atmosphere and characterisation.
The problem being that at the moment, I’m sending out mixed messages, which is perhaps one of the biggest mistakes to make in branding. At the moment, though, this is mostly a personal blog so I’m not massively concerned about branding, but I’m sure that will change – as we seem to read everywhere at the moment, a writer must write but also publicise their self and their work.
Yes, dear reader, I’m going to have to face the challenge of – dah dah daaaaah – Creating a Platform. (Or web presence or whatever you want to call it.) I think I’ll approach this by havin a website with an integrated blog specifically about writing and perhaps 18th Century research bits and pieces that directly relate to that, but keep my costuming/sewing and more flippant 18th Century bits here on my personal blog. I haven’t entirely worked it out yet…
But in the meantime, here are some interesting articles by People Who Know What They’re On About:
William Leith on advertising your novel on the internet. (The Guardian.)
You know what, I can’t choose just one post from Rachelle Gardner’s Blog because there are so many useful and brilliant ones, so here are all her posts tagged with Marketing-Platform-Branding.
An Author Questionnaire (from BookEnds LLC) – what publishers use to find ‘an angle’ for marketing a book/author.
Networks and Platforms – Must I? (from my favourite ‘Crabbit Old Bat’ (her own words) at Help! I Need a Publisher!). The answer being – yes you must, but she tells you why and how and has lots of other useful posts to set you on your way.