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Don’t Focus the Book: Build A Strong Brand

There seems to be a misunderstanding amongst today’s massive sea of Indie and self-publishing authors. They are more apt to ride the coat tails of a single title or series rather than focusing on building themselves as a brand.

Whether we like it or not, we as authors will most likely not be remembered for a single title. It is imperative we learn this if we wish to be recognized in the industry.

One of the leading gurus I know on this subject is Rachel Thompson. She has some very good points on why authors need to focus on building their brand and not their book titles. I would recommend her blog to anyone struggling to build their platforms.

I’m Not a Brand; I’m An Author

Photo by Khadeeja Yasser on Unsplash

And Apple is just an iPhone. Starbucks is just coffee. Pixar is just known for Frozen and Frozen II. Wait, no they aren’t.

How many times have you seen a well-known author walk around calling themselves by the title of their books? Probably never. For example, we don’t walk up to JK Rowling and say, “Oh you’re the author of Harry Potter!” If you meet her (which if you do, please get an autograph for me too!), you probably greet her by Ms. Rowling and have her sign her book. Why? Because she builds her brand, not her books. Going further, did you ever wonder why Ms. Rowling went under the name of Robert Galbraith before her secret was leaked?

It’s because she wanted to see if people were loyal to her as an author rather than being loyal to her only for Harry Potter.

Stephen King doesn’t tweet about his books or identify himself by a single book but rather tweets about what he’s passionate about and brands his name. More on this later.

If that doesn’t prove a point, I don’t know what will.

Titles Come and Go

Yet another reason why an author should avoid promoting a single title: They come and go as do series. I learned this when promoting Blessing of Luna. I focused so much on making banners, bookmarks, cards, social profiles, you name it on a single title. It wound up being a huge waste of time and resources. When FyreSyde — and now with the opening of Greenwood Grove Booksellers — came I had to repurchase everything I spent hundreds to obtain. Truthfully, I should’ve held the release until I had at least two more titles and knew for sure what my business plan was.

Titles come and titles go but you as the author will remain constant in your personality and approachability. Focus on relating to people as your brand name; it is what readers will bond to and potential readers will buy for.

You’re More Than Your Book

An author platform doesn’t only focus on you as an author. Too often “writers” think all we can do is write about writing. This is not the case. For me, I took Rachel’s advice and focused on five keywords I’m passionate about that don’t focus solely on writing. This offers people a bigger picture of me and less of that of a salesman at their door wanting them to buy buy buy.

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

Look at the themes of your book. What do you find yourself trying to bring attention to? Are you a mental health advocate? Do you have a deep backstory you want to share or are sympathetic to? Are you trying to bring attention to the effects humanity has on nature? Use those passions to bond with each of those niches. These are all potential readers who will attach to you for being a human being.

To make this personal, I’ve decided to share mine: Gardening, Sustainability, Books, True Crime (yes, I like to study serial killers), and Marketing (there are more but these are the main ones). These keywords take up large amounts of my blog posts and social media posts for those who follow and know me.

You’ve heard this a million times: One of the most powerful tools in building an author platform is to have a blog. It builds credibility and leaves valuable “digital bread crumbs” that can lead people back to your book.

I cannot tell you how many people I’ve coached to start a blog, telling them they will find more people are locating them than if they just blabbed on social media about their books.

Tip: Knowing your passion keywords will alleviate the stress of not knowing what to blog about or to post on social media.

Pro — Tip: Avoid Branding Dilution

Photo by Mikael Seegen on Unsplash

In this article, Rachel Thompson (Rachel Thompson) makes a strong argument as to why focusing on promoting a single title is potentially dangerous. New authors become so excited about their book, they create social media profiles based around it. To paraphrase her:

What happens when book two or book three come around? — Rachel Thompson

You might feel like you have to make different profiles for each title or series. To once again draw from Rachel’s article, this is called “brand dilution.” Meaning, readers who found you for book one (or series one) will either have to follow the other profiles or become so flustered they stop reading altogether. I’m no expert but the latter doesn’t seem too great.

Getting stuck managing multiple profiles for the same series can cause horrendous stress and thus “dead” profiles and abandoned accounts.

If you find you are struggling with branding, I highly recommend any of Rachel’s books. They have been lifesavers on many occasions and her poetry is absolutely beautiful.


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Info-Dumping: How You Can Avoid It

Nothing slows down a story worse than paragraphs of description. It becomes even more problematic when an author chooses to open a novel with too much backstory. This ruins the hook and can often result in the loss of the reader.

Here’s the thing, as authors, we seem to have fallen into the trap of thinking we have to explain every little thing that goes on in our novel. The truth (and the beauty of this) is, we don’t.

Jerry Jenkins, author of the international best-selling Left Behind series, is quoted to say:

“Less detail is often better”

Jerry Jenkins, https://jerryjenkins.com/blog/

This has never been more true in today’s publishing industry.

The fact is, “info-dumping” does not help your story. You don’t have to explain every little thing.

So what is “info-dumping?” Why do authors think they need it? Most importantly, what are some good ways to get rid of it?

Let’s begin.

What is Info-Dumping?

Ellen Brock gives a great description of what an info-dump is:

For those who don’t know what an info dump is, it’s an extended form of telling (rather than showing). An info dump is a big chunk of information that is “dumped” in the reader’s lap all at once. These info dumps are usually done through narration but can be found in dialogue as well.

Ellen Brock, NOVEL BOOT CAMP – LECTURE #3: HOW TO AVOID INFO DUMPING

The fact is, relying on info-dumping is shifting attention from the plot which is the more vital part of the story you’re trying to tell. It slows things down (as previously mentioned) and can often come off as “alright already” moments.

Some of the most common cases of info-dumping can include:

  • Backstory
  • How things work (government, magic, etc)
  • Different creatures or races
  • Landscape or houses (living quarters)
  • How someone looks (really bad in romance)
  • Weather
  • Technology (prevalent in science fiction)
  • And many more…

Why Do Authors Think They Need It?

As previously mentioned, authors think they need to paint the picture for their readers rather than letting the reader do it themselves. The beauty of reading is it allows the reader to develop their own pictures in their mind.

Info-Dumping is “telling” not “showing.” It is always better to do as much showing as possible. Let your reader paint the picture of Mr.Wonderful from your romance novel or the wicked beast in your horror novel.

It keeps them engaged, develop theories and at times, leads them to contact you (the author) to ask questions and spread word of your novels.

Rule of thumb: If you choose to use an info-dump, keep it brief! A few sentences max.

How Can You Avoid or Get Rid of It?

The easiest way to avoid and eliminate info-dumping is to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the reader really need to know this? If so, can I split it up via dialogue and narrative?
  • Is it prudent to the story? Meaning does it contribute to the plot? If not, get rid of it.
  • Can I replace the dump with conflict (a scene) capable of delivering the same information? For example, if the dump is backstory, maybe the villain and the hero have history. Can you give a hint of backstory through brief banter?
  • Can the info be delivered in an already existing scene?

Further tips:

  • Do not be afraid of re-writing. Info-dumps are a very common problem in first drafts. Often an author can slip into writing them and not recognize what they’re doing.
  • Scenes can become info-dumps. For example, an office scene where two characters are talking can easily become cumbersome to the reader. Keep it short, keep it brief.
  • Show! Don’t tell as much as possible. Readers like to create an image in their minds.
  • Make it creative!
  • Have beta readers look over your novel prior to send it publishers. Many require manuscripts to at least have two rounds of rough editing. Nothing burdens an editor worse than having to re-write large amounts of info-dumping.

For further reading:

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[Book Marketing 101] Hybrid Marketing

When approaching the world of an indie or self-published author, what is the biggest line of questions you often hear or ask yourself?

  1. How am I going to market this in an ever-growing industry?
  2. How can I make my book stand out against so many others on Amazon?
  3. How can I market on a budget?

These are just a few questions that can be terrifying when one is just starting out.

So often we are tempted to pour what funds we have into online ads on Amazon, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. How about book promo sites? Surely those will help, right?

The answer is YES, those DO help BUT they should NOT be the primary way of Today Ismarketing. These are all online marketing techniques and can help in building exposure but how many times have you honestly gotten on your social media and clicked on a buy button or link? Probably not often. I know I don’t.

To further explain, how long does it take the average publishing company to get back to their queries? Sometimes rather quickly for smaller press but not for the big dogs like Penguin, right?

This is the same as online. So often we see such high volumes of tweets, photos, Facebook posts, etc covered in book promotion. Sometimes those can get overlooked.

Fear Not! Hybrid marketing is your friend!

Here’s a not-so-secret, secret. Publishers, agents, interviewers, and scouts all attend LIVE book events and conventions!

This where hybrid marketing can come in handy. As previously mentioned in another article, social media is a wonderful tool for staying in touch with your readers and mentors. However, be willing to leave the computer and go out and meet people. Our readers are out there!

In order to utilize this truly powerful tool, one has to understand what it is.

 

Simply put, hybrid marketing is the utilization of both online and offline marketing techniques in order to draw in an audience and build not only your author platform but reach your potential readers!

How it can be used

 

Book SigningWhere_ Half Price BooksWhen_ 51218What time_ 1pmYou can reach out to venues you know will want to help you promote and sell your book.

These can include bookstores, libraries, book festivals, conventions, bloggers, and reviewers. The list goes on! Who is it that is in your target audience? Knowing this can help you better understand how to incorporate this technique into your own marketing planI cannot stress the importance of a solid marketing plan! If you do not have one, it is likely you will fail!

Hybrid Marketing Expands Your Network

You signed a deal with your local bookstore to appear for a signing. They’re happy to have you! You get there and shake the hands of a manager or event coordinator and BAM! A networking bond is formed and it’s all because you left the screen and shook a hand! The beauty of it is, they’ll often ask you to come back! So now you’ve made a bond with an individual who can be a long lasting relationship in your career as an author and who knows, a loyal fan!

Make Your Online Marketing Work for you when You’re on Vacation

This is when social media and online ads should work for you. When you find you’re wearing down and need those couple of months off or you know you’re going to be at a convention all weekend, make your ads work! You can meet your readers and get your book promoted at the same time. For example, say you’re getting a small press table at a major convention. You know you’re going to be gone all weekend. Start up an ad on Amazon! The cost can be as low as 3$ a day at .03 per keyword. You don’t spend a dime unless someone clicks! Run a promo through sites like Whizzbuzz books for a whole year at a low price. Make sense? You’re not beating down Twitter with “Buy My Book” tweets and folks are still seeing your book.

 

Hybrid Marketing Gives Attention to Your Amazon, Goodreads and Websites!

So often, people want to take a free bookmark or a business card with an author’s contact information including their website. Always stress your website as your central hub! Think of your social media, Amazon and Goodreads as webbing. They all should be connected to a central hub or your author website! Appearing in person at book signings, author appearances, readings, etc can give you a chance to bring attention to these pages! It is an offline marketing technique that can really help!

John J. Doe
Always have a business card

Do not overspend! Budget your Ads and never go over 100$ at a Live Event….at First!

Marketing can be an expensive endeavor if the audience isn’t where you are. It may be trial and error at first which can either be beneficial or not. It happens! BUT! Here is where knowing ahead of time can help. For live shows, start small. I recommend to start with what are called Small Press tables. They rarely go over 75$ and often come with two badges for conventions or a table space at festivals. This can help you build yourself a platform while networking with others who may want to talk to you about your book. These have been crucial in my own journey so I promise, I have seen the results!

Hybrid Marketing Shows Professionalism/LongevityToday Is (1)

Say an author appears at a panel and gives you their knowledge. They are building their rapport with their readers because it gives them a chance to meet and greet them to ask questions in person. Showing up to speak at conferences with confidence shows a level of professionalism. Potential agents and publishers often see these traits and will seek out the author to speak with them. The fact that the author has taken the time to research market trends and how to go about marketing their book scores high because they tend to want to know the longevity, especially in indie and self-published authors, to continue their craft and market wisely. Think of it this way, when you go to a job interview, a question you might get is “Where do you see yourself in five years?” It’s a question we often don’t know the answer to and can cost a position. This is no different in the world of literature.

It Gives Power to the Author’s Most Powerful tool: Word of Mouth

When you meet the eye and shake the hand of someone watching as you sign your book and include a free bookmark, that person will go to their friends and let them know they just a good book from a really kind person! This is word of mouth and it is the most powerful tool in an author of any publishing field’s toolbox! Get your readers talking! They’re giving their time to read your book in a sea of books! Hybrid marketing can help your book reach multiple audiences and they will love your signature!!!!

Most Importantly: NEVER GIVE UP!! Marketing is a process!!! Very rarely are you successful right off the bat. That’s okay! Remember you wrote your book baby because you wanted to tell a story!


If these tips help you and you will like to see more, why not follow us either on Bloglovin, email or right here on WordPress? Feel free to share your own as well!

Have you found something that works for you, got any more questions, just want to chat? Hit us up at fyresydepublishing@gmail.com

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10 Rules For Success — Jay Colby

I decided to share this post from Jay Colby because he offers some really good advice on success and how to reach it. I highly recommend giving him a follow because he offers a large amount of useful and uplifting information.

I have always been infatuated with successful people. I constantly read about their processes, habits, philosophies, behaviors, and what influenced their success. Not only do I find it motivating, but by understanding how and why successful people do what they do it helps me to strive for success. As I have researched over the past […]

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