On Monday, my fellow Alliterati (Alliteratus?) L.T. spoke about how important author branding is. Now, I agree with all of her points -- particularly in regards to being careful what you say and who you say it to. Eventually it will come back to bite you in the bum if it's offensive to the right people. So take very, very good care about that. If you don't care about negative publicity then by all means go nuts. But if you do, you need to craft a brand and stick to it for one simple reason:
Marketing is a fascinating animal; and especially when you talk about it on the internet. Full Sail University offers an entire online degree program on Internet Marketing, in fact, and it touches on such topics as Keyword Research, Search Engine Optimization, Keyword Density, so on and so forth. It's enough to make your head spin, and I've spent quite a bit of time researching and studying all these concepts for various reasons. Mostly because of the tee-shirt company a friend and I decided to start up recently.
Now, you might be wondering I haven't spoken about said business before. The simple and true fact? Because Matthew Delman, co-owner of Leprechauns Eat Unicorns, is not the same as Matthew Delman, Steampunk writer. My brand as Matthew Delman is as an unpublished writer who is working on a Steampunk novel. My brand under Leprechauns Eat Unicorns is a company focused on irreverent sayings.
My partner in Leprechauns Eat Unicorns asked me, prior to the launch of the company blog, if he could use it for both his writing stuff and news about the company. I told him no, he couldn't, because that would dilute the marketing potential of both brands.
So now you've gotten your brand all set and ready to market -- how do you go about that? It's easy really, to maintain a good marketing presence on the internet, especially if you're marketing yourself and your writing as a product. Be yourself, but be the best possible version of yourself that you can. Participate in the communities that are available to you. Sign up for Twitter and use it; blog regularly; comment on other people's blogs, if only to tell them that you agree with the post.
There's a culture of reciprocity floating around the Internet. It may take a few months (I think Free the Princess was up for two to three months before I got any significant number of followers) but if you are consistent in content generation, and participation in the community, then you will build your brand and become noticed.
*I could go into a heckuva lot more detail about my theories on marketing and how to do it well, but that would be entirely too lengthy for a blog post. Feel free to email me if you want more specific info/advice/etc. I'm always willing to answer any and all questions that come my way, as the folks who know me will tell you.
Great post! I had forgotten about that online university course, I might have to look into it myself for work.
Wise words, Matt. I've had people ask me several times if I would promote stuff not related to writing or reading on my blog and my answer is always no too. My blog has a very specific purpose and it has nothing to do with scrapbooking. :)
Your t-shirt company looks awesome by the way.
Love LEU -- both in name and idea.
As far as marketing, definitely one of my weak links (as you can tell by my unfocused blog :), but perhaps not as weak as my inability to keep foot from mouth.
Savvy you are (as well as funny; darn you, now I have this image of Leprechauns with very sharp teeth stuck in my head).
I have a strong RL presence in my community (elected official for a community of about 100,000), and I try to keep my political persona separate from my writing persona. There will definitely be some overlap, as people want to know the *real* you (going both directions), but mostly (as you say) you don't want to dilute the brands.
The people who are interested in my politics may or may not read my books, but mostly they want to know how I'll vote.
The people who are interested in my books probably don't care (or don't want to know) how I vote.
Also: building a platform for writers is inherently global (via the interwebs) vs. my local persona.
Sometimes I think the best marketing is just being yourself. See Bane, doesn't that make it better? You're yourself, and we love you for it.
L.T. -- I started an application but stopped when I realized it was $30k for a one-year master's (Yikes!).
Natalie -- I've had that happen to me too; a tech place keeps asking me to review their products and I always ignore their emails.
Bane -- Thank you, sir. And incidentally, unfocused is a brand as well. Look at John Scalzi's Whatever blog if you need an example of how being unfocused can help build your profile.
Susan -- You know, I'd forgotten that you were an elected official. But you raise a very good point; the people who care about your politics don't necessarily care about your writing and vice-versa. And yes, the best marketing is to be yourself, but remain mindful of what you say where.
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