As authors we all know that our brand is important, but how many of us know what “brand” we are, or why a brand is important? This is the first in a multi part series on author branding. As with all things I will be looking at this from the self-published author perspective. I will talk about my own experiences, including my massive mistakes, in order to let you learn with me.
The first step in any brand is simple, it’s all about you. Step one is all about questions you answer to determine your brand. For example, what genre do you write? What subject will you write about? Who is your target audience? How accessible are you going to be to your readers? There are hundreds of questions you can work with, but I chose these. Let’s look at those questions from the perspective of the author I know best…me.
What genre do you write? I’m all about paranormal and urban fantasy. If I can have fun with it and be a little snarky that’s even better.
What subject will you write about? While most think my writing is about vampires, werewolves, etc. I have one goal in mind. To make people rethink what a heroine is. In my case, my female protagonists are older women (typically in their 40s), they may or may not have children, but they are (so far) all divorced and having some issues with starting over. My women are strong, they have survived when others would bury their face in ice cream and chocolate (okay one survived by eating chocolate), but they don’t give up. Also, my women are all larger than average. The politically correct among you might call them plus size, curvy, chubby, pudgy, etc., however as a curvy, over middle-aged woman myself, I prefer to call them fat and fabulous.
Who is your target audience? Adults obviously. Adults, who want to see a kick ass woman in her forties who’s not afraid to eat and admit their weaknesses while delivering the occasional bitchy one-liner and bouts of melodrama, would be more accurate.
How accessible are you going to be to your readers? This is where it gets ugly. By nature, I am very introverted, but I’m also realistic about how authors survive in the real world. I am choosing to be accessible, but that accessibility will be tempered by my need for privacy and separation of author me and private me. I have an author page on Facebook, this blog, twitter, Google +, and Pinterest, all of which I use to further my brand. However, my personal Facebook page is just that…personal. I keep my political, religious, sexual, and anything else that might offend someone ranting to real life. I learned recently that as an author I’m not allowed to have a public opinion on certain things because it offends people. Maybe if I were J. K. Rowling, James Patterson, etc. I would have the luxury of an opinion, but I’m not and I can’t afford to offend potential readers at this point.
So far my brand targets adult urban fantasy/paranormal readers who want to see curvy older women kick ass against paranormal creatures. But that’s not all it is, if you look through my blog you’ll see posts about self-publishing, beta readers, reviews, and more. I want to help others who self-publish by sharing my mistakes, my successes, etc.
So now my brand is self-published urban fantasy/paranormal author of strong 40-something, curvy women who kick ass, make snarky rude comments, all while dealing with crippling self-esteem issues in melodramatic outbursts. One who shares the ups and downs of self-publishing with the public in a brutally honest appraisal of her lackluster skills, strengths, and weaknesses. Or as I like to call myself…V. L. Cooke.
Homework time: So here’s where you all come in. Tell me about your brand. What are you offering to your readers? What can readers expect from the brand that is you? I can’t wait to hear from you.