“Value of Voice to Branding”
“That’s Charli Mills, the country western singer,” my friend announced to the young man behind the desk at the Iroquois Hotel. We were in NYC to present at a marketing communications conference. I don’t sing.
Yet the young man looked at my name, began to nod as if he recognized it and said, “I have your CD.” As we walked away my friend smiled broadly and said, “You have the best name for a country western singer ever, Charli Mills.”
And she would know. Not because she’s in the music industry but because my friend is one of the top brand marketers in the nation — a published author on the subject and a successful launcher of store and product brands. She understands the importance of details, consistency and, of course, perception.
Our joke is based on the perception of my name. When we first met 15 years ago, she later confessed to me that she went home to her husband and insisted that with a name like Charli Mills, I had to be a country western singer!
While I don’t sing, I do know the power of voice.
In Decoding the Writer’s Platform: Part II, we discussed branding and how my own brand evolved around my name into a persona of a buckaroo writer. My story is simple — I went from riding horses to writing stories. It’s a catchy way to introduce my bio that might otherwise read like every other writer’s bio (education, career, publication). It also gives me a playful tagline: “Wrangling words for people, roping stories for novels,” and creates a fun way to build a literary community on a “ranch.”
However, my brand also has a voice. It’s playful, welcoming, encouraging and positive. The heart of my writer’s voice is a reflection of my personal journey to write into my truth. I seek to observe, understand, explore and imagine. How I arrange my words, punctuation and vocabulary selection is the expression of my voice. My voice infuses the stories I choose to tell.
A writer’s voice is unique. Think of it as the ingredients and mix of your cupcake — it’s what develops your unique flavor. Voice is also part of your craft. If you make sloppy cupcakes (careless misspellings, lack of punctuation style, heedless of story structure) your branding will reflect how readers perceive you. Yet if you are too rigid and always follow the exact recipe for common cupcakes (essays, posts, stories) you will not create anything distinct.
As a writer, voice is more important than having a cool logo or a fun image.
Therefore, you need to know your craft, yet cultivate your own voice. If you understand that you abandon specific rules of commas you have choices: learn the rules, hire an editor or accept that it’s part of your style. Only you can decide which is best, but know that it impacts your readers.
Let’s pause a moment for an example of how craft choices shape voice. I just wrote, “know that it impacts your readers.” I did not write, “know that it effects your readers.” Because of word confusion, I learned to substitute. I rarely ever think of effect anymore; impact has become entrenched in my lexicon. And countless editors have accepted my word substitution. It’s part of my voice, and is based on my understanding of my own use of language.
To know your voice is to know yourself. You are your brand. See how this connects?
When it comes to your brand, branding and voice, you will read this consistent principle over and over:
Authenticity is key to opening the door to a rock solid writer’s platform. It’s cliche in the sense that it is a common truth. This is one cliche you need to adhere to as a writer no matter what your goals are. It’s a guiding principle to all relationships. At any given component in the writer’s platform, a lack of authenticity can make readers distrust who you are (branding), shut down (community), cast doubt upon what you write (credibility) and diminish your readership (audience).
Be who you are or build the credible persona of you as a writer.
The latter does not mean create a false identity (that’s not authentic). Just as a person creates a professional identity as a lawyer, teacher, dentist or dog groomer, so can you create a writer’s identity. This is for the writer who wants to maintain a measure of privacy. You would decide which attributes about yourself to share. You could generalize personal information — share that you live in the Pacific Northwest rather than Elmira, Idaho.
In order to connect with others (branding, community, credibility and audience), you need to reveal enough of your authentic self to be a real person. Think about your favorite author. The more you liked your favorite’s books, most likely, the more you wanted to know about this author as a person. Every book has an author’s bio for this reason.
Your level of intimacy with your readers becomes a part of your voice. Remember that because if you are distant with your personal details and all of the sudden you begin posting about your messy divorce, readers will react to the change as if you began yelling. However, some writers do yell! It’s part of some writers’ voices. Know yours and use it consistently to portray who you are.
If you want to be in control of your brand, be in control of your voice. Branding becomes a shared experience with other people you interact with and they will come to expect an authentic experience.
What does “used across all media mean”? It means that you set up all your public places with the same shingle. Back to cupcakes. If you want to distinguish your cupcake from others, have a brand that others will recognize as your cupcake. Think of your public social media, your website, your author’s page (in your book or on Amazon, Goodreads or indie distribution points), your press releases, your guest-post bios, your book-signing posters, etc. as your retail space. If you are selling your cupcake, make sure you are recognized across all forms of media. This includes your voice.
A well-known writer will have a recognizable voice.
Even masters can’t replicate another writer’s voice. Robert Jordan set out to write a 12-book series called the Wheel of Time. His untimely death occurred after he published Book 11. He was a masterful story-teller and a NY Times Best-seller many times over. He left behind notes and unfinished scenes for Book 12. His wife and editor hired another master and NY Times Best-seller, Brandon Sanderson, to complete the series. He actually turned Book 12 into a trilogy and he wrote to Robert Jordan’s readers:
“I cannot replace Robert Jordan. Nobody could write this book as well as he could have. That is a simple fact…I have not tried to imitate Mr. Jordan’s style. Instead, I’ve adapted my style to be appropriate to the Wheel of Time.”
Only a writer who knows his own voice could have accomplished what Brandon Sanderson did. He knew he could never copy Robert Jordan, but he could adapt. As a reader, Book 12 is noticeably different. However, the plot and characters continue and it’s a better alternative than to never knowing the end of a story that size!
Voice is an important consideration as you build your brand or apply your branding. Here are some useful questions to ask yourself as you examine your branding or build it:
- Do you have a writer’s bio?
- Do you consistently use your writer’s bio across all media?
- Where do you practice your voice?
- What is unique about your writing and can you describe it?
- How do others describe your writing voice?
While we are not yet to the application part of this series (which is marketing, or expanding your writer’s platform) it can be helpful to consider your current state of branding. It is, after all, the bedrock of your platform. Without an identity, how can you engage community, build credibility and attract audience?
Some writers are uncertain about naming a website or blog. Should it be your name? It can be. If all you want to do is build name recognition, use your name as you want it identified. My name is Annette Marie Mills. No kidding. My nicknames include Netsie, Nan and Charli. And I have a maiden name. Holy buckets, how did I ever pick a name from that jumble? I went with what I’m most comfortable with and I’ve consistently used one name, no initials, for over 15 years.
But you are reading this at CarrotRanch.com, not CharliMills.com. Carrot Ranch was originally my business name and it evolved into a literary community. My name is a landing page on this website, and I own this digital real estate so I can apply different tactics to use that page according to my own goals.
My second active blog is Elmira Pond Spotter. It is named not for an author or a business, but as a publication. That blog has no pages; it is strictly my place to practice my voice through creative non-fiction. It is my brand of story-telling. However, my personal photo is the same one used here, as my gravatar, on my FB page, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and for my writer’ headshot. Same with my bio. Carrot Ranch doesn’t reach across all my media, but is linked to all my media, including my email signature. That’s branding in action
If you have a website through WordPress, Weebly, Wix, Blogger or others, then you have valuable real estate that you own. Social media is like renting. You rent a spot for your brand on G+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and more. You can’t control your branding there beyond consistently applying your brand.
However, you can control your own website or blog. You own that space. Use it to build your brand.
- Is it a place for you to communicate or share your writing? Then treat it like a publication and give it a title.
- Is it a place to attract clients for your freelancing on the side? Then name it like a business.
- Is it your author’s platform to attract an agent or readers to your book? Then give it your name.
Your website pages are where you build your branding based on your brand. You can set up a landing page for different purposes. You can establish categories for your blog posts. Or, you can set up pages to house different categories of writing. It is flexible and you own it. Shape your website around who you are as a writer and what your goals are.
Let your voice be heard. Let your voice be your branding spokesperson.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts here, Charli. There is much excellent advice, and also much to consider. Branding and voice are certainly two things that have guided me in all that I have shared online since starting my blog; including my posts, Tweets, comments on others’ posts, responses to comments on mine, in selection of material to share on Twitter and Facebook, as well as my responses to your flash fiction prompts. I use the same banner, photo, bio and my name across all media. The only aspect that will differ will be the name of my website when I get it established. Your post makes me wonder if I should have used it from the start, but it’s too late for that now, although I had chosen it long before I started sharing through any social media. Lots for me to think about and learn. I am very happy to learn from you. I’m pleased you roped me in!
And it shows, Norah! You are consistent even when you write fiction and find a way to tie it back to why you write in the first place. You have recognizable branding and voice. Because you have been building a thoughtful platform, you will easily accommodate your new website when it is ready. You’ll link it to all you have already established which will give it a good bump. Thanks for sharing your “brand” of education at Carrot Ranch! 🙂
Thank you for your feedback, Charli. I’m pleased that the consistency is apparent and that the steps I have been taking are going in the “right” direction. I am honoured to share in all that happens at the Carrot Ranch. Belonging has provided me with enormous encouragement and incentive to continue. There have been days when I have woken up thinking, “What’s the point?” and I turn on my computer and read a warm comment from you or another of our wonderful community, and I think, “This is the point: community, sharing, belonging.” 🙂
Community is the next component and it is an important one. We know the value of it to keep us encouraged in what can be an isolating endeavor. Yet ultimately, no matter our genres, topics, professions, level of goals, etc. writers are communicators and we want to know that our communication matters. Community can fulfill that. It’s a way to build audience while also gaining the value of shared learning and camaraderie among others doing what we are doing. I feel the same way — I’ve been encouraged at during times of doubt. And this process is a long one filled with bumps of doubt along the way. Your point is so valid! 🙂
I’m deep in thought but will return.
Lots to digest and working on this series is helping figure out the best way to chunk this information so it can be consumed by writers from all walks with different goals.
*sings* Hallelujah! (I’m no Leonard Cohen… Pfft!)
I love this. I spent years teaching (and preaching) using your voice in your writing. This is HUGE. Brand and platform are so important but voice is like your fingerprint, you know? It’s what makes you unique without you trying. So many people have asked how to find their voice and I’m all, um, you just used it to ask me that. 😉
I’ve used my photo and (very similar) bio across all my media (social media, litmags, blogs, et al). Also, with my new fiction site, it’s “different” but not too much. Same bio, photo, theme, colors, with different banner and tagline. Eh. Hope that’s not confusing.
And mostly all my essays/posts/columns have my same, salty, down-to-earth, not-quite-polished voice. I have a “conversational” style. There. That’s a nice way to put it. My husband says I’m funny but no one but him gets the humor. I’m not a funny writer — he’s reading into things. See how I did that? Funny, right? No. I know. It’s really not.
Anyhoo… I love what you’ve done here and how you’ve explained and presented it. Awesome. :star:
P.S. The country western singer story cracked me up! That’s priceless.
I was born to be a story-smith not a word engineer and often I shut down my writing when focus was on mechanics, structure and deconstruction. I can “feel” when my voice is leading the way and I know when I’ve crafted a piece that is not strong in my voice. It’s good that you teach & preach voice. Some teachers forget or focus elsewhere. It’s part of craft, but it is undeniably, a pat of a writer’s brand.
You apply your branding strategically — same photo, similar bios, same blog templates. That’s smart. You can distinguish each blog but you also give readers the framework to recognize being in the same house.
I think you are wickedly funny! I always think I’m funny…:-D I think you and I might share a skill of “dead pan” humor in that others don’t realize we are being funny. We’re just waiting for others to get it…and sometimes. You are salty! I like that description. And conversational is a style that makes stories more accessible to readers.
Thanks for the gold star! If I were a country western singer I’d make up a song for you. 🙂
Well, you can still write me a song. Just don’t subject me to your singing because I’m getting a vibe from you that it wouldn’t be a treat. Or it could be the “I don’t sing” sentence you wrote.
So there it is. I’m not funny or witty or even dry…I’m dead pan. That’s it. You’ve hit on something here Charli I can’t even tell you. I’ve been searching and you just hand it to me. You are good. And also funny. Sorry. “Dead pan”. I can just see you chuckling to yourself while you write. Because I have a mirror, you know? We are so misunderstood.
As a teacher of writing, we cannot ever forget to teach voice. Maybe “teach” is the wrong word. It must be brought up. Others will disagree, but I don’t think you can teach voice, just teach about it. At least that is my experience. It is beyond awesome that you can identify when you are “losing” your voice. I know that I stifle mine for certain publications (lose my saltiness), but I’ll have to pay more attention to see if I can actually notice when I’m losing it in a piece. I mean, I’ve lost it many times while writing a piece but I’ll be on watch for losing my voice.
I love having a fellow dead pan funny girl. I am so happy right now I’m going to eat a piece of chocolate. I mean two. One is for you but you’re not here so… Cheers. 🙂
Subjecting you to my humor might be as bad as subjecting you to my singing…but since we are kindredly dead-pan funny, this might work. You might even see the humor in my song. And I agree with you on your teaching, but also glad that you teach awareness of voice. Somehow, that voice awareness and confidence must grow in balance with our skill in the craft. It’s a good teacher who can impart the value of voice to a student. Yeah, I have to stifle my voice for certain assignments, and I’m still working out how to revise and maintain my voice. It’s a lot like dancing ballet — you have to master high techniques that take years to develop yet no one can teach you to have stage presence.
Eat chocolate and dance on!
You are extraordinarily funny Sarah! 🙂 Interesting – I think anything thats unique cant be taught, which means voice cant, as you say. The odd thing is, you do know when you found it. but that doesnt mean you can describe it… weird!
Love these posts so much Charli 🙂 you are simply wonderful sharing all your knowledge.
I too like Sarah, think the country and western story is hilarious. Know what I love about your posts – not sure if this is branding or style mind – you always start with a story. It’s the best intro, and you create such vivid images. But easily too, I slip into your imagrey without even noticing I’m reading. Such a talent that, it really is.
What have I learnt here…
1. I need to question whether I keep using my pen name as my website name. I have no idea what I would use otherwise – maybe the name of my world in my book? ‘The Netherworld’. I quite like the idea of ‘Welcome to the Netherworld’ particularly because I think (bites nail in uncertainty) whilst most of the time my voice is upbeat, I do edge on the dark side every so often. Anyway – thenetherworld.com has been taken, so not sure about changing the url, at this point – but landing page possibly a goer.
These questions threw me though:
1.Is it a place for you to communicate or share your writing? Then treat it like a publication and give it a title.
2.Is it a place to attract clients for your freelancing on the side? Then name it like a business.
3.Is it your author’s platform to attract an agent or readers to your book? Then give it your name.
um… I have no idea?! I take it, it cant be all of the above?! lol. I guess it’s just a location for the inane wafflings of my mind for now (which usually mean about writing as thats all I think about!), and eventually I hope, an author platform. Although I communicate some of my writing – in that I post my weekly challenge entries although I am stopping that till my novel is finished. ok, im back to the start. I have no idea! lol
2. Voice – I know I have one. But I dont know what it is! ha! so off I trot to ask some people! I have a sneaking suspicion I write fiction differently than the way I blog so may have to go ask two questions!
3. Consistency is key – hopefully I have done that across media with pictures and stuff
4. I have always hated my bio – I said this last time – I need to rethink it.
You are, as always a fountain of knowledge. I simply adore this series. I think you should turn it into an ebook after. Especially with all your stories added in to boot :D.
Thank you for being so generous and sharing your knowledge with us all 😀
You just made my day, Sacha! You get my brand!!! Yes, I’m a story-teller. 😀 The buckaroo culture is built on story-telling. I got branding early in my marketing career because I realized that brands told stories and stories offer experiences that create connectivity. But what I’ve always wanted to do is just write stories! It excites me to know that you are connecting with that. Thank you!
Okay! Your questions are valid. As to your website, yes, “D. all of the above.” Your website can be all of that, but what is your primary goal? Why do you have a website? If the answer is, “to write” then think about your output goal — to publish a book? It sounds like that is where you are headed. I’m perceiving that your website is primarily author platform driven. Stick with your pen name and plan a landing page for The Netherworld. If you brand with your book (even a series) what happens when you come out with a new title or series? If you want to build your writing credibility by focusing on posts that relate to process or craft, your pen name works well. And you are doing a good job at that, so keep on going. Your pen name is what gets the visibility and it is the simplest way to build a writer’s platform with a variety of output or multiple goals.
Voice! You have a fabulous voice! I love writers who are extroverts because such writers have a strong voice, thinking out loud on the page. To me as a reader it’s invigorating. I find your short fiction to be fast-paced, edgy, fearless. It makes me keen to read your fiction and I do believe that our fiction reflects our voice. It’s a matter of being aware of our voice and for me it’s an intuitive awareness. As Sarah mentioned, it’s not something that can be taught. It goes back to you being the best person to tell your story. The more we write, the more we recognize our voice. It’s that angst of being told to “be yourself” when you feel like you are struggling with your identity. But that’s part of writing — we explore who we are and what we think and how we perceive and then we put it into stories. As writers we often re-invent ourselves, but really, I think we just become more aware of who we are and how we find meaning.
Consistent. Yep! You’re doing good!
Bios can be hard, but get into practice. Rewrite your bio until you feel good about it. Think of it as your handshake. 🙂
Thank you for your encouragement! I appreciate it!
Glad I made your day 🙂 I have copied your response and will reply by email – along side the other email I havent yet replied too!
Also – didnt see my 99 word flash in the round up this week 🙁 I did post it – promise! Not to worry – will make sure this one is in time 🙂
Argh! My bad! Sorry about that Sacha. My compilation system is perfect; I’m flawed. 🙂
Among the great advice in your post, and further developed in the comments, the thing that had the biggest impact on me is your name! No, no, no! No way are you Annette Marie – that’s a totally different person – though I’m intrigued as to how you picked Charli (always assumed it was Charlotte).
With a first name that sounds like an indefinite article and a middle name which, for various reasons, I prefer not to use, I did consider a couple of years ago giving myself a more interesting name. But I would have wanted the same one across all platforms (i.e. not just for my writing but for real life) and the different elements were never all in the right place at the right time to change it – or perhaps I just chickened out.
I have mixed feelings about my blogging name – I do use it consistently but it’s not the name that will appear on my books and I do think it is/can seem a bit silly though it does link my name to my website.
Charli has been with me since I was a baby and friends picked up on it, so “Annette Marie” became something teachers called me. I’m grateful to a publisher who was once my boss and upon hiring me, wrinkled his nose at my name and asked if I ever went by anything else. He liked Charli and I realized I could bring my nickname to my career and eventually my pen name, though it’s not really a pen name. It’s not my given name but it feels like my real name. Even my bank accepts checks made out to Charli so it’s solid. 🙂
I like the play on your name: Annethology, Annecdotal and Annecdotal. It’s actually a clever brand that ties into your literary credibility, reviews and soon to be released debut. It’s playful yet intellectual. Readers anticipate (ha, ha…or Anneticipate) that you will be an approachable yet knowledgeable person on literature. Since you have it linked to your website name, any google search for “Anne Goodwin” goes directly to your website and posts. When I tried searching for you on Facebook, there are lots of Anne Goodwins in the world! So you have accomplished building a strong brand at your website and finding Annethology or Annecdotal cues me into finding the right Anne Goodwin.
What I’d suggest, though, is renaming your “About Me” page as “About Anne Goodwin.” And tag that page with anticipated search words or phrases that readers might use to seek you out as an author (such as, “anne goodwin sugar and snails” or “anne goodwin inspired quill”).
I have that CD too! Charli Mills, woo hoo! Now I know where I heard your name before 😀 Love it…and as I said before, you are definitely not an Annette…
Oh Charli, I’ve wanted to get over here for ages and at last have managed to do so, phew! Reading your excellent post and all the great comments here has me thinking all over the place once again about my brand and my voice, and once again I thank you so much for your wonderfully validating encouragement in your reply to my previous comment about branding.
I struggled for ages with my ‘About ‘ page and my bios (I have changed my bios so many times but finally got one to about 50 words but still not sure I’m totally happy with them) as I want to be able to get across the message that it was adverse life changes that gave me the shove I finally needed to get me into full time writing, while being able to be home to support my Aspie daughter. About chasing my writing dream to publication for my memoir and beyond. But I still don’t know if I’ve got what I really want to say across…
But although I write about Asperger’s, from my own experiences as a mother of a grown Aspie daughter, and about growing up with an alcoholic father, I didn’t want my blog to be defined by those things. I never wanted to write to garner any measure of sympathy, merely to share my story to encourage others who might be dealing with similar experiences, and my blog isn’t about airing the family’s dirty laundry, nor about blame and recrimination). The only way I can properly write though is to write fearlessly and I didn’t want it to be all about my book.
But as I said before, I can see how a blog with the author’s name as its title is important for when an agent wants to come looking. My domain name is ‘Sherri Matthews’ so anyone looking it up will find ‘A View From My Summerhouse.’ I didn’t know about this when I started blogging. In fact, I knew nothing about blogging or branding I now realise!!!!
In an effort to better explain what this blog is all about, in addition to writing my About page, I also have an ‘About This Blog’ page to explain just what it is I write, but I have struggled with this also. Have I adequately explained what my blog, what my writing, what my voice is all about? I hope so…but would love to know your thoughts!
Writing with our distinct and unique voice is so important. Not to mention authenticity. I don’t know how to write any other way than the way I do, so I hope that my voice is clear and authentic because who I am behind my blog is the same person behind my book and everything else I write. This is me and I know I wear my heart on my sleeve and at first wondered ‘oh, should I be sharing this stuff?’ yet everything I have shared I have felt right about. And it brings us back to timing again doesn’t it?
So much to ask you Charli, thank you so much for this excellently presented and thought-provoking series which is helping me and so many here. Your authentic and powerful voice rings strong and true, helping us as we find a way to settle into our own strength as we write into our truth and learn so much from you in the process. I love how where this journey is taking us…Can’t wait for the next part 🙂
Thanks for owning my CD — now I know who bought the second one, 😉
Our bios give us practice in two things — our professional presentation the the world that we are indeed “writers,” and our exploration of self as writers. Our professional attributes don’t change drastically — it’s education, experience, publication. But we change as we write, especially if we write into our truths because we gain insight. I think you’ve done an excellent job to write that 50 word bio and your About pages reflect who you are and why you write. That interests people. You’ve done well to tell the “story” of both. As I mentioned to Anne, I think re-naming your page “About Sherri Mattews” would provide a stronger connection to readers and will build your name recognition pre-publication of your book.
You definitely have a strong and authentic voice because you do not hold back. When you write fiction, it gives you an edginess that feels real, yet is balanced with heart. I believe that the more we simply practice writing in our own voice, the better our craft is no matter the genre. Some practice on their blogs and some practice in writing daily journals. If only craft is practiced, I think voice can lag. So even letter writing and long comments or written discussions are moments in sharing our voice. The difference between doing so privately and publicly is that with the latter we get feedback. The risk is that we might be hurt by the feedback, but that’s the proverbial “skin-thickening” that anyone has to develop when willing to be vulnerable. And vulnerable writers have a powerful voice. You might like this Brene Brown TedTalk about the power of vulnerability: https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability?language=en
Thank you for your encouragement!
Thanks so much Charli for the ‘About Page’ advice, what a great idea. And also for the link, which I’ll email about. <3
😀 and <3
These miniTeds as I think of your educational posts are very engaging and deeply thought provoking. I have already identified two glaring errors. 1. I am consistent only in being inconsistent in my about page/author pages and my images across platforms and 2. I haven’t given any thought to how I would describe my voice, how I think of it. A year of blogging and one book published and I think I have a better idea about how and what I want to communicate. To date it has been a bit of a scramble, a pot pourri. So there’s a task for this bank holiday weekend; sort out my about (and I’ve noted I should be About Geoff le Pard) and the picture I use with my profiles. Though maybe I should ask if having different pictures matters? For instance on Twitter or FB as opposed to Amazon and Good Reads author pages? What says the brand consultant? The other thinking I have been doing is whether the Tangental tagline is good, bad or irrelevant. I use my own name quite happily (so long as no one calls me Geoffrey… grr – and yes, if you really were called Annette Marie then there was some serious baby swapping going on it the maternity wing; if you’re an Annette then as I said in another context a couple of days ago call me Horace and paint me in sequins). My name is pretty unique which at last is a good thing so hunting for me is quite easy and it seems logical that I should milk that. See: you’re thought provoking. Told you.
Thanks so much for sharing all this.
MiniTeds! I like that! And no sequins, please.
Let’s get to work! 🙂 First of, think of these posts as best practices. My greatest hope is that this can be a series that enlightens writers enough to feel confident in their choices, while recognizing that writing is a process and often one in which we explore, discover and even re-invent ourselves. In that sense, our brands evolve with us. Yes, About GLP on your Tangental blog to reinforce brand (name) recognition.
The first step is recognizing what you do or don’t do. It’s not right or wrong until you can assess why. And if what you do doesn’t fit with why you are doing it, then you know what to change.
Branding builds visibility. The more consistent you can be with your brand across all areas of visibility, the more people will recognize you. Your friends might get bored seeing your same mug shot (and you might get bored with it, too), but if you want to build recognition as an author, the same photo is your anchor to an audience you want to reach. Therefore, think about how you use your social media. Amazon and Goodreads — definitely author branding. Same photo, same bio. G+ — definitely author branding. Google is the number one search engine handling billions of searches a month. What does the Google search engine pull up first and foremost in association with your name? Your G+ profile. Many writers avoid G+ thinking it is another social gathering. Think differently. It’s your most visible brand cornerstone and Google is generous in allowing you to link to everything important to your branding as a writer — your brand (who you are, your story/bio), your credibility (education, profession, experience), your community (similar to FB), and audience (you can list your links to your books, blog and other places where you have been published). This profile is the one you need to work on over the bank holiday. Same author photo as on Amazon and good reads, same bio, link up everything you can because this is also how Google (the search engine) verifies your contributions to content online. You can even link to the compilations (the quarterly Round-ups are on the Congress page) and to your bio under Rough Writers. All this expands your visibility and reinforces your writer’s platform. Take a look at Rachel Thompson’s banner on G+ (https://plus.google.com/+RachelThompson/about) because she has a polished banner that shows off her published books. That might be an idea for you. I think to best fit your brand, you can take a shot of your book in someplace unique to you (a cricket field, by a cake, next to your grand-pond, by your dog, held up by your family, on your desk. etc.). You can use this banner across social media too and change it as you add books. Make it fun and personal, but show off that cover!
So, should you have the same mug shot across all social media? Not necessarily, if you can justify not doing so. If you look at my G+ (https://plus.google.com/+CharliMills/about) you’ll see that have links to 10 other social media profiles. Out of 10, only two have different and changing photos — my personal Facebook profile, and my NaNoWriMo profile. The former is personal and I connect with my community of friends and family. The latter also feels personal to me as it’s linked to my craft in its rawest form. Just my own justifications. That’s what I mean about knowing why. On FB, I’d say no, but on Twitter, I’d have it author branded. But you can decide for yourself.
Bios like synopses are the hardest things for authors to write! Taglines are next. Here’s the thing about yours on Tangental — it’s surprisingly mild. You are so snappy in posts, fiction and comments that the tagline doesn’t fit you. However, I understand the difficulty of trying to define who we are as writers and why we write in a single line. Often it takes several evolutions. Have fun with it — give it a famous GLP twist! And then use that tagline across every media that you define as author visible.
Hope this helps! And have a lovely bankers holiday!
Oh! And your gravatar is one you might consider as having your author shot!
[…] itself. Later we will discuss how to apply the platform to gain greater visibility. Part II and Part III cover the basic foundation for branding. This is who you are as a writer. The next step is to build […]
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