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Platform: Branding by the Back Door

By Anne Goodwin

If there’s a demographic for the brand averse, I’m it. As a Brit of the baby-boomer generation, I’ve grown up in a culture that wrinkles its nose at any hint of self-promotion. I’ve felt personally affronted by the privatisation of public services, where passengers become customers and I daren’t even comment on the weather to the person delivering the latest batch of books to my door because, if they don’t complete their around in record time, the contract will go to another company. I’ve been professionally offended by the repeated rebranding of the NHS, leaching funds from patient care into headed paper and signage. Now retired, I’m still affected, as a volunteer for the national park, which has swapped its logo of a millstone with a circular hole in the middle to one with a square, and I’m expected to tramp the moors as a walking advertisement for the outdoor clothing company that’s our current sponsor. And yet.

And yet I’m a writer with small-press published books to promote. I understand an author needs a brand. But because I’m ambivalent, I approach it haphazardly, swinging between living with fingers-in-the-ears indifference to frantic clamouring to board the latest bandwagon – sometimes latest in the sense of newest, sometimes in a sense, it’s already left town – the blogosphere’s been hectoring me about.

And yet, as Charli has so kindly pointed out, I do have a brand. It might not shine and shout as strongly as some brands, I might struggle and blush to articulate it succinctly, but it does exist. And I’ve created it, both consciously and unconsciously, through being me, with all my clumsiness and contradictions. Committed branders should look elsewhere but, for the confused and reluctant, here are a few things I’ve learned.

You can develop your brand at your own pace. I set up my website almost ten years ago and didn’t begin blogging until it was starting to go out of fashion. In my back-to-front way, I joined Twitter a few months later, quaking in my bedroom slippers. Yet I’ve got somewhere.

Something is better than nothing, and you can’t do it all. Yay, you don’t have to be perfect! How many times a day do you have to remind yourself of that? Working meticulously through some version of ten-steps-to-branding might be the most efficient, but if that’s not you, don’t worry. But don’t let it stop you from doing the teeny-tiny bit you can do. Every little bit helps.

You don’t need a personality transplant, and you don’t need to sell your soul. Charli’s expertise in marketing for a non-profit organisation has helped me to see that a brand needn’t espouse the nastier tenets of late capitalism to thrive. Cooperation, compassion, and integrity can be part of a brand; Carrot Ranch providing the perfect object lesson in how these values translate into practice. You can choose how much of your everyday persona goes into your author brand, but you don’t have to pretend to be someone you’re not. While confidence and eloquence are attractive, brashness can be off-putting, and even shrinking violets can sell their books.

Don’t sweat over how others do it. Shall I compare me to a better brander? Alas, there are myriad opportunities for seeing how we fall short. But, when everyone’s circumstances are different, isn’t this like comparing apples and oranges? Notice others’ success in order to celebrate with them, or learn from them, but turn away if it makes your own achievements seem shabby or small. Just because I’m better at giving this advice than following it doesn’t make it any less valid.

Are you a reluctant brander? What strategies have worked for you?

Rough Writer Anne Goodwin’s author brand encompasses grey hair and perhaps the only English accent Americans don’t find cute. Her writing explores identity, marginalisation, mental health, psychology, and attachment. She also has a pronounced intolerance for dodgy fictional therapists.

Her debut novel, Sugar and Snails, about a woman who has kept her past identity a secret for thirty years, was shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize. Her second novel, Underneath, about a man who seeks to resolve a relationship crisis by keeping a woman captive in a cellar, was published in May 2017. Anne is also a book blogger and author of over 80 published short stories. Her short story anthology, Becoming Someone, will be published in November 2018. Catch up on her website: annethology http://annegoodwin.weebly.com/ or on Twitter @Annecdotist.

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Platform is a guest blog to discuss ideas or share tips for building and marketing a writer’s platform.

Platform: Branding Yourself as a Writer

Article by Ruchira Khanna, a member of the Congress of Rough Writers.

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Branding!

It’s everywhere.

Rolex, Nestle, Audi, Coach, Tommy Filger, Hanes, Revlon, Prada, Bentley, GE, Kenmore, Maytag, Toyota, Mercedes, and the list goes on…

In fact, companies decide on a product, a brand logo and then go on about manufacturing their product. Such is the importance of a name and logo.

As a manufacturer, a brand is a window for him to peep outside and get noticed by consumers as he advertises his product on his website or a social media outlet, such as Facebook and LinkedIn.

Branding just doesn’t happen; it has to be thought about and well planned since ultimately that’s how the consumers will picture you.

Some useful advantages for having a brand are:

  • It helps give you a platform for ease, reliability and a recognition of what you stand for once you vouch for it, with ardor and passion.
  • Branding can put you in the limelight by setting you apart from the crowd that has that same product. You are given a stage where you can continue to exhibit your passion to thousands or millions of like-minded people who agree with the formation of your goods created.
  • Your brand once showcased well, can bring like-minded people together who would love to use your product, thus broadening your consumership.
  • Depending on your brand and the inspiration it can draw to your buyers. It can help motivate them and assist them to reach out high goals in their lives via the incentive of your A-rated product.
  • If your brand has been able to create a good and loyal consumership, chances are they will recommend your work to others while you just continue to be in the production line.
  • A strong brand will give a vision to the users on what to expect while easing the stress of the brand owner as he/she has been able to reproduce it with each production.
  • If you stick to your brand. If you are loyal to your brand, chances are your consumers will also be loyal to you!
  • This is your brand and your promise that you keep production after production. Thus, keeping your promise to your customers.
  • Creating a brand not only helps create loyal consumers, but also helps the producer to stay focused on his/her goal of creating best product to sustain the reputation of the brand name.
  • Once your feet are soaked in your brand, it will help you connect with your consumers on all levels as they have gotten used to using your name.

Aha! The importance of branding.

It helps differentiate the goods and services from other sellers while clearly delivering the message while confirming your credibility thus, creating user loyalty over time as your solid brand is motivating buyers to purchase the product.

This same fundamental applies to a serious writer who wants to succeed: branding himself to get recognition and be able to eventually sell books.

A writer has to analyze his write-ups and the subjects he is passionate to write about. He has to ponder over the kind of stories he likes to tell, narrate or serve to his readers. Eventually, that will help him attract the kind of readers that love to read such topics.

Typically genre comes first, and branding follows that. The brand has to exist within the genre the writer pens his words.

Some examples could be: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle a writer of a fictional genre, but it revolves around detective/mystery. He gave birth to Sherlock Holmes in his write ups that are still looked upon. Could brand this author as a “The detective writer.”

Nora Roberts published her first book in 1981, and since then she has not turned back. Thanks to her 594K followers she has been nicknamed by The New Yorker as, ” America’s favorite novelist.”

Although she would be branded under, “The romance writer.”

As a writer/author decides upon the theme of his book before penning it down. Have a certain topic in mind prior to penciling it down. Frame your characters and plot if planning to write fiction or a subject relevant to the theme if working on non-fiction. Climb the ladder gradually of plotting and scheming as you cling onto the topic of the book. Towards the end when you have published that work, you will be representing that particular brand.

For instance: “The ——– writer.”

The dash could fill in romantic, mysterious, inspirational, dramatic, comic, lover of life, etc.

After branding yourself; making your own website and showcase your brand by publicizing over the media.

“The adventurous writer” will be easily remembered and when searched upon, like-minded readers will be able to connect the dots via the author/writer’s website, and that would result in clicks on your book links, and voila! you have readers craving for that brand by following it with as much passion as you the writer continues to pen down words fervently.

Once a name has been established thanks to the various social media outlets, with a respectable number of readership; the chances are that along with the readers, a literary agent, and a reputed publishing house could also get drawn to your charismatic brand name.

Aha! The journey that unfolds when a writer decides upon a particular brand name! No doubt there is sweat, dedication, passion and lots of marketing involved from the writer/author.

But, in the end, it is all worth it!

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Ruchira Khanna is just another soul trying to make a difference in this lifetime by juggling between her passion and responsibilities. A Biochemist turned Writer who draws inspiration from various sources and tries to pen them down to create awareness within her and the society. She’s the author of Choices, Voyagers into the Unknown, and a children’s book, The Mystery of the Missing Iguana. Ruchira has published her latest fiction-drama novel titled, Breathing Two Worlds available on amazon world-wide.

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Platform is a series that discusses the balance between craft and creation. It’s a writer’s sum total of visibility comprised of branding, community, credibility and target audience. An author markets product (books, blog, podcasts, workshops) from a platform. This series offers tips from experienced authors, publishers and marketers specific to all writers interested in building a platform and selling books and related products. If you have an article to share with the community of writers at Carrot Ranch, pitch to Charli Mills, Lead Buckaroo, at wordsforpeople@gmail.com.