Since May is all about Star Wars, I thought I’d start with a famous Yoda quote and apply it to a building your brand message:
“Do or Do Not, There is no Try”Yoda
How does this apply to your author platform?
And sometimes this fear prevents us from doing anything about it.
But that’s exactly what I want to encourage you to do. Do something! Don’t just say you will try. And know, whatever you do, it doesn’t have to be 100% perfect. It’s most important for you to do.
Yes, I know, all the different variables to building your author brand can be stressful. But keep in mind, I’ve seen several small businesses evolve and grow in their online presence. It has opened my eyes to the fact that they did not get to their current place overnight. There’s not a magic switch that turns on everything perfectly. Most sites have evolved over time, trying things that work and don’t work and making adjustments as they work out the kinks.
Our author websites and social media are just like this.
That’s what happened with my Marketing for Authors newsletter. I saw a graphic I liked and wanted to make it into the brand for Marketing for Authors. But no matter what I did, it wasn’t working the way I pictured it. And so I put off sending out my newsletter, or doing anything else for that matter. Not very business-minded, was it? So, I too am right in the thick of it, challenging myself with starting over and moving forward.
I’ve since chosen a simple design (thanks Canva!) and color scheme that I can incorporate into my training materials easily. And if I need to change some things as I go, I’m okay with that.
Here’s my new logo.
What do you think?
I’m super excited about it. I didn’t overthink it like I usually do, and I can incorporate the colors into my training materials. The only issue is when I print it on my home printer, the color comes out a little more blue than what it looks like on the screen. Since most of my stuff will be digital anyway, I’m moving forward with it. And boy does that feel freeing.
I understand how much establishing brand and building content is complicated and time-consuming. That’s where I want to help you in figuring out what works and to offer encouragement.
For myself, I’ve written my first newsletter and I’m ready to send it out (you can sign up for my free newsletter here). I’m also preparing to teach my first online class and give my first zoom interview. I’m trying not to over think things, but just take baby steps, one step at a time.
I hope to encourage you in the same way.
If interested in learning more about brand and SEO, take a look at some of my past posts:
Or you can visit my website by clicking on the button below.
Do I need a pseudonym to write fiction?
No, you don’t need a pseudonym to write fiction unless you write hard core erotica and you don’t want your mom to know. I used a pseudonym twice in my 30 year career. The first time I was writing for Harlequin and they contractually owned an author’s name. That meant if I wanted to write for anyone else I would have to leave the name–and any consumer base that had accrued to that name–behind. The second time was when I wrote my first legal thriller. The men were big back then–Grisham, Turow–and the publisher wanted readers to assume I was a man. I went by my last name but initials for my first. There was no ‘about the author’ in those books and the whole thing felt very odd. In this day and age when building a brand is your sole responsibility, own your name and build a loyal readership around it.
Traditionally, publishing under an assumed name was a useful tactic when a writer crossed genres. A non-fiction author whose brand is based on expertise in hunting edible fungi would want to use a pseudonym to publish a steamy romance. A fresh identity to woo a new readership avoids any confusion, possibly even irritation from those readers whose expectations would not be met. A reader who gets a lusty countess when they’re expecting a description of the spotted Nigerian toadstool will not be a repeat reader.
Fiction writers often use pseudonyms to switch between fiction genres. Robert Galbraith jumps (beautifully, I might add) between wizards and detective fiction. Harry Potter fans are diehards so it was wise for J.K. Rowling to present her new detective fiction under a pseudonym. Otherwise fans might have cast a withering spell when their expectations were squashed. Cormoran Strike solving crime was a big step off brand from Harry Potter.
It wasn’t long before the public learned that Galbraith was J.K. Rowling—with a brand that strong anything she writes would be impossible to hide, and why hide it. With her pseudonym public knowledge readers knew what to expect. Rowling’s brand remains intact and Galbraith’s work took off with a new readership. Impossible to say how many of those new readers were enticed simply by the author’s name, but the work stands solidly on it’s own merits now.
Your brand may not be as mighty as Rowling’s but it is as important to your success. No reason not to use a pseudonym to publish your fiction and no reason not to be completely open about it. Supplement the marketing of the fiction by using your existing fan base and marketing tools to launch this new facet of your career. Share the pseudonym on your twitter feed, tout the cover on your pinterest posts, introduce the new personae and the new fiction on your blog. If both your established name and your nom de plume are connected to your brand then fans can seek out whichever genre fits their reading expectations. And your brand is strengthened.
From a branding perspective, maybe you do need a pen name to write fiction. Here are some questions you might ask yourself…if any of your answers are yes, lean toward a pen name.
Ask: Is my own name too difficult to say, spell, or remember? Does my own name confuse readers with other authors or commercial brands? Does the subject matter or the chosen genre of my fiction conflict with the character of the other brands that I am building? Do I have a plan to manage the transparency required to promote a pen name?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, explore the pen name option with enthusiasm and care. Remember: You are the brand. The books you write are products of the brand. No matter what you do, you must be able to represent your brand and your products with authenticity and with transparency.
I once advised a mystery-writing dentist to use a pen name because his novel was filled with graphic violence and hot sex scenes. His novel directly conflicted with the business brand for his successful dental practice which was built upon his real name. The novel he had written revealed a side of the mild- mannered doctor that the public did not know and frankly might have been shocked to meet. In that instance, using a pen name separated the dentist from the writer so that both could be promoted to proper audiences. A pen name provided some distance between his dental business and his writing business. A plan for transparency was built from the start so that he could be honest and open if patients realized that their beloved doctor was also that wild novelist.
Similarly, you might want to consider a pen name if you are writing fiction in genres that conflict with each other. The motivating idea would be to help the reader know and trust the brand name when they search for your work. The bridge between who you really are and your pen name better be built from the start or it could become problematic unexpectedly with one Did you know social media post.
H.O. is missing again this month. We suspect a long long holiday is to blame.
I see many of you on Twitter and Facebook. I’ve been enjoying meeting even more of you on A Slice of Orange Daily, created by our very own Blog Mistress, Marianne Donley. I even see a few of you on LinkedIn.
Where are my OCC peeps conspicuously absent?
It’s pretty rare for me to see more than a few OCC’ers in my hashtag chats, with the possible exception of #myWANA. Either you’re hanging out somewhere else (that you’ll hopefully mention in the comments section) or you’re not using Twitter as fully as you could be.
Note: If you’re scratching your head over this hashtag business, please read this post on what Twitter hashtags are and why we need them.
OCC authors are very in-the-know about the changes sweeping through the publishing industry. I am so thankful to belong to a chapter with such amazing resources, and so many generous authors. We’re lucky to be on the cutting edge of this upheaval, so I’ll skip over that part since you all are pretty up to date.
If you don’t feel “up to date” and want to read more about the changing state of publishing, it’s hard to find a better resource than Kristine Kathryn Rusch and her publishing industry blogs.
This brave new world of publishing demands that an author build a brand.
What does that mean exactly? Simply put, your brand is the picture that pops into peopleâ€™s mind when they hear your name.
For established authors, this picture is usually tied to one (or many) of your books. For the new or unpublished author, you need to get started on forming that picture in people’s mind as soon as possible. Participation in social media is one of the easiest ways to do this.
For more detailed information on branding, here are some of the best blogs Iâ€™ve found on the subject from people who say it far better than I do.
Particularly now that so many authors are going the Indie route with smaller independent publishers or even venturing into self-publishing for their first book, author branding is no longer a â€œnice to have.â€
Read the posts above and take a look at these two books: Kristen Lambâ€™s We Are Not Alone: A Writerâ€™s Guide to Social Media, and Bob Mayerâ€™s Warrior Writer. They will put you light years ahead of where you would have gotten on your own.
My personal observation is that people are seeking authentic connections and that, by branding themselves, an author is opening themselves up for connecting.
In my own experience on Twitter and both of my blogs, your Followers and your Tweeps become your friends. We spend time with these people, whether itâ€™s chatting on Facebook, having a Worldwide Book Launch Party or sharing Sunday morning coffee.
Seemingly disparate people throughout the world are connecting through social media and enjoying the hell out of each other. Itâ€™s a beautiful thing.
Perhaps you donâ€™t know where people are gathering on Twitter.
Fret no moreâ€¦hereâ€™s the list of where my Tweeps and I hang out. This is your invitation to hang out with us. If you are hanging out somewhere else online, we want to know where that is!
Note: If Iâ€™ve missed any really cool hashtags, please let me know in the comments.
#myWANA â€“ This love revolution started on Kristen Lambâ€™s blog (WANA stands for We Are Not Aloneâ€¦Iâ€™ve linked to the book above)
#weWRITE â€“ Hashtag started by Anna DeStefano and Jenni Talty based on their How We Write Wednesday Series. Note: There are no links allowed in this group â€“ conversation on writing onlyâ€¦youâ€™ll have to post your links elsewhere.
#PubWrite â€“ these tweeps enjoy writing, sharing ideas and frustrations, and the occasional adult beverage.
#amwriting â€“ writers from everywhere hang out here and encourage each other as they write. If this is your hangout, you might also enjoy http://amwriting.org/.
#amediting â€“ writers from everywhere hang out here and encourage each other as they edit their works-in-progress.
#wordmongering â€“ writers do timed sprints of 30 mins at :00 and/or :30 every hour. This is fun 24/7 and participants say they get so much writing done.
#Row80 â€“ Hashtag started by Kait Nolan that Iâ€™m participating in. This is a writing challenge that lasts 80 days and requires that you publicly post your goal. For more details go here.
#nanowrimo – When November rolls around, the agony and the ecstacy of National Novel Writing Month can be found here. (Until then, we have Row80!)
What about you? Where do you commune with people on Twitter or Facebook (and why)? Are there groups of writers that you recommend above all others? Please share your discoveries with the rest of us!
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