Last month I shared about my plans to rebrand myself as an author. This month I started putting the plan into action. Excuse me while I pause for a little childish whining…this is hard.
Now I’m back to my adult self. No one who has gone through the rebranding process said it would be easy. It’s more like masochism. How is it possible to derive pleasure from such a challenging process? But it’s exciting seeing the changes come to life.
I have another business and had the opportunity to work with a consultant and was shocked at what I learned about my business. I’ve been an entrepreneur for quite a while. I thought I knew my business, but in the back of my mind I always felt I could be doing more…doing better. So when the opportunity arose to work with a consultant, I jumped at it.
I thought I had my stuff together, but after the first meeting, I realized I didn’t know crap about my business. When she asked me “Who my customer was?” I gave my answer. Only to discover, it was too broad. I thought my website was amazing, after all, the site host, family and friends, all said it was great. They were sincere in their compliment. However, the reality was, my social media was a mess [Thank God Elena Dillion helped me with my Pinterest page before my first meeting, giving me one brownie point with the consultant]. There was a mix of styles. The colors and graphics were all over the place. My business profile had no cohesion.
When I completed the process with the consultant, my business had a definite brand. So when I listened to the RAM speakers talk about rebranding, I understood because I’d just gone through it with my other business. However, this was a little more difficult because the product that needed a new look was something I created. Something I needed to take a hard look at.
As writers we are very creative, but sometimes we’re not as objective to the marketing process as we need to be. I’m not saying you have to design your own covers and graphics. You do however, need to know what the trends are in your category and most importantly, you need to know who your reader is. And make the necessary changes no matter how painful it is.
I write Contemporary Romance with African American Romance as my secondary category. The books in these categories are similar. I looked at the also boughts for the titles I wanted to change and came up with designs I liked. The commonality for both categories was shirtless men or couples. My two most downloaded books have shirtless men wherever possible or a hot couple. Of course there’s an exception to every rule. For me that rule is having a woman on the cover. My third most downloaded book, has a woman on the cover.
My cover design plan included shirtless men, couples, bold fonts and eye catching blurbs.
I’m using stock images right now. I would love to use exclusive images on some of the books, but I first want to see what the reaction is going to be. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with stock images. However, if you can afford to use an exclusive image, do it. Most exclusive images give you a little more latitude in use. If an exclusive image isn’t an option and you can’t find anything you like with one of the stock image sites, there are several free sites with nice images. Some of the free image sites allow for a little more flexibility in use. I’ve used www.unsplash.com and www.pexels.com .
I have been in the creative lab and wanted to share some of the new covers. [These are all stock images from Deposit photos.] I have a little tweaking to do before making these live.
THE FIX UP…
I like the original cover, unfortunately, after a couple of years, the bloom is off the rose. The new cover was originally A Southern Gentleman Vol 2. The new image felt more in tune with the character.
I like the image, but the font is horrible. I’m pretty sure the poor font choice is why this book isn’t moving as well as it should. I opted not to change the image because I might want a new look when I release book two and what a cohesive look.
FIRST ENCOUNTERS OF LOVE…
This was my first boxset. It does fair. However, the image is similar to another one which does well. You’d think this would benefit. However, I think the other image confuses people or makes them think they already bought the box set. I’m going to try something I’ve never done before, a couple. I know the shirtless man does well, I’m hoping the couple does just as well.
Before I finalize a cover, I ask my reader group for feedback and then run test ads on BookBub and Facebook. The one with the best results is the winner.
My plan is to start releasing the new covers this month.
Next month, I’ll share all of the updated covers and talk about my production schedule.
To Blog or Not To Blog? That is one question every writer must ponder.
I have a love/hate relationship with blogging. It’s not that I mind doing it, but I resent the time involved that takes me away from writing, and I’m not sure blogging has been worth my while. What I am sure is that I haven’t gone about it in a very systematic or effective way, though I try.
My big project for this year is to launch a new website and blog combining both of my writing names into one site, for easier maintenance. In the meantime, I’m still learning as much as I can about author branding, platforms and the use of blogs.
In January, I read Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World by Kristen Lamb, the well-known blogger and social media maven. The first chapter, The Changing Paradigm, was fascinating. She talks a lot about technological change in general, often quoting from Neil Postman, author of several books, including Technopoly. His contention was that technological change isn’t “addictive or subtractive but ecological”. Advances in technology change everything, including the way humans think, certainly changes the way we talk and write. Hashtags, emoticons, text speak… You all know what I’m talking about, like the changes or not.
Lamb is a big proponent of blogging, and while I value her advice, I’m not sure I can manage to do everything she recommends. But after reading her book, I think I have a better notion of what to do and, perhaps more importantly, what not to do. Some of her advice includes:
Be present on social media, at least some of the time; don’t automate everything.
Your name is your brand; use it in some version. Don’t tweet with a silly handle that no one will recognize.
Be careful what you share, esp. where politics and religion are concerned.
I wish her book had been available eight years ago when I started blogging, but as Kitty Bucholtz said in her time management class, it’s never too late to hit the Restart button. I’m hoping to do better when I get the new, better blog later this year, and I’d love to take a branding class from her some day.
In the meantime I have finally joined Triberr, the “Home of Influencers.” If you’re not familiar with Triberr, it’s a blog amplifier. Bloggers ban together in tribes and tweet each other’s blog posts, giving everyone an enhanced range. Since I joined, my blogs are getting tweeted more often, my page stats have shot up, and I’ve picked up new followers at Twitter. I’m still not getting a lot of comments, but I think that’s somewhat normal. Unless there’s a giveaway or a controversy, people are not inclined to comment a lot, esp. where the dreaded Capcha is involved. Personally, I hate those things. So does Kristen Lamb.
So to blog or not to blog? What is your answer. Leave a comment if you can get past the Capcha!
And if social media generally has you befuddled, OCC’s own Elena Dillon will be teaching an online class on Social Media for the Confused and Terrified from April 14 â€“ May 11, 2014. I’m not terrified, but I often find myself confused, so I’ll be taking the class.
Linda McLaughlin / Lyndi Lamont
While most everyone else was getting ready for this week’s RWA Conference in Atlanta, I went to camp instead. Well, MFRW (Marketing For Romance Writers) online Summer Camp.
If you’re not familiar with MFRW, I recommend checking it out. We have a dynamic group of writers led by the amazing Kayelle Allen, and ably assisted by Paloma Beck, Karen Cote, Kristyn Phipps, OCC’s own Monica Stoner, and a host of other generous volunteers. I’ve learned a lot from reading the MFRW Digests that come into my inbox.
At camp, I focused mostly on the social media classes, since I’ve been taking baby steps into that arena for over a year now. One of the classes was Buffer for the Hard-Pressed Writer, taught by Kristyn Phipps. I’ve had a Twitter account for over a year now, but hadn’t gone so far as to sign up for HootSuite or TweetDeck to manage my tweets, though there were times when I wished I had a way to space them out more. So I figured why not give Buffer a try, esp. since it’s also available as a smart phone app. It seemed like a good solution: a simple app that lets a user schedule tweets and FaceBook shares for release at specified times of the day.
You can sign in using your Twitter or Facebook account, then add a Buffer email and password. You have to authorize Buffer to access your Twitter, FB, Linked In or App.net account.
Buffer also has a section called Analytics that shows you the number of times someone Retweets, Favorites, Mentions, or Clicks your message and the Potential number of users that could be reached.
The Buffer staff is good at answering question via Twitter and the app will also email you to let you know when your buffer is empty. I haven’t had much time to play with it yet, but expect it will be quite useful.
Have you ever tried Buffer, and if so, what was your impression? Or do you use a different program to schedule your social media?
To those who are traveling to Atlanta, be safe and have a wonderful conference!
What is the price of justice?More info →
Catch Starthorne has spent a lifetime running from the prophecy that names him as the one who will save the shifter race, but now that he has returned to his home in Clawcrags, he may have to face his destiny.More info →
One Ex-Intelligence Official's Journey through Slums, Prisons, and Leper Colonies to the Heart of Latin AmericaMore info →