One of the great challenges for an indie author is dividing time between actual writing and marketing. And I would argue that the same goes for writers who are as yet unpublished. Sometimes, I like to think about giants like Joyce, Fitzgerald and Nabokov. How did those guys do it? Most likely, not at all—or very little. The work spoke for itself. But, hey, we’re talking about us. What are we supposed to do?
If I had to pick one person from history to travel forward in time and demonstrate how it’s done, it would have to be Mark Twain. That guy knew brand, and I’m sure he would do very well using Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. Can you imagine? Here are a few of his most famous quotes. And look—they fit so nicely into 140 characters!
All right, then, I’ll go to hell.
I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.
There are lies, damned lies and statistics.
Truman Capote was another famous author who truly understood brand. How about this tweetable quote:
Fame is only good for one thing—they will cash your check in a small town.
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I’ve met many writers over the years, and I will tell you that most are not comfortable in the spotlight. They are card-carrying introverts who love working behind the scenes, writing great stories which—if they’re lucky—get turned into movies.
If you ask my wife, she will tell you that I am an extrovert. I like being out and about, meeting people and engaging in interesting discussions. That’s just me. But I don’t think I would be comfortable being on the talk show circuit, delivering pithy one-liners in front of a studio audience. I’m better in small groups.
Which leads me to Brand. Many of the more seasoned authors out there know all about this. But there are those like you who are just getting started—who want to understand what it takes to not only write well but market well. As an aside, I haven’t figured it all out yet, but I’m happy to share what I know.
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How about James Patterson? You have only to utter his name, and book titles and scenes play out in your head. Never mind that he has a writer factory churning out books, he definitely gets brand, my friend.
When you do it right, here is what happens. Not only is your name recognizable but the name itself becomes embedded in the culture on a global scale. Kind of like Kleenex. How many people say, “Can you hand me a tissue?” More often it’s, “Have you got a Kleenex?” The same can be said for Xerox and Coke.
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Getting back to authors. When you think of horror, what is the first name that comes to mind? Stephen King, right? Of course. He has spent decades building his brand. His name is synonymous with horror.
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So what does building your brand mean? For me, it’s awareness. I try to be thoughtful about everything I post. I don’t always succeed. But being aware is important because what gets out into the Internet stays forever. So no drunk tweeting, no profanity and no mean-spirited troll attacks on others. A good general rule is to always take the high road.
Linking your digital assets is important as well. There should be a synergy among the various digital destinations you have out there. Make sure your bio and headshot are uniform across the various social media sites.
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Don’t create a Twitter account, leave the default image and expect to get followers. I mean, seriously? Who in the world is going to follow an egg?