Novelists: Stop Trying to Brand Yourself
In a blog discussion about author platform, reader Carol commented: “What challenges me is creating my brand. I write contemporary women’s fiction. Branding seems easier with non-fiction where you’re an expert on something. How do you do that with fiction?”
Carol and other novelists: I advise you to STOP thinking about branding. If you’re blogging and using social networking to try and build a platform — no matter where you are in your writing career, you should instead:
Focus on identifying your target audience.
Who are you writing books for? Identify ONE PERSON in your life who represents your audience in terms of age, gender, lifestyle. Blog for her. Create Tweets or Facebook posts that would interest her. That’s how you’ll develop a following.
As a novelist, you’ll never develop your brand by thinking about a “brand.” Your brand is not a cute tagline or something you create.
As a novelist, your brand is your name and your genre.
Name and genre. What’s John Grisham’s brand? Legal thrillers. Jodi Picoult’s brand? Realistic women’s fiction. Tom Clancy’s brand? Espionage, military and techno thrillers.
Here’s the weird thing: If you’re using social media (blogging, Facebook, etc.) to build a “platform” or a following, I advise you to focus on who your audience is, not on what your brand is.
To take this one step further, let me remind all novelists:
Your book is much more important than your platform.*
(*Exception for people named Snookie.)
The requirements for platform are much, much more crucial for non-fiction authors. With fiction (I can’t say this enough times!) we want a great book. Just like readers want a great book! It’s much more important for you to work on writing craft than spend time trying to attract Facebook fans or blog readers.
Yes, we talk about platform a lot. But remember, most of us deal with both fiction and non-fiction. Additionally, we’re talking about platform for our fiction authors who have book contracts with publishers.
Once you have a publisher, the need to build some kind of following (platform) increases. Publishers want to see that you’re shouldering some of the marketing responsibility, and this means reaching out in ways that complement the marketing and PR the publisher is doing.
Unpublished novelists, remember these two main points:
1. Your brand is your genre, so don’t spend any time trying to brand yourself.
2. Your book is more important than your platform, so spend most of your time getting better and better as a writer.