The Weight of The Brand

I’ve been kicking around a post on branding, and how it’s affected me, but the draft I thought I’d saved is not there. This post isn’t flowing the way I’d like, but I’d better get it down before I forget the gist of what I want to say.

ANYway…

Not too long ago, I told a sorority sister on Facebook that she had built a brand without even realizing it, and that she needed to utilize this brand as she moved forward with writing and publishing her inspirational book. By virtue of her Facebook statues, she had created an association between her faith in God, the sorority, and her strong family ties.

Just the other day, I heard the COO of a nonprofit speak on branding , and how it was important for people to develop their personal brand. As an author,especially a self-published one, I see how true that is.

Branding goes beyond appearance. By dint of the nature of the job, most authors are pretty reclusive. We aren’t identified by what we wear (unless we look a hot mess at public book signings, in which case we will be known as “that author who can’t dress him/herself”), and prefer to be identified by what we write. Most authors who have come into their own have a signature style of writing, and avid readers can usually identify said writer (or a clone) just by reading a few passages. Few of us authors, however, give a lot of thought to how we are perceived overall. This is crucial for self-published authors to do.

We are in an increasingly visual society. It’s not enough anymore to write a good product. Now, more than ever, we need eye-catching book covers, thumbnails suitable for attachment in social media, a significant internet presence. Video is even becoming a must-have for some pages. The transparency afforded by social media means that authors can only be reclusive to a certain extent. Readers want to see you, hear you, know who you are before they pick up your book.

So who are you? What do you want the world to think when they hear your name, your publishing company, see your face? It’s sad to say but once you have put yourself out there as a public figure, EVERYTHING you say can and will be used against you. This is doubly true for current local and world events. While readers primarily pick up your book for entertainment (if you are a fiction writer), or edification on a specific subject (if you are a nonfiction writer), they will be paying attention if you are seen to take a stand (or not) on something other than publishing-related issues (e.g. Amazon/Hatchette). I’ve found that even on my personal Facebook page, I have tempered my normal “I say what I want, it’s my page” speech laissez-faire. Yes, most of the people on my personal page are friends and acquaintances, but they are also readers, and readers talk to other readers. And, on the business end of publishing, my job at the end of the day is to sell books. While I will not curtail my sentiments for the sake of selling a book, I can temper the way I say them. I do this with the understanding that some people will or will not read my books for whatever reason, regardless of what comes out of my mouth/keyboard. Still, for those who are willing to purchase my books, there is no need for me to deliberately antagonize them. In contrast, I keep my public fan page clean, as well as my “formal” FB account.

Sometimes I’m not sure if it’s maturity, wisdom, or business sense that makes me pause at the keyboard. I do know that it can become wearying to self-censor. However, that’s the price to be paid for entering the public arena.

Thanks for stopping by.

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