Author as Brand in 2021
I was alerted to the following video, and if you have the time, watch it. Totally agree with Alexa Donne:
The good, the bad, the ugly. I’m going to address them backwards (because, as with my books, I’ll never leave you in a bad place). Oh, and by the way, this will be mostly slanted about those wanting publishers, because if you’re indie, you already know it’s all on you.
- She’s right. Good looking authors may get picked up faster (but you still need a good book). Not fair, but we’ve all been in high school, right? The 4’10” cheerleader always got the basketball players, not me, at 5’9″ and a size 11 shoe. Nothing to be done about it. At least we’re used to it.
- Your platform not only matters, but they don’t just judge by the number of followers – you have to engage. And even if you don’t mind opening up to strangers on the internet, engagement=time. Time you could be writing.
- Marketing departments at publishers are swamped. BIG TIME. There are always too many books, and too few publicists. So, as a new/non-best selling author, you get the Acme brand of marketing: same-old-same-old book bloggers, budget, and tired promo. Who gets all the marketing $? Their headliner author – the #1 NYT bestseller. Who, of course, doesn’t need the promo. Sad and counterintuitive, but there you are.
- We’re in an odd, in-between time in promo. Bookbub ads are BANK and hard to get, and even FB ads aren’t making the splash they used to (and don’t get me started on FB changing the rules again). What will be the next trend? Who knows. I’ve been wracking my brain for something new for six months. Whatever it is, as in Ponzi schemes, those who get in first, reap the rewards (without the prison stint, thank God – though, it could be uninterrupted writing time…)
- You have to be real, but not too real (authentic) on social media. I’m lucky here, because my normal personality is sunny and optimistic, and I tend to middle-of-the-road. If you’re a brigand, raising your sword and wading in on your favorite cause or political views, it can hurt you. And you know the climate right now – if you agree, but agree with the wrong words, or the wrong level of enthusiasm, you can be blackballed, stoned and campaigns started to trash you (looking at you, RWA. Truth is truth-own it). So caution is the safe course of action. BUT how do you stand out if you’re safe? Got me. The only answer here is to preach to your reader-choir. Find your readers, and hang out with them.
- This is one of the few areas you CAN control as an author. If you do your homework and find your readers, you can sell books. And thinking outside the box is essential. For my first book (about professional bull riding) I suggested that I exhibit at the PBR world finals in Vegas. My publisher paid for my table, and I sold some books – and I made a bunch of friends. The cowboy butts were the sprinkles on my happy adventure.
- Once you expect nothing from anyone in the way of marketing help, it saves you a lot of soul-crushing angst, and makes you grateful for any help you do get.
Sorry not to have more conclusions – If I knew the answer, I’d be selling more books myself. But I’m trying. I think it helps to choose the platform you enjoy, and find like-minded people to hang with.
I reached my ‘friend’ limit on Facebook, so I started my own group. Not necessarily to sell books (that’s what my author page is for, though it doesn’t work much, either), but to hang with peeps who would like my fun dorkiness. By the way, check it out, Laura Drake’s Peace, Love and Books. I post what I enjoy: Beauty pics, Snark, Weird stuff, squirrel memes and get-to-know-you questions. People come, not because I’m an author, but because they like what I post. They find me because members share my stuff. It’s grown in less than a year to over a thousand members – not huge, but they’re engaged. When I have a book out or writing news, I shout it from the rooftops there – they already know they like my sincere, funny, oddball voice…maybe they’ll take a chance on my book. It’s not in-your-face promo (which doesn’t work anyway), but guess what? I’m brand building, AND having FUN!
And there’s just not enough of that in marketing, am I right?
Got any wisdom for us? What is working for you?
[…] is all about platform. Nathan Bransford defines what an author platform is, Laura Drake discusses author as brand in 2021, Kacen Callender talks unfair social media expectations publishers throw on authors, and Courtney […]