This is a guest blog post from Danielle Barthell. Following her completion of the Denver Publishing Institute after graduation, Danielle began interning at Writers House. While there, she realized she wanted to put her English degree and love of the written word to work at a literary agency. She worked as a full-time assistant for three years, and continues to help keep the New Leaf offices running smoothly in her role of Coordinator of Team and Client Services. Follow Danielle @debarthel
In today’s market, more and more publishers and agents are asking their authors, “What is your brand?” in terms of marketing and publicity. But what exactly does that mean, and how does branding help your career? Determining your brand gives you the chance to convey your style and career goals in just a few words, phrases, or images. It’s the perfect way to tip off your audience as to how you want to be seen in the literary realm, without giving them paragraphs of explanation. My colleagues and I at New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc. are constantly thinking about this for our authors; here are five of the important points that will hopefully help clarify this topic a bit for you.
1. When considering what you want your brand to be, choose four to five words that describe what you want people to relate to your name/books. “Fantasy,” “contemporary,” “strong heroine,” “unique world-building.” What words are important for readers to associate with you? The more specific you are, the better—these words will be used throughout your career to build your brand.
2. Think about your long term professional goals. When you’re just starting out, you’ve got a blank slate—where do you want to go? While things might change as your career progresses, having a place to start will make it easier to get there. So consider five, or even ten years ahead. What do you see yourself doing?
3. What authors do you emulate, or would you like to emulate? Choose three or four and really think about what makes their styles important enough to you to duplicate. Do you like a particular author’s writing style? Their social media engagement? Their publicity events? What things do you like, and how can you make them your own?
4. Speaking of social media, there is a great tool available through Twitter that will help judge what is and isn’t working in terms of building your platform (another key term in today’s publicity marketplace). It’s called Twitter analytics, and it’s a great tool to use to figure out what your strengths are and what could use some improvement (https://analytics.twitter.com/about). Try it for a few weeks to get a good picture, and see what you want to do more/less of.
5. And last, but not least, having a great website or blog is vital to your brand. Decide how much you’re going to use it (ie. Will you be updating a blog multiple times a week with new posts you’ve created? Do you prefer the tumblr platform that is less text heavy, but still requires daily updates?). You can also of course have a basic website that lists your books, events, author details, etc. and this will require very little maintenance. Basically, choose what works best for you, and commit to keeping it current and clean.
Hopefully branding, and its importance, are a little clearer now. Go forth and brand!