At the Edinburgh conference, one of the discussions was the use of the ‘author brand’ as an important part of the marketing toolset. The way it goes is that the author brand – the portion of the author’s life that they make public – is what readers / fans focus on. That’s how they become fans (or maybe the term is superfans) and thus, ardent supporters of the author.
It’s a larger than life thing. Like Hemingway & Thompson, like Neil Gaiman to a smaller extent (seriously – can you find a photo of Gaiman in the ’90s that’s NOT in black?).
I started writing / considering this due to two recent friends of mine again. One was L.A. Batt, a writer in the anthology who put together a press release and sent it out to his local papers.
He got covered in his local paper with a big article, picture and discussion about his work. How cool is that?
And on top of that, we’ve got my friend A.G. Marshall who had this really cool post:
Perfect marketing for her romance readers, a way to connect with them while poking fun at herself a little.
And then there’s me
There’s no photo of me in any of my professional publications. My personal Facebook page is locked down and I keep the vast, vast majority of my fans out. I try not to discuss too much of my personal life in public.
Call it partial paranoia. A large dose of shyness and hmmm… insecurity? I come from that generation that grew up in the early 1980’s, where we got to see both sides of everything – a world without the Internet and the one that came after. I’m still a little leery about public information going out, knowing that it sticks around forever.
Anyway… that’s not the point of the marketing discussion… but I did want to note that I’m almost the opposite of that. So… why?
Consistency and Expectations
There’s other reasons though, on why I stick away from building a personal author brand (or, put it another way, an author brand that involves my face; because all these posts do create a bit of a ‘brand’ effect too. Which is worth noting – everything you do, all those posts you make / all the marketing / blurbs / etc is part of the brand ).
Firstly, Scif & Fantasy doesn’t require you to be that upfront (unlike, say romance). Secondly, there’s the issue of consistency.
If part of the marketing plan, the brand you are creating, the reason people follow you is because of you. You can’t afford to stop – to step aside and disappear for a bit. Well, you can – but there’s going to be a drop in sales/etc. You have to be consistent, like with any other marketing tool.
That expectation of a personal connection, to me, is a lot of work and one that I have no desire to partake in. So I don’t. But on top of that, it’s partly to guide the narrative.
I want people to follow me for the books I write. The series. My ‘voice’ if you will, rather than the personal connection they create. So, stepping back, being mostly a ghost works for me.
There’s a negative to this – and one that I’ll eventually have to get over – in that, as I go out and do things like panels or meet fans, that’s going to go away to some extent. But, so long as the vast majority of what people see are the books, that should be the vast majority of the ‘concern’. Or at least, I hope so.
But… that’s my own thoughts there. Personal brand marketing is one of those things I’m not not very experienced or knowledgeable about.
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