Dear Author, you are your brand….
I hope that the following blog post does not anger or upset authors. I would think that any that are angered would likely be those that need to take this information to heart more than anyone. So, dear author, please open your hearts, your mind, and release any ego that you might be holding on for the moment, and just listen to words from your readers.
I will also preface this by saying numerous readers have mentioned some of the below things to me on multiple occasions, so it’s not just the rambling thoughts of one slightly opinionated reader.
YOU ARE YOUR BRAND.
Plain and simple. That can mean so many things, and to authors, it can also mean different things. However, sit back and think about what it is you want to convey to your readers. Is that really what is being conveyed?
Someone recently sent me a FB post that an author put up (this is NOT an author I know) where she said: “I’m just gonna buy copies of all my books, keep one of each, and give the rest to friends and family to remember me by when I’m gone. Then I’m gonna pull all my publications from the market, because no one else cares to read my stuff anyway…”
Now, it could be said that this author really has decided to pull herself from the market completely. But as a reader, how would you feel if you saw that? Would you feel compelled to buy because you “feel bad” that she is going through something, or would you determine you would never buy anything from her again (because my assumption is she WILL continue to publish) because she is being manipulative?
Don’t be manipulative. As your own brand, you have to think about how your readers will see your posts, whether it’s on your FB page, or even when you are out at a signing. The choice of words you use matter, not just in the books you write, but in the words you use for your personal musings.
I saw an author once who was lamenting about how old her car was, and she couldn’t afford for it to be fixed. Then put out a new book a month or two later, with multiple requests to readers to repost for a ranking increase. That was followed a month or two later by an extravagant trip (pictures included) for her and her significant other to an exotic tropical location. That is manipulative branding, like it or not. And readers, do NOT like it.
Be careful what you ask others to do FOR you. Because if they act in your name, they are affecting YOUR brand. Street teams (or friends) that post one author’s new release/sale on another author’s wall, for instance. If the second author wants to promote for the first author, allow that to be their choice. If your street team is tagging readers, or even posting into groups with no thought to what the group rules are, you are risking being completely banned from a group, for something that you may not have been aware of. Even if you have someone posting to your account for you, keep an eye on what is being done. They could easily be posting inappropriately, or perhaps over-saturating your market. No one wants to see the same auto-generated post over and over again.
Don’t use your FB account as a personal dumping ground. If there are items that you feel strongly about, things in the world that need to be said, a soapbox you have to get up on, do so. But leave your personal issues to PM’ing your friend or your significant other, or even type it all out, and delete it! People want, even need in the climate we are in right now, to have happy, positive interactions with people they have a connection to. In your mind, you may not have a connection to them, but if they have read and loved your books, they feel a connection with you.
That doesn’t mean don’t post personal things. You can still post personal things, and keep a positive, meaningful brand. One author I know posts almost entirely personal. He will post about his cat, his weekend, even what he had too much of to drink or eat. But what I have never seen him do is talk about how horrible his life is (except when he says things like “maybe pants today would have been good”, all with a humorous tone), even if it is. Readers are turned off by these types of posts.
Your job as an author is not just to write and sell your books, but also to sell yourself. Part of that is connecting with readers. You may not like everyone who you are “friends” with on FB. You may even choose to not follow them, or like their comments when they comment on your posts, but be respectful of them, and yourself, and you will continue to have them as a reader.
Your brand is vital, and it takes time and effort to build. Yet, it can be irreparably harmed with one simple post, or negative comment. If you make the effort to build your brand, and continue to allow it to grow, it can be a more effective marketing tool than any FB or Twitter ad you can place.
If you ever question whether you should post it, remember YOU ARE YOUR BRAND. What do you want to be out there for everyone to see?