Merriam-Webster.com: Credibility> the quality or power of inspiring belief.
“I don’t care about motivation. I care about credibility.” Eliot Spitzer
In my last post on Personal Branding, I talked about the need for authors to lay their foundation of PB by building an intentional community of relationships through; writer groups, forums, online critiques and conversations.
Just as the external structure of a house (paint, window decor and strategically placed landscaping) is not what gives a home it’s true value, so an author’s glossy photo, pretty cover art and eye-catching story title are not what will give them the power of credibility for the long haul.
Light years ago while attending a conference on marketing, I heard a speaker say that it takes the average person seeing or hearing the same thing a minimum of seven times before it becomes a point of recognition for them.
As an example they used KFC’s franchise agreement which stated (at that time) that there must be a minimum of seven Colonial Sander pictures visible to the customer at all times. The reason, they were using the earned credibility of the Colonel’s face as a guarantee that you and I would not regret investing our time, money and gastrointestinal organs to KFC’s care.
In other words just seeing that snowy white head, Santa like smile and twinkly eyes were enough to assure us, that as soon as we slapped down $3.99, we were guaranteed twenty minutes of culinary delight.
So how was the KFC franchise able to convince customer’s that the face of a cherubic elderly gentleman was all that was needed to assure them that their investment was well spent? By capitalizing on the credibility that Harland David “Colonial” Sanders spent over twenty years developing.
Long before Personal Branding became a marketing cliché’ the man behind KFC understood that in order for him to become successful he would need two things; a product that would set him apart from his competitor’s and a visual marker for the buying public to link too.
Now you and I may not be selling chicken or bleaching our hair white and putting on white suites, but we are trying to establish ourselves as authors worth the investment of others.
So how do we go about doing that? How do we build credibility with our fellow writers, agents, publishers and life-sustaining readers that assure them that we are a good investment of their time and money?
We start by adjusting the lenses of our perception to include not only the immediate, but the future as well. Instead of looking for instant gratification and award-winning results the first time we finish a piece, we accept the reality that it takes more than one book or manuscript to develop our voice, style and worth.
Next we choose to see each rejected short story, magazine article and peer-review as iron sharpening iron. After that we write, write and re-write the same paragraph, chapter and story until we are utterly convinced that it can’t ever get better (six months later we review and start re-writing it again).
An editor friend of mine once said that every paragraph should be re-written until you truly believe you can’t write it any better. Then put it aside for a while. When you’ve all but forgotten about it, take it out and you’ll probably find that you can.
In her article 4 Reasons to Write Several Books, literary agent Rachelle Gardner says, “Nearly all successfully published authors will have written two or more books before they get their first contract offer.” Here are her four reasons why.
- Practice: it takes a few tries to write a viable book.
- Repeatability: you need to finish more than one novel to get a feel for whether you can do it again.
- Timing: It takes writing multiple books to know who long it takes to write one.
- Confidence: Writing multiple books give you the confidence to know you’re a writer.
Taking the time to establish an In-Credible You is both an investment in the future as well as the framework for outlasting those who don’t.
Bottom line, if you want to become an author who is known for producing work that sets them apart from the crowd and whose credibility gives their followers a sense of trust and expectation, then take the time to establish the kind of authorship and PB platform that will go the distance now.
Next time we’ll examine the strategy behind Creating Author Visibility.
From the laptop of an uncensored dreamer