Building a Community
In the not-so-distant past it took an agent, editor, publisher, and any number of other PR type individual’s to create and build an author’s Personal Brand. For longer than many of us can remember, an author’s sole responsibility was to write a publish worthy book, work through the editing process and hope that the advance held out long enough for he or she to go on tour, promote their work and garner sales.
But those days of author invisibility are slipping away nearly as fast as Einstein’s Theory of Relativity . With the advent of electronic gadgets, heightened readership and escalating cost vs. net ratios; it is no longer equitable for publishing houses to foot the bill of an author’s promotional management. For better or worse, in today’s market the responsibility for building and maintaining an author’s brand is in the hands of the author themselves.
Chief Branding Specialist Laura Pasternak says that authors like William Shakespeare, E.E. Cummings, Alfred Hitchcock and Stephen King are a success because, “Successful authors, like successful businesses, learn to manage their brand. They promote it in everything they do. And over time, their brand pays back huge dividends by promoting them.”
Each found their writing niche, developed a unique voice amongst their peers and through careful branding, eventually became rather like ‘fathers’ to the genre or style in which they rule.
So where does an emerging author even start building a personal brand? Besides the obvious places such as Twitter and Facebook, how does someone like myself (whose sole notoriety to fame are the short stories my English teacher sent off to be published by his college professor buddies and a very badly written stack of poetry I sent my ninth grade boyfriend during summer vacation) insert their toe in the waters of Social Media and begin to swim?
According to Copyblogger Bryan Clark , one of the key ingredients in any personal branding strategy is to begin connecting to other people. “Whether you’re trying to sell something or build traffic to your blog, connecting with people is the key.”
Whether you’re selling cosmetics behind a counter or going door to door with a bag full of dirt and the newest whiz-bang carpet cleaner, making a personal connection with your audience can mean the difference between solicited rejection and five-minute partnerships. The first one will earn you nothing more than hurt feelings and cold shoulder’s, while the second will get you a warm smile and a recommendation on his or hers list of sale persons worthy of mention.
Developing author branding is no different from any other endeavor of life; without intentional relationships to promote and sustain it, everything of value will eventually fade away.
So where do these intentional investments begin? For this writer they began on four fronts.
First I sought out like-minded individuals through a local writer’s group where I could engage in mutual frustration, drink artificial sweetened water and be reminded that all the greatest writer’s started out just like us.
Next I cruised the internet in search of other writing groups where the critique of my work would be more genre specific and I could learn from some of the editors and agents that often frequented the sites.
Thirdly I started a blog on wordpress.com and began a regular post about the journey of writing a first novel. And of course with that territory came reading and commenting on other blogger sites who, had either shown an interest in mine or were discovered via the ones I had started following.
In 2011 Laura Spencer wrote a post entitled In Defense of Blogging Reciprocity in which she address a social media specialist comments that they wished blogging reciprocity would lose its significance, “Yes, I practice blogging reciprocity and I do so willingly. I love the idea of connecting and networking with other bloggers who have taken the time to comment on my posts…”
If the number of comments I’ve read on sites such as Jane Freidman, Kristin Nador, Robert Lee Brewer and Porter Anderson , then I would have to agree with Laura; reciprocal blogging is necessary way to stay connected with those who have chosen to connect with you.
And lastly I went with the flow and began following on Twitter and friending on Facebook. But I don’t Twit or Friend just anyone; even my 144 character bird noises and frequent informational posts are with individual’s that I am serious about building relationships with. I’m in this for the long haul and the investments I’m making now will be as important to my future as they are to those I’m investing in.
By building an intentional community of relationships, in essence an author is laying the cornerstone of his or her present-future framework of visibility. Whether its leaving a thoughtful comment in someone else’s blog post, giving them a ‘shout-out’ in your own or dialoging with like-minded artists, the people you take the time to notice, will in the long run, reciprocate by taking the time to notice you.
Next time we’ll take a look at the second step in developing an intentional strategy for Branding | In-Credible You!
From the laptop of an uncensored dreamer