Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Branding, You're A Fine Girl

Video just because I want to brand BRANDING in your mind. And what better way than a catchy tune?

Hopefully I haven't ruined this song for you for the rest of your life!
Sorry about the low-quality video, but the audio is still good.

A lot of people thinking "branding" is about about sneakers.  (Just say Swoosh!)
Or about cows.
Or even about people with a kinky fetish for disfiguring their bodies.  (Not gonna show any pictures of that.  You can thank me in the comments.)

And of course, branding is about all those things.

Branding is also about us as individuals.  As employees, as small businesses, and yes, as writers.

There are approximately eight billion people out there who have opened their mouths at one time and said, "I ought to write a book."

Eight million who have actually written an entire book (notice, I'm not saying they're written a good one.  But just writing one at all, start to finish, is an accomplishment of which to be proud.  If you're one of them, give yourself a little pat on the back.)

An even smaller fraction of writers send their finished books off to an agent (again, takes much courage, so kudos if you went this far,) and of those, 96%+ are rejected without even being read.  (Been there, done that - you can buy your own box of tissue, I need all of mine.)  If your book is one which gets through those filters, gets read, and gets an offer of representation, it still has to be unique enough to make a publisher want to take a chance on you.

The publishing business is in horrible flux right now.  The vast majority of published books are either breaking even or losing money for their publishers.  E-books are still a big question mark in terms of long-term profitability.

However, every publisher still has wet dreams of discovering the next Stephen King or J.K. Rowling.  That is, not discovering a writer who can write just one crazy-successful book, but an entire series of them.

And your best bet of impressing an agent, and later, a publisher, is being serious and professional about your brand as a writer.

Consider these thoughts:
Starting today you are a brand.
You're every bit as much a brand as Nike, Coke, Pepsi, or the Body Shop. To start thinking like your own favorite brand manager, ask yourself the same question the brand managers at Nike, Coke, Pepsi, or the Body Shop ask themselves: What is it that my product or service does that makes it different? Give yourself the traditional 15-words-or-less contest challenge. Take the time to write down your answer. And then take the time to read it. Several times.  (from The Brand Called You.)
If you don't know what you are, and what makes you stand out, how on earth do you expect an agent or publisher to figure it out?  These are busy people; they don't have time to babysit you while you gaze into your navel and try to figure it out.  They have tons of "okay" or even promising material in their slush piles.  You want your work, and yourself, to ~pop~ out.  You want them to say, "Here's somebody who stands out, who is serious about his/her writing, and about building a career in this field."  My agent asked me to include marketing ideas in my latest author bio that she sent out with my last book proposal.  So you cannot assume that you'll just write a good book and then the hard part is over.

There's nothing wrong with being a writer on the side, with occasionally submitting short stories or poetry to a tiny online literary journal.  But if you want more, if you want people to take you seriously as a writer, you've got to start with you.  And that includes thinking of yourself, the writer, as a brand.
Remember your team jersey
Even if the brand you wear is a personal one, remember that you're wearing it every time you open your mouth and the effect it may have on your audience, your business contacts and those around you. Your "brand" is not an excuse for being a jerk, just like "authenticity" isn't either. Before you say or publish something, remember the jersey you're always wearing and ask yourself if this will build it or take away from it. If it's going to detract from it -- is it worth it?  (from Common Sense Tips on Entrepreneur)
This means that, unless you have decided there's a big enough market in the Aryan Nation groups to support your work, you probably shouldn't make racist comments on your FaceBook page.  Avoid blogging your worries about the alien lizard people who are poised to take over the earth, your visceral disgust about the overweight (which will shortly be 95% of Americans,) or explicit photos from your clown sex parties (send those to me privately, I can always use a laugh.)  Anything that might create an "ick" factor in your potential audience should be avoided.  We can all think of famous people who have ruined, or seriously damaged their brand.  (Speaking of jerseys, anybody want to buy a green & gold #4?)

As you build your library of finished material, ready for submission, allocate some time, thought and effort, as to how you are building your brand, and what it says about you.

Helpful Links on Branding:
What is Branding, and How Important Is It?  from  Includes lots of helpful links.
All About Branding
From Entrepreneur Magazine

Personal Branding Blog

Comments?  More tips to share?
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