It’s All About You — Sometimes

When I visit the bookstore or library, I seldom fail to see at least one novel where the entire back cover consists of an author photo. That’s it. No endorsements, no story blurb, no author bio. Just a picture of the author. And usually the front cover doesn’t offer many clues, either. Maybe a vague illustration, along with the title and author’s name. To my mind, this means this author has built such a strong fan base that they will buy any book the author writes, regardless, as long as the book shows the author’s name and image.

Likewise, when I was a teenager, I bought every recording by certain artists I enjoyed. I didn’t have to listen to the songs before plunking down my hard-earned bucks. These artists had proven to me that I would enjoy their work so I wasn’t taking much of a risk to buy their albums. Sure, I liked some collections better than others, but I could find at least a few songs on each album I enjoyed, making the investment of my time and money worthwhile.

Forming this type of fan base is what you’re doing by building your brand. You want to create a group of readers who will buy your books no matter what. How to do this?

Consistency Is Key

If your fans enjoy a particular genre, keep writing that. Why? Because if you make a drastic change without warning, your core readers will be disappointed and may not buy your next book. Or the next, or the next. Assuming there are any subsequent books after the switch.

But I Want to Write Something Different!

Anyone can understand the desire for a writer – or anyone else – to crave some variety in work. However, your readers are not buying your books to help you self-actualize. They buy books for their entertainment, edification, and knowledge. Through consistently high quality, you must convince them that they aren’t rolling the dice when they purchase your book. When you demonstrate to them often enough that you provide what they’re looking for, they’ll stick with you. Hence, the effort you have made to build your brand will come to fruition.

So don’t run away from your brand. Embrace it, and enjoy your fans. If and when you want to branch out, it may not be impossible to do so. Ask your agent for direction. It’s what we do!

Your turn:

Is there an author whose books you’ll buy no matter what?

What is your brand? How are you building it?


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Marketing vs. Publicity

by Steve Laube

Recent I have run into a common misunderstanding. Some writers use the words “marketing” and “publicity” (or P.R. “public relations”) as synonyms when actually one is a subset of the other.

There are marketing departments that have a publicity division or a marketing department that outsources their publicity. The two go hand in hand and should compliment each other.

The best way I can define it is to say that:

Marketing is all about creating multiple impressions.

This can be through ad placement, in-store displays, banner ads, reviews, contests, etc.

Publicity is all about meeting the author.

This is done through radio and television as well as through all forms of social media.

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