Monday, October 29, 2012

Establishing a Brand name

Most writers think their work is done once the manuscript has been sent to the printer; it is the reason that so many books fail to live up to their potential.  Even with a PR team or a traditional publishing house working back up, the bulk of the marketing and promotions is still the writer's responsibility and obligation. No one else knows the book’s potential or the uniqueness of the work better than the writer does.

PR and publishing marketing teams divide their attention among all their clients.  However, their limited time and resources are given first to those authors and books that show the most potential.  Therefore, it is up to the author to establish a brand name with the primary target market that will be easily expandable into the general readership.  In many ways, publishing is just like finding any other job--in order to get a job you have to have experience; in order to get experience you have to have a job.  In publishing, in order to be successful you have to have readers; in order to gain a readership you have to be successful.

By definition, a brand name is the general field or focus the product.  Who does the product appeal to and why?  For writers, it would be the genre.  Although genres are intertwined, most books are labeled with one primary.  It is the core the author works from not only when writing, but also for the marketing plan.  It is this structure that allows the readership to know what to expect when they open the book.  Stephen King’s novels are primarily horror, while Stephen Hawking is non-fiction physics.  If the branding is effective, it will not only creating a niche market for the work, but for the author as well. 

A major mistake most authors make is limiting their promotions to just their work.  By creating bridges to similar topics or causes, the author expands their target readership to those who have similar interests but who would not normally read the genre. By allow the reader to see the back story behind the development or to get to know the person behind the work, the author creates more of a buzz. 

If the author's blog is solely focused on promoting the book, it will rapidly become boring and will loose readership.  However, if it also includes posts about the author's activities and interests, it will diversify the SEO keywords and expand who will be drawn to the blog.  A fiction author cannot only write about her or his specific genre, but she or he can also generalize about related topics.  A science fiction author could very easily talk about new technologies, NASA, research projects or write reviews of other science fiction novels.    In addition, if an author is involved with social issues or caused, writing about these topics will not only make the author a real person, but also catch the search engines attention on those topics as well. 

Home sites are different.  Although they can have the blog listed, most author's sites focus entirely on the author and her or his work.  Stephen King's site contains:

His works
Future works
Message Board

The last two listings contain more diverse information that Stephen King fans would find interesting.  His page is continually updated and expanded with new information. By keeping it fresh, it insures return visitors as well as new ones, which have found the site through the search engines.  The message board makes the site interactive, giving the fans an active role.  Readers and fans cannot only ask questions of King but each other as well, which once again increases the number of times individuals return to the site. 

In order for a book to be successful, the marketing plan needs to be kept current.  Stagnation on any level can cause a good book to become lost in the sea of new releases.  To continue the analogy, promoting a book needs to be like waves rolling onto the coast; even during calm seas, one wave is always followed by another, which keeps the shore continually saturated.  Book promotions are the same.  In order to keep the interest of fans and expand the readership, promotional material must remain fresh and constant. One wave of press release or ads, no matter how effective, will soon dry up if it isn’t quickly followed up by another new wave. 

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