It’s a vital component to your burgeoning authordom.
Without it? You’re basically just a regular person. Wandering the clearance racks at K-Mart, mumbling to yourself, giving off an odor of desperation (which smells like cat pee, so sometimes if you’re in an old house and you smell cat pee, you think, ooh, somebody has cats here, but the truth is there might instead be an unrecognized, unbranded writer living there, which means YOUR LIFE IS IN DANGER, GET OUT NOW, THE WRITER IS WRITING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE).
Branding is the keystone to your authorial strategy. Branding is even more important than actually writing. How will you know what to write if you have not branded yourself or been branded by outside entities? You’ll just be pinballing from genre to genre, format to format, like an old man lost at the mall trying to find his wife that died fifteen years before. “Martha?” you’ll bleat into the cavernous, plastic-stinking sad-cave that is an American Eagle Outfitters. And people will throw plastic hangers at you to make you go away. That’s you. An unbranded writer.
But today? Today we’re going to fix that.
It’s time to get you branded.
1. Envision What You Can Consistently Bring To The World
Think about your favorite brands.
McDonald’s — it’s the same delicious gray Meatt™ patty every time. Pressed seductively between two ancient couch pillows, and slathered with ketchup, mustard, a pickle, and other mystery unguents. That burger? It never changes.
All-Bran cereal? A basket of twigs and potpourri meant to maximize your intestinal fortitude. Wal-Mart? Plastic goods from foreign nations and also, bullets — all placed on shelves by hard-working, woefully underpaid Americans. Lexus? Automotive beauty and elegance, so beautiful and so elegant that Lexus drivers don’t even see people who might be driving, say, a dumb old Hyundai Elantra, or a is-that-even-a-real-car-who-buys-those Chevy Cruze.
These brands offer a consistent experience. Unchanging. Unswerving. Never faltering or altering themselves. People want that when they read your work. They want to know that every time they pick up a book, it’s the same thing every time. Comfort in constancy. The enduring power of enduring. Can you imagine if Chevrolet started making fruit snacks? Or if McDonald’s started to sell jetpacks? Or if Apple started holding Amish barn-raisings? It would be madness in the streets. The ululations of the bewildered. Blood. Blood! Pouring from their face-holes and other holes.
Basically: the apocalypse.
Brands are what keep the world united. Brands are the lens through which we glimpse our reality.
What does that mean for you, Dearest Writer? It means finding that same level of eternal consistency. It means: the same length book. Same characters or tropes of characters. Covers by the same artist. And, of course: same genre.
2. Determine The Genre In Which You Will Forever Write
You must pick a genre early on. Because once you have chosen the genre in which you will write, it will be your
prison home until your body hits the dirt. I mean, can you imagine what happens if you start writing in science-fiction, and then — whuh, pfft, buh — you start writing in fantasy? Oh! Oh ho ho ho, this is my incredulous face. The very thought makes me red-cheeked and rageful. You can’t do that. You can’t. You’d be — you’d have soiled yourself with chaos. Your readers, all twelve of them, will find you and they will tear you apart in the street like the distempered dog that you have become. Trust me —
Choose your genre now and stick with it.
Even better: choose a microscopic subgenre that you will claim as your own. Find a literary niche that has no competition at all. From our research here at the Terribleminds Marketing Institute (TMI), we have found that the following subgenres are as-yet-unclaimed by any writers.
• Lovecraftian middle-grade romance
• Haunted barns
• Geriatric BDSM space opera
• Epic shenanigans
• Horse porn
• Picaresque lesbian cyborg sestinas
• Preborn noir
• Books for “Dave”
Move fast! Stake your claim.
3. Obtain A Home Run Author Photo That Demonstrates Your Brand
Your author photo is everything.
People need to recognize you. On the back of your books. On the street. At that little corner cafe you frequent where you buy those lingonberry scones you seem to like so much. Through the front windows of your Victorian house at 1456 Franklin Court.
And, even more importantly, your author photo must speak to the consistent experience you’re offering your readers. Does it reflect your genre? Does it exhibit the themes and characters you have chosen? Can a potential reader look to your author photo and instantly recognize, “Ah, he writes science-fiction. You can see the starships twinkling in his eyes behind those very large eyeglasses, ha ha ha, that nerd. Book-keep! Give me all of his books and give them now!”
What message will your author photo send?
Let’s consider my various author photos and what message they send.
See? A consistent message contained as a visual timeline. Dependable. Homogenous.
Strong brand identity approved by a focus group for full monolithic market integration.
Want negative examples? Consider this awkward author photo contest!
4. Get Thee To The Social Medias
You have to get on the social medias. The Twitters. The Facebooks. The LinkedIns. Grindr, whatever that is. You need to get on all of them. You need to root your presence there. Use the social medias to establish a beachhead that demonstrates a logical, coherent personal branding strategy (PBS). Buy followers from various seedy Internet robots. Do not even begin to write your book until you have at least 10,000 followers across the social medias marketscape. Use the social medias to speak to your target market. Be a trendsetter and then follow the trends you set. Use hashtags, which means before you write a social media status update, you write the word “hashtag” before the update. (Example: “Hashtag, I saw a great movie today it was really super.” Or, “Hashtag, I killed a man and ate his face lol”) In fact, say ‘lol’ a lot. It lets people know you’re loose and fun. Unless that’s not your brand. But it should be your brand because who likes writers who are stiff and unfriendly? Nobody. Nobody likes those writers.
When tweetbooking, consider: user segmentation, packaging design, the OEM market, the freestanding literary intangibles, logical endorsement extensions by known authorial brandchannels, and other quintessential branding terms.
5. Assign Yourself A Personal Mission Statement
Who are you? Who are you, really?
You need a Personal Mission Statement (PMS). A motto. A logline. A branding tagline so that people know who you are exactly and what precisely they will be getting by choosing to follow you on the social medias and what happens when they buy your book-products. Consider branding yourself with the following slogans (and note that some of these can be sung to a catchy jingle):
“Narrative architect with strong thematic harmonization.”
“Da da da da da, I’m writin’ it!”
“With a name like [insert your name here], it’s gotta be good!”
“Cats cats cats!”
“I put the ‘oo’ in book! And the AW YEAH in author!”
“For a good time, call [insert your phone number here].”
“I killed a man and ate his face lol”
6. Pick Ten Google Keywords For Maximum SEO
The Internet is everything. If you’re not on the Internet, you’re not a real person. You’re basically just a bear. A sad bear that nobody knows. And these days, you don’t just need to be on the Internet, but you also need to be at the very top of the Internet, so that everyone can see you. If they can’t see you, you won’t sell any bookproducts or word-widgets. The way you climb to the top of the Internet and gain vital brand awareness is through SEO, which stands for Self Experience Optimization. Okay, that might not be right? Maybe it stands for Service Economics O… Onus… Opus… Origimental… you know what? It doesn’t matter. Who cares what it stands for? What matters is that you have it.
Here’s how you do it: you pick ten words that emblemize you. These ten words will concretize your brand and cement you into the asphalt of the Infosuper Cyberhighway and thus create top-of-mind awareness across All the Internet.
You should choose words that embody the experience you offer readers.
These ten words might be: “romance,” “undulating,” “over-the-pants,” “tumescent,” “peppy,” “zesty,” “salad-eater,” “wordsmith,” “sexxx” and “hashtag.”
Feeling stuck? Try a random word generator!
7. Determine Your Authorial Imago
You need to think Big Picture. Blue Sky. You need to take the 30,000 foot view. A 21st century author needs 21st century thinking. And you need to think of your imago. What is the idealized mental image of yourself? Is it a buff rad bro with sweet guns and oil-slick pecs? Is it a cool sexy librarian with devil wings and a pair of sexy katanas? Maybe it’s just a color. Or a favorite tree. Or a celebrity you’ve always admired, like one of the many Kardashian entities that have descended to our plane of existence after draining their home-world of its vigor and turning it into a howling, gibbering painscape! Envision your imago, and then apply all branding strategies toward it. Invoke your ideal self. Build your author platform from the illusions and deceptions you possess about yourself. As we say here at TMI — “Fake it until you make it!” Ha ha ha.
8. Connect With Others Inside Your Tightly-Regulated, Poorly-Oxygenated Niche
Inside this gray-walled half-lit prison in which you have placed yourself, you will find other invigorated souls motivated by marketing identity alignment (or MIA), all of whom are
trapped eager to remain here in this well-positioned perception map. What that means is, it’s time to network. Share strategies! Buy each other’s bookproducts! Give massages and get massages in return. And if you find other authors who are attempting to occupy the same mindshare as you, stab them many times with one of your sexy katanas and remind the rest of your fellow authors that your brand is your brand and nobody can take it from you or you’ll ideate their bottom-holes with your vertically-integrated size ten boot.
9. Design A Logo That Will Be Literally Burned Onto Your Face Or Torso
All brands are exemplified by great logos. The golden arches! The Target bullseye! The snorting cyclopean dong-horned bull of Big Dan Don’s Dildo Emporium and Buttplug Barn. Consider what your visual calling card will be. A rocketship? Perhaps a funny animal. Maybe a sigil of the elder Kardashian that plans to use your blood and bones as reagents for its grim otherworldly alchemy.
Once you have chosen a logo, literally brand it onto your flesh. (That’s where the term ‘brand’ comes from!) Sear it into your meat so as to let everyone know — and to remind yourself from time to time, ha ha ha — just who you really are.
And who you must always be.
10. Build Your Audience
It’s time to build your audience. A tribe of people. Followers. Friends. Slaves. Sycophants. Cultists who embrace your ways and abhor all that is not you. Blood-caked acolytes who will read your books as if they are holy texts, written in stone and forever unchanging. It’s okay if they’re not real people. That’s why we use the phrase build. Consider scarecrows. Or people made out of vulture bones and mop handles. If you build the fake people, the real ones will come. Or you can kidnap them from your social medias! Once you have an acceptable audience of at least 1000 people who never want you to change and who will buy whatever bookproducts you cobble together, take them all to a distant island where you can live in changeless peace and eternal branding for the rest of your known existence. Also, here are some shock collars in case anybody decides to suffer a case of the I’m Specials. YOU CANNOT DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO GODDAMNIT DO NOT DARE DEFY THE COMMANDMENTS YOU HAVE BEEN BRANDED IF YOU LEAVE THE ISLAND YOU WILL BE SHOT BY HELICOPTER SNIPERS AS IF YOU ARE A COMMON CUR
Now, go and write.
Or don’t. It doesn’t matter! You’re branded now, baby! A human Powerpoint presentation!
* * *
500 Ways To Write Harder aims to deliver a volley of micro-burst idea bombs and advisory missiles straight to your frontal penmonkey cortex. Want to learn more about writing, storytelling, publishing, and living the creative life? This book contains a high-voltage dose of information about outlining, plot twists, writer’s block, antagonists, writing conferences, self-publishing, and more.
All this, straight from the sticky blog pages of terribleminds.com, one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers (as named by Writer’s Digest).
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