It’s time for an author branding discussion! Are you as excited as I am? Listen closely, Bad Girlz of the World because this topic originated in an unlikely place—with me actually listening to my husband. *grins*
If you’ve ever met Mr. Alpha Male in person, you know he’s a talker. Actually, he could talk a talker under the table. So it’s fortunate that I was paying attention when he was going on and on about a book he and his coworkers had read, Start with Why by Simon Sinek. They’d read the same book in preparation for meeting with the author and writing their company mission statement. Why? Because this book is all about why. I recommend it—very informative and not just about corporate business strategy. It can also give us guidance in building our brands as authors.
Why do we do what we do?
How does that translate into our branding?
The concept behind starting with why is that customers, or in this case readers, want to identify with us in some way. At first I said, well duh. We try to write characters that are identifiable already. We know this, but starting with why is deeper than that. It’s about your personal identity connecting with your reader’s personal identity and how they see themselves. Step one: ask yourself what brands you’re loyal to no matter what.
Here’s how the conversation went for me:
Mr. Alpha: What’s your favorite clothing brand?
Mr. Alpha: Why?
Me: Their clothes are well-made. Their jeans fit nicely and they have cute dresses.
Mr. Alpha: Those aren’t the only jeans and cute dresses in the world. Why them?
Me: *pauses for deep introspective thought* …Honestly? They have the Guess Girl as the center piece of their ad campaign, and the model they pick always looks like a modern day Marilyn Monroe. Their look is the perfect mix of classic and modern sass.
Mr. Alpha: And that’s the identity you want to show to the world—a mix of classic and modern sass.
Me: With big sunglasses, bright lipstick, and blonde hair…yeah, I guess so.
…Did this concept just click for you the way it did for me? We don’t like the brands we like because of the product. We like them because they reflect something about who we are. People want to express themselves through brands. If you let them know who you are and what you represent, they’ll have brand loyalty with you. Now I know what you’re thinking because I was thinking the same thing: that’s fine for a car company or a clothing line, but I write books. There are many, many others who would have the same “why” that I do. How does that help me?
This is the part of the story where I had to percolate for a few weeks on the subject. Why do I write the stories I write? Because I love to tell stories. Because I like watching people fall in love. Because those are the books I like to read. Because… This had been at the back of my mind for a while until 2 days ago. I was driving back from a weekend getaway with Mr. Alpha Male and passing the 4 hour road trip by telling him about my current manuscript.
Me: Plot, plot, blah, blah, blah, plot, plot…I’m so excited!!! I think this is my favorite book I’ve ever written! *giant smiles and seal claps in the passenger seat of the car* I can’t wait for this one to come out!
Mr. Alpha: *laughs* You just want to meet everyone in the world, and make them all smile.
Me: You make me sound like a Coke commercial. [cue light bulbs turning on above E. Michels’ head]…OMG! Is that why I like Coke? I even have Coca-Cola bar stools in my back yard for goodness’ sakes. Apparently, I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony!
And just like that, I knew why I write these stories that have happily-ever-afters, why I’ve chosen a path in publishing that would lead to more foreign distribution than other avenues. I want to meet everyone in the world, give them a big ol’ hug, and make them smile. Through my books, I get to do just that, which makes me smile and the cycle begins again.
So, on the deepest level possible, why do you write?
Now for the fun part: How the knowledge of why you write leads to your author branding.
All you have to do is incorporate why you do what you do into your social media and into your website design. Show everyone who you are at your core at every opportunity you have, and they’ll want to connect with you even more. As for me, I’m going to remove the boring photo gallery from my website and start the “smile file” where I’ll post fun pictures of meeting readers at book signings. I’m going to post on social media about things that make me smile. And I’m going to in general, keep on smiling, like I do anyway. I can’t wait!
What brands are you loyal to? What does that say about your personal identity? Any clue why it is you write what you do? Let’s chat! 🙂