Before I introduce the first ASK PZM article for 2012, I'd like to extend a warm thank you to all my followers. For quite a while now I've tried to send you a personal message expressing my gratitude. If there's a way, I'll find it eventually. In the meantime, please know that I'm very grateful for your support for this blog. It has been a source of comfort every single day.
Now for your reading pleasure, here's Phyllis's answer to the follow question:
Q: How do I position my books to stand out in the marketplace? What does it mean to have a distinctive brand?
This is a great question, and before I answer it I’d like to step back and clarify something about book marketing.
First, you have to be sure that your book (or ebook) makes it very clear what the book is about. For example, I recently read the front and back copy of a physical book and still did not know whether it was fiction or nonfiction.
Your book is not for everyone. It is for the people who would be interested in your fiction or nonfiction book. Therefore you must make this instantly clear.
(I titled my novel “Mrs. Lieutenant: A Sharon Gold Novel” to make it immediately clear that the book was a novel and not nonfiction.)
And, second, there are the considerations of whether the book cover (even for an ebook) is effective, whether the book’s title and your author name can be easily read on an online thumbnail photo, whether the price of the book is in line with the marketplace, etc.
Now, to answer this question, we’re going to assume that all these preliminary steps have been adequately covered. Also, we will understand that, whether traditionally published or self-published, you must do most of the marketing yourself if you want to stand out in the marketplace.
This brings us to the subject of a brand.
A fiction author’s distinctive brand might be always writing about abused women who find the strength to escape their situations.
Or a fiction author’s brand might be always writing novels that deal with a specific location or time period or family saga.
This is the spine of your fiction author projects on which you hang your marketing activities for your books.
Let’s take the example of fictional stories about abused women:
You can delve into the nonfiction world of this important topic in order to connect with potential readers for your fiction books.
For example, you could do a search with keywords on Twitter to find real-time conversations about this topic and join in the conversation. Of course, your Twitter bio would include the information of why you are interested in this topic and how your novels are meant to empower women in similar situations. And your Twitter bio link would be to your book author website or to the specific Amazon page where your book is sold.
Although you are a fiction writer and not a nonfiction writer on this topic, you may carve out a reputation for yourself. People may say about you: “She writes novels empowering abused women.” This is the brand you have worked to create.
What if your books have no common thread – nothing you can use to establish a distinctive brand?
In this case you might create a brand around your participation in online social media groups – maybe you are known for giving helpful writing advice to new authors – or around your blog that deals with various writing subjects or around any aspect of your personality or writing whose image can be consistently presented over time.
To be clear, a brand is usually not based on your name. It is based on something about you or your writing that promotes a consistent image over time regardless of what you are writing.
And, of course, you can have more than one brand. Just remember that each brand takes time to develop and needs continual nurturing.
Before you protest that you have no idea what brand you can create/develop for yourself, stop and think about what makes you or your writing unique. Then consider how you can emphasize this aspect in your marketing activities.
Let’s discuss this in the comments section below.
© 2011 Miller Mosaic LLC
Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter) has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is the co-founder of the marketing consulting company Miller Mosaic LLC, which works with clients including book authors to effectively use social media, blogging and WordPress websites.
She is also the author of fiction and nonfiction books and has a new website at www.PhyllisZimblerMiller.com about her books and her online volunteer activities (which are part of her author brand).