11 February 2010

"Discovering the Author Brand"

If you are a member of RWA (Romance Writers of America), check out the February 2010 RWR edition–really informative articles. This month I’m especially interested in the article “The Basics of Author Branding” by Theresa Meyers, publicist and now romance author.

She gives three phases of author branding.

Creating Emotional Velcro, The Perception of Higher Quality, and That Something Special.

What I’m looking into is phase one…which is finding the emotional themes of my books. I’ve written three books and numerous short stories. I’m supposed to look for the repetitive themes or what is familiar in order to discover my author brand.

Somehow this isn’t the easiest for me. I tend to see myself and my writing differently than how others view me and my stories.

When I’ve read reviews something that keeps popping up is that I tend to write real-life issues. And I definitely love writing suspense in my stories. I think I need help finding my repetitive themes.

I asked my critique partner Tina things she’s repeatedly seen in my voice or stories—since she’s read all my works. Together this is what we’ve come up with:

– multicultural heroines
– urban settings
– strong females
– surviving and thriving around edges of danger
– dealing with real-life issues

I think I’m forming a clearer picture here. If only I could come up with a good tagline too!

4 March 2008

"Websites, A Great Tool"

I really believe an author website is one of those great tools for authors. And where I know not all sites can be stunning and unique, they can be clean, detailed, and useful.

I asked my website designer if she would please alter the iframes out of my website. Essentially my pages scrolled within another page. Since I update my site regularly, it would be easier to get rid of the frames and work on the longer pages by adding details to make the site more interesting.

I worked all weekend tweaking my pages with fonts and organizing and I am still not done. *whew* Coding is detailed work, and I’m glad to have a background in graphic arts to help me with style, otherwise I would be paying for hours of web work every month. Hey, I’m low on the totem pole–I don’t have that kind of money! And you know, I think that’s how it is with a lot of new authors. They can’t afford to pay a webdesigner to design and perform monthly updates so they choose to design a site themselves.

My advice is if you are going to be updating your own site, make it worth while. When I started coding my own sites, I didn’t learn coding in graphic design school, I learned coding by a book as well as studying coding from my blog codes. I feel like a commercial–It’s true! 😉

And the absolute best step-by-step book that has helped me understand how to add those little details to make my site a little more appealing is: HTML for the World Wide Web with XHTML and CSS: Visual QuickStart Guide

This book takes you step by step with every code there is (with pictures). It can seem overwhelming at times, but it has everything you need to make a website do all those cool things—change fonts, make pictures change into something else, add pretty colors, and just overall helps.

So yes, when you sell your book, save up and splurge to buy that template or website design from a designer, and research as many designers you can within your budget. But if you can’t afford a monthly update, I recommend buying this book to help give your website those cool details.

I’ve been studying websites every since I started writing. I knew before I sold that I’m basically a homebody, and not a traveller. The Internet would be my biggest tool in getting my name out there. So what’s great to have on an author website?

Bio: Short bio, interesting tidbits, photo
Book: Cover, blurb, excerpt, links to buy your books, reviews
Press kit: downloadable covers, big raves, bio, downloadable photo
Updating News: Monthly or quarterly updates on what’s going with you or the books
Contests: It’s hard to keep up contests, but readers love them.
Give: Give some helpful advice, or a monthly letter.
Easy Navigation: Please! It’s so hard to find information hidden within other pages. Make it easy to find the good stuff.

These website essentials are just the beginning. I’m still trying to add all of things and more to my website. Your website builds with your career. As an author you can be creative with your website just like you are with your books.

I know readers expect a professional and clean site to browse, because I’m a reader too 🙂 :).

5 June 2007

"10 Things"

Yesterday, I read some great advice on Buzz, Balls & Hype from David J. Montgomery, who writes for several large newspapers about authors and books.

Montgomery wrote the “10 Things An Author Shouldn’t Do”. Here are the main points, but you definitely should read all of his advice.

1) Never complain publicly about a bad review.

I’ve seen the complaints of bad reviews. I’ve complained a lot through the years, but hopefully I haven’t bashed anyone. 🙂

2) Never rely on your publisher to do it all.

I’m a newbie, and a stay-at-home mom. I’ve done what I could just let people know I have a book and it’s out. I’ve never felt comfortable with the idea to tell people to please buy my book. Sure, I would love people to do so, but I would like people to want to. It’s a very sensitive topic with authors on how far authors are willing to go and how far they should. I go by the motto to go as far as an author is comfortable.

3) Never assume reviewers got a copy of your book.

This is actually a great tip. I wanted to ask the publicist for GG for a list of who was getting an ARC, but I didn’t know if this was okay. With my new book, I wanted to tread slowly discovering the aspects of a first release. I’ve never been the one to jump first ask questions later. More like slowly sit back and contemplate so I can learn by experience and maybe be more confident with my second release.

4) Never pass up an easy promotional opportunity.

I have not past up a promo op on the Internet, but I haven’t been able to travel for speaking engagements because 1) I don’t feel comfortable traveling far from my children yet and 2) I need to sharpen my speaking skills. I’m going to be giving my very first workshop to my writing chapter. It’s a very small group and I just have to see if I can pull it off.

5) Never miss the chance to invest in yourself.

I have invested in promotion such as buttons, stickers, bookmarks, mailings, contests, and a new website. Maybe next year I’ll be able to do more. I’m not yet sure what that might be.

Never go too long without attending a fan/reader conference.

Now this I’m not very good at. 🙂 I think I’ve made a con once a year, but I don’t always know anybody so I guess it defeats the purpose of getting to know others, but I also attend to learn.

9) Never take your career for granted.

This I will never do. Lines close, markets shift. The genre you might be writing could suddenly not be hot anymore. Your editor could leave and everything could change in just one phone call. I’m beginning to think you are not safe and secure in publishing unless you are a continuos NYT Bestselling author. But then it’s hard to say.

10) Never forget why you got into this in the first place.

I want to try and remember this advice right here. Because under stress you can forget why you started writing, forget your enjoyment of creating characters and the love of a good story. And believe me, I don’t want to forget. 🙂

17 April 2007

"Press Packet Update"

I called each of the intended 4 local newspapers for press packet mailing information. Only two were willing to accept a press packet, and the other two newspapers in my hometown only wanted the info for the calendar events. haha. Local author book signings are not big news. But to be listed in the city calendar is just as good for me!

Good thing I called before I finished printing everything out. Remember to get your mailing information first before you put your packets together. 🙂

Next up, flyers for the book signing. I’m going to be mailing out flyers to my large, large family and friends, and hoping to post the flyers at libraries and a few businesses. I’m thinking 100 is too many, but 50 might not be enough. I’ll contact the print shop for 75 copies. I’m sure I’ll have plenty left over, but just to be on the safe side.

And that concludes this installment of The Adventures in Publicity of a Newbie Author.

Until next time… 🙂 🙂