If you are selling anything, be it a book, your services, a product, whatever, you need a platform to get the message out that you have something for sale. Even if the cost is FREE, you are still selling something, the price is just really low. (Actually a free book is really your way of buying someone’s attention or trust, but we’re talking about why you need a brand here, so let’s just keep focused on this topic.)
When you are building a platform, you are telling the world you have something to offer. If you don’t build a platform you are really just writing something and sticking it in a drawer. Nobody will see it that way either. Writing a book and buying adsense ads for some key words, or sitting on a sidewalk with a table and some books is called the “spray and pray” marketing method. Not much of a plan, really.
The first thing any good author does after she writes a book is figure out where to situate it in the consumers mind. Are you giving advice, solving a problem, teaching a skill, telling a story, enhancing someone’s self-image? Whatever the case may be, you are not trying to say your book will do all the above for everyone on the planet. Would you buy such a book?
Everything is niche based selling, meaning you want to define your audience as specifically as possible. Want proof? Go into any book store and you will see sections clearly defined in categories. Fiction, Non-Fiction, self-help, DIY, Hobbies, computer, business, marketing, etc. Stephen King sells to horror readers. Seth Godin sells to marketers. Nicholas Sparks writes Romantic Dramas. Ray Bradbury wrote Sci-Fi novels. All of these authors are very popular. None of them try to be everything to everybody. If that is your goal, it’s a nice dream, but it aint gonna happen. If Stephen King can’t do it, you probably won’t be able to either. The branding stage is what separates the pros from the wannabes.
So, we are writing a book and it is in a specific Genre or two. Now, you need a Brand that tells the world who you are and what you stand for. Your book should also have a specific message and audience in mind, and hopefully, the two of you will not be to different from each other, or you will have identity problems with your readers, which is not something that you should be shooting for. If you don’t try to define our message, you won’t stand for anything, and not standing for anything is just as bad as trying to stand for everything. Again, think of an author and if she is any good, she stands for something. Comedy, tragedy, drama, sci-fi, cookbooks, DIY home gardening. . . You get the idea. You want to write more than one genre? great! create more than one brand. (Each time you do you will be starting over from scratch. Think Garth Brooks trying to go Rock N Roll or Michael Jordan playing baseball, or JK Rolling writing Adult fiction. Some authors can do this–most can’t, but far be it from me to tell you what you are capable of or not. I don’t know you. You might be able to do it. What you won’t be able to do is write a love novel that everyone in the world will want to read, or write a sci-fi, novel, a comedy, a cookbook, a car repair guide, a quilting book, a biography of Ghengis Khan and a star-gazer’s guide to the heavens, and have the reputation of being a leader in each and every one of these genres. It will actually look like you suffer from multiple personality disorder and people won’t give you the time of day for ANY of your books when they discover you trying to do all this, under the same brand anyway. This is what a brand does for you. It tells your specific audience who you are and lets them know you are exactly what they are looking for.
So, now that we know we need to establish ourselves in some specific area of interest, next we’ll discuss how to create a brand message that creates a great reputation and makes your audience keep coming back for more.