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There Is No Such Thing As a Good Book, Only A Good Brand

Back My BookOriginally published on The Nerd Connection, my home site.

Over Memorial Day Weekend, I was privileged to attend the Balticon Convention with its many wonderful panels and panelists.  I went to a panel that included Tan Nguyen and GK Parish Philp, the founders of BackMyBook.com [formerly of DivX].  ARealGirl,  and Scott Sigler filled up the rest of the panel as they all have a lot of book branding expertise.

Unlike the first panel I have blogged about, this panel was all about books and branding yourself in relation to the book you are selling. The first panel [read the blog post here], was about getting paid for your podcast. So both were somewhat about branding but in different media formats.

So what is a brand, exactly?

Branding Yourself

A brand has to give an instant sense to the customer of what they are getting for the product you are selling. It must establish a stamp of who you are over each product you sell. As Scott Sigler put it, “A brand must make your quality known.”

Don’t brand yourself as your book. You are not the title of your next novel. However, anyone who sees your name on your book should immediately have an emotional connection to you. ARealGirl went so far as to say that no matter where you are, the audience should feel something if they see or hear your name. When that happens, you have a real brand.

Creating a Brand

The panel’s number one rule about creating a brand was: Be Authentic.

Anyone can spot a fake, and the façade won’t last long when you are all over the internet pushing your latest book. Just look at Rep. Weiner’s predicament.

Besides authenticity, you need to find a way to be consistent. Philp’s recommendation was that you need to always present a predictable and constant face to the audience. How do you do that? Make sure you use the same name on your Social Media venues. If you want to be known as The Man, make sure you get the URL, the Twitter, and the Facebook page that all reflect that. More over, don’t choose something as Your Brand that you can’t easily put on the cover of your book.

Paulette Jaxton is a great example of this. She has gone so far as to create a pen name and uses it so completely that only her most inner ring of friends thinks of her as anything other than the pen name. Paulette’s brand is so complete that she even has an LLC legally set up to allow a bank account in that name.

Taking Your Brand to the Marketplace

Sigler is a real hand at getting his brand out there and he has led the way for a lot of the podcasting/author crowd. Some of his top pieces of advice to the audience? Do a vidcast. Put your fiction out as a blog. Go into the market place in any way you can.

If you don’t work to attract an audience, your audience will simply never grow. Some of the best venues right now for vidcasts [also referred to as webcasts] are Blip.TV, Vimeo, Veoh, Flickr [though length is very limited], Viddler, DailyMotion, and YouTube. There are so many options that it is almost criminal not to start a webcast. Though I’ll admit this is pretty daunting. I still haven’t done it.

Get Out of the Echo Chamber

ARealGirl said that the echo chamber is one of the best ways to get only the “top, worst remarkable things about you” permanently branded to you. What you need to do is find out what your best remarkable things are, and then brand them.

You can’t do that when everyone around you is talking you up and telling you how wonderful you are. Negativity isn’t bad. It is necessary to force you to grow. This goes back to my post from long ago about Reviewer’s Ethics.

Let’s face it. This is a circle of “Artists”. I use this phrase because when it comes right down to our own works we all are something of a Diva. We don’t want our “babies” smudged by another who sees a flaw. We do want our ‘darling’ lauded and promoted. We want to be thought well of. So we swallow what we really think of someone else’s ‘art’ and laud them with an “E for effort”.

But if you stick with all that and never polish up your work or your act, your brand is sullied. So get out of the echo chamber, find out what the world really thinks, and perfect your brand!

Do you have branding advice? Be sure to drop a comment below!