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Laura Pauling | Tag Archive | branding
Tag Archives | branding

One author’s take on branding. (RISING by Laura Josephsen)

Thanks for having me on your blog, Laura!

My blog topic for today is how this new book is different from my last book published, Confessions from the Realm of the Underworld (Also Known as High School), but it made me think about writers taking on all sorts of different stories.

Confessions is Young Adult, contemporary, modern-day setting, and a very “normal life” story. It was kind of my oddball novel in that respect; I typically veer more toward speculative fiction. It was about family and friendship and set in high school.

Rising Book 1: Resistance is adult speculative fiction. It’s set in a fantasy world, but it’s science based and therefore more accurately sci-fi, and it’s adventure/friendship/gradual romance.

Confessions is one of the lightest and most fun books I’ve ever written. It had a snarky voice and was super easy to write. It dealt with characters having to make some tough decisions, yes, but the ultimate tone of it was very lighthearted.

Resistance is the darkest book I’ve ever written. It was emotionally exhausting in a lot of ways, and it cost me a lot to write it—I had to delve into deeper places and push myself outside my comfort zones.

I’ve talked before on my blog about branding—should an author have a brand or not—and something that’s stuck with me is when someone told me that maybe it’s not genre or age group that needs to define a author—maybe it’s an overall theme that the author consistently writes. That struck a chord with me because I feel like that’s how I write—whether I’m writing YA or adult, speculative fiction or not, inspirational or contemporary, I always go toward themes of light and life and hope. My characters might go through terrible things that sometimes I don’t even want to think about, but the journey is in seeing how they deal with these things, how they overcome them and find the light at the end of their tunnel.

We all have stories that we love and stories we dislike. As completely different as Confessions and Resistance are, my hope for both books is that something in the words I write might speak to someone…it might just be in wildly different ways.

All Alphonse wants is a quiet summer at home before his final months at university. What he gets is a half-dead stranger on his doorstep and the task of delivering a package to the leader of his home country. Not long after he boards a train toward the capital, he’s attacked by knights, elite soldiers of the neighboring king.

Alphonse is temporarily rescued by Mairwyn, a mechanic with a haunted past and a deep hatred of knights. Together, they attempt to carry out Alphonse’s urgent errand, only to learn that if they fail, countless people will die.

And even if they succeed, they may not be able to prevent the war that lurks on the horizon.

Laura Josephsen lives with her family in Tennessee. She is a co-author of the Restoration series and the author of Confessions from the Realm of the Underworld (Also Known as High School). She likes music, reading, socks, rainy days, chocolate, coffee, and sci-fi and fantasy tales.

Links:

I haven’t had the honor of reading the Rising yet, but I read Confessions from the Realm of the Underworld (Otherwise known as High School) and I really enjoyed it. I have no doubt this next one will be just as good. Thanks everyone! If you have any questions for Laura Josephsen – ask away!

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Non traditional ways to market.

On Wednesday, we talked about how I stumbled upon the realization of what marketing means to a traditional publisher.

Money. (I’m sure that maybe there is more to it. This is what I see.)

Money goes a long way when it pays for television and social media adds, arcs, floor displays, book tours…etc. But there is also the back money or money the publisher has invested in their brand. They have FB fans, email subscriptions, author and reader sites for teens…etc.

Most indie and self-publishers don’t have that kind of access to such immediate broad exposure.

So what are we to do?

Traditional ways

Yes there is blogging and all other social media networks you choose to participate in like FB, Google+, Triberr, Goodreads, LibraryThing, forums, and newsletters. And don’t forget blog tours.

Branding. (Such a huge topic that I’m not going to get into it here. I’m still learning.)

SEO Optimization.

Please just Google it. All I know is that it has to do with incorporating your keywords in social media so your site shows up on the first page with Google searches.

Networking and forming your tribe to help you get the word out.

Short stories and novellas that help promote your novel.

Anthologies.

Blurbs. (Not sure how effective this is.)

Arcs/reviews.

As a self-published author this is a huge advantage. Use the coupons at Smashwords to garner reviews and exposure before your release.

Querying book bloggers. (Those that accept self published novels.)

Non-traditional ways

Wattpad.

A place where anyone can post their work, chapter by chapter. (It might gain you fans but I’m not sure if this actually translates to sales.)

Tagging and meta-data.

This is all about choosing smart tags to describe your novel, choosing narrow categories on Amazon so your novel gets seen.

Pixel of Ink and paid advertising sites.

Expensive but has lots of potential, for these sites have lots of followers.

What some authors might not think about.

If you only have one book out, it seems smarter to write more and promote less. Wait until your whole trilogy is out to pay for the ads or go free or do the 2 month blog tour.

The only proven effective marketing:

  • An excellent story and good writing. Your story has to have a market and readers.
  • Writing and getting the next story out there.

All the other items are icing on the cake.

(This is info I’ve decided upon after reading many blogs by more experienced authors. I’m sure after I publish and market and promote my first novel, I’ll have a better understanding of what works for me and how to do these things! Writers are creative and need to tap that to find ways to market and promote. And ask fellow authors what they did!)

Have you seen any cool marketing ideas?

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Marketing, publishers, and today’s author.

Marketing was always this mysterious word, something that NY publishers provided but I never really could define.

I pictured staff sitting around a table, slurping warm coffee, while brainstorming magnificently stupendous creative tie-ins and ideas surrounding certain titles.

But due to my current venture in self-publishing or what S.R. Johannes has termed the Entrepreneurial Author, which I love by the way, I’ve been thinking about marketing. And how some books with NY publishers get great marketing and others don’t. And how that pertains to me.

Lightning struck and I figured out what marketing by the big guys is all about.

The answer is easy.

Are you ready?

I mean, it’s really rather simple. I should’ve figured this out earlier. All of you probably already knew this.

Money.

That’s the definition of marketing by the big publishers. And with money comes time investment and greater exposure.

So what does that mean exactly?

At the basic level it might mean a few arcs and a small social media campaign through the publisher’s network.

But most of it will be up to the author.

But if you look at the books that get the red carpet marketing treatment there are tons of arcs, extensive social media, lead titles at conferences, paid ads with Goodreads and Facebook, book tours, a terrific cover, a website, a trailer, an author interview vlog, a huge print run, television marketing, and being featured on the publisher’s sites; for example, Harper Collin’s Epicreads.com and Inkpop. And don’t forget the 12 copy floor display in bookstores.

Not bad.

Money in the right places create buzz.

But what about the whole branding thing and what does money have to do with that when most readers don’t care who publishes a book?

Readers might not recognize the brand of a NY publisher. But the gatekeepers do. Kirkus, libraries, schools, most book bloggers…etc.

See what I mean? Money.

And this kind of marketing works. Usually. If the books live up to the buzz.

Come back on Friday and we’ll talk. Come with your ideas to share too!


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2012 resolution – Become a maven. Of something.

There’s something magical and alluring about certain words like….

Maven

Guru

Expert

So one of my goals for 2012 is to become a maven. It just sounds so sexy like I should be standing on the top of a cliff with the wind blowing my long raven tresses while I hold my book in my hands. (Or maybe I’m confusing maven with raven, who might’ve been the name of a character in a book I read at some point? Not sure.)

And certainly readers will line up to sign up for a newsletter or buy a book if one is a maven.

Right?

I mean a maven sounds so official like this person knows what they are talking about; hence one must buy all their books.

Makes total sense.

In fact, it’s a marketing or promotional strategy (I’m still trying to figure out the difference between the two) that I’m surprised more authors don’t take advantage of. Clearly that would shoot them up the NY Times bestseller list.

So, maven. What could I proclaim myself a maven of? And it probably should have the whole alliteration thing going too.

I can’t really say I’m a Marketing Maven; well, because I’m not. Though maybe just by saying it readers will believe me. That’s not very ethical and considering I write middle grade fiction along with YA, I’m naturally very moral.

How about Meatball Maven? I make a mean crock-pot of meatballs with almost little or no prep. But that doesn’t really fit into my brand. And meatball is an extremely small niche. I wonder if there is a Kindle list for: children’s literature – spy thrillers – humor – meatballs?

Hmm. Let’s see.

Marvel comics Maven? (My son loves comic books.)

Mailman Maven? (I know exactly when my mail person comes each day, especially when I’m expecting a book in the mail.)

Geez. This is hard.

Any suggestions? Are you a maven? Guru? Or expert? And how have you sufficiently incorporated that into your brand and your use of keywords, tags, and lists?

And there may or may not be meatballs in my short story, THE ALMOST ASSASSIN, in the In His Eyes Anthology. Not making any promises. You never know how lethal meatballs can be.

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Ammi Joan Paquette talks craft, social media and branding.

Let’s welcome Agent Ammi-Joan Paquette. If you missed my review on her debut middle grade, NOWHERE GIRL, you can read it here. She’s here to answer the three biggest questions on writers’ minds today: craft, social media, and branding.

1. In your experience, what are the best ways for writers to improve their writing as they travel the road to publication? What worked for you?

My top suggestions are:

Read widely. I firmly believe that reading excellent published books builds up your internal database—whether or not you’re focusing consciously on structure and tone and language and voice while you’re writing, all that wealth of accumulated input is flowing through your mind, and is bound to contribute to your growth as a writer, resulting in strong output.

Write often. As an author, I’m a big-time revision fiend, and I hate to give up on a project that I’ve invested a lot of time into. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But on the flipside, there’s something about opening a fresh document and launching into a completely new project that flexes muscles you didn’t know you had developed. All the ways you’ve learned and grown in your writing flows unconsciously into this new project. There’s nothing like it. So I’m not saying to stop revising those old trunk novels, but at the same time, do keep an eye to the new, because sometimes what you’ll find there might just surprise you.

Network. We are blessed with such a wide and warm and varied writing community—whether in person or online, be sure to avail yourself of the great wealth of writers who are walking on the same path.

2. I see that you have an author website, but you don’t blog or tweet (that I know of). What are your thoughts on social media and today’s traditionally published author? Do you like your clients to be active in social media?

It seems clear that social media is becoming more and more of a staple for author promotion nowadays. While it’s hard to measure actual results from these publicity methods, it’s undeniable that any time you are getting out there and raising your profile, it can only be a positive thing. (Well, perhaps with a few celebrity exceptions… J) Most importantly, though, I believe every author needs to find what works best for them. Yes, promotion is important—maybe even vital to today’s published author. But how you accomplish this, the methods you choose to use, has to feel authentic and workable for your personality, your schedule, and your abilities. Trying to do something because you’ve been told to, or because it’s “the thing to do” can never produce the desired results because your actions aren’t coming from that place that defines you as a person.

So yes, I encourage my authors to be active in social media and promotion—to the extent of their interest and comfort level. And sure, there are times when you want to stretch and challenge yourself outside of that magic zone; but still, within that stretching, there is the ring of truth in your own heart that says, “This is something I feel strongly about doing—it’s not easy, but I want to be here doing it.”

To me it’s above all about authenticity and being who you are as a person and as an author.

But beyond all of that, I sincerely believe that the most important thing authors can do with their time is to keep writing. This is what got you onto the bookshelf to begin with: your ability to write heartfelt, moving, beautiful words. And promotion can be a mega time-eating monster with no beginning and no end. So I would encourage authors to cherish your alone time so you can keep producing those works of art which are, in the end, the one thing that will last and the only thing that really matters.

3. Congratulations on all your book deals. You write picture books, middle grade, and young adult. Lately, writers seem to be under a lot of pressure to brand, brand, brand. What are your thoughts on the importance of writers branding themselves and their writing? How important do you feel it is for aspiring writers to think about this?

Branding can be a terrific thing for a certain type of author whose writing style lends itself to cultivating one strong literary form with a specific core readership. And… then there’s the rest of us. J I do believe that publishing as a whole is moving away from the Name Brand Author being the norm, and are beginning to embrace the fact that many authors like to write in a wide range of genres and for a wide variety of age groups. Once again, there’s no “one size fits all” model for authors nowadays, and I’m a big believer in authors following their heart and their passion as the means to producing their best and strongest work.

Check out Joan’s previous work.

THE TIPTOE GUIDE TO TRACKING FAIRIES.

With the THE TIPTOE GUIDE TO FINDING MERMAIDS out in spring 2012.

And in the summer of 2013 look for PARADOX – Four teenagers. A spaceship. A desolate planet. And one dark force that will stop at nothing to possess them.

Thanks Joan for being honest with us today! Good luck with all your coming releases!

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