Thursday, December 17, 2009

Author Branding by Daisy Whitney, New Media Queen

We'd like to welcome Daisy Whitney to LiLa Land as our very first guest blogger!

*Insert applause here*

By day, Daisy Whitney is a producer, on-air correspondent, podcaster and raconteur in the new media business. At night, she writes novels for teens and is the author of The Mockingbirds, to be published by Little, Brown in Fall 2010.
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Elaine Benes' Words of Wisdom -- Be Interesting. (And then leave a trail of Google Crumbs behind you)

Online branding and marketing for authors is a lot like that "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" book. Here's why -- each and every thing you do online leads to something, then another thing, then something else. And in the end, all your actions and activity online can lead back to you and to sales of your book.

That's why I believe authors can and should cultivate their own personal brands. And in our ever-fragmenting Internet age, the tools to do so are free and at anyone's disposal.

I'm writing this post because in addition to being a teen lit author -- my novel THE MOCKINGBIRDS releases from Little Brown in November 2010 -- I am also a reporter, podcaster and producer covering new media, online trends and marketing. That translates loosely into "knows enough about marketing to be dangerous."

From where I sit online marketing goes back to what Elaine Benes proclaimed in an episode of Seinfeld while struggling with a bout of writer's block. Her conclusion? Make it interesting. Because, as she said, "People like interesting writing."

Branding then at its core is simple. Be interesting. Be compelling. Be you. That means on your web site have a blog and maintain it. Blog daily or several times a week. Link your blog to your Facebook page and your GoodReads page. Make sure the blog is more than what you ate for breakfast. But if the blog is what you ate for breakfast, then make me laugh or make me cry or make me cringe when you tell your breakfast story.

Make sure the blog fits you. What do you stand for? What is your personal brand? When I think of an author like Kay Cassidy, who's involved with the Living Your Five blog, I immediately identify Kay as someone who is warm, giving and who gives back. That is what Kay stands for -- positivity, energy, grace. She maintains that identity on her blog, on her site, and in her tweets. Take young adult author Courtney Summers. She has crafted her own brand and her brand is her. She hates werewolves, loves Lady Gaga and constantly breaks up and makes up with her manuscripts. She is funny as hell and she makes me laugh with the rhythm of her words and the way she uses ALL CAPS and italics. Lisa and Laura too are developing their own brand with irreverence, self-deprecating humor and the ease with which they can work references to Spanx and Uggs in their blog entries.

But building the brand isn't enough. You have to seed it. You have to be found. You have to leave a trail of Google crumbs behind you. And that, my friends, is where the work comes in. It's not enough to just blog or tweet or have a Facebook page. You need to go out and get known. You need to visit the blogs and sites that matter and READ what they say. Leave reviews on Amazon and GoodReads. While on blogs, comment on their entries. And not spammy comments! But ones that matter. You don't have to write essays, but show you care. Many bloggers click through to their commenters and visit their sites too. Meaning they return to YOU. Blogs also are visited regularly by Google's spiders, which is another good reason to blog and to visit blogs. Then you should build out your own Google profile. Because you want to be found. You want to be reachable.

By doing this, you are leaving a trail of bread crumbs on the Internet. And those bread crumbs are a path back to you. And once people find you on YOUR site, make sure you give them a reason to stay. By giving them a reason to stay, they might -- just might -- buy your book. And tell a friend. And another friend. And five more...

To learn more about Daisy Whitney and her New Media empire check out her website, blog and follow her on Twitter.

39 comments:

Ian said...

That was a good read. That's what I try and aim for with my blog. The types of things mentioned above. Then again I also insert the fact that I don't really care what others think about what I write. I write for myself and apparently there's quite a few people out there that like what I have to say. That's the motivation I use to keep it going on an everyday basis.

Ok enough rambling... ;)

Ian

Kristi said...

This is such an important topic to address as writers these days are expected to do a great deal of branding and marketing. Thanks for a great guest interview!

Southern Princess said...

This was great! Over the past few months I have begun to do what she is talking about. Branching out more, rather than it just being a blog about 'breakfast choices' I am molding it into a 'who is Courtney Barr the Southern Princess Blog?' So far it has not only led others to me but allowed me to meet some amazing people! The sense of community is exactly what, to me, a writer searches for. We are content to just write, but to write alongside others that we admire, love, and enjoy... that is a blessing we all strive for. So thanks for this post, I plan to ease myself into a bit more marketing PR as my manuscript develops!

Oh & thanks for stopping by my Winner Winner Chicken Dinner this morning! Oh those armadillos, crazy aren't they? ;o)

Tamika: said...

Thanks Daisy! Such a relevant post for us. Blogging is a wonderful outlet, but it is also a snapshot of my writing and brand. I try and incorporate who I am into my space and posts.

The idea of leaving bread crumbs motivates me to step things up a bit!

Kerri C at CK Farm said...

Congrats on your first guest blogger Lisa and Laura!

Daisy loved the topic and made me glad I started my blog! I like how you describe it as a trail of bread crumbs. Very good advice! I feel in the loop with my blog list and buy most of the books from blogging authors more because I feel I kinda know them and want to read their books!

I could only dream to have 300+ followers. Kudos to all who do!

Happy holidays to you Daisy!

Frankie Diane Mallis said...

This is something I think about...I think I've been cultivating my own brand, but I'd be curious to hear someone else describe it to me--or maybe that'd be wierd, no--I'd totall love it. ANd you know what else I would love? Lisa and Laura Brand Spanx! Seriously, can you guys make a pair?

ElanaJ said...

Fabulous post! I think getting out there and getting known is important. For me, it's not so much about being known before landing an agent, but being known before going out to editors. I read an interview by an author who said this, and it rang true to me. (I think it was Maggie S. who wrote SHIVER.)

Of course, agents want to know you're out there doing your best, but the real deal is when publisher's can see you have an audience. Maggie said she thinks her online presence influenced how much she was offered for her books.

And so while I actually do adore blogging and reading blogs, I'm glad it has another purpose too.

Karen said...

Google crumbs...love it!

Thanks for a great (first, but I'm sure there will be many more to follow) guest post!

Shelli said...

Daisy rocks! Ill link to you in my roundup tomorrow! Thanks for the great interview!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

This is an important topic for all of us. We can all benefit from posts like these. Thanks, ladies. :)

Tere Kirkland said...

Thanks, Daisy (and LiLa!). This is reassuring.. I feel like I'm doing some of the right things, but there might be others I need to work on.

Thanks again for the thought provoking post!

Daisy Whitney said...

Thanks for letting me guest host your blog! I love reading all the responses and I will pop back later and visit all the blog of commenters too! Practice what you preach!!!

Christina Lee said...

FANTASTIC advice--and so apropos for me right now since I am going through a name change on my blog after almost two years of blogging (scary) b/c I wanted it to reflect more of "me". Your book looks great too!!

A. Grey said...

Thanks Daisy and congrats on your first guest blogger Lisa and Laura!

Thanks great, sensible information and not something that we would necessarily just think about while we're blogging away. I try to make my blog posts 'me' and I'm trying to post more regularly. It's great to know that I shouldn't be trying to conform rather than sticking out as my goofy self!

And on that note... I'm off to drop-kick the printer and then ride a few ponies...

Serenity said...

Very encouraging. What a straightforward explanation for all the social networking options out there! I'm off to link my Goodreads site to my blog right now. Thanks, Daisy!

Sara ♥ said...

This is really fantastic... It's the first time I've read an article/post/anything about building a brand that doesn't scare the heck out of me! (So many other places talk about the numbers that are necessary to make a difference... like numbers that I can't even count to and numbers that make me just want to GIVE UP!)

Thanks so much to Daisy for a wonderful and inspiring post :-)

Nisa said...

Google crumbs. I love that! Definitely great advice. Though I have to admit, I kind of like the "post once a week" attitude so people don't get overwhelmed or feel over-saturated. I wonder what most people think of that...

Keri Mikulski said...

What an amazing post. And so timely for the Elevenies.

Thanks! :)

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Holy cow...amazing post. It's the first time I've really considered what I was doing to be a matter of brand-building. You know, you are who you are, and you hope people will like you (especially me, the quintessential people-pleaser), but a brand? Hm, must now rethink all the material I've put out there? I'm now wondering if I come across more like the Snuggle bear, the Green Giant, or (gulp) that stupid Little Caesars emperor guy...interesting really, to consider what sort of image you are creating for yourself.

Erica said...

Great informative post Daisy! Thanks for LiLa as well :o)

A lot of great information there. You've given me some things to think about for sure!

Thanks for sharing with us :o)

Kim said...

What a great post! Lots of good info. Some I've heard before, some new. Always good to hear the same info reiterated by others. Then you know you're on the right track.

Thanks!

Rebecca Knight said...

This is one of the most user-friendly explanations I've read about building a brand for yourself :). I thought I knew what that meant, but was always vaguely anxious that I was misunderstanding.

Thank you for the info, and the great guest post! :)

Jeannie Lin said...

Lots of great info to store up.

And the blog surfing habit isn't all for naught, right?

Thanks for the insight Daisy.

Jemi Fraser said...

Great information! Lots of good and sensible advice - thank you :)

Anonymous said...

LiLa:
What an excellent guest blogger you chose! Daisy: thank you for the important information you gave. I'm working on my Google crumb path as fast as I can:-)

Natalie said...

What excellent advice. Thank you!

I gave you two a little award on my blog today :)

Kimberly Franklin said...

I love Daisy! Isn't she just the best?!

I also love the post. Such great advice to follow. : )

Dara said...

Great read!

I think I'm still in that "discovering my personal brand" phase. I *think* I know what it is, but I don't know that I always follow it :P

RKCharron said...

Hi :)
Thank you for sharing your wisdom here today Daisy.
Happy Holidays!
RKCharron

T. Anne said...

Tis is perfect for me to read right now. I think I'll spend the next year working on the brand. (says the one who just posted a cr@ppy dark picture. *sigh* I will get there.)

T. Anne said...

I SO meant 'this' instead of 'tis', but tis the season right?

ali said...

This was excellent! Thanks LiLa for bringing in such a rockin' guest!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Late to the party again! But I've got a bag of cookie crumbs.
That was most a most excellent read. Thanks Daisy and LiLa for fun and edification.

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

Thank you Daisy and Lisa and Laura for a great interview. Lots of food for thought and I'm sinking my teeth into it. AND I realize how much I need to go buy more loaves of dry bread and let the crumbs start falling.

Anonymous said...

I'm yet to be convinced that this enormous investment of time and effort actually pays off. Is there any real evidence that doing this significantly increases number of sales, or is this just a time-devourer for authors?

Lisa and Laura said...

Anon - I'm sure Daisy or Shelli know of some good statistics (unofficial or otherwise) that support social networking. From our perspective we love maintaining a blog, and we love reading the blogs of other writers. So while it might be a good thing for sales down the road, right now we participate in the writing community because we truly enjoy it.

Of course, with Kirkus going under and literary critics being canned at newspapers across the country, I have to believe that word of mouth is going to be the biggest sales tool in a writer's arsenal.

Daisy Whitney said...

Word of mouth is the most powerful form of marketing. In fact, research firm eMarketer found that recommendations from friends and family is the No. 1 influencer of purchase decisions with recommendations via social media No. 2 for the 18-34 age group. As with any marketing, there's never a guarantee it will work or which one worked and drove purchases, but my belief in this day and age of endless choice and mass media fragmentation that the one to one outreach via blogs, comments, social media can make a difference.

Daisy Whitney said...

Just one more addendum -- I agree with Lisa and Laura. Social media is ALSO about community and interaction. I LIKE talking to people about books so the reward isn't only in potential sales, but in connection.

Punith said...

Great Tips! I actually started a blog and want more readers on it. But creating a brand - Is it the same as creating a consistent theme? The theme of my blog is to give my opinion on interesting videos from authors, researchers, historians, and anything I find educational.