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.
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...