I know, it’s been forever since I wrote a post. I’ve been working on my story, writing a new ending…and a new beginning…and a new middle. I pretty much only left two chapters alone and everything else changed. But it’s a much stronger story for the rewrite.
Now, on to the topic.
Lately, I’ve been hearing writers talk about wanting to promote their brand. That’s awesome. Except they think their brand is their book. (Okay, while you can make your brand your book, I’m not convinced that’s wise.) In my opinion the book is the product and the brand is the author.
A brand, according to my marketing book,
“consists of the network of associations surrounding the brand in the shared memory structures of customers.”
Wikipedia has this to say about brands,
“Some people distinguish the psychological aspect of a brand from the experiential aspect. The experiential aspect consists of the sum of all points of contact with the brand and is known as the brand experience. The psychological aspect, sometimes referred to as the brand image, is a symbolic construct created within the minds of people and consists of all the information and expectations associated with a product or service.
An example: If I say Stephenie Meyer, most of us automatically think of Twilight. But if I say Twilight, we do not automatically think of Stephenie Meyer. So if Stephenie wants people to buy her other books, which I’m assuming she does, she needs to promote not only her product but herself. She wants people looking for her next book so that when it comes out, she’ll automatically have a reader base. That’s what makes the first book the hardest for new authors; they have no reader base. In building a brand, they help build that foundation.
I read a post a little over a week ago on Daisy Whitney’s blog about 1,000 True Fans. It made a similar but excellent point. If an author can get 1,000 true fans, they’re set. Those 1,000 fans will be the ones reading every new book and telling their friends and blogging/facebooking/twittering about it. Their enthusiasm will bring the author more readers.
Brands are what live on. They are more valuable than every product a company has put together. Another example: In blind taste tests, Budweiser ranks among the lowest beers, but it’s one of the top selling. Why? Because they surround their brand with associations that make people recognize and buy their product. Who doesn’t remember those cute little frogs? Even I know the name Budweiser and I hate beer.
Budweiser also has five different products. Five different beers that they promote. Here’s the difference between building a brand and building a product. When Budweiser creates a new product, people loyal to their brand will be willing to try it. People loyal to a product (i.e. specific beer) will not.
Unfortunately as authors, our product is not consumable. People don’t need to rebuy them. So unlike Budweiser, which still profits if people stay loyal to one product, we need readers willing to try our other books.
Brands are powerful. For most companies, brands are worth over 50% of their market capital. Think carefully in how you promote.