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Marketing: Having a Cause

As an author, having a cause or charity that you support is both noble and marketable. It’s a way to support something you believe in, and help your community. And even though I know a lot of authors will donate their royalties towards a specific cause, in most cases, it doesn’t hurt overall book sales. It’s a great way to get your name out there in different circles, to people who believe in helping the same cause. It can also help your self-esteem and make you feel good about yourself for doing the right thing.

Jim C. Hines writes in his blog about having more awareness about rape and sexual abuse issues: http://www.jimchines.com. Brenda Novak does a fundraiser for juvenile diabetes: http://www.brendanovak.com/for-the-cure-2/. Both are people who have a cause they support and donate to, who happen to be authors.

Jim had a friend who was sexually assaulted. It’s something he doesn’t want to see happen to anyone–with good reason. Sexual abuse is a huge problem in today’s world. Helping others to get educated on the subject and be more aware is very dear to his heart. He’s broadened a lot of minds, including my own, with his unique approach.

Brenda’s son was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes as a young child. As a mother myself, I understand the desire and willingness to do anything and everything to protect your child. Brenda did what any mother would do when faced with a challenge out of her control. She brainstormed. As of today, she’s raised well over $2 million towards research for a cure.

These authors are just two examples of people doing good by their writing. They’re raising awareness for a cause they believe in, and in doing so, they’re helping their community. Has their audience for their own books increased because of it? Maybe. The important thing here is that they’re doing what they can to help this world be a better place.

For myself, I have several charities I support.

Michael and Brittiany in 2007 at Red Smith SchoolMy church, the local no-kill animal shelter, and raising awareness for psoriatic arthritis, an arthritis many people still don’t know exists. It’s a disease my husband has been living with for close to twenty years, and I’m hopeful someday he’ll have a pain-free day. To learn more about this autoimmune disease, go to: https://www.psoriasis.org/psoriatic-arthritis.

So, when you’re marketing your next book, be more creative. Don’t think about the “Buy My Book” posts that need to be created for your new release. Think about who you are as a person and who you want to be. Think about those you’d like to help. Think about what you really care about in your life. Think about the needs of your family, friends, and community, and let things happen naturally.

 

Picture of Brittiany and Michael Koren © copyright 2015 by the Koren family.

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Writer’s Wednesday: New York Times Bestselling Author Brenda Novak on Branding Yourself As a Writer

Today I’d like to welcome New York Times bestselling author Brenda Novak to The Editing Essentials! Because marketing is one of those “Must-Do” items on every author’s list, I asked Brenda, who does marketing so well, to give some tips on it. Please welcome her!

New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author Brenda Novak is in the middle of writing a brand new small-town contemporary series. Come meet the long-time friends who have made Whiskey Creek the “Heart of Gold Country,” with WHEN LIGHTNING STRIKES, WHEN SNOW FALLS and WHEN SUMMER COMES. Brenda also runs an annual on-line auction for diabetes research every May at www.brendanovak.com (her youngest son has this disease). To date, she’s raised over $1.6 million. 

Branding

There’s a buzzword in the industry that makes almost any author sit up and take notice: branding. Everyone’s talking about it; everyone wants to be effective at it. But…what is it, exactly? And how important is it that we learn to market in this way?

An author brand is like any other kind of brand—Coke, Pepsi, Kellogg’s, Andersen Doors. The most familiar brands evoke immediate recognition and association with particular products or even a level of quality in a certain product. Basically, branding translates into a sort of shorthand. I see a Nora book, I automatically know what kind of experience I can expect by reading it, so I pick it up without having to think twice or do any research. Having a reputation and a loyal following helps with all those impulse buys that are so critical in the book business.

Branding is also important because it enables the author’s name in and of itself to become a marketable commodity. James Patterson is now using his brand to sell stories co-authored by other people. He’s even expanding his brand to include many different types of stories. Now that he’s so strongly associated with a good story, he can do that.

How did he build such a strong brand? By writing consistently great stories. That always has to be first. But there’s more to it than that. Branding is an on-going process and doesn’t generally happen overnight. It’s most difficult in the start-up phase. As well known as they are, Coke and Pepsi are still out there, advertising and building name recognition. It’s like pushing a ball uphill. If you stop pushing, it rolls right back to the bottom—something else encroaches and takes the attention of those you’re hoping to reach.

Specifically, an author brands herself by developing something that is consistent and unique in her writing. I do that by making sure every book I create delivers a deeply emotional, evocative story. How is my brand different from other authors who write in the same genre? My books are known for their deep characterization in a genre that is often more plot-driven (as you drift toward the suspense side). Once you know what you want your brand to be, you establish it through your writing style and “voice,” as well as your promotional efforts, until it becomes recognizable to others.

Some tools an author can use to build her brand are:

 

  1. Paid Advertising
  2. An interesting and constantly updated Web site
  3. Strategic Contests
  4. Blogs and chats (See? I’m building my brand right here <G>)
  5. Newsletters
  6. Charity/Volunteer work
  7. Networking
  8. Joint-promotion with other authors and businesses
  9. Speaking
  10. Writing articles
  11. Press releases/media attention
  12. Author response to fan letters/e-mails
  13. Mailers to booksellers/fans
  14. Samplers

Your brand is your promise to your readers. When my readers buy my books they want to be able to count on a certain type of read. Therefore, I make sure I deliver that kind of read. Everything I do professionally is geared around building my brand and my career, so my website reflects that brand, my promotional materials reflect it, my charity auction reflects it, and my workshops/blogs reflect it.

Think about how solicitors make you feel. Because we are approached by so many who are trying to sell us something, the melee is deafening. We learn to filter and filter quickly, which means, in order to be effective in today’s marketplace, we have to be creative marketers. So my question to you is: How can you reach people who are already tired of the signals that are constantly bombarding them via the telephone, TV, computer, etc? How can you set yourself apart?

Throw out some ideas, and I’ll be happy to contribute. 🙂

Thank you so much for being here today, Brenda! Feel free to post questions or comments for Brenda, she’ll be with us all day. Thank you!

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Thanksgiving

Because today is the day before the Thanksgiving holiday, I wanted to take a moment and focus on something that is near and dear to my heart.

I’ve always believed family comes first, before anything else. My family supported me when I married, had my children, and now as I enter into my second year as the owner of Written Dreams. I’m thankful for their support, their love, and their never-ending belief in me. I’m thankful for Lara and Susan, my editing partners, and for all the writers and publishers that have sent work our way this year to help make Written Dreams a success.

This Thanksgiving will be my first holiday without my son home. He’ll be staying at campus, but will be home for Christmas. It’s a tough thing, emotionally, for me. Something I’ve never had to deal with before. Those few special days out of the year–holidays–that have become a tradition in our home of gathering together and being thankful for our health, our family, a roof over our heads, food on the table–those moments are very important to me. My extended family will be gathering together, my girls, and my handsome hubby. We’ll be eating sweet potatoes, turkey, dressing (my sister-in-law makes the best dressing), homemade rolls, mashed potatoes, venison (avid deer hunters in my family), pumpkin pie, apple pie, chocolate pie, ham roll ups, and so much more. There’s never a lack of food at my brother’s home. And I’m thankful we’ll be gathering together as a family to enjoy the feast.

But for some people, it’s been a long, rough year. Most recently, with some writers, agents, and publishing houses dealing with the effects of Storm Sandy, and being displaced from their homes and offices. Some just recently being able to get back into their homes, some with no homes to get back to at all. Still finding the courage inside to go on–to write, to agent, to edit, to do whatever needs to be done to continue putting out the books on schedule. When I’m gathering together with my own family, I’ll be saying a prayer for those friends I know that are struggling, for good things to come their way, and hope their families are safe.

If you’re feeling generous this holiday season, your gift towards helping the people recover from the storm would be appreciated: http://www.redcross.org/charitable-donations

Thank you. We hope you and yours have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, and best wishes for a joyous holiday season.

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Brenda Novak’s Annual On-Line Auction

Written Dreams donated 5 different types of critiques to Brenda Novak’s Annual Auction for the Cure of Diabetes 2012. I know several people who have learned to live with having this disease, so this is a topic that hits home. It’s important to help fund research for a disease that affects so many people. We’re looking forward to being a part of the Auction in 2013!