Everywhere you look, there’s advice to beginning authors to establish a brand and a platform. I’m not here to talk about that.
Think carefully. Have you ever responded positively to a brand, to an advertising campaign, to a commercial? When it comes to writing, you respond to whether you’ve read other stuff by the author and liked it, to the book cover, what it looks like the story will be about based on the marketing text, and to word of mouth or meeting the author in person – in roughly that order of importance. So let’s not talk about marketing yourself like some kind of carbonated soda.
Instead, let’s take a look at that last item – meeting the author in person at a convention or signing. Expand that to hearing them speak on panels, present or read their work. Or to hearing from them on social media, on their website, on other people’s websites, comments on articles. Those are all personal glimpses into who the author is, adding up to a person you’ll like or dislike. A person who stands for things you believe in, or… not.
Who is that person? If you’re the author… who are you?
Your online or in-person presence has a long-term, indelible impact on your writing career. Every time you speak out, or fail to speak out, or say anything of humor, meaning or opinion, you have given your readers a little gift of yourself. This is your most important marketing tool.
If you think of it in terms of a brand, a platform, you’ve already distanced your online or in-person presence from your inner self, and that means it’s going to be influenced by what you think readers want to see. And you’re going to consider whether departing from your usual sort of work is a bad idea, because of what you think readers expect, so you’ll limit yourself.
Don’t do that.
Instead, be yourself, as hard as you can, and be the best person you know how to be. Improve. Learn. Change. While you’ll never please everyone, trying too hard to please ends up pleasing nobody. Offer readers your best true self all the time.
Give true gifts.
Next week – Who Is Your Main Character?