May 28, 2011

Building Your Brand with CJ Lyons Part 2

Here's Part 2 of How to become a Bestseller and Preserve your Sanity

You can find CJ's (absolutely fabulous) writing resources at her website No Rules, Just Write!  If the ideas in the handout are helpful, there's more on this in her Break Free from the Slushpile e-book.

I'm going to tell you to ask yourself three questions.

Here we go!

1. Why did you write this book?

2. Who did you write this book for?

3. What are you willing to do for this book?

Dig deep with your answers! Why? Because the answers will frame your entire marketing strategy--and make it a custom fit tailored to you and your readers!


Why did you write this book? Answer that truthfully and you'll find yourself telling all sorts of stories about what the book meant to you and what inspired you and why this character did that and how you researched various things, etc, etc, etc.

Key word in all of that? Stories!!!

Right there is the heart of every answer you need for interviews, guest blog posts, QandA's, press releases, etc, etc, etc.

Look at your answer. If you dug deep you'll find that you've placed a human, emotional face onto dry facts whether you're talking about your research or how you juggled your schedule to find time to write this book you were so passionate about.

Let that passion and emotion shine through--it's how we connect to an audience!

Answer that question truthfully and you'll never have to worry about a paint-drying-boring press release or interview or feature article again! Because you--the "real" you, authentic and passionate and honest!--will be at the heart of each story written about you (or by you).

Okay, so that's pretty much all the content you'll need. Now, you need to decide who to send that content to.

Sounds like the answer to question #2, doesn't it? Who did you write this book for? That's your target audience.

It might be one person, say your mother. That's fine, but dig deep, ask yourself why? Is it because you've been estranged and you're reaching out through your characters for a chance to reconnect?

Guess what? A large number of people have been there, done that! Use them, reach out to them via blogs, online groups, etc.

Did you add a Calico Cat character because you wrote the entire book with your calico cat sleeping on your lap and the keyboard (kinda like I'm writing this article, lol!) Then reach out to all the Calico Cat lovers out there!

Does the book wrestle with a social or political issue that you feel passionate about? Then reach out to the others who feel the same way!

This is targeted marketing. Reaching out and connecting with PEOPLE, not just anonymous blogs or websites or demographics. You want to connect, start conversations, tell stories.

Do not simply post a bunch of tweets, blogs, comments and turn tail and run….in other words, it's NOT about YOU--it's ALL about THEM!

With every audience you aim to connect with, first ask yourself: what do I have to offer them? What can I give them? What do they want?

Which brings us to question #3: what are you willing to do?

Knee jerk answer for any debut author is: ANYTHING or EVERYTHING.

Great way to burn out, fast!

Answer this one thoughtfully and honestly.

If you're terrified of public speaking and getting up to give a talk would make you lose a week of sleep and decrease your ability to work (remember your main job is to write the next book!) then acknowledge that and incorporate it into your plan: I won't do any live presentations.

Doesn't it feel better just to say it? Feel that weight off your shoulders? And hey, you're not ruining your career by focusing on the things you're comfortable with--in fact, you are PROTECTING THE WORK!

That's right, your job isn't to promote your work, it's to PROTECT it.

So make a list of promotional possibilities and impossibilities….play to your strengths. You may find only a few things under the "I know I can do this and rock it!" column--that's fine, then really focus on those.

They might not seem like promotion at all. They might be more along the lines of writing short stories, things totally in your comfort zone. No worries. As long as you're doing something to keep your name out there (and short stories are a great promotional tool!) you can count it.

You'll probably find that you have a third column: I'd like to do…but I'm not very good at…type of things. Great! Those are fun to try--as long as they don't get in the way of your writing.

For instance, you're an Introvert but really, really want to go to RWA so you can walk around smiling and wearing your First Sale ribbon.

Figure out a way to do it that won't sap your creative energy. Partner with an Extrovert friend who will introduce you and keep the small talk flowing. Schedule down time alone in your room so you can re-charge. Prepare a few topics of conversation ahead of time so you don't feel like you have nothing to say. Make appointments to meet people for meals so you don't end up eating alone in a crowd and feeling left out.

Bottom line: very, very, very few debut authors made it "big" because of their own promotional efforts.

BUT, if you know your strengths and play to them then you'll not only have fun but you'll be able to write the next book and build name recognition with YOUR audience.

And that's how bestsellers are made…one reader at a time.

Thanks for reading!


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