Branding the Herd

This post, by Austin Wulf, originally appeared on his Write-Err Blog on 1/6/11.

Author platform. Writer brand. Trademark.

Whatever you want to call it. If you want to be a professional writer, you have to market yourself. I don’t care if you’re self-publishing or going the traditional route. In the age of social media and minute-long fads, we need to do everything we can as writers to keep our names in the minds of our prospective readers.

I recently watched a concert on TV with blues guitarist Joe Bonamassa. Between every song they interviewed him a bit and talked about his experiences both writing songs and being a professional musician. As a guitarist myself, I really dug it for a lot of reasons. But Joe said some things that struck a chord (ho-ho, bad pun) with me as a writer, as well.

In the world of writing, we are our own ad execs.

Bonamassa talked about something that a lot of writers these days are yamming on and arguing about: The indie movement. Granted, he was talking about it in terms of the music business, but a lot of the same principles apply to us wordy types. Joe has his own record label now, but in the past he has had record deals. He said that, in either case, he has to market himself. I don’t have an exact quote handy, but he said something to the effect of: “The label doesn’t promote you nearly as much anymore. Record sales are not where it’s at these days. You have to tour.”

Of course, writers typically go on tour to promote a book. We don’t really make money off of the tour directly like musicians do. But this point still rings true for us: Publishers aren’t doing the same marketing that they used to for authors. These days, it’s all about social connections and Internet presence. Every author should have a blog at the very least. A regularly updated one, at that. Why blog? It’s something we write in, in our voice, every day. It comes to represent us. It is a body of work that we can point to and say, “Hey, that’s me. I did that.” Ultimately, a blog is a website devoted to our writing voice. Are we narcissistic? I like to believe it comes with the territory and to an extent steels your skin for the hard parts of selling yourself. Like rejection.

Read the rest of the post on Austin Wulf’s Write-Err Blog.

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