This is part four in the interview series I am doing with Jaguar Bennett, Publicity and Marketing Director for Linden Publishing.
Jaguar: Brand is perhaps a little to marketing speak. What people are looking for is the sense of an author that has a strong identity. That's what I think readers are really attracted to. Books that have a very strong identity of a story line behind them. You look at two of the biggest phenomena of the last decade. Whatever you think of the quality of the novels – Harry Potter and the Twilight books. There you have authors with very strong personal identities. They also have very strong personal stories.
There are a great many Harry Potter fans out there who know the whole story of how J.K. Rowling started writing the Harry Potter books when she was a single mother on welfare. People identify not just with the story line in the books about the fictional characters, but also the storyline about the author. In creating that identity behind the author, that is something you can communicate in all different kinds of ways.
Blogs are great because it is virtually like a magazine that you control. You can present your personality there. What you are interested in. Stephenie Meyer, the woman who writes the Twilight novels, has an excellent author website and is all engaged in getting into communication with the readers. She is very willing to speak to her readers directly and personally.
Now, Rowling does not do that. Rowling has opted for a strategy where a particular fan blog where it is known that she favors, she will talk to those blogs. That is the way to control access for herself and a way of communicating that identity and personality through.
Social media is another great way of presenting that personality, you know your identity, your communication. Twitter and Facebook are the two standard ones for that. I think that those are the two that every author ought to master. And of course, to be a little old fashion, there is quite a lot that can be done through journalism. If you are not a fiction writer, you are a subject matter expert. There are so many subjects related to what you write about that are good potentials for nonfiction stories especially for magazines and newspapers, for other blogs, and online magazines. Especially to reach the broader community of people who are interested in your subject.
The other thing besides getting yourself out there in every way possible is having a strong attention to what your identity is about.
Focus is very important here. Let's go back to my button example. If you are trying to build yourself up as the expert in collecting buttons, no matter how much you might enjoy ribbons or military decorations or something else that is sort of loosely related, stick with your focus. If a person wants to write about motorcycles, they might also be very interested in bicycles, automobiles, and so forth, and that can work if you want to spread yourself out broadly into a transportation author, but by creating that focus it will give you strong attention to what you are doing.
Whatever J.K. Rowling does in the future we expect it to be something in the fantasy genre. You don't expect to hear that Stephen King is going to publish a sweet romance story. Authors have brands just like any other commercial product. And you want to create a firm identity around yourself and then communicate it through as many channels as you can.