Monday, July 8, 2013

What To Expect When You’re Expecting Your First Book – Branding Pt. 1 – The Tagline

Continuing with my new series on what happens after the contract is signed.
Once you sell, it’s important to start figuring out “who” you are as a writer and what public face you want to put on your books. Actually, you don’t have to wait until you’ve sold to start building your brand. If you’re active on social media like Facebook and Twitter (or any of the seemingly hundreds of social media channels out there) you should be thinking about what message you want to say. When you’re posting – even if you’re not posting about writing – you need to consider what it says about you and your books. If you write dark paranormal…what should that sound like in your posts? If you write frothy romantic comedy, that should be reflected in the words and tone you use.
Whether you’re on the path to your first book…or your 25th book…you still need to know “who” you are. You need to know what your brand is and you need to “sell” that brand everywhere. On your website, blog, facebook, twitter, pinterest, Instagram, etc.
Since I come from an advertising background, I actually know something about branding. I’ve thought about what my brand will be for years. Once I sold I really tried to crystalize what I wanted my public face to be and what that would look and sound like.
Kristin Wallace Author – The Brand
So…big question. Who is Kristin Wallace as a writer? I write inspirational romance and general market women’s fiction (with strong romantic elements). No matter which genre I write I must have humor. Sarcasm, snark, comedy of errors. There is always drama and angst and conflict, too, but I can’t do a whole book of complete sadness and gnashing of teeth. As an 80’s Valley Girl might say… “Gag me!” I have to include some romance. I will also always include a faith element. For my women’s fiction, the “inspirational” subplot is much softer and subtle…but the spiritual message of love, forgiveness and healing are still present.
The Tagline
One of the first things I recommend is coming up with a tagline for yourself as an author. A tagline is a few words or sentence that encapsulates an entire campaign. You probably know some of the famous ones…“Have It Your Way,” Diamonds Are Forever”, “Good to the last drop”, “Got Milk”. Those lines say what a brand stands for and every time you see or hear them, you feel something about that brand. An author’s tagline needs to do the same thing. Coming up with a tagline usually involves sitting down either at the computer or with a notepad and sort of free writing as many phrases or words as you can. There’s probably been a time where you’ve tried sitting down and writing whatever flows from your imagination, without stopping to censor yourself or fix misspellings or whatnot. Try the same thing with your taglines. Just write any idea down. Even if you know it’s bad (and there will be bad ones) or not the right phrase, don’t worry about it. Just get it on the screen or paper. If there’s a certain word/phrase that you really like, try as many variations using that word/phrase as you can. When you hit the right one you’ll know.
After writing and dismissing many, many lines I stumbled upon my tagline.
“Love, Laughter and a Leap of Faith”
I tried a bunch of variations of this line, using different words. Why did I choose this one? First, I like the message it portrays. Those words are what my books are about. They have romance, lots of laughs and a spiritual element that isn’t too heavy-handed. I also like the sheer poetry, the way the words flow. The three “L”s.
Finding Your Message
Finding your tagline will really crystallize everything you want your brand to be. It will also help you develop messaging for your online presence. I’ve been blogging for a few years, but I always had trouble coming up with topics to write about. I’m not an expert in anything so I didn’t feel like I could write about gardening or knitting or cooking, etc. No husband or kids, so I can’t write about that. I don’t want to fall into a trap of only writing about…well…writing. Besides, others do a much better job of writing about craft. But once I had my tagline the problem of what to write and post about became easier. Why? My topics are spelled out in those three words. I can write about “love”. Could be romantic love, could be parent/child love, could be the love between a pet or even other animals. Stories I read, experiences I have. I could also write about funny things, “laughter”. How many posts do you see everyday with funny stories or photos? How many of those hilarious ecards? How many funny YouTube videos? Lastly, I can write about “faith”. My faith or perhaps the faith demonstrated by someone else. I can write about how my faith is reflected in my writing, too.
Now I’ll give you a lesson. Come up with a tagline for yourself as an author. Even if you have one already, go ahead and try. Let me know when you find “the one”.