Friday, June 15, 2012

It's All About Me - Marketing and Branding as an Indie Author

It's All About Me!
Marketing and Branding as an Indie Author
Guest Post by Patti Larsen

My ongoing icebreaker to those who ask what my writing goals are is pretty powerful—I want world literary domination. It makes people laugh, myself included most times I say it, mostly because it sounds so impossible and improbable.

Thing is, it’s not a joke, at least not completely. I’ve always wanted the fame and fortune thing. To be a household name that slips from the tongue with the likes of King, Rowling and Tolkien. But I’ve want it for the right reasons, at least the ones that fill me up and make me happy.

I have wonderful stories to tell. And I want everyone to read them.

Simple, right? The concept is, definitely. When I dove head-first into independent publishing, opening my own company, hiring my team who come together with me for different projects, I was hyper focused on production—writing, editing, cover design, interiors, getting books out there. Most of the marketing I engaged in was what we call soft launch, with very little fanfare.

Why, you ask, did I not decided to pick a book and give it my all in the promotion arena? I’m a firm believer in the fact that more product means more sales. And that until I had a stable of product to sell to potential buyers, it was silly to waste my hot air (and it’s hot, trust me!) on asking people to buy my book.

Fast forward from August of 2011 until the present. I now have eighteen novels in happy publication, all but two in sequels. I’ve been using the Amazon KDP Select program along with social media to spread the word, and sales are very, very good considering how little marketing I’ve been doing. More than enough to pay for more edits, more covers, more of the things I need to keep going. I’m now self-sufficient and it feels amazing.

But it’s now time to shift focus and gears and get to the whole domination issue. I have really amazing books I’m very proud of that are ready, willing and able to pave my path. But to make it happen, outside being noticed by some random star who pimps me and gets my name out, I need a plan.

So, I hired a marketing expert. A website designer. A photographer. Together, as part of a new team, we are putting together my brand. And it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Harder than writing books--pffft, that’s easy. Putting my face on everything and making my image and my personality responsible for my success?

To quote my favorite teen witch: Oh. My. Swearword.

But I’m doing it. Learning what it means to be a brand and the marketing strategies behind it. How not to sell to people, but to bring them to me. How to make my books stand out even more in a world of five-second attention spans. It’s fun and different and I’m enjoying it even as I’m shaking my head in frustration when I don’t get it or asking myself what I’m thinking jumping in with both feet.

Then again, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t.

So, the question is: what can you do to forward your marketing? Does the thought of doing a keyword analysis scare the crap out of you or do you even know what I’m talking about? How about figuring out what your brand is—can you sum up your work and yourself in one short sentence? The goal is to understand who you are as a writer and what you’re really trying to say with your books, while really seeing the people you’re trying to reach. What does your website look like—is it all about you? Are you targeting your posts toward your audience or other writers? Do you have a media kit or is the basis of your marketing shouting out your book over social networks? And if you have found something that works for you, was it on purpose or did you stumble over it? As much as we might dislike this side of the job, looking at marketing with a wide-eyed curiosity and a sense of fun can go a long way toward success.

About the Author:
Patti Larsen is an award-winning middle grade and young adult author with a passion for the paranormal. Her YA thriller series, The Hunted, is available now. Book one of that series, RUN, is a recent recipient of the 2012 PEI Book Awards for Fiction. The first six books of The Hayle Coven Novels, starting with Family Magic, are also out now. Her YA steampunk series, Blood and Gold, can be found on Amazon, along with her YA paranormal novel, Best Friends Forever, and The Diamond City Trilogy. Her middle grade novel, The Ghost Boy of MacKenzie House (Acorn Press), debuts in June, 2012. She is a full time writer and a part time teacher of her Get Your Book Done program. Patti lives on the East Coast of Canada with her very patient husband and four massive cats.

You can connect with Patti on her website, Facebook and Twitter.

This is part of a weekly feature, posted each Friday, which looks at publishing related topics. If you are interested in doing a guest post, please contact me.

Previous posts:
Indie Authors are on the Wrong Side of the Tracks by Darian Wilk
Why Do Indie Writers Need Editors by Valerie Douglas
Let's Talk About Sex... in YA Books - Is Sexual Content Appropirate by Deb Hanrahan
Traditional vs. Self Publishing - Why I Chose to Fight the Odds by Ryan Graudin


  1. I have goals as a writer and funny enough they are to be similar to you. I don't need to be a household name, but I would like to make a living off of writing books.

    Thank you so much for this post. I've been thinking about self-publishing and not even trying to get an agent and the information you provided here on how you've reached success is being catalogued into my brain as I try to make this decision.

    I hope you achieve even more success in the future.

    1. Everyone has their own path to walk, E.B., and their own decisions to make. But in my experience, indie publishing has worked very well for me.

      BUT make sure you examine every avenue--this is a business and being such, you should be as informed as possible in all areas. Good luck with your choice and happy writing!



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