The Nitty Gritty Dirt Brand

ou guys, if you haven’t seen Laurie Boyle Crompton’s farewell vid, please do so. It’s great. Painfully accurate, though. That stuff about promoting our books. <shudder>

Ugh. Publicity. Platforms. Author branding. It’s so dirty, so vulgar.

Oxydol-Box-perspectiveMakes me feel like a box of Oxydol.

I get that authors have to do our own publicity. It’s just that the publicity experts make it so . . . so mandatory. So specific. Like, if you don’t do exactly these things in this order, you’re a dodohead and no one will buy your book. Here are a few examples, snips from the internet:

Start Twittering. Do this before you do anything else online.~~Michael Hyatt,  author of Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World (Thomas Nelson)

Your author photo is another important branding tool. Be sure to get a professional looking photo and use it everywhere, to build recognition of you.~~Dana Lynn Smith, the Savvy Book Marketer

[Discover the] Influencers – Well-known people in your field, book reviewers, celebrities, media, and bloggers. These folks can help spread the word about your book. ~~Dana Lynn Smith

OK. Sigh. I’ll do it. But it’s no fun. Listen, I’m a writer. If I wanted to discover influencers and have my image recognized I would have majored in marketing or drama. Branding myself–it’s just . . . anathema to me.

And you know what? I can find almost nothing online about whether that stuff really works. Have there been any studies? Can the results of regular twittering be quantified? Let me know of any data out there that goes beyond the anecdotal. If I knew that tweeting actually led to increased sales, I’d perch on that branch with both feet.OxydolizedCB

Why? Because as a debut author, you don’t want to get lost among all the other books out there. You don’t want to be bundled together with those people who upload documents and call themselves authors.
OxydolCarolSo, you think, maybe I should hire a publicist to do all this! Yes! I need a publicist! Well, I looked into it:

Most writers will find the cost of hiring an independent publicist prohibitive ($5,000 to $20,000), but some manage to save up the money or put aside a portion of their advance to cover a publicist’s expenses. ~Poets and Writers magazine

A portion. A portion. Um. Right.

The thing is, I want my books to get noticed. Nobody’s more enthusiastic about my character Cecelia and the War of the Worlds radio broadcast (Radio Girl) or about worm farming (Winnie Finn, Worm Farmer) than I, and to that end, I hereby announce my new website avec blog. 2013-02-24 04.03.04 I plan to post about stuff related to my books, but not for the sole purpose of advertising them. Just anything that interests me about old-time radio or swing dancing, or the blue worms of New Guinea. Fun stuff. Interesting and unusual trivia. Ephemera. Stuff I love. And if people learn about my books and become interested, yay. Thinking of it that way, maybe I can “promote” my “brand” just by using my natural enthusiasm? Maybe it won’t seem so icky and I won’t feel so much like a box of detergent. Am I being a dodohead? I’d love to learn how you–or someone you know–became a brand. Do tell.

If you’re still itching for actual advice about promoting your own books, I like this article by Kelly Kathleen Ferguson at Hunger Mountain very much.


Filed under Advice - Helpful or Otherwise, Book Promotion, Promotion

23 responses to “The Nitty Gritty Dirt Brand

  1. Your website looks great, Carol! I love the header!


  2. Well, I’m way more of a dodohead than brand, but I think approaching social media by exploring what you like makes a lot of sense. For one, you’ll have more fun, for another, it’s gotta feel more authentic, for you and your readers.

    BTW, your website is very engaging. And I see you’ll be signing at ALA – which is worth more than a gazillion tweets.


  3. Carrie Gordon

    This will definitely strike a chord with many new and not-so-new writers because so many of us struggle with this aspect of writing.


  4. Carol!!!! You are the opposite of a dodohead. This I know for certain. I love your blog and adore your new Web site. I’ve even bookmarked it, so there. Sadly, I have no wisdom to impart about publicity, because I hate it so much that even thinking about it gives me feel all gitchy.


  5. I have to agree with Jeanne that signing at ALA is worth more than a gazillion tweets. Studies have shown that an on-line presence can lift sales, but nothing lifts slaes like an incredible book. Write on!


  6. I try not to notice that I’ve probably been asked to sign at ALA because I live nearby. So, Kristin, the online stuff does work? All right then. I’m getting a twitter account.


  7. It doesnt have to be something like Twitter. It can come from being an authoritative place to go to learn more about THE WAR OF THE WORLDS.


  8. Despite my last two posts, I can spell. Really, I can! I had to go back and retype three words in this message. Now four….


  9. I want to know about the blue worms of New Guinea. Your site sounds like it will be awesome.


  10. Joshua McCune

    I was reading one of Nathan Bransford’s archived posts on this just the other day. It does feel icky… but I think you’re taking a great angle on it. Your passion about a subject, which is the opposite of icky, will help advertise as much as anything, IMO.

    PS Your website is looking fabulous.


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  13. Carol, thanks for the great advice. Love your new website.


  14. Mike Jung

    Worm farming is awesome. That is all.


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