Friday, February 21, 2014

Author Branding - A Consumer POV

Author branding is invaluable but execution of a brand is a lot like finding your unique writer voice. Discovering individuality can mean wading through theory.

I decided to step back from being an author and look at this as a reader. Except as a reader, I don't visit author websites. My generation may be well versed in computers, but we weren't baptized in them. I grew up this way:
Walden Books, early, 1990, Christopher Pike. I read and reread him, dissecting and devouring every nuance and shivery moment with my best friend. We never knew when his next book was coming, so each time we were at the mall, we checked the shelves. We didn't need the newest release--we just wanted one we hadn't read. Each colorful option was like candy for our eyes. 

Okay, so I'm not the best reader reference. Fine. Time for research. When I look at a few big names I consider valuable role models I find sites as exciting as watching a hen on an egg or as crazed as if all the kids at Chucky Cheese just did sour straws like cocaine. 
  • Jennifer Weiner blogs every few months to once a year, and the rest of the information is so static, it's a statue. (Since I first compiled this list, she added a media link)
  • Meg Cabot has the best combination blog and website but I still find it frenetic
  • Sophie Kinsella's is similar to Meg's but not as visually appealing to me--too much white space
  • Kristin Hannah's has an IKEA quality. The website is made by a company who doesn't work with self-published authors. I bite my thumb at you.
  • Neil Gaiman's site has a hand firmly against my face and says don't come any closer. It informs me that it will take my request and fetch, but do not come in and sit down.
  • Matchy, Matchy - Bloggy Natchy
  • Jim Butcher is cleaner than Meg and Sophie's but I find myself bored before I even start.  
Okay, fine. Back to theories. A blog and website should be seamlessly connected. An All-in-One. My brain translates this as --------------------------->
Frankly, I prefer Candice Olson. I view the website as the living room or kitchen--a place to get to know the author and their work. The blog is the game room or private office for interaction and delving deep inside. These spaces should compliment but be distinctive. 

Do I listen to the industry standard and design my author branding by a well established set of successful tips? Or do I let the consumer inside me in on the fun? As writers, we're supposed to celebrate our individual voices. Why wouldn't I do it with my brand as well? 

The worst that can happen is that the industry is right and eventually I'll adhere, but at least I tried to be me.