Part 1: Authenticity
I've been building and rebuilding and evolving my brand as a writer for about eight years. For the first year or two, I went with my gut. I created and shared content to promote my brand, which was mainly focused on this blog and my aspirations to one day become a published author.
That changed when I signed the contract for my first book. I felt like I absolutely had to do what I saw other authors doing or I'd fail. This gave me a bit of an identity crisis. Plus, a lot of what I tried didn't work. My sales weren't amazing. (Okay, full disclosure, they were hardly worth mentioning.) I was frazzled and stressed. I constantly felt like a hack and a fail. Worst of all, I felt like a fraud.
It took me a long time to realize I wasn't happy with myself as a writer or a person. I gave serious consideration to quitting. If being an author wasn't bringing me joy or income, then what was the point?
There was a benefit to reaching this extreme low. It brought me some clarity and an opportunity to truly evaluate and reflect on myself and my career. This soul-searching didn't magically fix everything. My sales still aren't anything to write home about, and I still have anxiety. But it did give me a new sense of purpose and a direction.
I realized I needed to be more authentic with myself and my career. I still wanted to tell stories and share them with people. But I knew I wouldn't set myself up for success by pretending to be anyone else. A big part of my transformation needed to come in my business. As I've talked to fellow authors the past few months, it seems a lot of us are becoming stressed and miserable in our careers. And a common source of that angst is marketing.
I hope that through this information and the exercises I'll share, you can begin to develop a brand and marketing plan that works best for you as an author and person.
Before we get into that, let's cover a few terms to make sure we're on the same page.
What does it mean to be authentic? You can Google the subject, but I'm going to enlist a little help from the Bard himself on this one.
Authenticity is all about being true and genuine to who you are as a person. Now, how does that play into marketing. Let me ask you this:
What are some of the thing things
you have to do to sell books?
Some marketing decisions are beyond our control. For example, getting a feature on the BookBub newsletter, which reaches a wide global audience. While game-changing, you can submit a brilliant proposal and still get rejected. There are few things more disappointing than receiving a rejection when everyone says "you have to do it."
Same goes for what we can control. It's hard when you hear you have to do a Facebook Reader Group or a newsletter or Twitter account or that you have to do 10 signings a year. These can all be wonderful ways to reach readers and share your message. They can also be stressful. Stress isn't always a bad thing. Too much can hurt. Especially if it goes against your nature and feels forced.
That's why I advocate authentic marketing.
When you know who you are and what you want to say, it feels better to say it.
Let's do an exercise.
Exercise 1: Establishing Basics
On a sheet of paper, or a blank document, answer the following questions and statements:
What are my core values?
What brings me joy?
I write because:
If you really knew me, you'd know:Now that we've established some basics, I'll be back tomorrow with Part 2, when we cover creating an authentic brand. But first, here are some suggestions and tips to keep in mind:
- Keep an open mind. Be willing to try something new if it catches your interest and seems fun.
- Pay attention when what you're doing does or doesn't feel right. This will help you know whether or not to keep trying it.
- Trust your gut. Only you know what is and is not good for you and your career.
- This is your journey. It is yours to build and yours to live.
Coming up tomorrow: Building an authentic brand.
***Let's take this relationship to the next level. Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for day-to-day shenanigans. Subscribe to my newsletter for monthly updates and new release/sales notices AND score a free copy of one of my books as my thanks to you. You can also find me on Amazon and BookBub.***