Last night I watched a Google hangout on branding with John Rakestraw and Rachel Thompson, two social media buffs and writers I admire. As a new indie writer, I’m still trying to get my head above water, so their conversation was instructive, to say the least.
The bottom line is something we’ve all heard: writers today need a platform. They need a brand. Your author name = key words or concepts.
That’s the reality.
I hate reality.
It’s why I write paranormal fiction.
There was a time when a writer could be a one-toothed troll with a bad case social ineptitude and still sell books as long as they were good. Your only expertise could be lining up paragraphs and drinking liters of liquor and that was fine.
Writers nowadays need to know something beyond their books. They need to be someone: An expert on self-publishing, a gardening guru, the go-to gal on police procedure or vampire myths or contortionist sex positions. Writers no longer need to just sell their books — they need to sell themselves.
After the show, I made a list of things I’m good at. Things that could be associated with me — the Katie Hayoz brand. And I came up with this:
*Whining. I’ve mastered that. The only person who’s better than I am is my six-year-old daughter. But that because she’s got my genes.
*Popcorn. Eating it. No one can top my popcorn eating abilities. I dare you to try.
*Just Dance. I always come out the winner on Just Dance. That is, unless I’m playing with the neighbor kids, but they cheat.
Crap. That’s a pretty sucky platform. How about things I’m interested in?
*Anything paranormal. I’m no expert, but I do perk up the second someone mentions ghosts or demons or angels or ESP.
*Literature for girls and women that doesn’t feed directly into rape culture and poor self-image. I’ve already touched on it in a previous blog post, so I won’t rant about it here. But writers have the tools to teach girls their own power and importance in the world. We should be doing more of it, myself included.
*Popcorn. All sorts of popcorn. Yes, I’m interested in popcorn. Buttered, caramel coated, sprinkled with cheese…
Looking at this, I’m wondering if I shouldn’t just give it all up and work for Jolly Time.
And yet there was one thing Rachel Thompson said on the show that gave me hope: Be genuine.
I may not be able to give out expert advice on anything except my own use of fragmented sentences, but I am genuine. The person you see on Twitter or Facebook or Google+ or my blog is the same person who sits down in front of the computer to write my books. She’s green and lost, but she’s real. And she’s hoping that one day the keywords that come to mind with her brand will be these: good writing.
Because isn’t that what writers want?
Well, that, of course, and a bowl of popcorn.