Wednesday, February 25, 2009

You are a Brand…Now Act Like One! - Katie Sukowski

What are publishers looking for?
Is this the first question you ask yourself when choosing a topic to write about?

Publishers do not think like marketers. Effective marketing will always be a big part of your job in addition to doing the writing, and it is your responsibility.

The top two questions you ought to be asking yourself first are:
  1. Who is my audience?
  2. What is my brand?
If you understand the audience that you and your product provides a solution or need for, you’re half-way to successfully identifying what your brand can be.

What exactly is a brand, and how do I turn into one?

A brand is a living, breathing animal. There is no one shape, no one form. In fact, if you create a new brand, all the better because now you own a niche market and you’re the only one in that space.

David Foster discovered Josh Grobin and cites him as a great example of someone who has carved out a niche, created a new brand, and owns that category.

What’s my brand?

Just like your agent cannot tell you what to write, your agent cannot tell you who you should be. The origin of this must come from you once you’ve done some serious soul-searching or thinking or whatever is your way of knowing who and what you are about.

I recommend beginning by asking yourself: What am I passionate about?

I, Katie, believe if you tap into your passion—not trends—you will stay motivated, committed, and energized to continue to build your work and your brand. You’ll stay ahead of trends and/or outlast them; and when things are not going according to plan, you will have the energy and optimism to persevere because you wholeheartedly believe in the work you are creating.

We all know success happens in peaks and valleys. By defining your brand and implementing strategy to building and growing your brand and audience, you are increasing your chances for more peaks over the course of your career.

Recently, I opened a fortune cookie that read, Take aim, and you will increase your chances hitting your target.

Sounds obvious, but that day it wasn’t. That fortune gave me the permission to keep trying innovative strategies to grow authors’ presence in the marketplace, grow their audience in numbers, and to communicate their brand effectively.

So I offer this advice: Take aim at your brand and strategy, and you will increase your chances hitting your targets—be they greater book sales, increased audience, more trafficked blog and Web site, etc.

Now that I know I am a brand, what do I do?
  • Get a good Web site with all the necessary fixins
  • Collect e-mail contacts; service e-newsletters/blasts
  • Blog and publish in print magazines
  • Keep creating more content and submitting ideas to your agent
  • Form strategic partnerships
  • Submit your articles to credible journals for publishing
  • Concept amazing ideas
  • Publishing 501: Pay attention to sales copy and think like a book retailer
  • Hire a publicist to do ancillary PR pre-release of your book
  • Cultivate a street team
  • Do live speaking in any capacity to increase your exposure to your audience
  • Do TV, Web, podcasting, and radio
How you can get the most out of your agent working with you on your brand:
  • Feed him or her the latest news about your Website, PR you are doing, readings, and media you are doing and communicate how that can link into your book proposal.
  • Get podcasts/copies of press of your talks as they happen. Give to your agent so he/she can keep a EPK on you and send out to publishers.
  • Continuously dream up and pitch amazing ideas. Carve out time once a month or once every 2 weeks to dialog on those ideas and choose which ones to develop further.
  • Choose strategic partnerships to go after and put your agent in touch with them (if in your network). If not in your network, choose well so your agent can be successful in contacting that person, author, or personality’s agent.
  • Go over your goals with your agent. Let them in what you want to see happen over the next 3-5-10 years. Are you committed? If yes, be persistent and show up often. Agents need authors who can write excellent and write at a healthy pace. And authors, for the sake of your brand and growing your brand, YOU need to write at a healthy pace. We recommend releasing a book every year to stay current with your audience. If this is not where you are today, consider making this your goal in the near future and put a plan in place to get you there successfully.
Katie Sukowski is a Literary Brand Manager at Creative Trust Inc.

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