Thursday, July 23, 2009

5 Principles of a Great Author Brand

Several of my author clients are in the process of creating a new brand for their business or ministry. During our discussions, some misunderstandings arose that were preventing these individuals from establishing a powerful marketing identity. So, I thought I'd share a few principles to consider when creating and managing your own brand:

5 Principles of a Great Brand for Authors:
1. A great brand makes you stand-out from the hundreds of other authors. Otherwise, there's no point in having a brand. This may sound obvious, but many people still overlook this fact. You need a brand that is catchy, memorable, and easy for people to pass on word-of-mouth.

2. A great brand generates a sense of appealing curiosity from leaders that makes them want to find out more about you. If you can't make leaders feel a magnetic attraction to you, then your brand is bland.

3. A great brand communicates the kind of results that you can produce for your readers. It's not enough to have a clever catch-phrase or tagline. Your brand must express how you make other people's lives better. In the corporate world, top brands achieve this goal. For example, Wal-Mart's brand was "Always Low Prices." This phrase tells me that my life will better, because I'll be saving money. Home Depot says, "You can do it...We can help." Do you see the implied result?

Some of my favorite brand taglines for authors include "The Stress-Buster," "Blueprints to Build Your Life," "Strength for the Soul," and "Get Gutsy for God." They're memorable, and they communicate results.

4. A great brand establishes you as the best choice, such as the "Cadillac" or "Mercedes" of the industry. Besides being unique, your brand should position you as the best option for a leader. When your brand becomes synonymous with quality, then you've got a powerful marketng force at your disposal.

5. A great brand must reflect your own passion, because you will be solely responsible to get in front of everyone. No one else can market your brand better than you. It's like trying on a dress or a suit, and buying the one the fits you the best and makes you feel confident. When you create your brand, you must feel comfortable and excited with it.

2 Misconceptions about a Brand:
1. A brand does NOT have to please everyone, including your friends - because your friends don't hire you for publishing projects or speaking engagements. Therefore, your brand must appeal primarily to LEADERS who have the decision-making power and money to work with you. If your brand appeals to leaders, then you're on the right track. If not, then it will hinder the growth of your career.

2. A brand isn't a big deal. This is false, because you are already being branded by everyone around you. We have finite brains, and we need a way to quickly remember and recall everyone else. A brand is part of this mental function. And, if you let other people brand you, the outcome will usually be negative, because people don't fully know who you are. Therefore, you must actively manage your brand to create a perception among leaders of your uniqueness, value, and expertise.


Resource suggestion: For further study, I suggest an excellent book on creating your personal brand as an author, speaker, coach, or consultant. Check out How to Establish a Unique Brand in the Consulting Profession by Alan Weiss.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Quick Tips for Beginning Speakers

Almost every author eventually tries their hand at public speaking. If you’re just getting started, here's a few recommendations to make your road a little smoother.

1. Start small

Do not try to speak in front of large audiences until you’ve had some experience. Otherwise, you could short-circuit your growth and hinder your chances for referrals. Test your comfort level by speaking locally as much as possible. As your confidence grows, extend your reach into neighboring cities or states. Building a national platform usually takes two to five years. So, set realistic expectations for yourself.

Start off speaking for free until you’ve proven your value and expertise. Raise your fees as your value grows. When leaders are convinced that you can create positive results, your fees are usually less of a concern. However, expect some fee resistance at least 20% of the time. If leaders rarely complain about your fees, then you’re not charging enough.

2. Pick up other speaker’s “crumbs”

As intermediate and advanced speakers get busy, sometimes they can’t take all of the event requests they receive. So, try to build a close relationship with one or two speakers just above your level. Don’t pursue them solely to get bookings. Seek to learn as much as you can from them. Watch what works and learn from their mistakes.

Tell these speakers that you’re available to cover for them or take events they don’t want. Offer to return the favor by assisting their organization or helping promote their book. For instance, you could help run their resource table, handle some their office work, write an article for their newsletter, or baby-sit their kids while they’re out speaking. Position yourself as a partner, and you might create an extra source of new bookings.

3. Create “piggyback” events

If you’re new to speaking and enjoy traveling, you can boost your experience by adding-on events to your current bookings. For example, imagine you’ll be speaking in Atlanta, Georgia six months from now. Spend a day researching and calling other organizations that could also use your value during your visit.

Contact the leader and say, “I’m already booked to speak in your area on this date. Would you have an opportunity for me to address your group, too?” Sometimes, your current booking can provide enough credibility for the secondary leader to book you on short notice. However, don’t accept a piggyback event that could cannibalize attendance at your primary event. That would be unprofessional. And, don’t discount your speaking fees for add-on events. Instead, offer to split the travel expenses with the original organization and make everybody happy.

Every author has to start speaking somewhere. Most famous authors had to pay their dues for a little while. Yet, speaking is one of the best ways to sell more books. So, keep this tactic a central part of your book marketing plan.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

July Amazon Comparison of ECPA Publishers

Check out the July Amazon rankings for the Top 15 ECPA Publishers. This research lets you see both the overall industry rankings, plus each publisher's individual top 20 bestselling book list.

Why is this information helpful to you? This is one of the few ways that authors, agents, and publishers can simultaneously see how a publisher's best books stack up against their peers. For example, Neilsen BookScan doesn't let other publishers see the competition's sales numbers (only bestseller lists). But, WildFire's free research gives ECPA publishers a way to see which titles are selling well on Amazon at 14 other houses. This data is also helpful to see which authors, topics, and genres are dominating Amazon sales trends.

Items of Interest this Month:

a. Top-Selling Overall Titles by Amazon Ranking:
- Book: The Love Dare at # 78 from B&H Publishing.
** Rankings exclude the self-published title, The Shack, at # 5.

b. Biggest Publisher Moves:
B&H Publishing drops from # 9 last month to #12 this month.

c. July Rankings Mark Best Overall Sales Month for 2009
The combined average sales rankings for the top 15 ECPA publishers dropped from 10,349 in June to 5,014 in July (the lowest monthly combined average of 2009), which indicates an increase in Amazon book sales for the industry over the last 30 days.

Note: Amazon rankings do not reflect accurate sales figures and only account for a small percentage of a book's total sales. However, they can help determine how specific publishers or book titles perform over time versue their peers.

Click here for an Excel spreadsheet of the June, 2009 rankings.

For all previous month rankings, click here.