Author Brand? How Do I Get One?

Last year I published my own book based on an article I wrote for Publisher’s Weekly many years ago, Do You Know What a Book Publicist Does? A Guide for Creating Your Own Campaigns.  To promote it, I hit the road and spoke to writers at universities conferences, festivals, libraries, etc.  What was the one thing writers looking to promote their books really wanted to understand?  What is an Author Brand? And further, how do they develop their own?  While I can’t present all the information I provide in a 45-minute keynote or afternoon workshop, I’m going to express some of the points that should start you on your way.

  1. What is an Author Brand?  A brand represents a product or person in different ways.  Primarily it’s about how people “feel” and “respond” when they hear the brand’s name; see the product; read about it; etc.  Recognizable brands are ones that the market knows like Coca Cola.  In the book world some recognizable brands are James Patterson, John Grisham, Janet Evanovich, David Brooks, and David McCullough.  Audiences know what these writers represent and have a good idea of what kinds of books they publish, what causes they might represent, their political affiliations, where they come from or live, and what they look like.  These characteristics are parts of their “brands”.
  2. I’m not famous, I’m just a “…”, I don’t have a brand: These are some of the things I’ve heard from writers when faced with the concept of Author Brand.  Part of the answer is that all of those people I mentioned above were once where you are.  James Patterson published his first book in 1976.  He started publishing more than one book every year in the late 1990s.  I’m not saying that you have to wait twenty years before you establish your brand.  The point is everyone has to start somewhere so take any negative thoughts out of your mind and focus on what you have to offer.
  3. How do I get an Author Brand?  Here’s my favorite part of all of my lectures and speeches–you don’t have to “get” a brand because you already have/are one!  I don’t care if you train animals, have a podcast on car repair, and write romances–all of these things together constitute your brand.  What you really need to know is how to become your brand.
  4. Becoming your Author Brand: Take a moment to write down a list of items that describe you.  Think of answering the fundamental questions–who, what, where, why, and how.  Now, write down what you consider to be your best assets or what your are “known” for.  Even in the smallest community, you might be the one who always brings muffins to a book club meeting; or you have an interesting tattoo; you take hiking trips in the summer; you speak a foreign language and like to surf; and/or you are good with numbers.  Finally, note the kinds of books you want to or are writing; what the characters are like; where they are set; are there any common threads in your work?  All of the lists you have just made are the pieces of what can be your brand.  Look at what you have and highlight the ones that you want to project virtually or in person.  The intent is to become familiar to an audience that will respond to your author brand, and ultimately to create a community or people that will become your army of fans who will spread word-of-mouth about your work.  Having completed these exercises, you have the potential to accomplish different goals such as, sell your book(s), grow your business, gain visibility in the publishing world and get noticed by agents and editors, secure speaking engagements, and provide a much easier base to create a marketing strategy.
  5. Image as Author Brand: After you’ve dissected all of the parts of yourself and your life that can be used to promote you, consider some of the more cosmetic aspects of your brand.  Coca Cola has a distinct font, color, and packaging.  Even before you get to the taste of it, this is what we recognize.  What about you?  Look at some of your favorite personalities in entertainment, yes authors are part of the entertainment industry, and see what you like.  For a few years James Patterson always wore a crew neck sweater in public, in his ads, for his author photo.  He chose this look on purpose.  Amy Tan used to carry her dog in a Pucci Bag wherever she went.  What signature item would you like to have?  How do you want to look when you are in front of an audience?

All of what I’ve shared here will help you recognize and develop your Author Brand.  Most important is that you don’t try to twist yourself into what you imagine to be the RIGHT brand.   I’m not saying that you shouldn’t try to create a brand that best represents all of you and what you hope to achieve.  But, It’s important that you feel comfortable with what you are selling and projecting.  You need to be able to maintain and protect the brand you create and develop.  So if you feel most powerful and connected to your work in the form of a superhero, don your Spider Man costume and head out on the town.  But if jeans and a T-shirt with a baseball cap is more your style; you are from a suburb of X city; and you write books about a bail bondsman named Al, you might want to tailor your brand.  Just a touch.

Book Expo 2018: What’s Trending for Independent Publishers

Javits Conference Center, where Book Expo 2018 took place!

A few weeks ago, I attended Book Expo 2018 in New York City.  It was my first visit in two years, having missed the Chicago show of 2017, and I was struck by the size and quiet on the floor.  The Expo may not have the same value as it used to for traditional, mainstream publishing. However, in the continuously emerging indie publishing industry there is a lot to see and learn.  Here are some of the things I brought back to share with the indie world—authors, publishers, and those who serve them.

1.BISC Book Expo 2018 Bar Codes:  I recently heard from some book professionals that it was imperative to have a price in the bar code on the back of a book.  I took the question to the highest authority on the subject at the BISG (Book Industry Study Group).  His answer was that the bar code is the identifier for the book, generated off of the ISBN and nothing else should be displayed in or on it. He mentioned that there is discussion in the industry about not putting prices on books at all.  What other product comes with a price engraved on itself?

2Independent Publishers Group Logo Book Expo 2018Distribution:  POD (Print-on-Demand) is used by many businesses in the indie publishing world, but this method often makes distribution to brick-and-mortar stores difficult to achieve.  I spoke with several different distributors at Book Expo 2018, including IngramSpark (a POD distributor) to find out how an indie publisher might be able to work with them.  In general, distributors are looking for publishers who release at least ten titles per year.  While there are exceptions to every rule, the increase in small publishers has encouraged companies to be more efficient and choosy about which ones they represent.  A few distributors to mention are: NBN; Consortium; Independent Publishers Group; and Baker and Taylor.

3. Fulfillment Options: Many indie publishing companies are selling books through multiple channels.  IngramSpark/POD is one channel, but you can also order copies in quantity and set them up for fulfillment by a third party.  One of these is Amazon Advantage.  The shopping cart on your site can link to your Amazon Advantage account, which allows you to have copies stored at an Amazon warehouse.  Customers will click the “buy” link on your site and Amazon will fulfill the order behind the scenes. You can still sell on Amazon through the POD channel, and also set up an Advantage account to sell direct.  Amazon Advantage also allows you to utilize many advertising opportunities that can help move copies.

Check back in the coming weeks as I go through my notes from Book Expo 2018 and bring you more insight into what’s going on in the indie publishing world!

The Heart of War by Kathleen McInnis

 

“Strap on your helmet and buckle your seat belt. Your wild ride at the Pentagon officially begins now.” –From THE HEART OF WAR

 

 

 

 

 

THE HEART OF WAR

Misadventures in the Pentagon

A Novel

By Kathleen J. McInnis

Working in Washington, D.C.’s national security bubble, International Security Specialist Kathleen McInnis understands what it is like to be a young woman making her way in the Pentagon. The experience can be hard, both professionally and personally—which is why she decided to write about the unique challenges women face in the national security community in her humorous and entertaining new novel THE HEART OF WAR: Misadventures in the Pentagon (Post Hill Press; Release Date September 25th, 2018; ISBN 9781682616512; $16.00 paperback).

In THE HEART OF WAR, Dr. Heather Reilly is an academic peacenik living in San Diego, swamped with debt from her and her pacifist fiancé’s crushing student loans. Since her brother was killed fighting the Taliban, she’s been an anti-war activist.  But when a fellowship in the Pentagon comes along with the chance to work on a peace plan for Afghanistan and pay down her debt at the same time, Heather agrees to move east and work in the “puzzle palace.”  When she arrives in the Pentagon, however, she discovers her position has been eliminated in the Department of Defense’s latest “reorg”. Instead, she’s placed into the war-fighting office focusing on Russian aggression under the terrifying management of Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Ariane Fletcher, also known as the Wicked Witch of the Pentagon.

With a brother killed in combat and a sister-in-law who is still in mourning, Heather is deeply conflicted about her new position—not to mention, she has no experience in U.S.—Russia relations. But thanks to Air Force Colonel Tom Voight, a staffer she joins forces with, Heather learns to navigate the job and carves herself a place in the Pentagon, despite its insane bureaucracy, petty power struggles, and endless militarized rules. But Voight hasn’t prepared her for how to deal with people like Fletcher, who is out for Heather’s blood; Adam Royle, a lieutenant who continuously throws Heather under the bus; Derek Odem, an advisor for the National Security Advisor who hijacks their plans; and her own fiancé, Ryan, who claims that Heather is selling out and has “become just as bad as one of the terrorists.”

In a novel that belongs on the shelves with The Devil Wears Prada, The Taliban Shuffle, Sammy’s Hill, The Hopefuls, and Catch-22, Heather must learn the hard way that success will come at the expense of her personal life—and that even the smallest of mistakes can have major consequences at the Department of Defense.

Based on the author’s experiences in foreign policy, THE HEART OF WAR is the story of a woman’s humorous and challenging journey from anti-war activist to national security hawk as she learns to understand her true calling to national service.

About the Author

Kathleen J. McInnis is a national security policy specialist who has worked in the Pentagon, the UK Parliament, and think tanks on both sides of the Atlantic. Having earned her doctorate at King’s College London, she currently analyzes international security and defense issues for the United States Congress. Kathleen lives in Annapolis, Maryland.

About the Publisher

Founded in 2013 by a team of seasoned entrepreneurs and book industry professionals, Post Hill Press has successfully published a wide spectrum of books, with a focus on the categories of pop culture, business, self-help, health, and current events. Post Hill Press books have appeared on The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists. A number of Post Hill Press authors have appeared on national media such as CNN, Fox News, The Doctors, and many others, as well as national radio and print outlets. They are distributed by Simon & Schuster.

THE HEART OF WAR | Misadventures in the Pentagon | By Kathleen McInnis | Published by Post Hill Press | September 25th, 2018 | ISBN 9781682616512 | Paperback / E-Book | Price: $16.00 | 272 Pages

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A Surgeon’s Odyssey by Richard Moss

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

“[A SURGEON’S ODYSSEY] belongs on the bookshelf as a modern tale next to the Iliad, the Odyssey, Ulysses, and the biblical Exodus.”
—John F.X. Ryan Jr., Former Managing Director, Sovran Limited and Pac West Distributing Inc., Executive Assistant, Lieutenant Governor, Indiana

“Dr. Moss gives the reader a glimpse of his three-year expedition into an exotic world, a true-life quest that is inspiring, uplifting, and tragic.”
Danny J. Barrett, Director, International Agreements, Commander, US Naval Forces, Japan

“A fantastic journey through third world Asian medicine, culture, and spirituality. Dr. Moss’s odyssey exposes the reader to people and worlds that would otherwise remain hidden. A must-read for the adventurous!”
—Diane Larson, RN, Charge Nurse of Endoscopy Services, Memorial Hospital Outpatient Surgery Center

“Moss is a captivating storyteller who from the first page masterfully pulls the reader into the world of his life as a young head and neck surgeon…Readers will be swept away in this incredible journey.”
—Kimberly Wagner, Featured Writer at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and children’s book author

A SURGEON’S ODYSSEY
A Memoir
By Dr. Richard Moss

“Do not forsake your dreams for material security.” This wisdom, inscribed on a fortune cookie in a downtown Manhattan Chinese restaurant, was the catalyst a newly-licensed Dr. Richard Moss needed to book a ticket to Asia and start the next chapter in his life healing people overseas. In his exploratory and moving new memoir, A SURGEON’S ODYSSEY (Archway Books; May 2018), Dr. Moss tells his story of entering the medical field by helping those in need and going on the adventure of a lifetime.

As a 33-year-old surgeon, fresh out of his residency training in Manhattan for Otolaryngology (Ear Nose and Throat), Dr. Moss dedicated 14 years of his life to becoming a doctor and was finally at the point where he could start a practice and earn money. But when a letter from the hospital at Chiang Mai University in Thailand arrived, asking to put his experience to work in their Otolaryngology department, Dr. Moss was at a crossroads…Until fortune stepped in and made him realize what he wanted to do all along.

In A SURGEON’S ODYSSEY, Dr. Moss takes readers along his exciting journey as a young doctor learning to navigate the medical field on a foreign continent, far from his humble beginnings in the Bronx. He shares how, as a cancer surgeon of Jewish faith living in the exotic landscapes of Thailand, Nepal, India, and Bangladesh, he had to teach himself to view situations from different cultural and religious perspectives.

Dr. Moss juggles his responsibility to heal with his bizarre and otherworldly wanderings through Asia, including: Meeting his wife Ying, a Buddhist Thai nurse he married in the context of unexpected and powerful Thai cultural imperatives; encountering the enigmatic Jewish-American Buddhist monk Uttamo living in the jungle at the Thai-Malaysia border; operating on a man by candlelight in Bangladesh when the power cut out in the hospital during a monsoon; motorcycling with Ying through the Himalayas and nearly getting rammed off a cliff by a mother Yak protecting her calf; practicing walking meditation in a forest temple in southern Thailand; surviving one of the worst typhoons and mudslides in modern history; getting shot at by a Burmese soldier when trying to cross the border; pounding a drum all night to ward off evil spirits at a Buddhist ceremony; receiving a prize chicken and newborn goat from a poor family as a token of their gratitude for a surgery performed on a loved one; and getting robbed on a train in India, only for Ying to jump on the thief’s back and successfully retrieve his stolen wallet.

Forgoing comfort and financial security to find himself in a strange but beautiful world, A SURGEON’S ODYSSEY is the unique and inspiring journey of a cancer surgeon who, against conventional wisdom, embarks on a pilgrimage of healing, working under daunting circumstances among some of the most fascinating cultures in the world.

About the Author
RICHARD MOSS, M.D., is a board-certified head and neck surgeon with a private practice in Jasper, Indiana, where he has lived for over 25 years with his wife and four children. Dr. Moss earned his Doctor of Medicine degree at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis.  He is a columnist, a local businessman, and has sought political office. He is also the author of Matilda’s Triumph: A Memoir.

About the Publisher
Simon & Schuster, a company with nearly 90 years of publishing experience, has teamed up with Author Solutions, the leading self-publishing company worldwide, to create Archway Publishing. With unique resources to support books of all kinds, Archway Publishing offers a specialized approach to help every author reach his or her desired audience.

A SURGEON’S ODYSSEY: A Memoir | Dr. Richard Moss
Archway Publishing from Simon & Schuster | May 2018

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Humpty Trumpty Hit a Brick Wall by David Finkle

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

April 20th, 2017
Twitter, twitter, twitter, twitter—
Donald Trump’s a heavy hitter.
When he’s feeling crossed and bitter,
He dispenses all that litter.
Twitter, twitter, twitter, twitter
Goes that clearly nutty critter,
Causing all of us to titter,
“He just needs a baby-sitter.”
Add this to the Trump con list:
Making cash hand over fist,
Like that big DC hotel.
Tax returns? So far, no tell.

HUMPTY TRUMPTY HIT A BRICK WALL
Donald J. Trump’s First White House Year in Verse
By David Finkle
Illustrated by Roberta Granzen

Depressed and defeated, facing the inauguration day of a new U.S. President he calls “flabbergastingly unfit for office,” David Finkle, author of People Tell Me Things and The Man With the Overcoat, put thought and pen to the internet and posted a series of opinion-driven quatrains on Facebook. He decided to post daily until he had exactly a year and a day of Donald Trump’s first year in office.

Now, just in time for tax return season (Trump’s tax returns? So far, no tell), these humorous poems are available in a new book HUMPTY TRUMPTY HIT A BRICK WALL: Donald J. Trump’s First White House Year in Verse (Plum Bay Publishing; April 2018; ISBN 9780998861753), with illustrations by Roberta Granzen. Readers will recognize “Humpty Trumpty” along with satirical characters familiar to us in the form of nursery rhymes like Ivanka Trump as Little Miss Muffet and Steve Bannon as a troll.

In a world where the inflammatory nature of day-to-day politics has put people on edge, readers will find a reprieve while they laugh, grin, and occasionally weep their way through Finkle’s engaging rhymes that recall these characters’ ups-and-downs from the past year.

Heads-of-state, chiefs-of-staff, senators, the FBI, and more are rifled with original and humorous illustrations in HUMPTY TRUMPTY HIT A BRICK WALL, headlining each month’s collection, from Inauguration Day 2017 until January 20th, 2018.

HUMPTY TRUMPTY HIT A BRICK WALL | Donald J. Trump’s First White House Year in Verse
By David Finkle | Illustrated by Roberta Granzen | Plum Bay Publishing | Publication Date April 2018
ISBN 9780998861753 | Paperback | $11.95 | 144 Pages

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