S2/E29: Your Book, Your Brand by Dana Kaye
Updated: Oct 22, 2021
To share a bit about Dana Kaye, I’m going to quote from her website:
“Dana Kaye is a veteran publicist, social media pro, and brand manager. In 2009, she founded Kaye Publicity, Inc., a boutique PR company specializing in publishing and entertainment. Known for her innovative ideas and knowledge of current trends, she coaches her clients on how to identify and establish their unique personal brands. Kaye is also the author of Your Book, Your Brand: The Step-by-Step Guide to Launching Your Book and Boosting Your Sales, and the creator of Branding Outside the Box, where she helps authors and entrepreneurs become more memorable.”
Kaye’s book offers an overview of the ways to develop a marketing strategy for your book, as well as for creating an author brand identity. But, it also contains loads of practical, detailed examples. Obviously, I can only touch on a few. Here are my…
1. Know Thyself (and Thy Audience). FIRST, look at what your writing with an analytical eye. Even if you write across different genres, can you find common thematic threads, plot elements, or writing styles that knit your work together in some way? Do you always write about a certain type of character, situation, subject, or setting? Does your work always contain a certain amount of humor, dark/unsettling elements, or a poetic flair, for instance? Identify these. Actually sit down and brainstorm. Write them down. Use them to craft a concise (think one sentence or shorter!) description of who you are as a writer.
Here’s an example from the book: Michael Crichton writes “high-concept thrillers that are based on scientific research and developments.”
Michael Crichton only writes thrillers, but what if you write across genres? Again, in that case, you have to dig into your common themes. Kaye includes an example of a client of hers who wrote everything from zombie books, to paranormal YA to women’s fiction and suspense. Here’s what she found when she looked at the common themes, topics, and other elements: Sophie Littlefield writes about “mothers doing the impossible to protect their children in the face of the unthinkable.” Now Ms. Littlefield has a clear brand to present to all her potential readers.
Once YOU’VE done the work of identifying your common themes, ask yourself: Who reads books like this? (Warning: More brainstorming ahead!) Kaye’s book includes loads of questions to explore and learn about readers of your type of books. It’s by doing this two things (identifying your brand and identifying people who respond to that sort of thing) that you’ll lay the foundation for your strategy.
All of this reminds me of the old saying, “Everybody’s business is nobody’s business.” Don’t try to market to absolutely everyone. If you try to do so, not only will you run yourself ragged, your efforts won’t be effective anyway.
2. Don’t Leave Your Creativity at the (Fictional) Door. Once you know who you are (and aren’t!) marketing to, it’s time to bust out that creative streak of yours and put it to good use on the business side of your writing life.
Kaye’s book does a good job of laying out the different types of commonly used marketing outlets, including things like:
Within these different categories there are multiple ways to come at the same marketing outlet. Looking at just traditional media outlets, for example, you could:
Send out a press release to your local newspapers, radio stations, and TV stations,
Sign up for services or newsletters like HARO (which stands for Help a Reporter Out) and offer to be an expert on something related to your book
Target publications of industries, associations, locations, or niche interests that might dovetail nicely with the topic or style of your book. You could offer something as simple as a press release about your book or offer to write up an article related to something that you address in your book in some way.
Opportunities abound! Get creative!
3. Develop a Plan and Then Stick to It. All that being said, you can’t do it all. You really, really can’t. Kaye includes sample campaigns that include detailed samples of things like:
Sample Media List Spreadsheet
Sample Event List Spreadsheet
Sample Social Media Strategy Tracking Spreadsheet
Results Tracking Spreadsheet
The more organized you can be at the beginning, the more you take a minute to deliberately choose your path, the less you’ll run around chasing you tail, duplicating effort, and sinking your precious time and money into things that don’t work.
HACK: KEEP YOUR THOUGHTS ON OTHER BOOKS ON THE DL
If, like me, you’re a fan of Goodreads and enjoy using it to keep track of books that you’ve read, Kaye cautions that there are a lot of downsides to reviewing other authors’ books publically. Quoting Kaye: “If you’re critical it could hurt your relationship with that author and the book’s publisher [or agent]… Never burn your bridges. [And] if you praise a book, your review could be taken as a blurb and used for future books, ones that you haven’t read and aren’t vouching for, which can hurt your brand in the long term.” She’ll allow for 5-star ratings (without commentary), but only if you can honestly give the book that rating.
“Ultimately, this book is meant to empower you with information. Too many authors see marketing and publicity as something foreign and difficult to understand… I learned how to effectively promote books through research and trial and error. If I can learn it, so can you. You’ve already taken the first step by reading this book: research. Now, the only thing left to do is try.” Dana Kaye
I hope this was helpful! I’m finding this is the sort of book that I can turn to again and again. Combined with Georgia Clark’s Proactive Writer Course and Sarra Cannon’s Publish and Thrive Course, I feel like I have a decent grasp of what options are out there for marketing my books. If you haven’t already heard or read my reviews on those two courses, I would urge you to take some time to do that, as well. Or just get them! They’re excellent!!
IN OTHER DAIR-RELATED NEWS:
Fellow author Robin Knabel and I recently posted a new episode of our podcast, Unsettling Reads. Come check out our spoiler-free review of Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff. Visit www.UnsettlingReads.com to browse our other reviews of books from the crime, fantasy, horror, literary, mystery, sci-fi, suspense, and thriller genres. And a reminder to look for Robin’s short story in the summer issue of The Raven Review!
Finally, to help you keep track of both your writing goals and your time, visit TheRookieWriter.net and sign up for the email list to get a free undated quarterly version of The Rookie Writer Playbook (a planner/organizer just for writers) to try out. And, of course, The Rookie Writer Etsy shop has full annual, dated Writing Planners available, along with a few other tools and fun swag for writers. Now on sale for 50% off!
Next episode (Thursday, August 27th), I’ll be sharing my thoughts on Don Maass’s The Emotional Craft of Fiction.
Until then. . .
Happy writing, people!