Frankly, using the words “writer” and “brand” in the same sentence makes me squirm. But like anyone else with a product to sell, the reality is that writers have to market their butts off–and this means telling a brand story that appeals to their readers.
In most cases, publishers don’t have the time, budget or expertise to brand individual authors. Fortunately, most writers learn very quickly (all it takes is that first book) they can’t just sit back and expect their books to fly off the shelves.
They do readings, hold workshops, teach, and attend book fairs. They print postcards, and create websites. Some tweet, set up Facebook Fan pages, and hire publicists.
The most successful authors (read: those who sell a lot of books) know it’s not enough to throw up a website or build a fan page—they need to tell an engaging story. Fortunately, writers are good at this.
All the talk about authenticity and personal branding? Here are four examples we can learn from:
Books are Lewis Buzbee’s muse. Both his work and his own narrative draw their power from the magical world of books, writers and readers.
A former bookseller, Buzbee is the author of Yellow Lighted Bookshop, a memoir about books and bookstores; Steinbeck’s Ghost, The Haunting of Charles Dickens; and the forthcoming Bridge to Time, in which two San Francisco eighth-graders travel back in time and meet Mark Twain.
Buzbee is a book evangelist for the willing and non-willing alike. The top of his homepage reads: “Books and Stuff. And for Those Of you Who Don’t Care about Books, We’ve Got Books.”
Geneen Roth is all about helping her millions of followers unravel—and heal–their complex relationships with food. Roth’s retreats, workshops, online events and social media marketing follow a compelling and highly focused narrative summed up by the first sentence on her homepage: “Your relationship to food is an unexpected path to almost everything.”
Author of When Food is Love, Women, Food and God, Lost and Found: Unexpected Revelations about Food and Money and other books, Roth has become synonymous with the idea that examining our relationships with food can bring us personal freedom and spiritual growth.
Mary Reynolds Thompson
Author, writing coach, poetry therapist and “Voice for the wild,” Mary Reynolds Thompson’s personal brand narrative blends her lifelong passion for language, writing and nature with her personal story as an alcoholic who found solace and recovery in the natural world.
Reynolds Thompson’s first book, Embrace Your Inner Wild: 52 Reflections for an Eco-Centric World, a collaboration with nature photographer Don Moseman, is about enter its second printing—only two months after its release by White Cloud Press.
A former copywriter and corporate brander, Reynolds Thompson’s own brand narratives draws power from her commitment to helping others experience their inner “wild soul” in order to our precious planet from destruction.
Stan Slap’s edgy style (both personal and literary) cuts right through the usual business management consultant’s jargon. His personal brand conveys credibility and off-the-beaten path solutions to the problems corporate leaders face trying to compete, and run companies. The author of Bury My Heart at Conference Room B, Slap’s narrative is irreverent, yet compassionate.
Slap Company’s website’s pull-no-punches content manages to be both in your face and engaging. For the thousands of business leaders who’ve engaged in the Slap brand and products—his story is an antidote to business-as-usual.