Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Fake it until you make it – Part 2: Social Branding

I realize how terribly ironic this is, since I haven’t posted on this blog for over three weeks!

So, let’s talk about important things for the writer in the making: things I wished I had a clue about before I got picked up; decisions that should have been made, or would have made my life easier if they had been made by the time I got the call.

Here they are, tah-dah:

Name– Your brand begins with your name. If you'll use a pen name, start thinking about it. At the very least, come up with a couple of options. If you want to be aggressive, find a pen name that suits you and get the website domain.

Twitter – Follow published authors. Follow aspiring writers, editors, and avid readers. Don’t just make it about yourself. Retweet things that you believe other followers will enjoy. Make comments on people’s tweets. Share.

Facebook – Same as Twitter. Honestly, I used to prefer FB to Twitter because it seemed impossible to me to condense things and make them interesting at the 240-character limit. Nowadays, though, I have to say I love Twitter. But FB makes it easier to share pictures and write longer posts. Another issue with Facebook that I see with upcoming authors is privacy. A lot of them have a private FB page and the author page. Or sometimes they have one profile for family and another for everyone else. Or you can have everyone bundled on the same profile. I guess the question is – how personal do you want to get? Are you willing to share politics and personal points of view on a profile to which hundreds or thousands of potential readers will have access? Do you want to take the chance of losing some of those readers due to things that shouldn’t interfere with your craft as a writer?

Blog – I’m late getting on the blogging bandwagon. You are supposed to be consistent, blog often, and write about things people care about. I’m honestly having a problem with all three. But I’ve made myself a promise to blog at least a couple of times a month and take it from there. It’s not ideal by any means, but it’s what I can do right now. Another great resource the blog brings is the exposure you get when you comment on someone else’s post.

Establish a fan base – If you think about it, social networking is the easiest, cheapest, and most accessible way to find online writers’ communities, critique partners, and contacts. You don’t have to leave work early to attend your local chapter of the RWA (although that’s cool, too) and you don’t have to spend money to buy a ticket halfway across the country to attend a big writers’ conference (all in good time). It’s right there at your fingertips.

Website – I know it seems over the top, but it really isn’t. Competition is fierce. When I got my contract, I was lucky to find a domain with my name still available. Yes, because my name is super popular anyway, right? But, moving on, I’m always amazed to see a lot of aspiring authors with very cool websites. I think that’s great because it sets them apart. A lot of times, the website can also be a more complete version of your blog, still designed by you or a professional. Or you can go all out and have a 

Pinterest – Though new, it has been growing exponentially. It’s a virtual pin board that’s more addictive than most candy bars (trust me on this, I’m a carboholic). You can connect it with your Facebook or Twitter, and it’s a great way to create boards that hint at your writing style or books. A lot of times, authors post their inspirations for their heroes and locations. It’s also a great way for people to get to know you and even relate to the things you like or dislike.

Well, these are just some of them. I was already a part of FB and Twitter before my contract, but I was naïve. I didn’t consider these social networking sites to be a platform to reach out to potential readers. It all comes down to being professional and cutting corners — is it really worth having four different FB profiles/author pages? You may have 700 followers on Twitter, but how many of them include your target readers? Should you start branding your pen name now so you’ll get known immediately or wait for the big moment to make the switch?

Please feel free to comment on your experiences below. :)


  1. I don't have a pen name- I write most sub-genres of romance- from sweet to erotic. Never once did I ever consider a pen name. My name is my career and I am proud of it. People choose a pen name for personal reasons but I am glad I decided not too.

    As for branding- do authors get to pick their branding? Or do the fans and readers expect a certain sub-genre from a particular author that makes them branded by the public? Can go both ways I guess.

    I am not branded but am loving returning to the sweet romance and adding some historical westerns to the mix

    1. Dawne, maybe I should have said pick a pen name if you won't use your legal name. LOL There's nothing wrong with sticking to your name. I meant to have something in mind in case you want a pen name. :D Thanks for replying and good luck :))

  2. Hi Carmen,
    A very interesting and informative read. As you've pointed out, there're a hundred ways to link up but one should know how much one can manage reasonably. Another important thing is to make more effort on it. That last advice is for myself ;)

    1. Ruchita,
      I need to make more effort as well... It's hard juggling it all :D

  3. Hi Carmen! I loved your blog above! Some really great points. Keeping my name or creating a pen name is something i'm still battling with. I'd really like to keep my own, it's just the privacy side of things that worries me, but I really would love to see MY real name on the cover and on a shelf. Would be totally cool :-)

    ps; as for pinterest, I hated it at first, but am slowly becoming addicted!