Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Guest Author Thea Atkinson: Branding. What is it? How Do We Do it?

By Thea Atkinson

Today we have Thea Atkinson joining us, talking about branding. You might think this is something only published authors have to worry about, but trust me, I wish now that I had started earlier and had everything figured out and in place by the time my first book came out. It's much easier to plan for it then to retro-fit it. If you can get a jump start on this, you'll be better off when you do sell that first novel.

Thea is a writer of character driven fiction; call it what you will: she prefers to describe her work as psychological thrillers with a distinct literary flavor. As in her bestselling novel, Anomaly, her characters often find themselves in the darker edges of their own spirits but manage to find the light they seek. She has been an editor, a freelancer, and a teacher, but fiction is her passion. She now blogs and writes and twitters. Not necessarily in that order. Please visit her blog for ramblings, guest posts, giveaways, and more.

Take it away Thea...

We read the term all the time; we even get the advice and much much explanation from blogs like Kristen Lamb's. Her book, We Are Not Alone goes into much detail about branding and marketing as an author. There are other blogs and sites that discuss branding at length. And there are a ton of books too. John Locke's book (yes, I succumbed to the hype and bought it) details his journey on branding and suggests to authors how they can use his method to build an audience.

All great advice.

But really. How do you actually DO it?

I'm not sure how you can, but I can tell you how I'm going about it. It's my own style of soft sell marketing mixed with information from both Kristen Lamb's and Johne Locke's books. It's all good information, but I needed to find a way to make my brand in a way that suited me and that I could manage.

And I hope perhaps with a little explanation of what I'm doing, you might find a comfort zone with this whole concept for yourself.

At first, I struggled with the notion of my brand. I did the keywords thing like Kristen suggested. (Want to know more, just snap up her book, it's a great read and very helpful) The trouble was, I had a hard time describing myself with tags and keywords. If you check my Amazon tags, you'll see just how much I struggle. For a writer, I'm woefully inept at summarizing, but I digress.

After many frustrating weeks of trying to find my own comfort zone with tags and keywords and branding and trying to helpful of others, I picked up John Locke's book How I Sold a Million Ebooks. I read it. I tried his method--or at least I gave it the old a Thea shot, which means I did as much as I was comfortable with. I don't have a newsletter and tons of fans to help spread my word, nor do I feel comfortable asking people to do it for me. But I did discover I was already doing some of the things he suggested.


I mixed the two self-help books into one Thea concept to find out what the Thea brand is. The information from both of these as well as a few weeks of reflection told me I was already doing what I should to build my brand. I just needed to fine tune and focus.

You see, I write character driven fiction (a keyword combination that I found thanks to Kristen's book). This means that what drives my own writing motor is the same things that drive my characters. I want to know how they will act/react/ and grow/evolve from a plot. So I started thinking:

What are all those events in my life's journey that propel(led) me to the page in the first place? My brother's addiction, the suicide of a friend, the heart attack my mom suffered, the death of my favorite pet. All those things and more send me to the written word and infect the things I write there.

That's what drives me.

And I bet those things will interest a reader who is interested in charcter driven fiction. And so if I blog about those, my target audience will appreciate it.

Will those posts interest a pulp fiction, vampire loving, shapeshifting time traveller reader?


And that's ok, because a pulp fiction, vampire loving, shapeshifting time traveller reader probably won't like my books anyway (unless they happen to love those genres but also REALLY care about how the characters will evolve/grow etc. THEN they just might like my stuff)

So I blog about those things and I ask people to read them and share if they like it. Recently, I've been asking folks who share my posts through Twitter to add a hashtag of #theagimmesome and then each Monday, I draw a name at random and email that person a coupon for a free ebook from Smashwords.

All little things that build the Thea Atkinson brand, the brand of a writer who enjoys the journey and struggles of life whether fictional or real life and blends them.

That's my brand.

What's yours?

If you liked this post, please do share. If you tweet it with the hashtag #theagimmesome I will enter you into a weekly random draw to win a Thea ebook. 

About The Secret Language of Crows
Olivia needs to escape the abusive same-sex relationship she finds herself in. When her father suffers a stroke, she recognizes a chance to start fresh. The problem is in order to avoid self-destruction, Olivia must find a way to resolve her mother's suicide, her brother's addiction, and her father's need to be understood-- even if it means she must delve into the darkest parts of her psyche.


  1. I am not sure I understand the difference between branding and style. I know when I look at my own work I see a common thread of quirky characters, an odd blend of humor and the macabre, and lots of non-humans (of the elf, fairy, and talking mouse variety.)

  2. The funny thing about branding is it does seem like people want to label things. They want to be able to identify the book in some way and compare it to the types of books that they are already familiar with. So when something different comes along it can be harder to sell it. I'm no expert by all means, but this is what I've observed.

  3. Chicory, I think style is more like voice, and brand is more like what you think of when you hear a name. Stephen King = horror. That's his brand. If he wrote a love story in his same writing style, you'd still think of him as a horror writer.

    Cindy, labeling helps folks find stuff. That is indeed why hard-to-classify books have a tough time. I think that's also why a lot of unusual YA/MG books do well. There's less categorizing there. It's pretty much all on the same shelf.

  4. Janice, that makes senes. Thanks for clarifying.