Brands Aren’t Just For Cattle

Hi!  J here.  Happy Saturday to you!   I’ve been thinking about branding lately.  No, no, no…not that kind of branding.  I already have a tattoo, thank you very much.  Incidentally, the artist said I was wimpiest person he had ever put a tattoo on.  I nearly ended up with just a straight black line rather than the delightful image I had planned. But that’s a story for another day.  Today, I want to talk about Marketing. 

I’ve been thinking about my brand as an author.  Jennifer Fusco is an expert on marketing and I’ve been following her blog, Market or Die.  And one of the things she says I need is a brand statement.  Something short and sweet that sums up my writing. 

I’ve also been giving thought to a piece of advice I got recently from author Toni Andrews. Even the most successful authors have times when they can’t attract people to the table at a book signing.  Back in October, I spent a week at my local mall attempting to sell books, but people went out of their way (literally!) to avoid passing by the table or making eye contact.  Toni suggested using a gimmick to bring people to the table.  Once they get there, I’ve had success converting browsers to buyers.

At this point, I’ve Indie Published four books.  Two of them are novels written for ‘tweens.  And two of them are beginning readers.  I have other stories in the hopper, too, and expect to increase my product list significantly in 2012. 

But who am I marketing to?  Unlike many of my writer friends, I’m marketing to two different groups: Buyers and Readers.  The people who will read and enjoy my books are primarily children, 15 years old and under.  But the people who will part with their hard-earned cash to buy the books are adults.  Parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles and so on. 

I need to get my book in front of Buyers and I need to get my book in front of Readers who will influence the Buyers to purchase it.  That’s two different things.  I think my Readers are still reading print books.  It may be changing right now, but my limited market research (asking my friends with teenagers who like to read) tells me that the 10-14 year old set are not Kindle/Nook owners yet.  They might have an iPad, they likely have an iPod and/or an iPhone (iPhone and iPod Touch have a Kindle app).  But much of their pleasure reading is done traditionally.  That tells me that I might do better selling my print book than my e-book, at least right now. 

I’ve been thinking about these seemingly different things, for months.  Now that I’ve created these fabulous products, how do I sell them?  What should my brand be?   What kind of events should I be doing, and where?  What kind of gimmick could I use to gain notice at events?

A possible solution popped into my head last night.  At their core, I write Adventure Stories.  Whether it’s my Livingston-Wexford Adventure Series for ‘tweens, my Dixie & Taco Series for beginning readers or the Time Travel Romance I’m working on right now, each of those stories is an adventure.  That’s the kind of story I like to read, that’s the kind of vacation I like to take, that’s the kind of book I write.  My brand needs to focus on the Adventurous aspect in some way.  And my gimmick could have something to do with Adventure Planning.  Vacation ideas, that kind of thing. 

Today’s Secret: We aren’t in Kansas any more people.  The days when all an author had to do was to write a good book are long gone. 

Today’s Question: What new areas are you dipping your toes into as a result of your writing career?  Are you learning new skills, forging trails you never imagined walking down?  How’s that going?

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4 thoughts on “Brands Aren’t Just For Cattle”

  1. I could go on and on about this topic, J, but you summed up the dilemma very well for YA and mid grade/children’s books. Add to the above, the enormous competition, and you have a serious marketing dilemma. Older YA has a slight edge because of the cross-over market of adult readers of YA lit.

    The trick is definitely who you are promoting to. I recommend finding your readership as your main focus. If you are selling 1st and 2nd grade books and mid grade, look at school book fairs. Get set up with school libraries, and talk to other writers who are successfully selling in the school system…ahem…Shirley that we know from CTRWA.

    I love the idea of using the adventure theme. Vacation planning or scavenger hunts (which are very popular with kids these days) would be great fun to set up on the web or as a school library activity. Maybe kids are given clues based on books from the school library and they have to find the books to win a prize at the end. Just thinking out loud.

    Get together with other writers of your particupar ilk and brainstorm about ways to cross promote. I know you’ve done alot of theses things or at least thought about them, but I do think that’s your best bet for increasing your sales. You have to capture readers before you’ll find buyers.

  2. Hi J,
    I agree with PJ .. talk to Shirley. You need to develop a platform to approach the schools, just as she did. She’s a wealth of info and very easy to talk with. I have an idea for your TACO book. Go to Taco Bell and see if you can get dollar coupon, or coupons for a free taco, and use that as a book mark. You may have to increase your selling price, but it’s a gimmick. Scavenger hunts are tons of fun as well. I created one once for my boy scout troup and they loved it. As for who to market it to, I would say the reader because kids will ask their parents for a book they want. I know I did. Best of luck to you.

  3. I need to do a bit of tweaking on my brand statement as well. Who’d have thought writing just a few words — not even a complete sentence! — would be so difficult? BTW, you have a tattoo? Hmmmmm . . .

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