Recently in one of the writers’ groups I am a member of, there was a vibrant discussion on how to promote one’s authored books.
Two fellow authors threw in the significance of creating a personal brand first before developing a niche for one’s book(s). They were spot on about it and I made a casual consenting remark, to which another author asked me what does creating a Personal Brand entail.
A few months back, sitting on the cusp of the birthing of my book, I was speaking to a young, prodigious and successfully published author, who also runs a digital marketing consultancy, about book marketing ideas. He said the same thing to me. “Much before their book release, we advise the authors to work on the strategy around establishing their personal brand,” he said.
I think, not just in the case of writers, but in any profession under the Sun it is imperative to build a forceful personal brand.
So how does one go about achieving it? I contend that it just must be a combination of a great set of personal attributes and professional traits that would help you rise above the hoi polloi and stand tall, even as Primus inter pares – first among equals.
Here follow more than my two pennies’ worth on developing a sizeable brand value for yourself. I may not be quite there myself, but I have every intention to. Besides, you are always a perpetual work in progress as long as you are orbiting in your present planet.
- Decide on a brand value you wish to be identified with
Think German cars, Swiss watches, French luxury, Indian Yoga & Ayurveda! Also think about William Shakespeare, Virginia Woolf, Kurt Vonnegut, Ayn Rand, George Orwell, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, William Faulkner.
I am not talking about genre. I am talking about the chief raison d’être of your works.
Shakespeare wrote Tragedy, Comedy, Drama, History, but has been known as the “Renaissance Man” of literature. Ayn Rand’s novels have been seen to promote ‘individualism’ and ‘laissez-faire capitalism.’ George Orwell’s works have underlined his views on ‘totalitarianism.’ Virginia Woolf has championed ‘feminism.’ The iconic Ernest Hemingway is known for his straightforward prose and use of understatement. Vonnegut, the masterly writer, laid emphasis on minimalistic writing and on using personal experiences. James Joyce has been considered a ‘Modernist.’ William Faulkner’s writing has centered on the stream-of-consciousness narrative style.
So what mould would you like to create for your identity? Once you have defined that, it becomes relatively easy figuring out ways and means to fill that mould.
- Start a dedicated handle on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook etc. related to your focus area and post on it
Joanne Harris, the English-French author, best known for her book Chocolat, on which the eponymous Hollywood film was based, has been doing “Ten Things” posts effectually on Twitter. Typically, her posts have given advice on writing, editing, debuts, self-promotion, reviews, critics, launches and so on.
The posts have been so eagerly followed that Joanne ended up compiling her “Ten Things” advice into a book. This part is incidental and highly gratifying but first Joanne started by dishing out counsel that proved meaningful to so many of her readers.
- Write and post on several platforms
Make sure your voice is heard and your thoughts read. Utilize your own website, groups on social media, digital and physical publications optimally to put out your writings.
Share your writing in the appropriate forums. But be mindful as to not come across as spammy or pointless.
- Make sure your posts and writings bring immense value to your reader
Your work or writing is only as good as the value it brings. The value, though, could be multifarious. But it must carry import to your reader – be it educative or entertaining, relaxing or rejoicing, piquing interest or fueling intrigue, killing boredom or enlivening passion, soothing or stimulating, compliant with the senses or disrupting to the sensibilities.
If you reflect on the grounds why something has gone viral, even if it has been a TikTok no-brainer then it has been so only because the end consumer identified with it strongly for whatever reason.
Always be seen as someone who adds value!
Quite on the heels of the above two, you must read widely and voraciously. It is the easiest way to learn, unlearn, relearn, shape your thoughts, tease your mind, tease out fresh ideas, understand currents and trends, and evolve.
Also, if you expect to be read, you must read others too. It is not just being civilized. It is a business give and take as well.
- Engage with your network
The more the avenues for communication; the more the opportunity to be seen in so many places! Yet, more the challenge to ride over the incessant deluge!
The flow of information/content on new media is incessant; and changing every second. You have the fear of getting lost in the blink of an eye; as there is the proposition of getting noticed. Therefore beat the algorithm; or rather have it working in your favour by regular engagement.
Additionally, by engaging you create purposeful dialogue, foster relationships, exchange ideas, invite suggestions, lend your two cents and so forth.
With the convenience of devices in the palm of our hands, there is no reason not to. Furthermore, it is impolite and counterproductive to your personal brand if you do not.
There is nothing called being too busy. Only indiscipline, lack of courtesy and bad time management can come in the way.
I learnt it from an erstwhile boss. Rattan Keswani, the General Manager of the Hotel where I headed PR & Communications always came back, even if it was a two-word reply of “I concur” or “Let’s talk.”
Jackie Shroff, one of India’s most dashing and successful superstars in the Indian Film Industry, who still keeps extremely busy with his professional commitments, just has to respond. It could be an abbreviated word or an emoji, but you are sure to get a reply from him. Even when he is in the throes of things!
Since leadership and personal brand value percolate down, I always get a polite, civil, professional response from Mira Nair’s office each time I write to the internationally famous Hollywood film director.
- Join relevant groups and network there
There are groups and communes of cohorts, representing your varied personal interests and professional thrusts. Join those groups, bring value to them, reap benefit from them, and network sensibly, and responsibly.
Make posts, share blogs, do book reviews, present your analyses, remark, comment, ask questions, proffer answers, reshare stimulating content – there are a million ways to traverse this road.
But bear in mind, what you say or write, where you do it, how you do it, your demeanour, your disposition, your tone, your appearance, your voiced out opinions, your unvoiced stand – all mesh together to define your persona and tell the world what kind of a personality you are.
- Participate in speaking engagements, book launches, Panel discussions, conferences
Firstly, in order to do so, you must hone your expertise, chisel your craft and be regarded as someone with nous and knowledge, someone who brings respect to their chosen field.
These opportunities present to you perfect platforms to be seen and heard in the right quarters. Many of them bring to you wider exposure.
Further, if you bring good value to these outlets and your audience appreciates that value then you end up becoming the favourite face that is invited time and again. And that’s a huge win for your personal brand value.
- Harvest avenues through your website
Your website is your digital signature. So much more than a calling card, it is a virtual showhouse of all that you bring to your professional identity.
With the right SEO spun into your website, it is more often than not, the first link that pops up each time you are searched for. Your website must do justice to your personal brand and must enhance your brand value.
Use your website to project your personality with honesty and integrity, yet in a way that showcases your unique value. At the same time, utilize the marketing opportunities available to you via your Site.