Assume Success!

MANY OF MY CLIENTS are, with their books, seeking to stake a claim on a niche or step up to being an authority in their field. Many already are. Either way, branding is what now sets us apart, and perhaps that’s been true ever since there was no longer a “town doctor.” As we become more and more in number, we need to find ways to differentiate ourselves and ideally, stand out (for good reasons) and be the first to come to mind.

I work with a lot of marketers and authors who are either “branding” for the first time seriously, or redefining or improving their brands. I still think there’s nothing like a book project to get you to lay it all out there and get new clarity on your brand, because a brand is a promise (as my author-friend Cynthia Freeman says in The Power of Done), and a brand is what you have envisioned for you and your clients. Once established, a brand communicates a whole package (again, hopefully of good stuff) in an instant. Think of logos. Well, whether it’s Apple or KISS, the brand communicates and probably makes you even feel a certain way.

What I wanted to mention here is that a brand can often be assumed. We all work on becoming things, and perhaps too rarely simply assume things for ourselves. I think of Arnold Schwarzenegger. In some movie or documentary I remember him instructing a smaller body builder, “Just go out there and take that space, or the bigger guys will push you out,” (or something like that) as he demonstrated a pose, one arm pointing an upward, open hand to the sky, the other flexed by his side. David Miscavige, the notorious and ruthless leader of Scientology, is said to have had the epiphany, “Power is not granted, it’s taken!” And authors can do this by mimicking what I see publisher and savvy Indies doing all the time—assuming power.

How does an author do this? Go to the bestseller shelves at the grocery store and you’ll see paperback s with the AUTHOR NAME at the top of the book cover. This is done to make the name visible even if there are books on the shelf below, and because the author name is even more important than the title, which means the author has a following. Look at Mark Dawson’s book covers (featured image/screenshot from Amazon). Dawson is easily one of the brightest and most savvy indie authors (and by choice, you need to check out his stuff) and has sold millions of copies of his books. His covers are a case study. They are consistent and bold for branding, and perfectly and wonderfully designed for his genre, professionalism, and marketing.

What positions and attributes do you want to be known for? Take them, then make sure you deliver or have them.

To Launch “Hard” or “Soft”?

Image (C) Wikimedia Commons

THE LEAD TIME for launching your book will vary depending on your purposes and resources. If you are building a career as an author, it might also depend on whether this is your first book launch or not. The formula for viability as an author is simply books x readers = sales. That explains in part why publishers will tell you the best marketing for your book is always your next book.

But let’s back up a bit. If you are a first-time author and have no readers, how do you get them? One way is to publish a book with the target of lots of reviews rather than sales, initially, and then use that first book to build a readership with. Then with book two you’ll have more options and can start focusing more on sales. Book sales and being an author as a career is a long-term plan, despite the occasional lightning strikes. For a professionally published and marketed book launch I’ve seen publicists want anywhere from three months to a year to prepare. As you learn about what’s involved you’ll see why.

The other end of the spectrum is the “soft launch,” where a title becomes available quietly in the night, without fanfare, and this suits plenty of authors, too. Remember, launches and marketing take either sweat equity or actual cash, so a soft launch might be the best way to start if you have little of either, or if the book is for establishment purposes like credibility and positioning. They still work wonders!

And when you learn a launch is primarily about reviews, the whole pre-launch sequence starts to make lots of sense. Otherwise, your fresh, new, well-written tome might simply drift unnoticed, a message in a bottle, a drop in an ocean. There are now over one million books published each year, so crafting a smart launch and long-term plan for your books is a great idea.