I want to take this chance to talk about branding, identity and trust as well as predatory marketers. As a writer who has self-published my own novel, I have come across many ‘trickster’ online companies feeding on peoples’ insecurities and need for a ‘quick fix’. My advice: Do It Yourself!
Building a brand is not an immediate process. It takes time, effort and consistency. When I first decided to self-publish my novel, it was a HUGE learning curve. I remember at the time feeling overwhelmed by the daunting prospect of book marketing. Although I am a marketer, I truly had no idea how to proceed. I asked a colleague for advice on how to use Twitter. That is how naïve I was about social media marketing. As my journey progressed, I accumulated a wealth of contacts (readers, authors, reviewers, Scriggler and Readers Gazette, to name a few). I am aware of the need to provide engaging content on Twitter (not just about the book) and post links to my Book Marketing for New Authors series, videos, Scriggler interview, poetry, and photography to also build the Marshall Hughes brand. As a keen amateur photographer and my experience of working with local artists for my front covers, I set up a 500px page and use the photographs as "Good morning Twitter" posts. What I aim to achieve is to produce engaging content in order to build a strong brand identity.
Tips: Take your time. It is not a quick fix. Build your brand through creative content but do not forget about the quality of the product(s) i.e. your books!
The identity of the Marshall Hughes brand is consistent with the content (dark, sinister, gripping, suspense-laden, passionate, tantalising, page-turner) and description of the book – KillerThriller/DarkRomance. That has actually taken a year to put those four words together! Although I have only self-published the first book there is more to follow:
Book 1 of The Revenge Series – Out Of The Dark
Book 2 of The Revenge Series – Into The Light
Book 3 of The Revenge Series – Back To The Dark
I am working on the second one at the moment after returning to edit the first book with the help of technological writing aids. I use both Grammarly (for on-the-spot checks) and Pro Writing Aid (for a more thorough edit of the entire document). Out Of The Dark has more reviews but what a process when you have to rely on yourself, out with previous proofreaders, to painstakingly go through it all, again and again, and again! I will have beta readers in place for the second book, that's for sure BEFORE I self-publish.
To create a consistent online identity, I also take the Marshall Hughes brand and extend it across other platforms such as Author Central on Amazon, website, YouTube, 500px, Instagram, Scriggler, Facebook and Twitter. My mind must work in mysterious ways because most of the content is all linked together.
I think it is important to have consistency across all platforms to reinforce the brand identity. As such, the dark, compelling nature of my author, books, website, YouTube clips, extra-curricular writing and social media presence is easy to identify. My efforts have focused on building a brand personality/image through the use of suspense-laden language, photographs, dark colours and trying to provide engaging content through my online existence. For example, I describe my 500px page as:
“I am an 'amateur' photographer with a keen interest in Scotland. The main theme to emerge is a combination of Light and Dark, regardless of category.”
My poems, Never Truly Mine and Let It Go, on Scriggler, reflect dark romance and Beyond and Dark Forces ponder over the observable universe in our own solar system (Light) with the unobservable universe such as black holes, dark matter and dark energy (Dark) which reinforces the words in the titles of my books. It’s bonkers how my mind subconsciously works!
Tips: Connect it all together with consistency.
I remember reading an article stating that it can take three to four years to establish oneself as a writer. Therefore, I have concluded that I need to take it slow, easy and build the Marshall Hughes brand through a process of engaging content and brand trust. The latter is of paramount importance. I am not here to force anyone to read my articles or buy my books. I am at a stage where I feel more confident about reviews (although there will always be different interpretations/opinions on what you write) out with my social circle. One brand that I do implicitly trust is Scriggler. It is an excellent platform and I post creative content for readers to enjoy (or not) depending on each persons’ point of view. I also use the Scriggler Twitter Management Service for post rotations. I manage my own growth, at the moment, and engage with who I want to follow and vice versa. What I dislike are predatory marketers who try and dupe you into buying their services. This is the ultimate act of mistrust!
Tips: Build your own brand trust, trust few and be aware of predatory marketers.
Not so long ago, I posted a ‘rant’ on my Facebook group about predatory marketers but have since calmed down! Here is my post:
I feel a rant coming on about predatory marketers. It is bubbling away, waiting to explode in words. I'm trying to stop myself here. Deep breath. Sorry, no can do!
I just read a post on a group that I follow. Engage in this poll. We value your opinion. Give us your email address then answer the FAKE poll. F-Off!
Follow us on Twitter. Pay for FAKE followers and FAKE retweets. We have FAKE accounts.
Pay for a review. Better still, pay to get your book published (we are talking thousands of £/$) by a FAKE company who guarantees Top 100 Amazon success.
Pay to join our art gallery. We will take all your details and your money and use your content to our own FAKE advantage.
There are even more FAKE practices but I think you get the gist. Say no more.
If in doubt about any practices, ask me or the group.
Tips: Avoid these FAKE practices like the plague!
Not sure where to start on this one. I know we all have our own selfish agenda to a certain extent BUT there is a limit. I understand there is a demand for instant followers on Twitter. I have 1,500 followers and it has taken a year to build this up. I have said this before, and I will say it again, I see accounts with hundreds upon thousands of followers but never any likes or retweets of posts? It makes little sense that there is not any kind of engagement? FAKE followers? Who knows? The people I do feel sorry for are the ones who have paid ‘vanity publishers’ to take control of their book marketing. I am just learning about these services, so if anyone has good/bad experiences, then please tell all! I would not pay for a review. Yes, a proofread/edit if I ever had the money but never a review and certainly not a publisher.
Tips: Be aware.
Do it yourself!
After numerous ‘rejections’ from legitimate agents/publishers, I decided to self-publish. In hindsight, I was not ready. So, I uploaded the eBook on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and the print book on Create Space and take advantage of the KDP Countdown Deals. This process is not for the faint-hearted and takes a lot of work to format the books. However, I have mentioned before that Create Space has amazing templates to avoid the upload issues. As I am in the process of learning, I will check out other platforms such as Darft2Digital. At the moment, I am content with Amazon. As a self-publisher, I think it is important to have control, avoid predatory marketers and do it yourself!
Tips: Unless you are lucky enough to have a book deal with a legitimate publisher (who pays you and not the other way around) take control of your own journey.