Are you an author brand?
The minute you publish to Twitter, write your first blog post, or call yourself a writer on Facebook–you’ve started to establish your author brand. As soon as you layer your online identity with posts, pictures and anecdotes they craft a persona in the minds of readers and visitors that you can never fully shake. Your brand should be fluid across your social media sites, website and author bio showing your writing style, genre choice, and personal flair. However, the most difficult thing in marketing is not building a brand (though it’s a close second) but changing people’s opinions about a brand identity that they already know. And repositioning a brand can only come from a place of authenticity.
So how is brand positioning important to writers?
Once you’ve finished your manuscript and decided what your brand is–i.e. what makes you unique–you start to think about how your author brand would position itself with a partner: an agent. This agent already has a brand–the type of authors they represent, their representation style, their reputation with the deals they’ve done–and your best chance at success is pairing yourself with an agent whose brand umbrella you fit under.
Just like a publisher has a brand and their imprints fit snuggly, but uniquely, within it, agents manage their authors based on the brand of their agency and what fits within the areas of what they represent. An agent only takes authors on that they a) want to work with for a career and b) think they can sell, two things that are defined by their existing brand and for which information is available. If you want to be one of those authors you have to research agents and think about how you fit within the agent’s brand. If you aren’t a fit for that agent people’s time is wasted.
You can’t reposition your brand to fit with an agent. Your author brand is who you are and will shine through your work and correspondence. This is what leads to partial and full manuscript requests–and ultimately representation offers. And subsequently, what leads to queries rejected by form letter.
But, enough with the metaphors, everyone just do your research and submit to the agents whose clients you admire and whose sales reflect the genre you write in, mmmmk?