Be The “Go To” Gal! The Importance of Branding Yourself in a Niche Market By Julie Donner Andersen

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The Author of the First-Ever Book for Wives of Widowers (Or WOWs) Discusses the Three Laws of Personal Branding

Branding is a word you hear a lot about these days. Brand names like Coca-Cola, Nike, and Home Depot are instantly recognizable. While the “generic” fad was big several years ago – remember all those black and white labels down at the grocery store – people realized that it was worth the extra ten or twenty cents to buy something of quality from a name they recognized.

So what does all of this Business School 101 talk have to do with you, your writing career, or your next book? Simple: Becoming a “branded” name is quickly becoming as important for authors as it is for sodas, shoes, or movie theater chains.

Why? The recent demise of so-called “vanity presses” and the sudden rise of eBook and POD publishers has produced a recent rash of authors with self-published books on the market. From fiction to gardening to children’s books, it is easier than ever to self-publish these days.

Yet publishing a book is only half the battle. It’s marketing the book that becomes the 400-pound monkey on your back, and with a flood of recent authors competing for the same exposure, it’s getting harder and harder to stand out in the crowd.

The answer? Personal branding. Getting your name recognized as the “go to” person for author interviews, articles, columns, book reviews, newsletters, and radio or TV interviews on your chosen subject is a coveted prize sought by all writers – but awarded to only the select few who have carefully thought out their own “personal brand.”

Here are three surefire ways to “brand” yourself in your chosen genre:

Start at the Beginning: Choose Your Niche Market Carefully

Many successful authors believe that much of their popularity is due to what they did before they ever wrote the book. In fact, the first law of personal branding is to choose your niche market carefully. What is a niche market? It depends on your point of view. Some would say that “pets” is a niche market. Personally, I feel that “pets” are more of a target market. “Healthy teeth and gum care for pets” is a true niche market.

So, what is your niche market? Let’s find out. Say you’re writing a book about gardening. That’s a popular “target” market. After all, not everybody gardens, yet gardening is popular enough to have whole sections of your local hardware or department store dedicated to its practice, as well as whole sections of the bookstore and library. So, gardening it is. But have you checked out the gardening market lately? If you’ll pardon the pun, it’s practically overrun!

So, now it’s time to sit down and choose your niche market. Gardening has lots of little inner markets, or “niches,” buried within. There are gardening tools, gardening clothes, gardening tips, flowers, plants, seasons, mulch, you name it, gardening has it. Do your research and find a single niche that is relatively not addressed in your local bookstore, library, or the Internet.

How about this: Natural remedies for ridding your garden of pests! Now that is a great niche market. Not only will it apply to the traditional gardening market, but to specialty markets as well, such as consumers who use only natural products, consumers who avoid pollution at all costs, pest and other bug lovers, and even natural pesticide companies who might want to endorse your book to further their cause! As you can see, finding a niche market makes it that much easier for you to brand yourself as THE “go to” person in that niche market!

The Title Says it All!

What comes after selecting your niche market carefully? Your book title, of course! Many authors choose a title at the very beginning of the writing process, and stubbornly stick to it for the rest of the book’s natural life. There’s nothing wrong with falling in love with a title, but love and business rarely mix, and the title of your book is no less important to your customers than the cover design or list price. You wouldn’t slap together a book cover in five minutes, would you? So why spend any less time on your book title?

My book was titled WOW: Can You Relate? all the way up until a month before going to press. Luckily, while helping my daughter with her English homework one evening, a light bulb glowed over my head, and PAST: Perfect! PRESENT: Tense! was born, just in the nick of time. Not only is it what I consider a catchy title, but fits perfectly with the subject of the book: marrying a widower. Many radio, TV, and print media professionals have commented that they probably wouldn’t have bothered with such a touchy subject matter had it not been for the book’s unique title. It’s familiar, easy to pronounce, and peaks the reader’s curiosity. Plus, it brands me as an expert in the field.

Even subtitles must be well developed, and should reflect the body of the work itself. My book’s subtitle, “Insights From One Woman’s Journey As The Wife Of A Widower” summarizes what the book is all about before the reader even opens the cover. It also helps promote my book in the search engines because of the wonderful keywords that can be extracted.

What’s in a Name? A lot!

Madonna. Dr. J. J-Lo. What’s in a name? A lot. Especially when your name is quick, simple, fun, breezy, and most importantly – easy to remember. Okay, so maybe your name is Suzanne Schwarzengoogle – and you don’t feel like dissing your grandmother by changing it! Not a problem. No one is suggesting you shouldn’t have family pride – or that you should sell yourself out and take a pen name just to promote your book. But have you ever considered using a nickname to help brand yourself?

Consider the following example: A simple woman with a simple name writes a simple book about using natural remedies to rid your garden of pesky insects. Sound like a good read? Sure. Want to help make it a “great” read, at least as perception is concerned? Add a nickname between the author’s first and last name. For instance, here are two titles and their bylines. Which one sounds better?

Title & Byline #1:
My Secret Garden – Ridding Yourself of Pests Naturally by Sheila Sunflower

Title & Byline #2:
My Secret Garden – Ridding Yourself of Pests Naturally by Sheila “The Garden Granny” Sunflower

Which one sounds better? Title & Byline # 2, of course. Why? What’s different? Not much, just a simple three-word nickname, “the Garden Granny,” in the byline – but a world of difference in the familiar reception this book is likely to receive next to similar titles in the home and garden section!

Branding yourself in a niche market is the best way to promote your books that are published by smaller presses, and also makes you an instant expert.

Julie Donner Andersen is the author of PAST: Perfect! PRESENT: Tense! Insights From One Woman’s Journey As The Wife Of A Widower, available at Amazon.com.