Diamond State Romance Authors

February Program: Branding Yourself

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The DSRA meets the third Saturday of every month at Thompson Library in Little Rock, Arkansas. Guests may visit up to three times before joining, and while we are a romance group, all genres are welcome.

For more information about upcoming programs, visit our website at www.dsra-rwa.com.

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February Meeting: Social Media by Voirey Linger

Voirey is currently published with Ellora’s Cave Publishing. you can visit her at www.voireylinger.com.

February’s meeting was full of information on establishing branding, basic social media and using Twitter. There was far too much discussed to cover in one blog so I’m going to concentrate on the subject of author branding.

Branding is almost a dirty word in the writing world. Some authors worry about pigeonholing themselves while others can’t narrow down just what they do. The process can easily become overwhelming. Sometimes it’s easier to hide than brand.

But branding serves an important purpose and it happens whether the author plans it or not. It’s better to take the time to plan than wait and see what happens. The images, language and atmosphere surrounding the author will tell readers what to expect on an almost instinctive level. A well-branded writer will attract her target audience while gently steering readers who prefer another kind of book in a different direction.

So how did I begin my branding process?

The first step was to define for myself who I was. Not my books, me.

Early on, I made a decision that I wanted to be a ‘safe place’ online. I write romance, erotic romance and high-sensuality mainstream romance, but I didn’t want my website to be perceived as dirty in any way. I made a deliberate choice to keep to images that are PG-13, to keep my language relatively clean, and to steer around internet kerfluffles. I figure people get enough negativity in daily life. I don’t want to add to that. This is something I try to keep in mind as I work on my site or interact through various media.

The next step was to define my writing.

At the time I did this, I had two books release. Both were paranormal romance, but I see myself as mostly a contemporary author. I didn’t want to promote myself with paranormal and cut off contemporary, nor did I want to claim the banner of contemporary when I had two paranormal books out.

I turned to friends and critique partners. I asked for terms that would describe my writing in general terms. I was fortunate enough to have a few reviews at that time, so I also gleaned them for words to describe just what it was I did.

The list was very revealing. Steamy, delicious, erotic, passionate with underlying tenderness, full of intensity, emotional, sinful, sensual. Combined, they give a general feel. My writing is sexy with a focus on the heart. The last two words summed up the impression I wanted casual browsers to take away, so I made that in to my tagline, Stories of Sin and Sensuality.

Once mood and writing is defined, it’s time to pull together the most important aspect of branding. Images.

I say this is the most important aspect because humans are, for the most part, visual creatures. We are driven by what we see. Our brains absorb information from images much faster than spoken or written information. We can and do judge books by their covers. An image will attract or repel a reader before she has a chance to read a single word.
I found a selection of images that I felt fit my descriptive list. They were not images that I was planning on using on my website. They were more for my reference. I began considering what it was about the images I liked and why I chose them over others. For me, it boiled down to these people feeling real. There was a raw earthiness about them that was different from the waxed and oiled models that dominate my genre. None of them were explicit or particularly naughty, but there was a sexiness about them which I found very appealing.

In the end, one image stood out to me. It portrayed an earthy sexiness while staying within the PG-13 limits I had imposed.

At this point, I had my branding. The goal was now incorporating it into my online persona.

My first step was taking that one image and making it my face online. It became my header, my avatar, my banner and my ‘filler’ for generic website additions. Wherever I go online, this image is visible, and when people see this one image, they associate it with Voirey Linger.

I used the terms and some of my chosen images to make a trailer, not for a book, but for me. It’s my personal commercial, and I use it wherever I have an opportunity. Like now.

Over time, people have formed an opinion of me and what I do based on my actions and what I present in public. Those who like erotica and sexy romances are pulled in. Those who prefer tamer reads won’t be offended by anything I present, but they won’t be drawn in, either. My branding is established, and it serves me well.

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