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Friday Fun Day: Creating an Author Identity

Some time ago, I started questioning why I have joined social networking sites, started a blog, all those things we're told are smart tools to use as a writer. Heather B, emerging author, summed up my own befuddlement of creating an identity:

"I've been struggling with the 'author identify' part myself. The book I have an agent for (which will theoretically be the first one sold) is MG humor for boys. But I'm also working on two YA novels. The first one is fairly serious with an environmental message. The second YA is a goofy black comedy that pokes fun at pop culture. So where does that leave me as far as author branding goes? I have two blogs I've never put my name on or pointed to from Verla's because I don't feel that either one really represents me."

A few weeks back I posted some questions and many wonderful authors responded. I hope to create an awesome article you can someday read in Writers Digest. Until then, here are some highlights:



Kelly Fineman, poet

What have you done to create an identity both online and traditionally?

I tried to 'brand' my blog by mostly writing about certain things, like poetry and book reviews. I realized that much of my written work was poetry, and that the only things I've actually sold are poems, so I decided to write about poetry on my blog, which led to other things like the CYBILs and a few joint blogs (like Guys Lit Wire).


 Kerry Madden, author of the Maggie Valley Series:

Do you wish you had more knowledge or savvy about certain marketing tricks?
What are they?

I think everybody could take lessons from the brilliance of Lisa Yee, Elizabeth Dulemba, Katie Davis, and Paula Yoo...These are just off the top of my head, but compared to them and their smart and efficient and funny way of marketing, I feel like a piker at times. They're just really good at it, and they understand technology, which is absolutely essential in this business.



Liz Jones, emerging author and illustrator:

What were the least effective marketing tools you've used?

Probably my first blog entry back in 2005. I thought if I posted a couple of images and some blurbs about each of my manuscripts, I could just point editors and agents towards it, and they would call me. Hahahahahaha....



Mike Aragona, publisher and author

What have you found to be the most effective marketing tools?

As you know, my LJ is used for a variety of reasons (personal, upcoming writing projects, upcoming publishing projects) and although there are many who keep an eye on it, it's the direct mailing that gets the orders going. The LJ allows those who are interested to get to know "me" - it seems that being seen as "human" is a good thing ;)



 Dawn Metcalf, Skin and Bones (Dutton 2010)

What have you done to create an identity both online and traditionally?

Proceed. Slowly. I did not want to make the mistake of revealing myself as anything online until I knew how I was going to market myself. With the offer on my latest manuscript, I then knew I wanted to present myself as a YA author of paranormal fantasy.



Dayton Ward: Star Trek author

What have you done to create an identity both online and traditionally?

I have my website, and my LJ, and I maintain an online presence at various message boards frequented by readers. Book signings can be fun, or a total waste of time, depending on the when/why/where/who/etc. Online-wise, I make myself available for chats and interviews. Places like MySpace and Facebook have proven somewhat effective. I suppose it's more about being accessible in a social/casual setting, but to me there's a line between being accessible online and being on call as a virtual playmate.



Tammy Sauer Cowboy Camp, No Baloney!

What have you done to create an identity both online and traditionally?

One thing that has worked really well for me is speaking at Encyclo-Media. It's Oklahoma's premier educational conference and most of the attendees are LIBRARY MEDIA SPECIALISTS. Having an opportunity to speak to lots of library media specialists has resulted in most of my school visit opportunities.



 Deanna Roy, nonfiction author

What have you done to create an identity both online and traditionally?

I have a big web site (www.pregnancyloss.info) on the topic where Deanna as a person takes the sideline to the message. On that page, however, you can click on "about this site" and learn about me and my babies. This takes you to journals that personalize the site and encourages a bond beyond the information on the page. We become partners in the process.


 Lisa Schroeder, I Heart You, You Haunt Me

What have you found to be the most effective marketing tools?

I am a big believer of myspace, and connecting with readers one reader at a time, commenting about an author they have on their page, music they like, etc. I have a thing on my page that says, "If I've requested your friendship and you don't know me, we probably have a favorite author in common." This lets me go and seek out teen readers without seeming TOO creepy.



 S.A Bodeen, The Compound

I've had a website for a long time, with an email contact on it. I think that is crucial for librarians who may want to have you for a school visit. I pay someone to maintain it with news, updates, etc. I liberally pass out business cards. I'm not a fan of signings, unless they are part of a regularly scheduled story hour or book club or have tremendous support from both the bookstore and publisher. After ten years, I'm still learning :)


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 11th, 2008 01:40 pm (UTC)
once things settle down and I can whip up a proposal, that is.
Oct. 12th, 2008 09:53 pm (UTC)
Oh, wow...I know one of those...
Well, sorta. I know Deanna Roy in that I was a person on her past pregnancyloss.info page with a bulletin board. She wrote a fiction about miscarriage and I was one who got to read the copy and included my opinions. She put it on the backburner, or maybe burned it, I'm not sure. Anyway, she has an excellent factual site but also has written fiction and has won an award for one of her stories (maybe more). She's also a photographer. Very busy woman! I wish I had met her in person! She got me through with her site after I had two miscarrages in a row. Really, that all helped me when I got a small chance to write as a columnist (Midwest Voices 2007 for the Kansas City Star). She has inspired me...
Oct. 13th, 2008 01:34 am (UTC)
I agree, branding is important. Callie and the Stepmother and my upcoming The Princess and the Pee both have "princess" themes in one way or another. When I do school visits, I dress in a crown and pink boa.
It's okay with me if I become known as the "princess" author.:-)
God bless,
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )