In the last month or so, I’ve heard references to individuals building their “brand” in regard to their career & work experience. As with any other industry, that’s to be expected in today’s workplace. Especially with the prevalence of Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, and more influencing the general public’s decisions.
Please note this is not a new concept. Anyone in publishing would immediately see this reflective of “building a platform” or a “writing platform.” This may not apply as much those writing a novel, but right now, anyone who wants to break out in the nonfiction market needs to have a personal “brand” to match their book idea.
Think about it. Would you take a nonfiction writer seriously if s/he didn’t bring the necessary expertise to the book you’re reading?
ex: If someone is writing a book on being a Cat Whisperer, wouldn’t that person need to bring years of experience and knowledge on how one does it? What if that person only has experience buiding canoes, but thought it would be great idea to write a book on cat whispering? Would you take this person seriously? I doubt it. As the background of the writer doesn’t equal the expertise needed for that book.
The next step beyond showing that expertise is one’s reach to have an established readership, as well as potential future readers. It’s absolutely essential one has strong roots wherever s/he is writing a book (reflecting this expertise). Still, the “branding” concept would otherwise indicate that the reach needs to go beyond one’s comfort zone. Are there readers/followers outside of your state? In multiple states? In multiple countries? Can you prove to me, or any other publishing person, that MANY people will purchase your book?
ex: This book on cat whispering – your only readers are located within 100 miles of you. You have no website. No social media presence. No extensive network with other cat whisperers. No writing experience with the general public regarding your knowledge of cat whispering. Before approaching publishers/editors/agents, make sure that you find even more readers/followers in other cites, states, possibly countries. This will improve the overall writing platform, “your brand.”
How long does this take? Sadly there’s no shortcut to the process. It can take 6 months, it take a year, it can take longer. My opinion is that I’d rather a writer take the necessary time to build the necessary “buzz” around his/her self, so that the expertise will stand out, vs. attempting to rush the process. Rushing the process will not result in a strong brand.
Just like Jim Tyrell-Smith states that one needs to be strategic with a brand for the job market, getting prepared before approaching publishers is not a choice. I promise that building your own personal brand is very possible, with some planning and some figurative elbow grease, it’ll make a significant difference in establishing your writing platform.