Sunday, October 26, 2008

Austin Camacho About Branding, Trailers & Publicists

Acme Authors Link Again Welcomes Austin Camacho, who has more questions to answer for our readers.
Austin is the author of four detective novels in the Hannibal Jones series plus a great marketing book, Successfully Marketing Your Novel in the 21st Century.

Hello, everyone,

I’m back to respond to a few more of your comments left from my marketing-oriented
blog last week.

Marvin asked about branding, which I think a 2-sided issue. For us fiction guys it’s about giving our characters or our series an identity. I do it with this logo that should make everyone think of the Hannibal Jones Mysteries. The logo goes on mugs and tee shirts I use as giveaway incentives. Hannibal, as a character, is branded by a pair of Oakley sunglasses, black gloves and the Sig Sauer P-220 he carries.

But if you want to be known as “THE GUY or gal when it comes to such and such, which you just happen to be an author on the topic” then I suggest you give your expertise away. Write articles and offer them to all the free posting places on line and all the appropriate blogs. Start your own blog answering questions sent in. Maybe start a podcast on which you give some valuable info every week. And consider linking your name as much as possible to more recognizable people in your field, if there are such.

Brian mentioned his success with book trailers, and introduced the idea of updating them regularly. This may have the same effect of doing a video blog – new content regularly does hold an audience. That could be as simple as setting up a camera and talking to it about your book or your writing every week. I hope we hear more about this new idea.

Helen’s comment about the look and feel of self-published books made me want to expand a little on my camouflage principle. She’s probably right that many consumers are just as likely to give a new author a try whether they’re published by Random House or self-published. But first they have to see it. If you want your books to be in bookstores, the bookstore manager needs to be comfortable stocking them. If they look amateurish to him or her, they won’t get ordered.

There is also the matter of genre. If you look in the different sections of your local bookstore you’ll see that SF books just don’t look the same as mysteries and romances have a whole different look. Each genre has a predictable range of page count, typeface, margins, the way chapter headings are set up, cover style, price – a number of little indicators that are almost subliminal to readers. If you want strangers who are looking for a new thriller to pick up your book, it needs to carry those little clues that say “thriller” to that reader.

L.J asked the big questions: Have I ever spent money on a publicist. Well, yes I have and mostly regretted it. I soon learned that anything they can do, I can do just as well or sometimes better. But I made the mistake of expecting someone else to drive my success. Today I would not hire anyone to do anything without some sort of guarantee. Then I can see if what I’m paying for is worth the money. So, for example, if you’re too busy to book your own blog tour, don’t pay someone to do it unless they commit to getting you on a minimum number of blogs within a predetermined timeframe.

I do believe in hiring independent contractors to do publicity support work. For example, you might pay someone to do the research on which magazines reach your chosen audience best if you plan to invest in print advertising. I pay someone to schedule bookstore signings for me. I pay her a set amount for each manager she contacts and an additional amount for each event that she schedules. I suppose that makes her my publicist, and I find that managers respond differently to a call from your “publicist” than they do to call from an author.

But as they say on TV, your results may vary. I’d love to hear from anyone who has had real success that they attribute to a publicist’s work.

Again, thank you all for being such good hosts. And keep writing – that’s the best way to promote yourself as an author!

Austin S. Camacho
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1 comment:

Morgan Mandel said...

Welcome back, Austin.
We could all use some of your great advice on branding.

Morgan Mandel