Saturday, April 13, 2013

Building a Brand--Guest Post by Beate Boeker

Purchase here
I'm very grateful to Elizabeth for inviting me as her guest today. She said that her readers are interested in writing tips and suggested that I write about “writers as a brand.” 

I'm happy to do this because this happens to be my field of expertise: Besides being a multi-published author by Avalon Books and now being an indie-author, I'm also working as a Global Marketing Manager for an international brand, so building a brand is something I deal with every day. But what exactly do they mean when they say you should “build a brand”?

Superficially looking, a brand is a name for a certain range of products. When you look deeper, you'll realize that a brand is more than that. It's an imprint on your mind. An established brand has certain values linked to it, and these values will pop up in the mind of the consumer when they see it.

Think Coca Cola. You will not think of your sofa and a rug over your knees when you see it. Coca Cola is the brand to go out and have fun, and they have carefully groomed that image over centuries. Now imagine that a new marketing manager would come to them and would say “Hey, guys, we can tap into new target groups by positioning this brand for the home as well.” As a consequence, they start an advertising campaign focusing on the home, when you're on your own, just that lovely Coke and you.

A risky strategy, to say the least, because the consumer will be irritated. The values that Coca Cola was standing for - like fun, being on the go, being with friends – are now suddenly being diluted.

Now this is the same for authors. For example, I'm positioning myself as an author who writes books with touches of humor and mischief. It doesn't matter if they're romances or mysteries - as long as they make me chuckle, count me in. I've published over ten books and short stories, and the readers who know my name will know that they can rely on a happy end, on a chuckle, and that they can give these novels to their teenage daughters without a qualm. That's what my name is standing for.

Now imagine that I suddenly get this crazy urge to write a noir, dystopian novel that ends with the world falling apart or a really hot erotic romance. Should I write this under the name of Beate Boeker? Most definitely not! I would shock my readers and would confuse them. I'm not saying I can't write this; I just have to choose a different brand – in this case a pseudonym – to make sure that my readers get a clear message. Of course, you can make cross-references and can tell your established readers about your different names, in case they are open to reading widely across all genres and like your style, no matter the content, but you have to keep your marketing well apart.

Everything I post on Facebook or anywhere else has to fit to the tone of my novel. Of course, I'm not always feeling breezy and happy and in an Italian-sort-of-mood, but when I'm building my brand, I have to make sure I'm consistent (and if I need to rave, I do it offline with my friends!).

Also, a brand has to be easily recognizable. Ideally, this means that your covers speak the same language. They don't all have to look alike, but they have to convey the same feelings. I admit that I haven't realized this perfectly for all my novels so far, however, for my cozy mystery series, I have decided to take one theme – the typical Italian shutters – and to use them in different color constellations. This makes it easy to recognize the theme.

Below is an excerpt of the first novel in my cozy mystery Delayed Death. It's one of my favorite scenes, where the heroine, Carlina, gets to know the investigating officer Garini a little bit better, and I think it's a typical example of my voice or brand – a bit of romance all wrapped around the mystery and a bit of humor, set in Italy. I'm looking forward to discussing what you think about this topic.

"Where did you find your grandfather?"
Carlina throat tightened. The preliminaries were over. Now came the hard part. "Grandpa sat at the kitchen table." Her voice cracked.
"Go on."
She felt as if he was pushing her bit by bit forward, until she would drop off a cliff. "My cousin . . . Emma threw a fit."
His eyebrows twitched. "Why?"
"Emma was the bride! His death destroyed her wedding."
Commissario Garini looked as if he had no clue what she was talking about.
Do you have no imagination at all? "Can you picture the bride coming up to church and saying that her grandfather just died?" Carlina closed her eyes. It was easier to speak without looking at the man made of steel next to her. "Everybody bursting into tears, the wedding canceled, no dancing, no party, the flowers wilting, the ceremony postponed, the honeymoon annulled . . ." She shook her head so hard, she felt the edge of the shelf beneath her hair.
"I like the wilting flowers," he said. "Nice touch."

Beate Boeker is a traditionally published author since 2008 and now offers many full-length novels and short stories online. Several were shortlisted for the Golden Quill Contest, the National Readers' Choice Award, and the 'Best Indie Books of 2012' contest.
She is a marketing manager by day with a degree in International Business Administration, and her daily experience in marketing continuously provides her with a wide range of fodder for her novels, be it hilarious or cynical.
While 'Boeker' means 'books' in a German dialect, her first name Beate can be translated as ‘Happy’ . . . and with a name that reads ‘Happy Books’, what else could she do but write novels with a happy end?
Twitter - @BeateBoeker
Homepage -