Building Your Brand
—by Karis Vigil, M.S.
Every year just after Thanksgiving, the questions start: What do you want for Christmas? What does he want? Any ideas for so-and-so? After a couple weeks, I need flow charts just to keep track of who I told what.
As usual, my wish list last Christmas contained a number of books. As I searched for ideas for family and friends, I kept coming across books to add to my list. It made me stop to think: why this book or that book? At this point in my life, I am in need of parenting books for toddlers and cookbooks with creative, easy recipes. But my list grew with random biographies and even fiction books. How did these books come on my radar? What made these books stand out? How did I hear about these? Just like that I was back in PR mode.
You may be the most authentic, credible writer out there, but that doesn’t help if your target audience doesn’t know your name. To sell your books, you need to sell your name. You need to establish credibility with your readers and go where they are. Become a “thought leader” for your topic. You want to be the person a reporter calls for a quick quote when they are on deadline. You want to be the name that stands out when a person is searching for books on your topic. Here are five tips to help establish yourself as a credible thought leader.
Know your audience. Identify your target audience—be specific. What types of magazines would they read? Study those publications. Plan ahead. Look through the editorial calendars or contact an editor directly to ask about upcoming topics. Make friends with the editors by asking what they need and helping them whenever possible. Submit articles on the topics that relate to your expertise.
Research. Know the industry you write about inside and out. Keep up with current events. Provide commentary or analysis to key publications on current hot topics and pitch yourself as an expert in the field. Not only will this help to establish your name, but it will demonstrate you know what you’re writing about.
Be a voice. It’s great if you have your own blog, but not everyone is up for that kind of commitment. Look for opportunities to write guest blog posts. Start with your contacts and keep in mind, many top publications have blogs associated with their sites. Blog posts can be a quick way to get your name popping up in Google searches. These posts should include your brief bio and provide a link back to your website or a way to purchase your book.
Partner up. Maybe you aren’t having much luck getting articles printed or quotes picked up, try partnering with someone who already has name recognition in the industry. Co-author an article or invite someone with a bigger audience to guest blog for you.
Social media – free and two-fold. You have numerous free platforms to demonstrate your knowledge of the industry. Provide relevant commentary and show you can speak eloquently to the topics at the forefront of people’s minds. Be thought-provoking, but don’t try to stir up trouble. Provide relevant links or bits of advice. In addition, social media can be a tool for free publicity. Anytime your article or blog post is picked up or you’re quoted in a piece, link to it from your social media sites. Tweet about it. Whenever possible, point people back to your website or provide links for purchasing your latest masterpiece.
Look for opportunities to establish name credibility, but don’t make everything about the bottom line. Sometimes writing that guest blog post for a friend or helping out a reporter with a quote is just the nice thing to do. Take those opportunities, too, and be patient. Becoming a thought leader doesn’t happen overnight. Who knows… your book might be on my next wish list.
About the author
With nearly a decade of experience in government and public relations, Karis Vigil has worked with a variety of clients in the legal, health, technology, utilities, and higher education industries. As a Senior Account Executive at Schwartz MSL Boston, Karis provided strategic and tactical support for her clients. She has experience working with top business press such as Investor’s Business Daily, US News & World Report, and the Wall Street Journal.
Prior to joining Schwartz MSL, Karis served for two years as a field representative for Texas State Senator Jane Nelson. Karis’ previous experience includes an internship in the White House Office of Public Liaison and campaign work for various elected officials. Most recently, Karis has taught Media Relations as an adjunct instructor at Boston University. Karis holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of North Texas and a M.S. in Public Relations from Boston University. She resides in Boston with her husband and son.