Brand building is one of the fundamentals of author discovery and marketing in general. A lot of book marketing experts talk about the concept of platform building but few zero in on the bulls-eye at the center of your author platform, your brand, otherwise known as you. In this three part article, we will hear from two authors, one at the beginning of her brand building journey, and another more established author with several titles under his belt. Once we’ve heard from the two authors, we will engage in a broader discussion of the 5 tips every author must undertake to build an author brand.
With that in mind, please allow me to introduce author Matthew Wayne Selznick.
Matthew is an author, creator and creative services provider living in Long Beach, California. He is the creator of the popular Sovereign Era storyworld: Brave Men Run, Pilgrimage, and others as well as the free weekly serial fiction by subscription service, Selznick Serials.
AD.com: Welcome Matthew! Glad to have you with us here at AuthorDiscovery.com. Let’s get right to it, shall we? What is your author brand?
MWS: My author brand is… me! I’ve been a DIY creator since the late 1980s. I have always embraced the “punk rock” ethic when it comes to creating things and connecting with people who might enjoy those things. That punk rock / DIY ethic says (to me) we’re all just plain folks. The creator and the consumer are peers. The relationship between the two should be approached as… a relationship! I’ve written about this at length on my own site, so I won’t go too deep on those principles, or the reasoning behind them. The primary point of it all to me–the mission–is to simply be who I am regardless of the venue or medium.
My brand is Matthew Wayne Selznick, Creator. And Matthew Wayne Selznick, Human Being.
AD.com: Interesting perspective. How did you go about defining this brand?
MWS: I never sat down and devised a strategy for defining my author brand. I did no market research. I studied no demographics. I researched no competitors. I looked in the mirror. That sounds a little flip, perhaps, but there’s not much more to it than that. When people interact with Matthew Wayne Selznick, author, in social media networks or forums or elsewhere online, I show them the same person they’ll meet when they interact with Matthew Wayne Selznick, human being, in person. So all I have to do to define my brand is be myself, follow Wheaton’s Law, and make myself accessible to folks. It’s remarkably easy.
AD.com: It’s clear that authenticity is the cornerstone of your approach. How have you translated that into your online discovery efforts (social media, blog, interviews, other)?
MWS: Again, I’m very accessible. That’s the most important thing to me: make it easy for my community of readers to truly be a community, to contact me in a way that’s easy for them. The social media policy on my website serves as a channel guide for connecting with me on social networks. Similarly, the contact page defines the best way to reach me depending on the nature of the contact. For online discovery, I’m open to being interviewed by pretty much any venue that asks. I’ve done many, many podcast interviews, I do guest blog posts when appropriate, and I enjoy doing little e-mail interviews like this one. I’m also very active on Twitter and Facebook and, to a lesser degree LinkedIn and Google+.
AD.com: I’m detecting some key themes here, mainly authenticity and accessibility. So with this authentic and accessible approach, what has been the reaction to your blog? Has it boosted discovery (and in turn book sales)?
MWS: I recently observed my tenth anniversary as a blogger. While the blog platform provides me with an outlet to communicate with the community and occasionally promote my works, I don’t think my own blog boosts discovery by folks who don’t actually know me. There’s virtually no correlation between posts on my own blog and new book sales. I’ve found that the most effective channels for me when I have new content to promote are (in order) my mailing list, Facebook, Twitter, my own blog, and finally third party venues like interviews, podcasts, guest blog posts and the like.
AD.com: First of all congrats for the ten year anniversary. I can now add consistency to your key themes of authenticity and accessibility. It is interesting that this consistency has not necessarily correlated to book sales, although it should have a positive impact on brand building in terms of giving the community what they want and expect from you. So, last question, what’s been your biggest author discovery challenge so far? How are you addressing it?
MWS: I wrote above that I’m open to being interviewed by pretty much any venue that asks. With all due respect and appreciation to the folks who have had me as an interview subject, guest blogger, and the like, my biggest author discovery challenge has been finding venues that actually provide a measurable promotional benefit. It’s rare, indeed, that I will see a jump in mailing list subscribers, Facebook Likes, or Twitter subscribers–let alone a boost in sales–following an online promotional appearance. To be perfectly clear: that’s not a dig against the folks who host those venues. I recognize and appreciate that they’re all passionate about what they do, and I’m grateful to engage with them on the websites and podcasts. But it’s inarguable that most efforts along those lines don’t move the needle very much, if at all.
What I can do to address that (and this may seem counterintuitive) is redouble my own efforts to seek out author discovery opportunities… especially venues that may expose me and my work to a new niche and can provide some measure of demographic information. I’m still open to opportunities that may ultimately be more about a fun conversation than excellent conversion–it’s all about connecting, after all, and one can’t always predict the outcome or unforseen benefits!
Ad.com: Well thank you for the clear and insightful answers, Matthew. We heard loud and clear that your author brand is about building real connections by remaining consistent, authentic, and accessible. Clearly, it’s paying off from your creative output to the relationships you’ve built with your reader community. We wish you continued success!
Matthew’s latest book is Pilgrimage — A Novel of the Sovereign Era released in June 2013 with 4.6 out of 5 stars through 11 reviews. You can buy Pilgrimage directly from Matthew here. His other works include:
Next up, we discuss brand building for newbie authors with Renita Bryant.