Would You Like to See Your Name in Lights?

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Perusing through a quaint bookstore in Bellingham, Washington last week, several book titles caught my eye. (I tend to pay attention to ones that are unusual in some way, either by font, color, or wording.)

However, this time what caught my eye was the size of the authors’ names. Some were downright HUGE—much larger than the titles.

Hmmmm. Authors like JAMES PATTERSON, MARY HIGGINS CLARK, AND TOM CLANCY have enormous audiences who are lined up to buy each new book as it comes out. Their readers follow their NAMES.

I asked myself this question: Is it the quality of the writing that makes certain authors “worthy” of elevating their name to a print size larger than the title?

After all, it seems that the author’s name in large print is akin to having one’s name in lights on the Las Vegas strip or a theatre marquee or a highway billboard. So, wouldn’t it make sense that the writer has achieved some sort of writing status?

Are the days gone by in which clever titles and unique covers draw the reader in?

If the author’s name is LARGER than the title, should that be a clue to the reader that the story is just incidental?

Are big name authors counting on FAME, rather than quality of writing, to sell their books?

Is the size of the author’s name a fair judge of how well their career is going? Or have they simply found a clever way to make readers THINK they are better writers than the actually are…

I wondered if there could be some “rule” about font size.

Researching the subject, I have found no evidence of any such rule. Size seems to be totally unregulated and, thus, completely arbitrary.

One thing I do know is this: if you want to promote your writing, make the TITLE the largest print on the cover. 

If you want to promote your name—or have a recognizable name, already—perhaps you’ll want to use a larger font for it.

Understand that you are in the business of selling books.

Turn the consumers’ attention to that aspect of your book cover that will boost your sales, whether it be your name or the title of your book.

 

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Oh, Where Will You Go?

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In elementary school I was taught to separate various words/phrases from the rest of the sentence with commas. Now, my editor tells me that the world of computers—and especially texting, Twitter, and Facebook—have changed the rules. The less use of the comma, the better.

Authors need to stay up on all of the latest information in writing, publishing, and marketing.

One way to do that is by going to meetings of local writing chapters and to conferences. It’s time to plan which ones you would like attend (you can sandwich them between your family vacations and yearly physical exams).

If you are a Christian author, you may want to attend the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Conference. I try to go at least every three years, myself. Others I would recommend are: Glorietta Writers Conference, Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, Colorado Christian Writers Conference, Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference, and Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.

Since these conferences can be expensive and require travel and hotel costs, you may want to begin your conference “experience” at local conferences. Here in Arizona, our local CWOW (Christian Writers of the West) conference, held each January, is always excellent and very affordable.

Other conferences, geared toward mainstream writers are: The Muse and the Market Place (Boston), ASJA (American Society of Journalists and Authors) Conference held in New York City, San Francisco’s Writer’s Conference, and Literary Writer’s Conference (New York City).

Expensive? Perhaps. But well worth it because of the added bonus of networking, opportunities for pitching, etc.

Now that you know, where will you go?

Got GRIT?

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All writers need it.

Successful authors have it.

So, just what is “GRIT”?

According to best-selling author, Angela Duckworth, GRIT is “sustained perseverance and passion, especially for long-term goals.”

We are able to recognize it in ourselves and in fellow writers.

It’s determination to succeed.

It’s that fire in an author’s eyes when asked a question about writing or when a new idea for a book “pops” into their head.

It’s a lamp glowing on their desk at 2 A.M.

It’s that relentless scribbling of notes as the writer attends their umpteenth conference.

It’s that mesmerized look as a writer meets their favorite author in person for the very first time.

It’s hours, days, months, and even years of hard—and oftentimes—lonely work, punctuated with a willingness to forgo momentary pleasures in order to fulfill their dream.

It’s that smile on their face as they proudly display the cover of their new book for the camera while secretly planning the next one in their head.

Brand+ Platform = Successful Marketing

27227677773_5a084bf604Two things (besides great writing) make an author appealing to agents, editors, publishers, and readers: Brand and Platform.

Differentiating one author from another, they make them visible on all of their communication channels.

(My last blog dealt with branding. If you didn’t happen to read it, you can find it archived on www.brendapoulos.org).

The author platform is how an author is currently reaching an audience of readers, or their plan for doing so.

An author must be VISIBLE and INVOLVED on the social networks to stand out among the masses.

So, a platform (the plan for visibility as a speaker, business owner, blogger, website owner, podcaster—as well as a presence on Twitter, Facebook, etc.–is what an author uses to prove that their books will sell.

Both Indie authors, as well as traditionally published authors, must show a willingness to put in time and effort into marketing themselves online.

So, when should an author establish their platform?

“Yesterday” is a great answer.

That’s right.

Since building a platform takes time, experts tell us authors need begin even before they have a book ready to publish.

Most people are on Facebook, so that may be a logical place to start.

Experts tell us that having one’s own website is ESSENTIAL—and there are quite a few that are free, including WordPress and Weebly.

After that, the sky is the limit.

Put in the time.

Reap the rewards.

Remember:  Branding + Platform = Successful Marketing

 

Pseudonyms

What’s in a Name?  I asked myself this question not too long ago, reasoning that the name Brenda Poulos might not be so memorable. Maybe I’d need something shorter, flashier, similar to some other well-known person… I’d piggy-back off of their fame…

Some writers use pen names. I was curious to find out why, so I decided to do a little research. Here’s what I found out:

1)   Most well-known authors write in a certain genre. They become known as a Suspense Writer, for example. Then, perhaps they want to add another genre to their writing repertoire. Publishers may not like this for several reasons. Same with their fans. So, they write in the “new” genre under a pen name.

2)  Some writers, I found out, start writing under a pen name when they are looking to switch publishers.  (The internet article cautioned against doing this. I can see all kinds of legal reasons why this wouldn’t be a good idea.)

3)  Writers, whose earlier work(s) may have bombed, might want to use a pen name when they publish something “new.”

4)  Pseudonyms are often used by authors who have names similar to someone else. (Hum, opposite of my earlier idea…)

5)  If a writer thinks his/her name doesn’t suit the genre, he might want to choose a pen name. This happened when Pearl Gray changed his name to Zane Gray to appear more like a western author.

6)  Women who write in a genre that is usually written in by men, often use their first initials and last name.  (For example, in westerns).

7)   Sometimes several authors write books together. They choose a fictitious  name, making their audience think the books are written by one person, when they actually are not.

8)   Sometimes writers want to protect their identity if they are writing in a genre in conflict with their main profession. For example, a surgeon who writes a murder mystery about a killer who dissects his victims. Yikes!

9)   Some of us are shy and just don’t want publicity. It’s possible to conceal one’s true identity by using a pseudonym.

10) Finally, if you want your name to be catchy and memorable, start making your list of possible pen names.

There you have it. Ten reasons to use a pseudonym—or not.

Do you currently use a pen name? I’d be interested in learning why you do so and if it has worked out well for you.

Brenda