Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

The Secret to a Powerful Author Brand

Original Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Anurag Agnihotri
Original Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Anurag Agnihotri

Last time we talked a little about our author brand and why, these days, our brand is almost as important as the books we write. It is an awesome time to be a writer, but also a scary one. Why can’t it be like the good old days when all we had to do was write the book?

Because that world no longer exists and, frankly, it wasn’t all that great to begin with.

Granted, in the pre-digital publishing world we authors didn’t need to tweet or blog or be on-line, but it was also a world with a 93% failure rate. According to the Book Expo of America, as late as 2006, 93% of all books (traditionally and non-traditionally published) sold less than a 1000 copies. Only one out of ten traditionally published authors would ever see a second book in print.

These days, anyone can be published. This is good and bad and we can talk about that another time. But with more titles than ever before and bookstores becoming an endangered species? Our brand is our lifeline. Whether we decide to self-publish or traditionally publish is a business decision only we can make, but we still must have a viable author brand if we hope to sell books.

So What is a Brand?

There are all kinds of answers to this question, but my answer is the correct one 😀 .

A brand is when a name alone has the power to drive sales.

In an age where we are deluged with choices, consumers are relying more and more on brands. We rely on a brand because the NAME comes tethered to a promise. There are 753 brands of cereal, but we trust Cookie Crunch…okay, Cheerios.

Author brands aren’t as impersonal as selling cereal, but the idea is similar. In a sea of infinite choices, who do we trust to provide an enjoyable experience?

Brands take time to create, but my way is fun. As I mentioned last time, I have ZERO interest in turning any of you into mega-marketers. I know you didn’t take up writing about spaceships or unicorns or unicorns on spaceships just to hold you until you could land that dream job selling life insurance.

Today I am going to let you into how I teach branding. I’ve never blogged about this before namely because while it isn’t complicated, it IS complex. I go into far greater detail in my book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World.

In the book I also show you step-by-step how to create your own unique brand. Not meaning to hawk a book, but I can’t have this blog be 20,000 words so if you desire more “meat” than what is in this blog, y’all know where you can find it 😉 .

Moving on…

How an Author Brand WORKS

In the “olden days” before Instagram and Twitter and YouTube, the only way a novelist could build a brand was through his/her books. Think about it. Why did we (fans) love these authors? Because we felt we were part of the worlds they created.

Dean Koontz, Anne Rice, Stephen King, Tony Hillerman, David Eddings, etc. were all a part of my teenage world. They brought me love, pain, fear, resolution through their characters and stories. By getting to know the author’s characters I felt I knew the author and became emotionally bonded TO that author through story.

If you need a refresher on how that works, go re-watch Misery.

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 2.12.04 PM

Come on! Admit it. There are some authors you would really creep out of they met you 😉 .

*Drives car over Kardashians because OMG!!!! DEAN KOONTZ!*

When I decided to be the social media expert for writers, I spent over two years studying successful brands. All types. What made a brand iconic? I studied movies, fashion, soda, cars, authors, and pop phenoms.

I also studied the neuroscience behind branding. What made content go viral? Was there something about content that the human brain reacted to positively or negatively? Was all content equal? (NO) Was some content actually damaging? (YES)  Is some content WAY better? (YES). I became a student of human behavior and created a step-by-step plan for writers to recreate that magic.

But for the purposes of today’s blog…

Like successful fiction, a successful brand must be HIGH CONCEPT. High concept is RIGHT-BRAINED. It is visceral and emotional. 

Authors are in the business of selling feelings. It’s what we do with stories. We sell love, action, adventure, community, and happy endings.

Virtually all successful stories on the page and on the screen have harnessed what is called “high concept.” The reason Titanic was one of the most successful movies of all time is because it was “high concept”. It wasn’t a story about a doomed ship, it was a story about LOVE.

And we hear this term “high concept” in writing class, but what the heck is it?

High Concept has THREE Components:

Universal

Emotional

Gives the Audience Something to Contribute or to Take Away

If virtually every successful story/movie is high concept, doesn’t it make sense that our brands should be high concept, too? We don’t write novels with titles like:

The Virtuous Semicolon

The Sentence that Kept Running

That Amazon Prime Harlot 

The Dangling Participle *RAWR*

If we write books about love, why are we trying to connect with “readers” by lecturing them about punctuation?

Writers have the power to create interstellar dynasties and invent entirely new species. With various combinations of 26 letters, writers can travel in time, rewrite history or wipe out a planet, a solar system a universe. But, the second they start a blog? Tweet? Get on Facebook?

All they can talk about is writing.

*head desk*

Why does all this talk of “writing” fizzle? Because “writing” is not high concept.

Trust me, readers do not give a crap about three-act structure unless we screw it up. Readers don’t care about Amazon vs. Smashwords, why we love the Oxford Comma, or how to write deep POV.

Does this mean we can’t blog about writing at all? NO. There is a difference between writing a blog about writing and creating a writing blog.

Even though I teach writing, this is not a writing blog. This is Kristen Lamb’s blog. Yes, I blog about writing and social media, but I have also blogged about zombies, my addiction to Febreze, being ADD, why I hate skinny jeans, and how to deal with bullies. And, frankly, those were the posts that went viral.

OMG!
OMG!

Blogging only about writing will wear you out. And the real bummer?

Articles, interviews, and reviews are all informational. This is LEFT-BRAINED content. If all we are posting is left-brained content, we have a left-brained brand. Thus I posit this:

Why are you trying to sell a right-brained product with a left-brained brand?

Writers cannot fathom why a funny kitten meme gets 50 likes, 6 shares and 17 comments, but then a post about their upcoming release gets crickets.

Which topic is high concept (right-brained)?

Is a kitten universal? Yes! People in Japan actually pay money to pet adorable cats. Are kittens emotional? Yes! If you don’t smile looking at this little guy, you likely have no soul…

Does a funny kitten meme allow others to contribute or to take something away? Yes! Odds are, you will get all kinds of comments with people sharing about their pets. Oh, Fluffernutter used to do the same thing! 

Does a cute kitten meme offer something to take away? Yes. It brightened our day, so we pass it on.

Now, if I post about a new book I have coming out, is that universal? No. Is it emotional for anyone but me and my mother? Not so much. Does it offer you anything to contribute or take away? Eh, not really.

And before anyone blasts me that sharing cute kittens isn’t “real” branding activity, we need to remember that we are no longer in a world of traditional media. Yes, we need to mention that book for sale, but if it is all we talk about? It turns people off. It is also making our brand reliant on content few people will share.

Hey, my new book “Sexy in Sneakers” is now available! PLEASE SHARE.

Yep, right on that. Not.

But, if most of the time we post fun stuff others enjoy, when we DO post about a book, others are more open to doing us a solid.

Remember, when it comes to social media, content that goes only ONE direction is already dead.

If I share something in a blog on Twitter or Facebook and no one else shares? My reach is limited to the people who are following me. Social media has the best impact when content goes VIRAL. This means lots and lots of other people want to share my content.

Guess what the most likely content to go viral is?

High concept ;).

See, you guys are smart!

This is why my kitten friend above has almost a million views.

We can talk about having a new book out just like we can feel free to blog about three-act structure. But, since these topics are NOT high concept, they will never ever go viral.

Ever.

We can post this kind of stuff, we just know not to camp on it.

Remember, name recognition alone is meaningless. A name only truly holds power once we tether it to an emotional experience. Which means…

Welcome to High Concept Branding

The key to creating a strong author brand is to understand what we are trying to create. We are creating a positive emotional experience and then tying that experience to OUR NAME.

Do this enough and eventually our name alone will have the power to drive sales. Btw, that is called an author brand 😉 .

If we are able to produce content that 1) resonates with a wide audience 2) creates a positive emotional experience 3) by nature engenders sharing behaviors, we can do a lot more with a lot less. This also elucidates why ranting, name-calling, hyper-politicization, and spam are all behaviors that can and will tank a brand.

We will talk on this more later, but I will say that it is possible to have political, religious and social beliefs without giving everyone who sees our name indigestion. Remember we want to create a positive emotional experience. This is what ALL successful brands do. Apple, Coca Cola, Corvette, Levis, Harley Davidson, Hershey’s and on and on and on. ALL good brands capitalize on emotion. ALL strong brands use high concept.

Soap companies don’t have a thirty-second commercial about the merits of good hygiene, they show a woman moaning in the shower and having an “organic” experience. Thus, if every single successful brand is relying on the holy trinity of high concept, why are authors still spamming about their books and then confused why badgering strangers for money doesn’t work?

One Last Thing

Aside from possibly going viral, brands built on emotional connection have one major advantage—LONGEVITY. Since our brand is based on relationships and not algorithms, it is far more resistant to change. Facebook can go away and twitter can flitter and your brand will be just fine. I had Shingles and was down for MONTHS. The reason I still had a strong brand when I returned? I built it on people.

I hope this has made you feel less intimidated about creating your own author brand. We writers tend to overcomplicate stuff. A platform isn’t built overnight, but it also isn’t terribly hard. And yes, platforms built on simply sharing funny cat pics are stronger than you might have realized.

What are your thoughts? Do you now see this high concept pattern in your own behavior? The stuff you enjoy sharing? The content that gets the most interaction from others? Did the clouds part and angels sing now that you know why that dog-shaming meme scored WAY more likes than your thoughtfully crafted book review?

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of SEPTEMBER, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel.

For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook

88 thoughts on “The Secret to a Powerful Author Brand”

  1. skrizzoloskrizzolo

    Thanks for a very enlightening post! One question: How do we link the high-concept blog posts to the actual books? I’ve always been confused about that.

    Reply
    September 28, 2015
    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      You really don’t need to, not in a strictly linear sense. It used to be that if your wrote science fiction, you had to be ALL-SCIENCE-FICTION-ALL-THE-TIME but this was really before social media and this notion of an organic and dynamic brand. In 1999, a writer couldn’t make new fans by talking about her love for gardening (that was only for those with a gardening book for sale). These days brands are not as rigid as they used to be in a world where media was highly controlled. Feel free to mention the genre you write, but then just be a person and engage with us on common ground. In the digital age, people bond with those with a common interest. In the old days? No one cared about a writer’s garden and now they possibly could.

      Now, I will say that genre WILL affect likes and dislikes. For instance, if I write science fiction, I probably like Dr. Who, Star Trek, Star Wars, etc. I will have far greater odds connecting with FANS of science fiction blogging about “How Star Wars Impacted My Childhood” as opposed to blogging about the merits using Goodreads to sell books. Talking about Star Wars opens me up to MILLIONS of people, whereas Goodreads narrows me to a specific audience who are all tapped out buying books.

      Make sense?

      Reply
      September 28, 2015
    • coldhandboyackcoldhandboyack

      Did you notice that Kristen hawked a book inside this post?

      Reply
      September 28, 2015
      • skrizzoloskrizzolo

        Yes, I noticed. I own Kristen’s book, actually. But I read it a year ago and need a refresher. Thank you all for these very helpful comments! This approach makes blogging sound more fun.

        Reply
        September 28, 2015
  2. Deborah MakariosDeborah Makarios

    Brilliant! This fully explains why one of my most-read posts is all about my cat being in a cone/ruff. Obviously, cats win the internet!
    And cat pictures can have many uses: if you’re writing the kind of post that comes with a content warning at the start, having a cat picture as your featured image will avoid people having unwanted images automatically pop up in their feed. It’s thoughtful, it has cats, and they don’t feel the need to unsubscribe from your blog to avoid future trauma.
    I found this really helpful: “We are creating a positive emotional experience and then tying that experience to OUR NAME.” Says it all, really. Also easier to memorize than the whole book 😀

    Reply
    September 28, 2015
    • Stephanie ScottStephanie Scott

      Cats DO win the Internet 🙂

      Reply
      September 28, 2015
  3. lisashareslisashares

    Thank you for all of this helpful information. I am a new author and need this for my marketing!

    Reply
    September 28, 2015
  4. Lisanne HarringtonLisanne Harrington

    Why is Branding such a difficult concept? I feel like I still don’t really know what to say when asked “What is your Brand?” Do I say “Me. I’M the Brand?”

    I’m working my way through your book so you can shed light on the whole thing for me. I read a bit at a time and then digest it before I go on.

    In the meantime, I hope you hunt down a skinny-jeans wearing zombie with ADD who smells of Febreeze who used to be a bully and go all Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu on his ass, then take Spawn out for a gluten-free cookie and a Kale shake. See what I did there? *winks*

    Thanks for all your useful information. You ROCK!

    Reply
    September 28, 2015
  5. philosophermouseofthehedgephilosophermouseofthehedge

    Great post. Like you say, sales of anything (ideas, books, or products) require the same things
    “Universal” (want, need, or theme), “Emotional” (People buy from people they “know” or feel connected with) and “Gives the Audience Something to Contribute or to Take Away” (They want to feel win-win. Give them a reason to buy – and return to buy more later…and to tell others about how cool it is…)
    Love your observations about what creates/maintains interest for writers’ blogs

    Reply
    September 28, 2015
  6. foguthfoguth

    This blog makes me feel much better about blogging about pets and their needs/care. I rarely mention my books – in fact, our water-loving kitten has had a lot more blogs written about her in her year of life than the 8 books I have in print. I might add that Ms. Purrseidon also gets gifts from total strangers and blogs about her usually get more likes and shares than the others.
    Don’t know if you consider sharing woes about a kitten who loves jumping in mud puddles branding, but this is going on in my life and I share it.

    Reply
    September 28, 2015
    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      My cat, Odin The Ridiculously Handsome Cat has a fan page. Use pets! It is EMOTIONAL and we LOVE it. It takes the pressure of you to feel like a performing monkey and let’s you focus on your BOOKS.

      Reply
      September 28, 2015
      • foguthfoguth

        Since the current series I am writing is from the POV of a Siamese tom, my pet blog seems to work quite well. I also admit that Purrseidon is having an impact on my writing, since she as well as fictional Mischief are both learning to ride a boogie board.

        Reply
        September 28, 2015
  7. susanfawsusanfaw

    This confirms I am on the “write” path with my blog. It’s simple, really, short stories based on English idioms, meant to inspire and to be stolen. No sell, no lectures. Fun story seeds to take away and plant in your own worlds. 🙂

    Reply
    September 28, 2015
  8. Southpaw, HR SinclairSouthpaw, HR Sinclair

    I’m sorry what was this about? I got distracted by the cute, sneaky kitty-cat. – I kid. I kid. Great info.

    Reply
    September 28, 2015
  9. T.D. DonleyT.D. Donley

    Reblogged this on A Writing Mama's Journal and commented:
    This is seriously one of the best articles I’ve ever read on building a marketing platform and brand for a new author.

    Reply
    September 28, 2015
  10. coldhandboyackcoldhandboyack

    This makes so much sense. Thanks for your clear post today.

    Reply
    September 28, 2015
  11. Stephanie ScottStephanie Scott

    Kristen, do you have some recommendations for writer blogs that are using the methods you describe? I read your Rise of the Machines book and am on board with this idea. I would love to see more examples of how this is working. Thanks! 🙂

    Reply
    September 28, 2015
  12. Amy ReeseAmy Reese

    Thanks, Kristen. I never thought of a brand in such concrete terms of left vs right brain thinking. It makes sense. I think I need your book!

    Reply
    September 28, 2015
  13. Angela Macala-GuajardoAngela Macala-Guajardo

    Thank you so much for this blog post! I’m blogging about my new teaching job and how I’m flying by the seat of my pants trying to help every last one of my students, most of them at-risk. This post of yours explains why it’s gotten such positive responses. Thank you!

    Reply
    September 28, 2015
  14. Eileen RichardsEileen Richards

    This makes so much sense, but implementing it is SO HARD! Do you have some examples of authors who are doing this right?

    Reply
    September 28, 2015
    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      The Bloggess (Jenny Lawson) is a good example of a blogger who connects off just everyday things and she has millions of followers. She is hysterical and I loved her memoir “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened.” A lot of the WANAs (those who’ve taken my classes) have built successful blog this way. August McLaughlin, Jenny Hansen’s More Cowbell, Piper Bayard to name a couple. Another excellent example is Chuck Wendig. Yes, he blogs a lot about writing and publishing, but he also explores other topics from parenthood to pop culture.

      Reply
      September 28, 2015
  15. Jennifer JensenJennifer Jensen

    Brilliant, Kristen. I needed this reminder – never thought about the right brain/left brain connection before. Was your burglar kitty on your blog or your Facebook page?

    Reply
    September 28, 2015
    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      Facebook, though I need to blog about her. Muppet. She is DRUNK with power. DRUNK!

      Reply
      September 28, 2015
  16. Steph MignonSteph Mignon

    This is sooooop true and since reading your book I’ve begun to see real benefits on my blog. My recent post about surviving childhood sexual abuse was my most popular post ever! It got over 70 likes, a dozen shares, and earned me several new followers (small potatoes for some, but to me a big deal!). And I didn’t even share it on Facebook (not ready yet to go that public on this topic). That’s clearly a hot button topic, but I’ve also noticed the posts I write about being a shitty parent, like the time I dropped my baby on her head, generate far more interest than book reviews and updates on my novel writing progress, or lack thereof. Now I had this instinct before I read your book, but just felt so lost, but by following your advice my blogs have improved so much, and I have hope for my future as an author. Next, I just need to blog more often and actually finish the darn novel I’ve been working on for 4 years! Thank you for helping steer me away from the “writing about writing 100% the time” author trap and for this great reminder!

    Reply
    September 28, 2015
  17. Miles O'Neal (roadkillsrus)Miles O'Neal (roadkillsrus)

    I thought about writing somethinginsightful here, but instead I’ll just post this photo of my KITTEH WITH CHEEZBURGER. Hopefully he doesn’t run out of the picture like those people in the wizarding world. Because then you’d just have this pointless comment.
    And yes, this ties in with what I got from the message! Off to buy a book now.

    Reply
    September 28, 2015
  18. BreeBree

    But…but…but I only have DOGS!!

    Reply
    September 28, 2015
  19. frenchc1955frenchc1955

    Thank you once again for a very engaging post!

    Reply
    September 28, 2015
  20. charlaynedenneycharlaynedenney

    Interesting post, I’ve been trying to get a handle on this myself (and yes, I’ve bought and read the book!!)

    When doing “interesting posts”, how do you feel about politics? There are occasions when I get the urge to just rant about the latest thing. I always put my “rant pants on” and go at it, then “taking rant pants off and walking away…” type of thing. But I have put an opinion out there that can be argued with. I do this one on my Facebook (not the “author” one but my personal.

    And should we be doing it on an author blog outside of Facebook? Somewhere like a wordpress site?

    Still learning, still building.

    Reply
    September 28, 2015
    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      I would stay away from it unless you are a political writer. Politics is a troll magnet.

      Reply
      September 29, 2015
  21. Tamye WhitenerTamye Whitener

    Thanks for the great article. While I am not an author, I found it very helpful. Since I have a FB group and page that encompass authors I shared it to both and reblogged it to my website Books, Coffee, and Crafts News. ????

    Reply
    September 28, 2015
  22. NiinaNiina

    I hadn’t really thought about high concept blogging before, and I have to say I’ve sometimes worried about doing personal posts (about pets or pet peeves or whatever else) instead of sticking to topics of writing. The sentence “Why are you trying to sell a right-brained product with a left-brained brand?” was probably the biggest eye-opener for me in this. Thank you for yet another helpful post!

    Reply
    September 29, 2015
  23. Arie FarnamArie Farnam

    Only a 93 percent failure rate? Oh please please let’s build a time machine. I meant that’s not good but it’s at least possible, especially for those of us who are very good at what we do.

    We can only dream of anything under a 99.99 percent failure rate these days. Yes, you have to have a recognizable name. That’s the point. It is not going to happen for people without media clout. Consumers can only recognize a few hundred names before the memory sloughs off the lesser ones. Nice way to sell a book about branding, but it doesn’t hold water because the failure rate is way too high. Sure, you are correct that 90 percent of authors are bogging about writing and trying to sell a left-brained brand. That’s as true as it was in the “olden days.” But there are still plenty of authors between the 90th percentile and the 99.99th percentile who are doing it right and there is virtually no chance that their efforts will matter.

    Reply
    September 29, 2015
  24. eloisemaceloisemac

    Hi Kristen, reblogged this on scribesheet.com with the comment ‘Kristen Lamb’s blog is always an interesting read. As a new blogger, I found this one to be pretty eye-opening.’

    This post has definitely convinced me to buy your book! One of my concerns is that my blog is currently attached to my translator/editor page. I’ve been hesitant about also turning it into my fiction writer page. I’m still not published as a novelist and I was considering using a pen name for my novel because it’s fantasy, while my other stuff is more academic. I remember you saying that it’s better to avoid a pen name for different activities because you’re diluting your brand, and I have been bearing that in mind. Any advice – should I combine the two together or create a separate blog/website for my author persona (perhaps using my own name rather than a pen name), where I might be more personal and blog about different things? I’m quite private and not a natural self-publicist. I don’t even post much on my Facebook page so it really is quite hard for me! Thanks, Eloise

    Reply
    September 29, 2015
    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      Just combine them. Readers will simply ignore content that doesn’t interest them and it is FAR less work for you.

      Reply
      September 29, 2015
      • eloisemaceloisemac

        Okay, thanks for taking the time to reply!

        Reply
        September 29, 2015
  25. James M. CopelandJames M. Copeland

    Just this morning I was talking about branding ones abilities. I have a person in my life who is out of a job. He is an expert fisherman. I wrote five pages to him about that. Explaining, how very much he could sell for any person who owns a sporting goods store. He needs to sell his brand.
    Of course, my brand is writing, but it’s not going anywhere. I could have been talking about the lover, or the detective, or the corner drug store operater and done very well, but I didn’t. I talked about writing. I heard you tell about selling the soap. That’s exciting.

    I have a book that I have just finished editing which has gone from ‘The hole in the bottle’, to the Journalist, to ‘the investigative Journalist. Have I reached the right brain name of the book yet? I don’t know. Unless a journalist picks it up, I just don’t know. How could I reach the right brain with a title like that? I still don’t know.

    I do enjoy your blog’s and set them aside if I don’t have time just as you post.
    Thanks,
    James M. Copeland
    Novelist

    Reply
    September 29, 2015
  26. Walker McKnightWalker McKnight

    Thanks for the motivation! And for the record, I would read “The Amazon Prime Harlot.” 🙂

    Reply
    September 29, 2015
  27. Karen Lynne KlinkKaren Lynne Klink

    I was writing about cats and desserts, and getting comments from folks who I realized would never read a historical novel about the Civil War, no matter how much they enjoyed my blog. Where do I go with this?

    Reply
    September 29, 2015
    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      But they might recommend it or buy it for a friend. This is all part of word-of-mouth sales. Often social media is not a direct sale. It is a relationship sale. And you’d be surprised. Don’t sell people short. I have bought genres I NEVER read simply because I met the author on social media and really liked him/her.

      Reply
      September 29, 2015
  28. KarinaKarina

    This was just what I needed to read. I used to be a brand consultant. I told GOVERNMENTS how to brand. And what do I do on my blog? (It’d make you *head desk*). So how come I forgot my last twenty years of job experience? Because I got a) spooked putting my name down as the brand, and b) got over anxious about what the hell my own brand ‘stood for’.

    Reply
    September 29, 2015
  29. deborahanndykemandeborahanndykeman

    Wow! This post was the ‘clouds parting and angels singing’ for me. I have been really struggling with this platform and brand stuff. I have a good product and I can’t get it out there! Thank you so much. BTW, the cat is adorable and the video was what pulled me in! 😉 But you knew that already!

    Reply
    September 29, 2015
  30. Michael CardwellMichael Cardwell

    I hope you’ll like my zombie space unicorn trilogy based on the post-civil war south.

    Reply
    September 29, 2015
  31. Bilal KhanBilal Khan

    Wow. You did a wonderful job in explaining the High Concept, and the emotional power of the brands. As a business graduate who studied Brand Management, I cannot do that. 🙂 Great work (Y) and as a matter of fact, this helped me figure out many things about my own brand though I am not a novelist really. But, for someone doing an academic sort of writing most of the times, and blogging just about topics not particularly related to a single niche…just experiences and thoughts about various things or news and all that he comes across….what do you suggest for that “brand”.

    Btw. Do you put non-novelists in the hat too? Just curious 🙂

    Reply
    September 29, 2015
  32. cjfosdickcjfosdick

    Great post about high concept. As a newly published novelist, I feel like my body has been “snatched” and divied up into parts. I’ve always considered myself right-brained but to even get into the 1000-book-sale category, I have to force myself into the left brain mold to learn how to tweet, blog, brand, advertise, write a montly newsletter, get the most out of facebook and pinterest, figure out how to even send out something that can go viral, etc. etc. For ex. I tweet a few times a week and my followers pretty much stay at the same number. This all takes time away from writing the sequel and puts a drain on right brain! I think I’m also ADD so “organizing my time better” goes in one ear and out the other. I envy the really successful authors who can hire people to follow up with some of the social media. What do you suggest when it feels like you take a “hit” no matter what you do and even having a well-written high concept book that is collecting all 4 & 5 star reviews isn’t enough?

    Reply
    September 29, 2015
  33. Lisa ReiterLisa Reiter

    I was going to comment anyway because I love the post but hey! Competition too – I’m on it (whilst I hunt out my kitten pictures.) Seriously though, this helps me organise content a bit more cerebrally rather than intuitively. Put words around some of the instincts I’m gaining about blogging. If I win, it’s memoir I’m writing. Would appreciate your views if I’m that lucky. Lisa x

    Reply
    September 29, 2015
  34. VaughanVaughan

    Great post. Thanks!

    Reply
    September 29, 2015
  35. hugheswriteshugheswrites

    Oh my word! I’ve just started following your blog and you are crazy helpful. This post is a prime example. I was (literally) just talking with another author friend about my frustrations on my blog and then *BOOM* this hits. It’s like you were talking to me directly. Overcomplicate things! Oh yeah, that’s me. Talks about writing too much? Yep again! Thank you so much. This helps a lot! Thank you!

    Reply
    September 29, 2015
  36. Beverly WellsBeverly Wells

    Kristen, thank you, thank you, thank you. You finally broke through the cloud I had in my head. I should say rock. After first gettting published I started out doing FB, and different sites and mostly doing promo. I had no idea how or WHY to do PR, mingle with my readers, and had never heard of a BRAND. After reading about brands I was slow to the start, but today, it sank in. And I believe I’d just started getting the concept, but you’ve really helped me out here. It’s a shame new authors don’t have this up front knowledge to hit the public with right off the getgo. But people like you who share such meaningful and helpful words in places such as this blog are a Godsend. So thank you from me and thank you for sharing this info with all the others out there who were struggling to know which way to go. Wishing you the best. And keep these tidbits coming. So nice to meet you.

    Reply
    September 29, 2015
  37. Kathryn ThorntonKathryn Thornton

    Excellent blog. When you write it like that it seems so slap the palm of your hand on your forehead simple. I have tried so hard to stick to writing and not be me. Yup, been doing it all wrong. Mulligan, redo, start over… Thanks.

    Reply
    September 29, 2015
  38. UnfurlingUnfurling

    ‘A platform isn’t built overnight, but it also isn’t terribly hard.’ You are so encouraging. Promoting hope what could be more visceral? I love your blogs Kristen – you are walking the talk in this one. Your book is on my wish list. My gratitude rains down on you!

    Reply
    September 29, 2015
  39. newfsullnewfsull

    Hey Kristen

    Wonderful information; and while you have touched on it all before, and yes I have your book ‘Rise of the Machines,’ it is still good to have you present it again, as results don’t come quickly, and a little coaching keeps the journey meaningful.

    I would also like to add a footnote of sorts. Back in the eighties, nineties, a slew of books began appearing on how to sell, organize your day, your evenings, children, yourself, your life, your friend’s wife, et al. Some were good, some were not; all allowed the possibility for blatant disregard for common sense, and many a reader merely mimicked an attitude and a presentation that was easily seen through by those in the line of their newly gifted talents.

    As we search for an author platform, I believe it needs to be based on a since desire to offer something worth reading, worth sharing. Yes, the cat meme is fast and catchy; however many blogs (NEVER YOURS) are long and boring and suffer an obvious redundancy in: seen that, please not again. It is obvious the writer had merely read something from another blog, and turned the words to a different order to come up with an equally boring message, if there ever was on, and not one iota of “that was interesting, funny, thought-provoking, et al” ( I know, I know it means ‘and others, not other thoughts’); but, it is so cool I had to use it twice.

    Reply
    September 30, 2015
  40. targa12targa12

    My dog is an athlete. I am her trainer and guide. Today I dropped her off for major surgery on her rear leg. Together we will go through 4 months of quiet (God, help me) and rehab with the hope of competing again next spring.(agility, dock diving and flyball). In prepping for this, I also decided that I will journal and blog about our road back to good physical health. Hopefully the end result will be competing again with one of my best friends, I have two dogs, but if not we will still have fun hiking and playing fetch.
    I also write and my blog website is my author page. I am not published. I am in the process of building my brand for when I am published. I am passionate about the work ahead of me with my dog and hope that it will pull a variety of people to my blog. And if they decide to poke around and read more about me and my writing, then all the better.

    Reply
    September 30, 2015
  41. CallieKCallieK

    Thank you so much Kristen! Just yesterday I ranted to my hubby about not being a blogger, or even a huge Facebook person, and I’m terrible at taking the time out to do either regularly. My second book is in it’s final editing phase and going nowhere, as did my first book. I’m so bad, I don’t even know how to link your amazing story to my page! It’s embarrassing to say that but I desperately want to win that prize!

    It’s funny because I’m a complete serial talker, but when I go to my blog or to Facebook I blank out. I even blogged about it- but that didn’t go over well at all. I really enjoy reading and being active with others, but my hair is falling out from how stressed I’ve been doing my own blogging (or I should say thinking about doing it), so I’ve been ignoring it.

    But after reading this and also knowing I’m not alone, I’m going to give it another go….After I’ve read, your book ‘Rise of the Machines’. Thanks, you have given me hope.

    Reply
    September 30, 2015
  42. aurorajeanalexanderaurorajeanalexander

    This is a fantastic blog post, Kristen. But I have to admit, I need to know something more. That’s why I just now switched to Amazon and bought your book. 🙂

    Reply
    September 30, 2015
  43. ericamilesxericamilesx

    Beautifully expressed, Kristen Lamb. You have taught me a lesson I most likely will never forget. Hey! “Never forget” is a memorable expression, isn’t it?

  44. Tahlia NewlandTahlia Newland

    Thanks for the reminder. I did a few posts about my gorgeous cat Prince George but didn’t continue with them. Time to dust off some picys, especially since he stars in virtually all my books.

    i find that what works best for me, is just being myself and blogging about what’s important to me. Since my books are also about what’s important to me, (mostly emotional intelligence and spiritual growth), i figure it should attract the kind of people who would like my books.

    I think it’s important to note, however, that even doing all the right things won’t ensure big sales, but it should get some sales.

    i’m guessing we’re going to see a whole bunch of authors writing about their pets now.

  45. Krysten HKrysten H

    So helpful! Now if only I had a cat…stupid allergies!

  46. Ellen KeighEllen Keigh

    I’m always intrigued by your posts and the comments to them, but this one was particularly good. My platform has always skewed left-brain (hazards of being a former lawyer) and learning that’s 180 degrees in the wrong direction is going to help enormously.Thank you!

  47. verysherryterryverysherryterry

    Excellent article! I agree with it 100%. I shared this on my twitter, and I’m working up a blog post to go with your link on my site instead of just reblogging it. Will update when I have it all together in a couple of days. Thanks for posting this!

  48. Dawn V. CahillDawn V. Cahill

    “Hot Topic Fiction” here. Fortunately I am more right-brained than left, but live in a left-brained world. Thanks for the food for thought.

  49. Ali IsaacAli Isaac

    Brilliant Kristen! That just made things a whole lot clearer! ?

  50. angeliquecongerauthorangeliquecongerauthor

    Great stuff for me. I struggle with the left/right brain concept, must be because mine sets close to the center. My blogs are doing ok, even when I don’t include a photo. My pet is a turtle. Do ya think this will help? And yes, I wrote about them.

  51. Sacha BlackSacha Black

    Cracking post this, I blog about writing a lot, mostly because I’m still learning to write and so share the things I learn. High concept is an excellent point and food for thought, but I’m not sure what I could blog about that IS high concept… food for thought thank you ?

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      Our writing is high concept—life, love, kids, dating, school, failure, victory, diets and on and on. This is simply a good way to transfer what you are already doing in fiction to the blog. Even if no one reads it (yet) it is excellent practice.

      • Sacha BlackSacha Black

        Ergh. Yeah, it’s so ‘sharey’ though. I started blogging to be anonymous! Had no choice but to connect the two but my life’s boring I actively avoiding writing anything about my actual life in my blog. It’s why I write under a pseudonym! This will take a lot of thought to work out how I can be more high concept without having to over share.

  52. Daniel McInernyDaniel McInerny

    I believe you’re really onto something here, Kristen, but I still cannot see clearly how to connect brands such as Apple, Coca-Cola, Levis, etc. to the brand of an individual writer. Surely there are some big principles that connect them (high concept, universality, etc.), but to make your point relevant to me as a writer I would like more details about what high concept might mean for me? Thanks so much in advance for your thoughts!

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      All those big brands sell feelings as well as products. Apple sells being hip and cool and edgy. Levis sells being rugged, comfortable and cool. Authors also sell feelings. Ann Rice? We associate very different emotions and adjectives with Ann Rice versus Louis Lamore. Stephen King versus Lee Child. Are we tethered to romance, adventure, escape, fun, etc.? The answer is obviously explained better in a book than in a blog, but trust me the process is VERY similar. We are selling more than products. We are selling emotions and experiences. Books obviously are a BIG part of this. Readers spend an average of 12-15 hours bonding to the author (via the BOOK). And books are always an extension of who WE (the writers) are—what we like or dislike, what interests us, what makes us laugh, cry, etc. Reading our books is often a peek into who WE are.

      Marketing is ALL about emotional connection. Why does Sprite pay sexy supermodels to sip while sweating instead of spending 30 seconds detailing the benefits of proper hydration? Because one is emotional and SELLS LOTS OF DRINKS.

  53. authorjmacpauthorjmacp

    Reblogged this on jacquimacp.com and commented:
    Makes sense really, entertainment and fun with interesting content.??

  54. The Ranting MonkeyThe Ranting Monkey

    I realize this is an old post but I’m the kind of guy who comments on old posts.

    Most of my facebook posts are just silly stuff I think up, I get a moderate amount of likes and comments on those. A small portion are opinion about things such as politics, very few comments or likes on these. When my Granddaughter was born, I posted a picture of her and in my little facebook world, the thing went viral. Since then I’ve been keeping track. Baby pictures are far and away the most popular things I post, easily quadrupling even my funniest random thought posts.

    As I build my platform (when did this become a thing?) and make a public FB I won’t feature my granddaughter but I might take this cat idea, though I’d largely concentrate on kittens.

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