Author Branding—Harnessing the Power of Digital Age Storms

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Ahhh, the new buzz word, BRAND. What exactly is an author brand? Great question. Branding has gone through a major transition over the past decade. The globe is more interconnected than ever in human history and this trend is increasing exponentially. We’ve seen the fall of major gatekeepers and a complete shift in consumer buying patterns, making discoverability a nightmare in The Digital Age.

Proper branding is one of THE most critical elements of author success. Brands that are outdated, boring, rigid, abandoned, fractured, negative or nonexistent are not only unhelpful, but they can spell disaster to our career and eating earning potential as artists. An author brand has to fit in the new paradigm. If we live in a world that’s changing hourly, our brands have to be able to bend and move and shift with changes.

Being a total history nerd, this makes me think of that definitive battle between the Spanish and the English when King Phillip II made an unsuccessful attempt to invade Elizbethan England. At the time, there were major tactical and technological shifts regarding the way that battles at sea were conducted.

The Spanish Armada was the shining example of traditional sea warfare—towering ships that were more like floating fortresses. The galleons rode high out of the water, making them slow, not very maneuverable and difficult to sail.

On the other hand, the English captains (in particular Francis Drake and John Hawkins) relied on a new form of “race ship”. “Lower in the water, with a long prow and much reduced fore and after castles, these sleek ships carried more sophisticated forms of rigging, enabling them to sail closer to the wind, making them faster and more maneuverable than the Spanish ships.” ~BritishBattles.Com

Long story short, the English ships could take advantage of the elements (high winds, rough seas) and were far more maneuverable. The Spanish fleet was too bulky, and, when battered by North Sea storms? Very expensive gold-plated splinters. Spain lost almost their entire fleet and this defeat of the Spanish Armada marked the rise of the English Empire.

Why do I give this story? Other than it is COOL?

Brands in The Digital Age are encountering the same tactical and technological changes. We are no longer part of the rigid, massive, virtually immobile TV-Industrial complex. We need to be innovative, creative and build a brand that can harness change instead of being splintered by change. Algorithms shift constantly. Social platforms come and go and change tactics. Trends shift. Tastes shift. We need to be able to use these changes to power momentum.

As you know, tonight is the beginning of WANACon (details below) but we always launch with PajamaCon, which is FREE. We are going to hang out in jammies, have fun and I am going to talk about what it means to create an author brand.

• What is an author brand?

• How has branding changed in The Digital Age?

• Outdated and ineffective branding approaches.

• How much time should we invest in branding?

• What are ways to keep a brand flexible?

• Practical ways to grow our author brand.

WANA is all about helping authors, so PajamaCon is our gift to you. I’ve done all the dumb stuff so you don’t have to. There are ways to brand that will make you cry and end up curled in the fetal position with a bottle of tequila. It’s much better to start building properly than to have to rip down to the foundation and start all over. Brands take time to build, so even if you’re just now working on that first book? BEGIN TODAY.

Yes, branding is critical, but a good book is as well. I can tell you as a long-time content editor that it can be VERY costly. This is why I have added in some killer prizes for attendees.

You, me, your book, bandages and suture-kits. Either I can help you fix a book that’s not working or plot one with you that WILL. So if your book is on life-support, DOA or you’re lost and can’t find your original idea? I can help. If your brand/blog makes you want to hurl yourself into a leaf-chipper (been there), here’s your chance to get one-on-one time with moi for some help.


So, WANACon is here. PajamaCon is a gift  (CLICK HERE FOR INFO) and gives you a chance to make sure your computer is set up properly if you choose to join us for the conference. If not? Still a fun time and a chance to learn. SIGN UP for WANACon HERE. Also, AGENT PITCHES are available. You can SIGN UP HERE.

Since my goal is to see you guys succeed, I am offering three BIG prizes for WANACon Attendees. Grand Prize is The Book/Brand Combo. I will personally consult to either assist in plotting a new book or fixing one that doesn’t work. I will also consult you personally on your brand and give you a plan for SEO, content, everything. Book Prize is I work with you to plot or fix a book. Branding Prize is I personally consult you on your brand, teach you about SEO and lay out a plan.

EVERYONE who attends WANACon automatically gets ten entries. Encourage a friend to sign up and you earn 25 additional entries and the friend who signs up gets 15. Just make sure to tell us who referred you. WANA is committed to helping you realize your dream.


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  2. Good post. At one time, just being an author was the brand. Now it is so complex. The WANACon sounds interesting.

  3. Yes, it is a COOL story. See you tonight. 🙂

  4. I’m going to try to make it tonight, but have kid stuff (Freshman Orientation), but I missed last time and am going to try. I want to make sure I understand BRAND and if I’m going about it the right way. Thank you for this wonderful opportunity!

    • Jennifer Rose on February 20, 2014 at 1:26 pm
    • Reply

    I’m familiar with branding in the business industry and I’m curious about how to apply that knowledge to an author-business! I plan on launching my blog on Thursday.

  5. It’s very true. It begins to feel like the actual writing feels like the easy bit. Now I have to consider who I am and what I am as a brand as well!

  6. Wish I could take part in WANACon, but conflicts with two many other things. I know everything you say and have to present tonight and at WANA Con is something all authors need to hear. Hopefully someone will summarize and post about it for those of us missing out.

  7. Reblogged this on Mageela Troche and commented:
    Kristen always provides great advice in the funniest way.

    • brookeyt on February 20, 2014 at 5:52 pm
    • Reply

    Such great content on your blog. Sent in my first query letter today because of you!

    1. We are here for you. Let us know how it goes. ((HUGS))

  8. Blech! It’s not letting me in because I don’t have the right Adobe flash or something. I’m gonna keep trying though. Meanwhile, coincidentally I just wrote a short, tongue-in-cheek piece on “Blog Branding.” Someone here might get a little kick out of the sage advice doled out from “Brandy the Blog Brander”

    I hope I can hurry up and get the right software to join the WANACon by tomorrow, but it’s really gonna be a shame if I don’t get in pretty soon because my jammies are the most colorful, mismatched crazies ever!

    Thanks Kristen!

  9. Your rock as always! Love that you’re offering a contest. Whoever wins will be one lucky son-of-a-gun!
    Thank you for your wisdom!
    And have a great weekend 🙂

    • Kevin on February 20, 2014 at 7:16 pm
    • Reply

    The neat thing, of course, about this story (aside from the fact that Francis Drake was a relative of mine), is that it’s all about technology.

    The Spanish Armada was made up of ships with high castles fore and aft, and used the old technology of warships – their ships were built to slowly close with the enemy, grapple, and board.

    The English ships were not so much *lighter* as they were simply built with new tech in mind. They saw the technological revolution happening, and grabbed it with both hands. Their cannon fired much faster, and rate of fire as we all know is one key to winning sea battles (and readers!).

    The Spanish simply weren’t able to grapple with the more agile, faster shooting English ships, which peppered them with cannon from a safe distance. It was the end of an old style of warfare, and the beginning of something new.

    The corollaries to modern publishing are too numerous to count. 😉

    1. I actually had to resist talking about all that. Was nerding out, LOL. But, yes. And a very strong parallel.

    • Keith on February 20, 2014 at 9:32 pm
    • Reply

    Articles like this is why you are only one of three bloggers that have survived my “unsubscribe ” frenzy. Thank you.

    1. Um…thanks? *cute face*

  10. Love the Armada metaphor – my inner history nerd was giggling away at it.

    And I totally agree – we’re entering a more flexible, faster moving age. This applies to everything, not just authors and not just branding, but it’s really important to be aware of the need to act quickly and flexibly, to be manoeuvrable to seize opportunities.

    And to stop playing bowls and go fight the Spanish.

  11. Nice post, Kristen. Also, I love that you used an image from wikimedia commons. Their storehouse of images is amazing.

  12. Kristen, you have a unique ability to litter pages (or perhaps screens would be more accurate) with sheer awesomeness. Thank you. Oh and just for the record, there has been a monumental shift in the realm of coolness———> The Rise of the Nerd so feel free to indulge, it is time well spent for those of us who are behind the curve and have to navigate through what it largely just a stagnant expanse. Digital hi5!

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