Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
In response to last week’s post on author brand, some of you admitted that you didn’t really know how to answer the question of “who am I?”
This is one of the many questions that a company or individual will ask when on the hunt for a clear brand identity. They may also ask:
“What comes to mind when hearing my name (or company name or product, etc)?”
“What feelings do people have when thinking about my name/my company/my product?”
“What do they associate with my name/company/product/etc.?”
“What do I want them to feel or think or associate with my brand/company/name/etc?”
Many companies will pay tens of thousands for answers to questions like these. They end up with lengthy research reports on their brand, the image it conveys, the climate of their client base, etc.
But authors don’t usually have tens of thousands of dollars, do they?
So let’s try a back door approach.
EXAMPLES OF AGENT BRANDS
You may think that agents are just agents. That we have no use for a brand, and that there isn’t really anything that defines us as individuals aside from the deals we do and the authors/genres we represent.
But let me show you something…
If you’ve met or are familiar with our agency president, chances are you didn’t just think “agent” when reading his name.
Instead, you probably thought of his Scottish heritage and penchant for wearing a kilt. You probably thought about how he is blunt and intimidating (things I’ve heard him described as), or how he has a strong personality but a kind, generous heart if you get to know him.
Chip isn’t just an agent. Chip has a brand. His name or picture evokes a reaction that is more than his job title. Authors who want to work with him want to be part of that brand. And conversely, authors who don’t want to be part of his brand, don’t want to work with him.
When reading my name, do you just think “agent?”
Maybe…I mean I’m not really around when people are talking about me. But I do know that folks have described me as “young,” “funny,” a “straight-shooter.” But those things don’t really stand out, do they? At least not in the agent realm, because there are tons of young, funny, honest agents out there.
When I first became an agent, I knew I needed a brand. I needed to capitalize on something that I possessed that most agents didn’t. Sadly, I couldn’t choose “former model” as my brand or “heiress” or “moonlights as circus performer.” But I did manage to find an angle…
I’m the “marketing agent.” The agent who used to work for a real life marketing firm. The agent who has been part of big marketing campaigns with national brands. The agent who has done market research and launched YouTube channels and Facebook pages and taken risks with large clients. The agent who is willing to share with authors all she knows about marketing and who strives to communicate these things in a practical way.
This is the brand I gave myself. Did you hear me? I GAVE MYSELF A BRAND. It happened in an afternoon. I spent a bit of time thinking about what would set me apart and what skills I had to pull from, and BAM. My brand was born.
I put this brand everywhere. In my bio and in my conference workshops (you’ll never see me offer a class on craft). I started blogging about marketing every Thursday (and years later, we’re still trucking!). I embraced the “marketing agent brand” because it allowed me to stand out. It was something that other agents weren’t doing, and it was something that authors craved.
If I gave myself an agent brand, then you can give yourself an author brand.
When we approach this question of “who am I?” I want you to couple it with the question: “what do I have or what is it about me that others want/like/need?”
Think about your hobbies.
Think about areas in which you’re an expert.
Think about your job experience.
Think about the volunteer work you do or the causes in which you’re active.
Maybe you’re awesome at genealogy research or scrapbooking or cooking. Maybe you used to be or are a psychologist. Maybe you worked in television or news. Maybe you love animals and volunteer at a shelter. Or maybe you’re into local politics and give your time that way.
Each of these things could be the start of a brand. The key is to think about who you are. Who you want to be.
This isn’t about your books. Books are so…fleeting. But your brand should stay with you forever.
So, consider the prompts above… what are some things that define you? Share your thoughts in the comments below. Be detailed. I want to know what you’ve come up with!