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.
Last week, we started to touch on brand and how a great brand can help you stand out at a conference. If you didn’t catch his posts, Chip’s been talking about brand as well over the past few days. His first post on author branding is here and his second is here.
Take a minute to read through those. There’s quite a bit of good content there, and “brand” really is so important these days.
So clearly, one of the first things you want when promoting yourself at a conference, is a brand. A promise. Clarity on who you are as a writer and what kind of content you produce. Whether you’re published or not, the same is true…you want to communicate what you’re about so that the right readers and the right supporters are attracted to you.
Which leads us to not only a vital piece of the conference puzzle, but a major piece of the author career puzzle: who is your target audience? and what is your genre?
The last thing you want is to walk around a conference, declaring yourself the author of historicals, YA, thrillers and picture books. Not only will your conference experience lack focus, but every professional who comes in contact with you won’t take you seriously. And every potential reader you meet is going to wonder whether they’ll have to wade through a bunch of historical or YA muck to get to your Thriller stuff (and so on).
I argue this at least once every conference when meeting with authors…careers aren’t made by dabbling in multiple genres. Careers are made by focusing on ONE genre, to ONE audience type. Do that well, and you’ll have a bright future ahead.
“But I have so many ideas!”
So do I! And so does any writer with an overactive imagination. But the voices in your head don’t have to be satiated. You can tell them to “shut up!” every once in awhile. Really, you can.
“But Stephen King writes lots of different stuff!”
He’s also a gazillion-time bestselling author and already considered to be one of the great American writers. And if that’s still not enough to convince you, take a look at his bibliography page. He focused on horror and thrillers for a long time before doing anything else.
“But what about pen names?”
Do you really want to operate four websites, four Facebook pages, four Twitter accounts and work at promoting four different authors’ books while also writing four books a year? Yeah, probably not.
“So how do I just pick one?’
Focus on whatever genre best fits your writing voice. You may want to be the next Stephen King, but if you’re better equipped for romantic comedies, you’re probably going to have a short career.
So those are the two foundational things when it comes to promoting yourself at a writer’s conference. 1) Brand and 2) Clear Career Direction.
Next week we’ll look at specific ways in which you can take these things and maximize your reach at a conference to grow your readership.
In the meantime, have you found your ideal genre/audience yet? How did you go about making that decision? And if you’re still in the decision process, is there anything we can help with?