The highway to publication overflows with cars: luxury behemoths; sensible hybrids; nondescript, windowless vans with strange dents that protrude from the inside. Each bears the logo of the mechanic who brought it to life. You’ve built a car, too, with good mileage and a cherry spoiler. [Author’s note: The cars are a metaphor for your books.]
But when you get your baby on the highway, you can’t ignore that a metallic paint job and tilt steering is all that differentiates your vehicle from every other car in its class, no matter what shiny-metal totem adorns its hood. How does your creation stand out? You don’t need a better insignia. You don’t even need the car metaphor. You need to remake yourself. You must become the deer sprinting headlong across the road. When your book crumples someone’s hood and cracks their windshield, rest assured you’ve got their attention. And that’s pretty much the Tab-A and Slot-B of branding.
[pullquote]You need to remake yourself. You must become the deer sprinting headlong across the road. When your book crumples someone’s hood and cracks their windshield, rest assured you’ve got their attention[/pullquote]
As a twenty-first-century author, the fulcrum of your success is your personal brand. Think Hemingway’s manliness. Neil Gaiman’s leather jacket. Harlan Ellison’s sociopathy. A lot of folks are confused about what exactly branding is. Folks like me, for example. After extensive research in the furthest corners of the internet–at great risk to my personal safety and sanity, you’re welcome–I’ve determined that branding means pretty much whatever you say it means (and since I’m the big shot with the column, when I say “you” I mean “me”). So here’s how to get started building your personal author brand: