Branding is important, but how do you do it?

Branding. What is it? How do we do it?

Thea Atkinson

We read the term all the time; we even get the advice and much much explanation from blogs like Kristen Lamb’s. Her book, We Are Not Alone goes into much detail about branding and marketing as an author. There are other blogs and sites that discuss branding at length. And there are a ton of books too. John Locke’s book (yes, I succumbed to the hype and bought it) details his journey on branding and suggests to authors how they can use his method to build an audience.

All great advice.

But really. How do you actually DO it?

I’m not sure how you can, but I can tell you how I’m going about it. It’s my own style of soft sell marketing mixed with information from both Kristen Lamb’s and Johne Locke’s books. It’s all good information, but I needed to find a way to make my brand in a way that suited me and that I could manage.

And I hope perhaps with a little explanation of what I’m doing, you might find a comfort zone with this whole concept for yourself.

At first, I struggled with the notion of my brand. I did the keywords thing like Kristen suggested. (Want to know more, just snap up her book, it’s a great read and very helpful) The trouble was, I had a hard time describing myself with tags and keywords. If you check my Amazon tags, you’ll see just how much I struggle. For a writer, I’m woefully inept at summarizing, but I digress.

After many frustrating weeks of trying to find my own comfort zone with tags and keywords and branding and trying to be helpful to others, (which I do anyways) I picked up John Locke’s book How I Sold a Million Ebooks. I read it. I tried his method–or at least I gave it the old  Thea shot, which means I did as much as I was comfortable with. I don’t have a newsletter and tons of fans to help spread my word, nor do I feel comfortable asking people to do it for me. But I did discover I was already doing some of the things he suggested.


I mixed the two self-help books into one Thea concept to find out what the Thea brand is. The information from both of these as well as a few weeks of reflection told me I was already doing what I should to build my brand. I just needed to fine tune and focus.

You see, I write character driven fiction (a keyword combination that I found thanks to Kristen’s book). This means that what drives my own writing motor is the same things that drive my characters. I want to know how they will act/react/ and grow/evolve from a plot. So I started thinking:

What are all those events in my life’s journey that propel(led) me to the page in the first place? My brother’s addiction, the suicide of a friend, the heart attack my mom suffered, the death of my favorite pet. All those things and more send me to the written page and infect the things I write there.

That’s what drives me.

And I bet those things will interest a reader who is interested in character driven fiction. And so if I blog about those, my target audience will appreciate it.

Will those posts interest a pulp fiction, vampire loving, shapeshifting time traveller reader?


And that’s ok, because a pulp fiction, vampire loving, shapeshifting time traveller reader probably won’t like my books anyway (unless they happen to love those genres but also REALLY care about how the characters will evolve/grow etc. THEN they just might like my stuff)

So I blog about those things and I ask people to read them and share if they like it. Recently, I’ve been asking folks who share my posts through Twitter to add a hashtag of #theagimmesome and then each Monday, I draw a name at random and email that person a coupon for a free ebook from Smashwords.

All little things that build the Thea Atkinson brand, the brand of a writer who enjoys the journey and struggles of life whether fictional or real life and blends them.

That’s my brand.

What’s yours?


If you liked this post, please do share. If you tweet it with the hashtag #theagimmesome I will enter you into a weekly random draw to win a Thea ebook.

Plus grab a free short story: God in the Machine from Smashwords just for visiting.

Writing Exercise: use Hovercards for passive #promo Writer Wednesday

I’m over at the amwriting blog today! Basically, it’s with this post but I thought I’d dup it for y’all and ask you to go on over to amwriting because it’s CHOCK full of advice and items to help you out with your writing. You can even create an account and offer to guest blog, which I did. Johanna Harness (twitter ID: @johannaharness  please follow her) is incredibly giving as a tweeter and with her advice on the blog. So without further ado: The post.

I watch a lot of Simpsons. I really shouldn’t admit that as I know some folks don’t appreciate the humour of the show, but I mention it for a reason: it was the sole thing that encouraged me to investigate the concept of Hovercards.

What do Hovercards have to do with the Simpsons? Not much, really, except that when I first saw the term, I immediately thought of the episode where the Simpsons kids are offered a hoverbike by Marge in return for leaving a Cult run by “The Leader”.

Hover. That’s it. Just that one word connection, but it made a big difference to my social presence.

I first noticed Hovercards over at Kristen Lamb’s blog. Yes. You know the blog: The MYWANA blog. I’d been noticing other bloggers Gravatars for some time, had even set mine up with the cute little cartoonie things offered by WordPress. I didn’t think much of them, as so many that I saw were the same. Until one fateful day I decided to mouse over Kristen Lamb’s picture.

Shock! The mouse made a small window fly out. In that window was a neat little promotional bundle with pics and links and info. I would have assumed it was some nifty bit of code that some awesome programmer had put in…except for the word: Hovercard. That made me take notice. I noticed in the lower right corner the words: “Turn off Hovercard.” Hmmm. What was this? I examined the flyout more closely. Aha. A Gravatar symbol in the upper left corner of the flyout. WordPress? I thought. Is this a WordPress widget?

Turns out, TADA! It is, or at least I can utilize it and set it up from WordPress. I can go straight into my own dashboard and program in my own Gravatar complete with Hovecard.

So, you’re thinking, big deal. So you get a little flyout. Um. Yeah. Big Deal.

I turned on Hovercards in my Dashboard and now with my little bit of customization, every time I comment on a blog with my WordPress account, it sticks in my picture…AND my marketing bit. When someone rests on my pic, up comes all my promotional links and pics to encourage folks to visit me, buy me, follow me.

Simple and free and one more tool in that promotions toolbox.

Let me see if I can help you set up:

  • Login to your WordPress account and Go to the dashboard
  • Click on Settings: Discussions and scroll waaaaay down to the Gravatar section. You will click a couple of things (Avatar display should be Show Avatars and Gravatar Hovercards should be set to view other people’s profiles with a mouseover) These, so you can see others as well as yourself.
  • Save Changes

Now: Set up your profile

  • Go to the Account menu: edit my Profile
  • Customize to your heart’s delight (don’t forget book cover pics and links to your profiles across social media)
  • Save those changes.

Now for the fun part. Go to someone’s WordPress blog and leave a comment. See your Gravatar? Mouse over it! Yay. Neat lil promo package all for free.

Now Hovercards can do all the hard work of promotion for you once you’ve left your comments behind. It’s a neat way to upkeep that brand of yours.

Good luck and happy blogging.


If you liked this post, please do share.

Thea is the author of several novels that she considers left of mainstream. You can find her on BN, Kobo, Sony, Apple

Anomaly by Thea Atkinson


Thea’s 3 Mashup. :It’s all about me, baby @guineapig66 @booksandpals @siblehodge

June 17, 2011

First of all, I woke up in a frenzy this morning. Had a heap of things to do before I had to run off to work and do all those Friday errands that have spilled over from the last Friday when I didn’t get the errands done. So. I forgot the mashup.


Ha Ha! Joke’s on me cause I ended up finding 2 really great reviews today! Yippee! So In honor of the really generous folks who review us poor dejected indies, this one’s for you! (and me of course; it’s all about me.)

I really want you to go over and comment if you can, if you find the time, if you care at all about indies and their support system cause reviewers are part of it, baby. I don’t care if you read the review, but as writers, it’s nice to show any reviewer support. So without fanfare and excitement, here are my three:

  • Sibel Hodge is a stunning writer and she reviews too. She posted a review today for One Insular Tahiti. Thanks so much Sibel
  • Big Al is probably the best known and I really love his site. It’s full of great, insightful reviews of tons of books. You could drown in the reading list. He reviewed Anomaly a month or so ago

happy reading!

Thea’s 3 Mashup. :Take advice from Kristen Lamb and get er done

June 10, 2011

In honor of finishing Kristen Lamb’s book We are Not Alone I’m using her as a theme for my mashup this week. If you haven’t visited her blog and you are a writer trying to find ways to make sense of this whole social media thang, you really should subscribe. You should buy the book, in fact. (Just don’t take the advice of creating a MYSpace profile. She will tell you that after the book released MYSpace went ballistic.)

Speaking of Kristen Lamb, I’ve been working on advice from her blog to create posts that invite comment. Not working for me yet as I haven’t managed it successfully, but Vivienne Tuffnell’s blog is rich with comments. Each post she writes is full of people writing back to her and to each other. How does she do it? It’s worth the visit for investigation.

Mark Williams and Saffina desForges admittedly used Kristen’s (hope the first name’s ok, hun) advice to move into the top 10 – and one of them will correct me on the numbers I’m sure if it’s higher, and I think it is. They read Kristen’s book and applied the advice. They took off. I’m sure it has something to do with the writing, but readers have to find a writer first before it can become a sensation. These two even received mention on Kristen’s advice blog. I’m sending you to Mark Williams International because it’s wonderfully picture heavy and comment laden.

So how many of you have read and employed the advice in the book? Tell us about your successes and your failures. I’m listening.