Branding & Business Cards for Indie Authors

Twitch and Die! in the Kindle storeSome are saying that the eBook is the new business card.

Crap.

If that’s the case then I’m one of thousands trying to make a living from handing out business cards that take between four and twelve months to write. Which would make me an idiot something fierce.

This isn’t a road I want to go down. But if eBooks aren’t the new business card, then what are they? What is the new business card? What am I? (And what’s this I’m sitting on… oh, my son’s Cheerios.)

Of course the industry word at the heart of all this piss and rambling is “branding.” As I wipe the cereal crumbs from my britches I think of all the heart-smart mornings I’ve spent watching my sons eat these crunchy little ohs which have become ubiquitous with snack-traps and toddlers. Branding.

I’m a story-teller. A liar by trade. I don’t mind saying I’m pretty damn good at it. I’ve known from an early age that God gifted me in conniving and deception. I spent years employing my gift as a sort of parlor trick at large gatherings and dinner parties.

Professional Story-Crafting: Selling Lies to Strangers

Finally a couple years ago I launched out into professional story-crafting. The trick has been to figure out how to make money off of what I’ve given away freely for years, and how to interest total strangers in my “brand” of story. To start, there are some basic components that go into my brand:

  • Me
  • my content
  • my mission
  • my style/delivery

Me. David Mark Brown. The Redneck Granola. I am a heap of contradictions and conspiracies. The purple pill.

My content. The thoughts I put to screen and paper. Most of my content has yet to be published. The rest of it falls into these categories: blog, book, ebook, fiction, nonfiction, letter, email, article. Lord willing (and the creek don’t rise) my next few years will be consumed with the Lost DMB Files; the DMB Files; the Chronicles of Everlast, TX; and the serial, Reefer Ranger Rides Again. (These are all product lines, rather than brand.)

My mission. In everything I’ve done the gist of my mission has always been to challenge assumptions and to disturb the status quo. I want people to see old things in a new light in such a manner as to be changed for the better.

My style/delivery. In keeping with my mission my style ranges between off-beat to obstreperous and obtrusive combined with equal amounts of arrogance and self-deprication.

So what does all of this mean for my branding?

Person Vs. Brand

Friends and family know me–the unsimplified me. They don’t need or want a brand, and I don’t have to give them one. But strangers. Being a professional is all about making an impression on strangers. This is called branding. And so we go back to the beginning. Branding has long started with the business card.

But I don’t think my books/eBooks are my business card. Those are stories, and stories still come after introductions. My eBooks are enhanced anecdotes with a ticket price–hours of entertainment for a small fee. My eBooks are private engagements, ticketed rides at the fair. They are engaged by people who have already “bought into me.”

Sure, I make the hurdle to embracing the stories as low as possible. But even for the folk who stumble across the free Kindle version of “Fistful of Reefer” as their first exposure to me, formal introductions still have to be made.Those introductions happen either here, at the Green Porch, or on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Wattpad, or sometimes even via my Amazon product page itself.

“How nice to brand you!”

My electronic bio is the new business card, of course. My “About Me” at so many different social media sites. When this handshake is firm and well met, I pray things like “subscriptions, likes, follows, fannings,” etc. will follow. With these people I am then able to share my stories (and maybe even make a living at it).

To the vast majority of these people I will forever remain a brand rather than a person, but that is the difference between an anecdote at a party and an eBook on a Kindle. Both serve valid yet different functions in society.

I’ve had years of practice at crafting my person, but only months at shaping my brand. Naturally, the latter is weaker yet than the former. While it may feel hollow in some ways, my professional success shall be determined by whether I become more known as a brand than a person. To some degree that success may also depend on how personal I can render my brand.

On that note, it is so nice to brand you. Maybe later we can get together and share stories. If you have a moment you could comment and share your thoughts on branding the person behind the stories.

About David Mark Brown

Writer. Novelist. Redneck. Granola. Raised on a Texas cattle ranch and schooled at the U of Montana (Berkeley of the Rockies), I am the world’s most self-proclaimed redneck granola and author of optimistic-dystopian dieselpunk, sci-fi thrillers and young adult literature.

Comments

  1. If you brand yourself well, that means you’re consuming loads of fiber which means you’re full of shit and you empty yourself often, which of course means you’re full of stories and like grateful dung beetles, your fans, us, feel you’re doing a good job so far. Keep on branding yourself. Our diet is at stake!

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