How cool to check the blogs I follow yesterday and discover that Elaine Smothers blogger extraordinaire had nominated me for the Versatile Blogger awardI’m so excited to accept the nomination. Thanks, Elaine.
As with most blog awards, acceptance comes with certain rules found on the VBA blog along with the snappy looking logo download.
Having been awarded the Versatile Blogger award, I must now:
• Thank the person who gave you this award. I’ve already thanked Elaine, but I don’t think a second thanks fine. Thanks, Elaine.
• Include a link to their blog. That’s an easy rule to follow and a pleasure to do because Elaine and Forrester share versatile and fun blog posts. Check them out for yourself here.
• Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly and nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award. This rule was a bit more difficult to follow because I’m not sure who’s already been nominated. Here’s my list and bloggers, if you’ve already been nominated congratulations!
• Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself. Okay, Elaine and Forrester get ready. Here are some quick things you might not know.
1. I play the piano. Not well. I like to say I have the skill, but not the talent.
2. My thumb is kinda green. This was our Angel trumpet last year. The fragrance filled the air in the backyard.
3. I used to paint. Still life and tole painting were my styles of choice. Now I paint walls, but only when I can’t hire someone else.
4. I drive slow when going through Missouri. Once got a speeding ticket when “trapped” by a radar tracking helicopter there. I don’t think my Texas license plate with the vanity trim holder that reads, “Get in, sit down, and hold on,” helped my plea of innocence.
5. I’m a dog lover. Especially Old English sheepdogs. We even share bad hair days!
6. The dogs and I walk no matter what the weather. That’s Toby’s adopted brother Buster walking with us. (He’s a ten pound Maltese.) They’re wearing matching red coats.
7. Much to my surprise, I enjoy blogging and tweeting. Thanks, Kristen Lamb for convincing me. I’m proud of my WANA tribe badge.
Okay now, blog readers, did you learn anything shocking from my reveals to Elaine and Forrest?
Today I’m on the porch thinking on the idea of brand.
Probably too long-winded, but then it’s a lovely spring day to sit and chat.
Being a Texan naturally the first image of a brand that pops into my head is a branding iron symbol on the side of a cow.
CREDIT for photo on right: Fleischhauer, Carl, photographer. “Branding Iron [35mm slide].” Date Recorded 79/10. Buckaroos in Paradise: Ranching Culture in Northern Nevada, 1945-1982, Library of Congress.
Cows are products like a writer’s novels are products. Cowboys use a different, very specific iron brand symbol for each owner.
Commercial product marketing teaches additional ways to brand products.
NAME: Unique and distinguishable
LOGO: The visual trademark that identifies the brand
SHAPES: Think the old Coca-Cola bottle or the Volkswagen Beetle
GRAPHICS: The dynamic ribbon is also a trademarked part of Coca-Cola’s brand.
COLOR: Owens-Corning fiberglass insulation is the only brand that can be pink.
SOUNDS: A unique tune or set of notes can “denote” a brand: NBC’s chimes are one of the most famous examples.
MOVEMENT: Lamborghini has trademarked the upward motion of its car doors.
SMELLS: I love the rose-jasmine-musk scent of Chanel No. 5.
TASTE: KFC special recipe of 11 herbs and spices for fried chicken.
TAGLINE or Catchphrase: “The Quicker Picker Upper” associated with Bounty; Verizon brand “Can you hear me now”
Writers and books are different animals than commercial products. Branding irons won’t work. But will any of the other product techniques work to establish our brand with readers?
Books as products lack common distinguishable trademarks unless you count genre. I’m not sure the average reader has any idea what we’re talking about when we say genre. They know the books they like or the author they like.
Plus in this crazy new publishing climate, genre lines have become as crooked as a roller coaster track and about as scary.
Take, James Scott Bell— #1 bestselling author of the writing book Plot & Structure, and thrillers like Deceived, Try Dying, Watch Your Back, One More Lie and many more—has a new series written as K. Bennett. A zombie legal thriller series, which begins with Pay Me in Flesh. Seriously. Paranormal elements combined with a legal thriller. How’s that for blending genres?
Stranger combinations are everywhere. So linking books by genres is not that clear cut anymore.
According to I’m Laura Stack, The Productivity Pro® “You have to become your own number one product. You must be uniquely you.”
While titles and covers can and do link series. Mostly a novel is a stand-alone work and readers connect by the author’s name.
The other commerical product methods aren’t so easily implemented by writers. Smells, tastes, movement, graphics and/or shapes of product marketing to attract readers to a novel seems a bit daunting. There are some very clever writers out there so I’m not giving up on someone coming up with an idea.
As an author, I’ve used the spelling of my name as a brand. Every teacher, every college professor, every stranger who reads my nametag stumbles over the pronunciation. But they don’t forget the name or me.
For the full story on how I received the name, check my author website: Judythe Morgan.
Next I’ve used the color green color for my website and Twitter. With a bit of luck, green brings happy thoughts and Irish to mind.
My blog and my FB pages tie together with the front porch. Lots of greenery in those banners too.
Green=happy thoughts. Porch=down home storytelling.
That’s how I write, that’s what I write—stories about ordinary events in ordinary people’s lives that end happily. Emotional stories about journeys of the heart.
Not straight romance, not straight women’s fiction, not simple love stories. A combination of those genres. See Bell’s not the only one who can blend genres.
My taglines also help readers remember me. “Voices and Views from the Front Porch” tag on my blog allows for a variety of blog topics and lets the reader “know” me and my varied interests.
My website tagline of “Weaving Love Stories to Touch Your Heart” identifies the type of fiction I write.
Will these strategies work? I wish I knew.
In Kristen Lamb’s course, we learned that getting our names out there with samples of our writing builds our platform. But I have to admit advertising aka branding/author platform still baffles me.
When I had my antiques shop, I had a GREAT location-busy intersection in an active shopping center. My marketing plan was strong. I offered free cookies, lemonade and coffee to customers. A shop full of great merchandise, free cookies and coffee.The people came. Still…
Most of my customers admitted they came because someone told them about the shop.
So I conclude, a business marketing plan and a writer platform/branding plan are pretty much the same.
Word of mouth Reputation Name recognition
Book Industry Study Group’s ongoing Consumer Attitudes Toward E-Book Reading survey in February confirmed my conclusion. “e-book buyers cite word-of-mouth as No. 2—just like their print book kin.” Read here.
People read a good book; they share the book with others. So a writer’s primary challenge is first to write the very best story they can and second to make readers recognize their name.
Branding is about communicating. Engaging readers.
I’ve shared what I do. Remember I am not a marketing major. My expertise is chatting on the porch, sharing my views. Don Block, founder of WeGrowMedia.com, is a qualified expert and he offers some other specific ways to maximize your branding here.
Friday blog days will be silly or stream of consciousness or who knows what will strike my fancy. The idea comes from the years I taught elementary school physical education classes. Great job compared to my years of teaching reading and language arts with all those papers to grade. LOL
I wore shorts to school and lesson plans were easy because every Friday’s plan read Free Day. The other P.E. teacher and I put out assorted equipment and allowed the kids to have supervised free time during class. Things may have changed as far as teaching P.E. goes, who knows? But Friday’s on the blog will be free, crazy, and definitely fun.
Today’s topic is purple cows. I’m also testing a principal I learned from Kristin Lamb’s WANA class on social media–a snappy subject line. Did it grab your attention???
Why a purple cow blog? Because I’ve always been intrigued by the work of Gelett Burgess and especially his poem about the purple cow.
Burgess, a fascinating Bohemian, wrote other whimsical, nonsense poetry, but THE PURPLE COW is by far the most famous. I know I’ve quoted it a gazillion times. Though, like most people, I leave off the second line of the title: Reflections on a Mythic Beast Who’s Quite Remarkable, at Least. Pity too because that’s where the essence lies. Here’s the original the poem as published in 1895.
Purple cow is a metaphor for something that is out of the ordinary, something remarkable. Maybe Bugress didn’t personally want to be considered different. In reality he was. Some say his works inspired Dr. Seuss. The Gelett Burgess Center for creative expression, organized to honor his creativity, gives The Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Awards yearly. It’s not the Caldecott, but still a prestigious honor for a children’s book.
Too many people do not want to take chances and be that Purple Cow, to stand out from the rest. To conform is to be comfortable, and many of us like to feel comfortable. But, is comfortable the place to be if you are a writer?
I say no. Not with the publishing paradigm shift which allows anyone and everyone to become a published writer.
We have to be Purple cows. Different. Willing to stand out from the rest.Our stories need to be remarkable. Exceptional. After all, does the world need another ordinary writer, another ordinary story? I don’t think so.
Purple cow writers must be different at the same time consummate professionals. With the new reader-driven paradigm in publishing, we struggle to be noticed, to stand out in the pack. Often, we’re not traditionally published because our stories don’t fit the Big Six genre boxes. Agents scratch their heads trying to pigeonhole our work. Which makes us half purple. To be a realio, trulio Purple Cow writer, we have to
create rich, absorbing stories with emotional impact to grab the reader
know craft rules then break the ones that benefit our story
never stop learning
view every writing project as a stepping stone to something better
be devoted to KL’s social media theory for getting our name and our work noticed
What about you? Are you a PURPLE COW? Do you dare to step out of your comfort?
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