Tag Archives: branding

The Secret of Social Media Marketing

Kiev, Ukraine – October 17, 2012 – A logotype collection of well-known social media brand’s printed on paper. Include Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Vimeo, Flickr, Myspace, Tumblr, Livejournal, Foursquare and more other logos.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret today. It doesn’t just apply to marketing–it’s kind of a secret to living your best life. No doubt you’ve heard it before, but maybe not applied to marketing and social media marketing.

Be Yourself.

There’s a wide range of advice out there when it comes to managing your social media as an author. Don’t post about your work so often. Engage with those who engage with your posts. Post often. Don’t post about anything political. Avoid posting anything too racy or could potentially be divisive.

While I think that advice is sound, and have definitely agreed with it in the past, I’d argue now that all of that advice does not set you apart. You will not be a memorable presence on social media if you follow all the rules.

So does that mean you should break all the rules?

No. Absolutely not. In fact, you can still follow all the rules I listed above and still be a very memorable presence on social media. How? By being yourself.

That’s very easy to say, but how exactly do you express who you really are on social media? Do you have to start letting your followers in on your deepest secrets? Do you need to share pictures of your children when you don’t feel comfortable doing so? Absolutely not.

The golden rule of Being Yourself on social media is: only post what you are comfortable posting.

But can that make you stand out? Sure it can.

Think about the things that make you unique. Even more: make a list of things that you’re nerdy about. Make a list of your hobbies. Chances are, you have a lot of knowledge in those areas. And, of course, they are important to you! So why not share your knowledge? If you like to garden vegetables, share pictures of your harvests. Recommend products that work well for you. Post videos sharing tips about how to save beets from a late spring frost.

Do you love 90s R&B? Geek out over it. Post your favorite playlist. Share pictures of your favorite groups and little bits of trivia about them. Go to their concerts and share you experience online!

Do you watch a lot of cop TV shows? Compare them. Which shows get it right? Which are inaccurate? What are some common themes and writing techniques that the writers use in those shows, and how can you apply them to your own writing? These would be fascinating topics to share.

The point is, your fans and potential fans will love to see what you’re into, especially when it’s beyond the obvious (of course you’re interested in writing, Game of Thrones, and books! We all are). Some might not know how to engage because they’re not into what you’re into, but I guarantee they will find it interesting and fun to follow you on social media anyway. They’ll love to see that you’re nerdy about other things. Not to mention all the people who ARE into what you’re into and will bond with you over TLC and Blackstreet, will thank you for your tips on how to grow juicy tomatoes, or will love putting in their two cents about the best cop show on TV right now.

You can have an interesting and fulfilling social media presence if you choose to. Just be yourself, have fun, and only post what you’re comfortable posting.

Expanding Your Convention Horizons

When I re-started my writing career after a long hiatus, I had to figure out how to get back into the convention circuit. My base of operations shifted from upstate New York to the Denver area, so I didn’t know any local authors and I had no idea what conventions were in the area. Most importantly, I didn’t know how much it would cost.

I wasn’t too concerned with meeting new local authors, since I figured once I discovered where they lurked, we’d say hello. I trundled off to Google’s House to search through their drawers of data. I wanted to focus my search on conventions that involved the genres I was interested in. My horrible search string was this:

+convention +(denver|”colorado springs”) +(comic|book|literary|steam|”science fiction”|”sci fi”|”sci-fi”|fantasy|horror)

Yes, it’s written in geeky Google-ese. Translating it to English: Look for conventions in Denver or Colorado Springs for any of genres I listed. (If you’re interested in learning some tips for using Google to research things, see my Fictorians post on Advanced Google-Fu.)

I found plenty of local conventions, and my conventioneering career was underway. I reached out to the contacts I found on the con websites, offering my services on panels. The ones who asked me to sit on a panel received my highest priority, assuming they compensated me with a membership ticket. The ones who weren’t interested I put on a check-next-year list. Since I had no problems talking to a large audience (I used to teach at the college level, which helped me with my public speaking chops), programming directors heard that I “gave good panel.” I made a page on my author website that covered what panels I attended for which con, and I even made sure to include a list of fellow panelists. Sometimes it helps to name-drop.

After a few years, I was known to a large segment of the local con-going crowd. Most didn’t buy my books (I would be writing this from my island paradise if only that were true), but enough people remembered the Guy in the grey beard who made people laugh on panels. Folks would stop me in halls to say hello, and even the occasional celebrity/Guest of Honor would interrupt a conversation with a fan to say hello to me by name.

I figured I had saturated the local market with my branding efforts. I was wondering what to do at that point when my brilliant wife, Tonya L. De Marco, suggested that I start expanding my convention horizons.

Cue a Homer Simpson “D’oh!” That made sense.

I had to figure out where I could travel and remain in my budget. I decided on expanding east of Denver, for no other reason than there was more real estate in that direction. I didn’t want to fall off of the edge of my map, since it’s turtles all the way down. (Bonus geek points if you got that reference.)

I picked a couple of cities in Nebraska and replaced Denver and Colorado Springs in my Google search statement. It turned out there were several vibrant cons in Lincoln and Omaha. The first one I went to, CONStellation in Lincoln, wasn’t interested in me at first. I attended as a regular Guy just to experience what the con had to offer. The second convention I contacted, Omaha’s OSFest, was interested, and I was invited to attend as a panelist.

I’ve only been back to CONStellation once, where I shared a dinner table and conversation with Elizabeth Bear. I had so much fun at OSFest that I talked to the convention chair and helped to build an author panel track. I asked around my gaggle of Denver-based author friends and came up with a group that was interested in traveling to Omaha. The group returned for a couple of years until this year, when they were no longer interested in having us set up the author track (the new programming chair decided to go with an online submit-your-own panel methodology).

No worries, I thought. Look, there’s more unexplored territory on my map! Utah has a huge convention called Salt Lake Comic Con (SLCC), and there’s one in the other direction near St. Louis called Archon

I opened my browser, found the names of the convention chairs, and fired off an email. I’m now attending SLCC as a Special Guest, and I’m waiting on a reply from Archon, one of the oldest fan-run conventions.

I’ll keep you informed as my horizons expand…


 

About the Author:DeMarco_Web-5963

Guy Anthony De Marco is a speculative fiction author; a Graphic Novel Bram Stoker Award®; winner of the HWA Silver Hammer Award; a prolific short story and flash fiction crafter; a novelist; an invisible man with superhero powers; a game writer (Sojourner Tales modules, Interface Zero 2.0 core team, D&D modules); and a coffee addict. One of these is false.
A writer since 1977, Guy is a member of the following organizations: SFWA, WWA, SFPA, IAMTW, ASCAP, RMFW, NCW, HWA. He hopes to collect the rest of the letters of the alphabet one day. Additional information can be found at WikipediaGuyAndTonya.com, and GuyAnthonyDeMarco.com.

Working the Convention Circuit

This is one of those “you should” blogs that, if you know me, you know I generally hate. But I’m going to do it anyway because I’m willing to take the heat for being a hypocrite for a topic I believe is worth the sacrifice. So here goes, and it’s a bit of a daisy chain, so bear with me.

If you’re a new writer, with at least a handful of published short stories to your name or even a novel or two, then you should give serious consideration to working the convention circuit.

Back in July of 2009, I got laid off from an IT gig and decided to chase a writing career. The first thing I did was write some short stories and submit them. I also wrote a novel—the less-than-well-known Chemical Burn. Over the past four years, these efforts have borne fruit. However, if they were all I accomplished in that time, the odds are I wouldn’t be writing this blog right now for the simple reason that the folks at The Fictorians wouldn’t know who I am.

Let me explain.

In October of 2009, I attended MileHiCon, a local and well-established genre and writing convention with a strong author-track. As a result of my participation, a number of wheels were set in motion. MileHiCon is where I met Kronda Seibert and the “heart” of the local steampunk population. As a result of that meeting, I was able to write three episodes of a steampunk Internet radio show and laid the foundation for the Penny Dread Tales anthology series. I wouldn’t be writing steampunk if it weren’t for that convention.

At MileHiCon I also met Sara Megibow of the Nelson Literary Agency (which had benefits later) as well as David Boop who has introduced me to much of the Front Range writing community in one way or another. This also led to my involvement with the Broadway Book Mall.

At a convention in 2010 I met Peter J. Wacks, which opened the door to a contract for Steampelstiltskin with Fairy Punk Studios and laid the groundwork for a relationship with an international best-selling author (more on that later). I also started picking up a fan-base and found a home with the steampunk community. As a result of that, I established a recurring attendance invite with AnomalyCon and locked in “premiering” each new Penny Dread Tales (PDT) anthology at the convention. PDT has now become a staple at the con, with a growing list of “bigger-name” contributors as a result of its growing exposure. It was in this cycle of cons that I also met Guy De Marco for the first time, and that relationship opened up even more doors.

2011 was more of the same, and in 2012, I extended my reach a little and—thanks to Guy—hit OsFest in Omaha Nebraska. That’s where I met Travis Heermann. It was also in the 2012 con season that I met Angie Hodapp (also of the Nelson Literary Agency), and that opened doors to making a proposal to the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Board of Directors as well as teaching a seminar on writing action scenes (with Travis Heermann) at the Colorado Gold Conference this year.

2013 saw my reach deepen into the writing community. I’ve met writers, agents and publishers. I’ve got a growing list of contacts, fans, and even editors asking for my work. My relationship with Angie Hodapp and Sara Megibow over at the Nelson Agency opened the door for me to submit a query directly to Sara, and while she didn’t accept that manuscript, the door is open for me to submit directly to her when I finish my next manuscript.

On top of it all, at CoSine in Colorado Springs this year, I met for the first time Kevin J. Anderson. You may know that name. As a result, I now do book designs and eBook conversions for Word Fire Press, and as a result of that chain of events, I’ve been able to work on books by authors like Frank Herbert, Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson and, coming soon, Alan Drury. I even did a WordFire Press version of the eBook for Clockwork Angels. My work with Anderson also got me into Superstars, which led to me being invited to become a Fictorian.

The daisy chain goes on and on, so what’s the message here?

That if you’re planning a career in the writing biz, you should start meeting, greeting, and carousing with people in the writing biz. That’s how you make contacts. It’s how you open doors. That’s how you create opportunities for your writing projects.

Most people think the writing business is all about getting “picked up”… about writing a manuscript in solitude, submitting a query, and finding out six months later that you’ve been offered a contract by an agent or even one of the “Big 5.” I won’t deny that this method works… but you’d have as much a chance trying to get struck by lightning in a thunderstorm.

The odds are against you, so how do you up the odds?

You hit the convention circuit, plain and simple.

 

Q

Dressed for Success: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Brand

I used to hate the word “branding.” It conjured up images of cattle lowing as a hot poker was pressed against their flanks; or corporate logos splashed all over slick, prepackaged boxes. I’m a creator. An individual personality. Not a brand, I thought. Not some bogus advertisement.

But branding your work – having a brand – is so important to promotion.

This story begins shortly after I’d made my first short story sale – “Blood Runs Thicker” to “When the Hero Comes Home 2” anthology by Dragon Moon Press – and I was invited by fellow DMP author Marie Bilodeau (Destiny’s Blood, Destiny’s Fall, the forthcoming Destiny’s War, and a short story in the previous “When the Hero Comes Home,” among others) to attend the Ad Astra convention in Toronto where I would have an opportunity to meet the editor who’d purchased my story.

My previous convention experiences had been one of two types: fan conventions, typically toy collecting or anime themed, where I arrived in a t-shirt proclaiming my love of the convention’s topic, or in costume; and academic conventions, where I brought out my best Subdued Suit (TM) and tried to look like a Serious Academic. I wasn’t certain a fiction editor wanted to meet my Serious Academic – it wasn’t my master’s thesis she’d purchased, after all. “What do I wear?” I asked Marie. “A suit?”

“A suit’s not necessary unless that’s the sort of image you want to present for your writing,” she said. “Think about what you want to be remembered as. Be yourself.”

Then she told me about wearing cute shoes to her first convention appearance and discovering that her footwear had become an unshakeable aspect of her public persona – to the point where wearing running shoes provoked questions about her footwear, potential foot injuries, etc. As someone who lives in Doc Martens, I was horrified.

“Just wear the usual,” she suggested.

“The usual” is ripped jeans or combat pants, a cartoon or heavy metal T-shirt, my signature army jacket, and boots. “I’ll look like I’m on my way to an Iron Maiden concert,” I protested.

I could clean up my jeans. I do own a few pairs that are hole (paint, stud, patch, funky-pattern) free. For shirts, though, I made Marie a deal: I’d provide dinner and she’d poke through my closet in search of something appropriate for me to wear.

Much to my relief, she bypassed my workwear closet entirely – that selection of puffy blouses and tailored pants that I despise and own only in the interests of keeping my day job – and dug around in my chest of drawers, producing a black shirt with a subtle Halo Helljumpers logo on it.

“That’s a gamer shirt,” I said.

“But it’s not bright or garish or obvious about it, and it’s got that military theme that runs through so much of your writing.”

Okay. I could deal with this. I had a couple more shirts that had actual military crests on them, and added those to the suitcase. “Maybe,” I joked, “I could even take my ratty army jacket.”

“Absolutely,” Marie said.

I couldn’t believe I’d heard that correctly. “What?”

“You write military science fiction. Put on that jacket and you look like someone who writes military science fiction.”

And that’s when I realized that branding wasn’t about pretending to be something I wasn’t or stuffing myself into a monkey suit and feeling miserable all day. It was about creating a recognizable, memorable statement that says this is what I do.

The public persona I was building wasn’t all fake. Those were my real clothes in that suitcase–clothes I felt good in. The brand, I realized, was an aspect of myself – an aspect that puts its best foot forward and hasn’t got holes in its jeans, but a genuine part of my personality nonetheless. At TFCon I’ve been recognized for years as “the one in the army jacket.” There was definitely something to this branding business. It was a visual shorthand for what could be expected of me.

Ad Astra was a great success, and ever since then I’ve stopped thinking of branding as covering myself with a slick veneer and started thinking of it as a way to celebrate who I am and what I do. I write military science fiction. I have a background that includes two pilots’ licenses, a degree from the Royal Military College of Canada and seven years of contracts to back it up.

And the brand image doesn’t limit me. My most recent story sale was a steampunk romance.

I’ve added a pin with an old-fashioned compass to the lapel of my army jacket.