The IMPORTANCE of GOOD BRANDING for your book.
You hear a lot about "Branding" these days. Too much, really, because a great deal of what you hear about branding comes from people who don't actually know what it is. Most people think branding is the same thing as marketing. It's not. If you ask 3 people who work in marketing what "branding" is you will very likely get three different answers.
For what it's worth, my day job has been in brand consulting for the last several years. The truth is, if you ask three brand consultants what "branding" is, you may still get three different answers. But they will all be closer to it than if you asked a marketing person.
Therefore, please take the following with all the salt you need. But it could help.
Branding is NOT marketing: Branding is about letting people know what your product IS, not where they can get it or how much sex they will soon be enjoying once they own this amazing thing. Effective branding is not designed to make people want something they didn’t want before. Rather, effective branding lets people know that this product is the thing they’ve been looking for all along. That's two very different things.
Your Brand from your perspective:
In my day job, I will tell you that your brand is a promise. Something that is deeply and fundamentally true about you. And it better be, and you better not be lying about it, because you have to deliver on that promise every day and in every single interaction with your customers. This is hugely important because...
Your Brand from your Customer’s Perspective:
This is simple. It’s what they think you are. Not what you say you are, not how your marketing makes them feel. It’s what they think you are. So, you make a promise ("my product is reliable”) and you fail to keep it (it breaks), then to your customers, your brand is “worthless bulls**t.” And all the marketing in the world can't change that.
Good branding involves knowing who you are and what your product actually is.
Really good branding will also tell you that this product is NOT the thing you’ve been looking for and is probably NOT for you, so you should just move on. This is particularly important for books. It short, you don't want to sell your book to people who probably won't like it. You may think you do, but you really don't. ESPECIALLY if its a great book. If it's great, you want all the word of mouth help you can get. And that can only come from the people the book was written for.
Let's say you are Toyota and you make a car called the Prius. It is possible that if you marketed the Prius with TV ads that featured smoking tires, racing rev-counters and beautiful women in denim shorts splayed out across the hood and stroking the windshield with wet, soapy sponges, you might sell a few cars. But anyone who buys a Prius thinking it's a hot rod and a chick magnet will be disappointed and consequently hate you. Instead, Toyota cleverly markets the Prius to environmentally concerned parents who want to save gas and don't necessarily expect beautiful women to show up out of the blue to give their cars a good…slow…sensual… washing.
The Prius has a clear brand. People know if they should seek or avoid them. Everyone is happy. And the product does quite well. It also does great repeat business, which says a lot.
Knowing who you are NOT for is also particularly useful for genre books. If you write Cozy Mysteries, or Romantic Sci-fi... make friends with branding.
(***The following example is an edited excerpt from an earlier post. It refers to results of making a book free in the Kindle Select Program in 2012) the numbers are several months old, but the point is still relevant***)
For further anecdotal evidence about what good branding for a book is and how it can really, really make a difference. I want to talk about another author who has sold a lot of books through Kindle Select.
Perfectly positioned within a clear cut genre, there is no mistaking what it’s about and what to expect from it. It’s got a great cover in that regard too, and if you are attracted to that cover, then his book will very likely please you. The product page also shouts “quality,” with a series of glowing and specific blurbs from other authors, and a high price (though still a bargain). One look and it will be obvious if it’s NOT for you so you can move on (which is good). But if it IS for you, you’ll know it right away, and you will very likely buy it (which is tremendous). With branding that effective, all he needed was for people to SEE his product page. He’s using the one day free thing to create visibility and selling in huge numbers. *
What’s most interesting to me is the consistency of his results, and the way they mirror mine to an uncanny degree. Through total coincidence, the most recent free promotion I did for King’s X, just happened to be on the same day Wisehart did the same for Devil’s Lair. So I got to watch what both books did and see all the numbers (the constantly updated rankings) in real time.
As good as King’s X has been doing, Devil’s Lair has been doing MUCH better, but very consistently so. From what I’ve seen, Devil’s Lair sells about 50% better than King’s X, every single day, like clock work. If King’s X is #10 in “Historical Fantasy” then Devil’s Lair is number 4. If King’s X is number 2,200 in the paid store, then Devil’s Lair is around 1,050. Seriously. I've watched the numbers for both books rise and fall for the last 2 weeks. It's been uncanny. At this very moment, I’m looking on Amazon. 14 days since the free promo - King’s X is #8,574 and Devil’s Lair is 3,818. So I’m still at a little less than 50% of his pace. Amazing.
And based on the numbers Wisehart has posted elsewhere, it was exactly like this over Christmas too. Double amazing. Enough to prove to me, at least, that it is not a fluke.
To sum up:
- - DWS** says that going free through Kindle Select produces negligible results for 4 out of 5 authors he hears from (undoubtedly a large sample).
- - It worked for me 3 out of 3 times and produces very consistent numbers.
- - It works for David Wisehart every time too, and his numbers are very consistently double what mine are.
So... why? How could this possibly be?
I’m sticking with branding as the answer. My book is similar in all the qualities I mentioned about his. It’s got a very interesting cover that stands out, it has a unique premise and has a very strong product page to let you know what to expect should you start reading it.
The big difference is issues of clarity. Wisehart’s “Devil’s Lair” is very clearly an epic fantasy (with a twist), where as “King’s X” is more of a genre-hopper. The title “Devil’s Lair” offers a lot of specifics, paints a very clear picture even before you read the plot summary. The title “King’s X” is far more vague. What the title means is explained in the book, of course, and a hint comes later on in the product page. But certainly, the title of my book does not call out, “You are my people! At last we have found each other! Take me to bed with you and we’ll stay up all night reading!”
I'm suggesting that the crystal clarity of “Devil’s Lair” is worth double the sales of a book that makes you wonder a bit more about what reading it will be like.
|Original Cover For Paperback. What about that Font?|
is it a Fantasy? Sci-Fi? Not crystal clear.
|The New E-Book Only Version -|
using the original artwork, but with more exciting font,
additional text plus a nice reviewer’s blurb,
and making it look a little more “Hitchcock”
The title is still a little vague, but this is better, no?
Read the description on Amazon - HERE
So my takeaway from this information is this... if making your book visible to a lot of people at once isn’t helping you sell your book, there may be something you can do about it. It may be that you need a better cover or a better title, it may also be that you need a better book. But no matter what the issue is, it definitely means you need to give more thought into WHO YOUR BOOK IS FOR. Every book was written for someone, or some group of someones. Like penguins, who can return from hunting in the ocean to find their children among millions of identical chicks in Antarctica, you’ve got to figure out a way for your book’s people to connect right away when they see it.
When you consider that Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” has 51 one-star reviews on Amazon... that’s pretty impressive.
**DWS = Dean Wesley Smith. Again, that was from a previous post - STH