Tag Archives: pitch university

The Author’s Branding Manifesto

by Diane Holmes

Last we spoke on Author Branding, the conversation included Zombies and we hashed over whether “brand” is actually a curse word in disguise.

Brand ourselves?  (All together now….)  Like products?!  You mean come up with a way to sum up our uniqueness?

Brand Heaven and Hell Picture by David Armano

And yet if I ask you if all writers are alike and can all write the same thing,  there’s not a writer reading this column who won’t argue that we’re each original, have individual voices, and are not in any way interchangeable.  (I think there’s a marketing word for pointing out unique qualities…. )

Wait.  I’m pausing to see if anyone saying, “Oh noes, I’m not original at all.  I strive to be a generic author, and I’m hoping that if another writer comes along, they’ll cast me aside because (all together now), it’s not like I bring anything unique to the table.”

Crickets.  (And they’re snickering.)

A Class On Branding Just for U

Today, I want to share Dan Amano’s  video on the topic of people and brands.  He founded Brand U.0 (“you point zero”), and I have a marketing crush on him.

This talk, given at the Chicago New Media Summit in 2008, is the best 20 minutes you’ll ever spend on building a personal brand.

First minute and a half showing the difference between a logo and a brand. J And just gets better and better!

Go watch RIGHT NOW. Then come back here.

Bottom Line Takeaway:

  • Brand is not the product.
  • Having a brand does not make you a product, because brand is about your gut.
  • There’s a brand heaven and a brand hell based on how  other people experience your brand. Your brand and influence exists whether you care or not.
  • Online, personal brands happen in an organic way, celebrating niches.
  • You know you’re a web-lebrity if you have an action figure in your own image.
  • David has 5 aspects of building a personal brand.  My favorite is “Be Remarkable.” That is the essence of every writer I know. we have remarkable things to say.  We arrived remarkable, and we have a remarkable dream that doubles as a career.  Pretty darn… remarkable.
  • People who don’t create a personal brand still have them. They just don’t control them.

The Author’s Branding Manifesto

So, here’s what I want you to take away from this column on Author Branding.

  1. Writers create meaning.
  2. Branding creates meaning.
  3. This is your chance to bring meaning to your personal brand (how others see you), instead of letting someone else do it.
  4. It’s a creative act.
  5. It’s not our enemy or a curse.  It’s our finest work brought to life.
  6. And it’s the most creative thing we’ll ever do for our careers.

Note: In the video, David mentions presentations on Slide Share.  You can find them here.

This is the second in a series on Author Branding.  Previous articles include:

#1 Author Branding vs. an Army of Writers


Diane Holmes Crop 1Diane writes two columns for Freelance-Zone:

  • Fiction-Zone: Leaps in Fiction Mastery and
  • Marketing-Zone: Marketing-Zone: Marketing Yourself and Your Book. She’s the Founder and Chief Alchemist of Pitch University – “Learn to pitch your book from the AGENTS and EDITORS who make their living at it.  Learn.  Pitch.  Sell.”

Author Branding vs. an Army of Writers

By Diane Holmes

I’m thinking a lot about author branding these days, you know, like a hobby for my brain. Frankly, there are a whole lotta people talking about it. Writer people.

It’s like an army of writer-zombies have developed a plague-like obsession with branding and platform and promotion. Symptoms are fever, chills, cranky attitude, reanimation, and jerky dance moves.

The typical zombie.

Most writers use branding, platform, and promo interchangeably. And they believe the answer is held hostage somewhere on the Internet, in the form of websites, blogs, and Twitter. Author Branding has become the go-to-term that says everything, the buzz word of publishing 2.0. If we could only swear with it, author branding would be seriously perfect.

Wait. I think we can.

Writer A (exasperated sigh): “We’ll, you’ve simply got to Titter your Platform if you want your Author-Brand to get out in the Blogosphere and ever hope to Link-In with your Marketing on Amazon!”

Writer B (royally pissed-off): “Fine, I’ll do it, but I’ll hate every minute of it.”

Writer C: “Pfft. Author-brand that!”

Writer B: “It’s all just an Author-branding Royale with Cheese.” <–Pulp Fiction reference.

Writer C:Brand.”

Writer A: “Fine, But you can’t swear like that on FaceBook or your Amazon Rank will go down.”

Felt good didn’t it? Okay, let’s talk about the real author branding.

You already have a brand. You probably have several.

Here’s my definition of your personal brand. A brand is how you put yourself “out there” to another human. It’s all the things people know, feel, think, and experience about you. In fact, when someone defends you to another person, they are defending your BRAND.

And just as different people have different experiences of/with you in various environments, you can have more than one brand.

People who know you at work, know your work brand. People who know you through dog rescue, know your dog-rescue brand. And people who know you through a column you write for Freelance-Zone…. You get the idea.

Here’s what I want to point out: you are actively shaping your brand in each instance. You’re doing it authentically and organically, and always with an awareness of (a) who you’re around and (b) what the rules are for the culture, as well as (c) with an “eye” on who you’d like to become and (d) how you’d like to be seen by others in the future.

Basically, you always know where you are and that there are consequences to how you act.  You show up accordingly, but with the unique spin of YOU.

Yeah, I hear ya. You want to argue that some people just act like jerks, don’t care who they are in the future, and don’t care about any rules. This is true. And it becomes their brand. But these people aren’t you.

You’re here because you write and want to be seen as a writer. You want readers. And you want your readers to love you.

Great. So how do you want them to see you, think of you, experience you, and feel about you?

Simply stated, we call it author branding when we think about all this in advance and make clever decisions designed to attract the type of readers who will “get” us and our writing.

Over the next few Marketing-Zone columns (every other week), I’m going to explore exactly how we authors can come up with a brand that…

  • focuses our conversation with readers,
  • enhances our career vision,
  • becomes the rally-cry for our dreams,
  • inspires us in the present, and
  • creates a map for us to follow into the future.

Who knew? Author branding might be something that doesn’t make you cranky.

Diane Holmes Crop 1Diane is Founder and Chief Alchemist of Pitch University.

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7 Negative Responses To Your Book Pitch & How To Avoid Them: Part 5

Diane Holmes is back today with more in her series about pitching your book…enjoy!


#5 “You’re All Hat and No Cattle”

Translation: “Your efforts to wow me by using the shiniest, hype-filled words Hollywood has to offer (big cowboy hat) are no substitute for real content (a ranch with actual cattle).  Everyone these days is calling him/herself an expert of this, a guru of that. Many writers claim to have the next bestseller, a book bigger than Harry Potter, or a story that’s going to excite, thrill, dazzle, and otherwise look good in a Stetson.  Just show me the cattle.” 

Reality:  Hype doesn’t work.  TV shows first had premiers, then they had US premiers, then world-wide premiers, and now?  Yes, Universal Premiers!  Hype doesn’t impress us.  We can see through it.  So can an editor or agent.

Solution:  Compelling premise, compelling character, compelling message.  Write books that are compelling by their very nature.  Then all you have to do is share this information.

Pitching isn’t a trick.  It’s communication.

Diane Holmes
Diane Holmes


Diane Holmes is the Founder and Chief Alchemist behind Pitch University, an online website where writers learn to pitch from the literary agents and editors (and maybe even sell their book in the process).  http://www.pitch-university.com/

And yes, she was born in Texas.

Avoiding Negative Responses To Your Book Pitch: Part 3

It’s time for the next edition of our seven-part series on pitching your book with Diane Holmes, where she helps talk you through some of the potential issues you may run across when trying to bring your work to print.

Today’s issue:

#3 “You’re putting lipstick on a bulldog.”

Translation: “You’ve gone to a lot of effort to pretty up a bad idea, make a blue-collar idea seem hoity-toity, or take a meat-and-potatoes idea and make it into caviar.   And I am not fooled.”

Reality: Your efforts to make your book’s hook, idea, or premise (the bulldog) exciting and BIG are transparent.  Agents and Editors are on to you, and it’s kinda insulting that you think they’d fall for that.

Solution:  What’s wrong with a plain ol’ bulldog?   By trying to take something and fool people into thinking it’s what it’s not, you miss out on both accounts.  At this point, the listener doesn’t want the plain bulldog or the fancy bulldog.

You must be passionate about what your book is really about.  And when you look for your book’s unique hook, look for something that is essential, captivating, and authentic.

Diane Holmes
Diane Holmes

Diane Holmes is the Founder and Chief Alchemist behind Pitch University, an online website where writers learn to pitch from the literary agents and editors (and maybe even sell their book in the process).  http://www.pitch-university.com/

And yes, she was born in Texas.

Avoiding Negative Responses To Your Book Pitch: Part 1

I’m excited to announce that we are going to have a seven-part series here on Freelance-Zone.com about how to pitch your book. Diane Holmes, founder of Pitch University, has signed on to share some great tips on avoiding the negative response to your book pitch. Today we have a short intro to what she will be sharing with us, along with the first tip–enjoy!    – Catherine

Listen up.  I’m gonna tell you How the Cows Ate the Cabbage….

As founder of Pitch University (and Texan, which explains colorful expressions), my goal is to help writers (and I am including myself in this!) become excellent at answering the hardest question people ask us: “What’s your book about?”

“Heck, if we could sum it up,” we writers want to snap, “we would’ve written a Post-It Note, not a book!”   (We’re just witty that way.)

What we don’t say is that, after we’ve written hundreds of pages, and poured our heart and soul into the complexities of our stories and topics, there simply are no easy answers.

Yet, without the ability to answer this basic question, we can’t sell our books.

This is called pitching our books.  And it’s the same skill we use when we answer the question for anyone, including agents, editors, readers, friends, family, the media, librarians, booksellers, truly anyone at all.

So it’s important to our careers.  Knowing this, we feel the stress of getting it right.   Frankly, most writers don’t, and they really don’t know what went wrong.

When you look closely, there are really two hurdles when pitching:  ourselves and others (let’s call them agents and editors).  Today, I’m taking a humorous look at the firsts of 7 possible responses that agents and editors can give us when our pitching misses the mark.  There are other tell-tale signs your pitch isn’t working, but understanding these 7 will give you a leg up on your next pitch..

Read on to see if you recognize yourself. Continue reading Avoiding Negative Responses To Your Book Pitch: Part 1