Category Archives: Marketing yourself

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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Writers: Always Networking?

neuronby Catherine L. Tully

Let’s face it–as a writer–you are never “off”.

What I mean by that statement is this: if you are talking to someone, there is potential for work. I know this to be true because I have found jobs in the most unlikely places.

While a great deal of my work is from repeat clients or referrals, a sizable chunk comes from a weird sort of networking. For example, I have been to parties and other functions where I met someone who needed writing done for a project. I have gotten editing work from a “friend of a friend of a friend”. I have even seen had a nibble or two from people who were standing next to me in line somewhere who overheard me talking about what I do.

So what am I getting at exactly? It’s really quite simple. As a writer, you are always networking. It’s exhausting, to be sure, but it can also be a good thing. Stumbling into a good account when you are least expecting it isn’t exactly something to complain about.

To that end, I have a few tidbits to share that can be helpful in terms of getting the most out of your contact with others. Here they are:

  • Always mention what you do for a living when you are talking to someone. Be sure to give examples too, as some people will assume you write books if you don’t tell them otherwise. (Unless, of course, you do write books.)
  • Carry a few business cards with you at all times. Give them out liberally. You never know when someone might pass one along to a potential client.
  • Have a website. This is provides a very easy way for people to find you and see what your services are. That way you don’t have to hammer it home when you first meet them. (Be sure your website addy is on your business card.)
  • Don’t be afraid to use your network. Tell those you are close to that you’d appreciate it if they would spread the word you are a writer. If you can return the favor, do! (For example, if you know a carpenter, dentist, etc…)

These are just some of the ways you can tap into the social scene and drum up some clients. Do you have any to add? Feel free to share!

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).

And yes, she was born in Texas.

Expert Marketing (aka The Tabatha’s Salon Takeover Model of Success)

This is the first in a new column, Marketing-Zone: Marketing Yourself and Your Bookby newest regular contributor, Diane Holmes of Pitch University. She’ll alternate this column with Fiction-Zone:  Leaps in Fiction Mastery.

tabatha taking over

How do you plan on being successful in marketing yourself or your book?   (And let’s measure success by actual sales or dollars.)   If you’re already published, tell me about your next project and how you’ll be successful marketing that.

Come up with an answer.  Got it?  Okay, good. I bet most of you thought of a solution that involved…

(1) doing “something” like a website or blog, or maybe having a Facebook page or doing other things you’ve seen done,

(2) asking another writer in your writer’s group/community for advice, or

(3) going to a writer’s workshop or seminar to listen to a multi-published writer teach about what she or he did.

I’m often surprised by how many writers never think to involve experts in their careers, except in a very passive way (where we read or listen, while someone teaches us “something” in general and not about our specific book or platform).   And I love all my pubbed peeps, but I also know that few multi-published writers are marketing experts, who can speak to repeatable processes and best practices of the current industry.


We are so stuck in the do-it-yourself nature of freelance careers (for fiction writers, it’s writing on “spec and a prayer”), where you learn your profession while alone in a room at home, and we stay in that loner mode.

Our resources are ourselves and other writers. Heck, if we involve anyone outside ourselves, it feels like we’re learning from experts!

But let me put this into perspective by invoking  “Tabatha’s Salon Takeover,” a TV reality show were business-savvy Tabatha Coffee “takes over” failing salons and figures out what’s wrong.

And honey, it’s always the same thing. Someone, who pretty much has no business running a salon and leading people, had money and bought a salon.  And then, when business and people imploded, the solution was to (a) keep doing the same thing, (b) say they’re no good at being a manager, and (c) take out a second mortgage.

The thing they never do?   Continue reading Expert Marketing (aka The Tabatha’s Salon Takeover Model of Success)

7 Negative Responses To Your Book Pitch & How To Avoid Them: Part 4

Today we have part 4 of the series on pitching your book, by Diane Holmes….and by the way….you’ll be hearing more from her as she’s signing on to be a regular contributor at We’re going to continue running the 7-part series, but you’ll also be hearing from Diane in posts about marketing and fiction over the coming weeks. We’re excited to have her as part of the roster!

#4 “Whoa, stop pitching!  It’s like drinking from a Firehose.”

Translation: “You’re gushing details and projects so fast it can only be measured in “gallons per minute,” and I am totally drenched.  Stop.  Please.  I need to dry off.”

Reality: More details aren’t better; they’re just more. And listing your works-in-progress without a breath doesn’t make you seem prolific, it only convinces an agent or editor that you’ve got a lot of work that hasn’t sold.

Solution:  Stop.  Focus.  You are here to talk about one amazing book project in a way that shines excitement and clarity on it.  If your conversation (not your rant or monologue) creates a positive impression about you, you might be invited to discuss other projects.   And again, stop and focus.

It’s not a race.

The agent or editor assumes that how you present your book is actually the best indicator of both how it’s written AND what type of client you’re likely to be.

Most writers will read this and think, “that is totally unfair!”  After all, we’re not presenters, we’re nervous, and it feels impossible to sum up our books (and deliver that summary in a verbal pitch).

It’s a pretty big burden to look and sound confident, present well, and give a summary that accurately encapsulates the project.  It is.

So, start by practicing being S-L-O-W.  Blurting information is caused either by nerves or desperation.  And it does no good lecturing yourself on not being nervous or desperate.  Emotions can be immune to logic!

So, for now.  Practice being slow.  Aim for clarity.  Remind yourself it’s a conversation.

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).

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).

And yes, she was born in Texas.