Sex For Money is a semi-regular blog series about my experiences in writing, publishing, and marketing gay erotica and M/M erotic romance. All of this information is from my own experience, so your experience may differ. It’s hoped that sharing this information might be helpful to new and aspiring erotica and erotic romance authors, as I see a lot of questions and a lot of misinformation out there. To read more Sex For Money posts, click here.
Like any good Canadian, I tend to listen to CBC Radio while I’m in the car. (For non-Canadians, this is our national public broadcaster’s talk/news radio.) On Saturdays, there’s a show called “Under the Influence,” which is all about marketing and advertising strategies taken by big companies and brands. Today, they explored how the individual person is, essentially, a brand.
Unfortunately, I was in the middle of errands and had to get out of the car and ended up missing most of the show, BUT I did catch the gist of the message…and I realized how it relates to writers.
Everything you do online, or in the public, is part of your brand. The examples given at the opening of the show were of people applying for jobs… using email addresses like email@example.com to submit your resume, and having a Facebook page full of shots of you getting plastered at the bar… well, that gives an impression of who you are as a person when they are considering whether or not to hire you. It is, essentially, your brand.
Authors need to consider this very carefully. Everything you do in your author name is part of your author brand.
Ideally, when one takes a look at your website, social media profiles, products, and other facets, there should be some sense of cohesion to the whole gamut. You should have some sense of brand in there. Doing wildly different things on different platforms creates an incoherent or conflicting brand, and readers might not know what to expect if they pick up one of your books.
For myself, I have a Tumblr and a Pinterest full of hot guys, and a Facebook and WordPress that allow me to show a bit more of my writing/reading side… but together, they work to create my brand. All four platforms have to do with hot, sexy guys, but the strengths/limitations of the platforms affect how my brand is expressed. Pinterest and Facebook have to be cleaner, whereas Tumblr can be downright filthy. Wordpress lets me be wordy, whereas Twitter keeps me brief.
A big part of the author brand is the author persona. Ideally, you should be filtering your real self to create your brand. (You probably do this anyway with your personal Facebook account — do you post photos of yourself getting shit-faced at the bar? Probably not, because you know it’ll come back to haunt you someday.) So, I’m not talking censorship, I’m talking the creation and maintenance of a version of yourself that best projects your brand — and best attracts potential readers.
This doesn’t mean creating a fake version of yourself. By all means, interact with others on social media as you would as a real person. But maybe when you’re having a lousy day, don’t pour your heart out and vent your frustrations on your author platform… that’s not really the place for it. Saying that you’re having a crappy day and maybe summarizing why in a sentence or two is fine — your readers care about you. Posting a pages-long diatribe of how the world is out to get you… well… then you start to turn off readers.
At the end of the day, you want people to buy your books. This means you need to think of your books as a product and yourself as a business, which means you need to consider your brand. What does your social media platform, your brand, say about you as an author? Is that what you want people to think of when they interact with your brand? How can you change it to craft that image?
For authors of erotica and erotic romance, we all have similar qualities we want/have in our brands. We want to appear professional, we want our books to be smoking hot, we want our brand to appear seductive and alluring, and we want people to feel they can be sexually satisfied by picking up one of our books. There are many ways this can be achieved, so there is no one set formula. Using the guidelines (and maybe you have some additional or different qualities you want your brand to express), you can craft your own brand and discern how to proceed on your social media platforms.