QSF membership has a large percentage of authors. My acquaintances online, friend lists, contacts, are in large part authors. I know a lot of authors.
Except that I don’t. All of these names in lists and feeds and such don’t always have any associations for me. I look at posts in my Twitter and FB feed and think, who are you? This is bad. So bad. Not necessarily for me (though I do worry about my memory some days) but for the authors I can’t place.
Authors get a lot of advice thrown at them about branding and, yes, this is something we should think about. Simple, recognizable, unique, consistent are the cornerstones for consideration when you try to concoct branding images. When I first started out on social media, I used the cat eyes from the cover of one of my first novellas, Boots (Puss in Boots rebooted to a depressed town in Pennsylvania, kasha demon starring in the title role.) It was recognizable and easily associated, but I started to see those damn cat’s eyes everywhere. As a branding image, big fat fail.
So I made a little logo with a capital “A” in elephantine font, halo and devil tail to denote angel, but fallen (oh, so long ago) which works better as a recognizable, unique shorthand for writer me. KJ Charles uses a lovely magpie logo. Jordan Hawk uses a photo of herself with that hat I covet. These are immediately recognizable and jog the brain to remember. All fun and cool and stuff – but it doesn’t help one bit if no one knows anything about the author behind that easily associated logo.
It would be lovely if our works simply spoke for us, but in a sea of authors, we need to be people, too. I know. Bleh. Being sociable and letting bits of me leak out into the intertubes. Ewww. But that’s how people associate, not by matching title to author, but by having something they can connect to you as a person. Then the title association becomes easier. If all a reader sees is “buy my book,” the titles won’t stick. There are simply too many of them to bother. But “that’s the one who does funny haikus” or “that’s the one who works with greyhound adoptions” or “that’s the one with all the good info on Mars” – those things stick.
Get your branding done, but be a person. I’m not saying post every pic of everything you’re doing and/or eating, or otherwise spewing out the minutiae of everyday life, but selected tidbits. It’s okay to show the important stuff happening in your life and what you’re passionate about.
Be nice. Be genuine.