Book pre-orders – I love them. It’s one of the perks of following a writer: you sometimes get the chance to pre-order their books, maybe save a few bucks, and you feel sort of special. For a lot of strange reasons pre-orders are not that popular in my country, and whenever I tried to set-up a pre-order for my books the results were underwhelming. But as a reader, provided I’ve the money on my credit card, tell me where I need to sign.
Case in point, Rayne Hall’s latest writer-oriented handbook. I have half a dozen of her previous handbooks, and they are great: short, focused and to the point, very practical, very savvy, fun to read and useful. When I got the opportunity of pre-ordering Author Branding, I just clicked on the button. Now it’s here, and I have spent some time before dinner to dig in, and then changed my schedule for the rest of the evening: editing can wait, I want to read this baby to the end.
First things first: I am very wary of branding. In my mind, it’s the sort of things that happens to cows in western movies, and it does not appear to be very pleasant. And my previous experiences with people interested in developing my brand have not been very pleasant.
Did I ever tell you about the guy that wanted me to send him photos of myself in which my bum (as in, backside) was visible, “to post online to make you popular”? Didn’t I? Well, maybe someday I will.
The big problem here being (weirdos apart), most branding/marketing gurus will come to you and tell you: do like this, follow my instructions, do as I say. And given my character (or lack thereof) I don’t like this idea of adapting to somebody else’s idea of what the market is and what I am supposed to be in that market.
Too many hours spent watching The Prisoner, I guess: I am not a number, I am a free man.
Also, I’ve met a few guys that are not humans anymore, but rather they are their own brand, and they are creepy. Brand zombies would be a nice definition.
So, all in all you can guess the sort of misgivings I might have when opening a book like Author Branding.
But it turns out Rayne Hall’s branding manual is great. And it’s great because it offers a creative approach to brand development and management. In other words, I get to define my style, and my managing approach to the whole thing. It’s not “everybody else is doing like this, so you should do like this”, but rather “there’s some options, pick yours, then work on them”. I like that a lot. Because maybe I’ll never develop, expand and manage my brand, but reading this book gets me to think about my work, and my online presence, and my readers. It helps me get a better understanding of what I am doing, and how it might be perceived. It’s good.
And the very creative approach is very suitable to the mind-set of a writer.
Also – and in this this volume conforms to the others I read from Hall – there’s no wasted space (or time). 100% of what you get in the book is on topic and useful, and can be applied straight out of the box with a modicum of thought. I like teachers that don’t waste my time, and deliver high-quality instructions in a straightforward, easy to understand way.
And there’s exercises and assignments, too.
So, I’m doubly happy I did that pre-order.
Will I start developing my personal brand starting tomorrow morning? Maybe not. But as I said, what I am reading makes me think about a few issues I might like to work on, and this is good.
What can I say… keep an eye on these pages. Will you notice a significant change of attitude or something else? Some subtle, almost subliminal reinforcement of certain signals? Who knows…