3 S.R. Johannes: Build Your Author Brand (Day 1) & Writing Lessons from The Office

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Build Your Author Brand (Day 1) & Writing Lessons from The Office

Build Your Author Brand/Platform (Day 1)

OK I want everyone to go through this exercise with me for the next 30 days. Ill teach you how to start your marketing plan from scratch, aw well as some best practices for twitter, blogging, facebook and more.

This book is a great reference: Author's Guide to Building an Online Platform

Today is about creating a brand/platform for yourself. What is a platform?
The term author platform is popping up all over the place, but what exactly is an author platform? Essentially, your platform is based on your expertise. For nonfiction, this relates to the topic of your books. What about fiction authors? Your platform, obviously, should focus on your genre. It’s even better to focus on a smaller niche. For example, get known for knitting mysteries.

Your platform includes your Web presence, any public speaking you do, the classes you teach, the media contacts you have established, the articles you have published, and any other means. here are 8 things to think through when determining what your platform is.

1) What is your genre? Lets say you are writing a knitting mystery.
2) What experience/knowledge do you bring? (are you a knitter? Do you do arts and crafts? are you a fashion major? etc)
3) Write Down 3 different audiences that your book targets. (Knitters, Fashion, Mystery)
4) Write down 5 ways to reach those audiences. (groups, organizations, web sites, etc)
5) Find out who are the influencers in those groups (leaders, content experts) and introduce yourself. tell them what you are doing. (google google google)
6) Get involved in those organizations now (whether you are published or not). Become familiar with organizations related to your topic or genre. Join those that you feel can help move your career forward through education and/or association. Become known by participating.
7) Create a web site - this is one of the first things to do. Simple 5 pages. (Use a knitting motive)
8) Start building an email database/spreadsheet of critical contacts. (Be sure to keep track of contacts)

Come back tomorrow for Day 2 in our Marketing Journey!

The Office Lessons

After working an an executive at Bank of America, this show is quite funny to me. Sick but funny. Mostly because it is completely sarcastic humor which I am a sucker for.

I love the battle that goes on between Jim and Dwight. Steve Carrell is hilarious but Rainn Wilson cracks me up. And I swear I used to know people like him at work.

It’s silly and stupid, controlled yet edgy. Its totally inappropriate. But believe it or not there are people who actually say and think these things. Sometimes, its the only way to get people to pay attention that this behavior still exists. Even though it is disgusting, you have to laugh at the ignorance of some people in the world and work place. And sometimes, you just have to laugh at that especially when there is nothing else to do. Now I do not approve of any of the behavior but that is what makes it funny. Its exaggerated.

In this show, everyone in the office realizes they’re stuck with each other. And in a way, they love each other flaws and all. It doesn’t matter that their boss, Michael (Steve Carrell) is totally ridiculous. It doesn’t matter if they get insulted. It doesn't matter if they play pranks. In the end, it’s back to life and it's about the sum of parts. And that’s real.

As everything I participate in or watch, I am always thinking about my writing. This show does have its lessons for writers.

  • Characterization. Most of all, when I look at the writing, it is great. The characters thought greatly flawed are lovable.
  • Story. It tells a succinct story in 30 minutes yet does a great job of creating arching stories that link each episode.
  • Dialogue. It does not deliver one-liners. The dialogue is natural and funny. It flows and does not feel forced.
  • The scene. The desks, the offices. Their clothes. Next time look at the details. These details matter when I'm writing. The pictures on the desk. The stress balls. The environment gives you a sense of these people.
  • The nonverbals. The characters mannerisms, their looks. Those things are hard to capture in a book but it is doable. But they have to be natural.
A few Memorable Moments

Medical Form Scene

  • Dwight: Someone forged medical information, and that's a felony.
  • Jim: OK, Whoa, all right 'cause that's a pretty intense accusation. How do you know that they're fake?
  • Dwight: [reading from a sheet] Uh, Leprosy, Flesh Eating Bacteria, Hot Dog Fingers, Government Created Killer Nano Robot Infection.
Identity Theft

  • Jim Comes to work dressed as Dwight
  • Dwight: Imitation is a form of flattery
  • Jim pulls out a few items he took from Dwight
  • Dwight: You know Identity theft is not a joke Jim. Millions of people suffer from it every year.
Spud Gun

  • Dwight:I.D. badges are long overdue. Security in this office park is a joke. Last year, I came to work with my spud gun in a duffel bag. I sat at my desk all day, with a rifle that shoots potatoes at 60 pounds per square inch. Can you imagine if I was deranged?
Please - if you have not seen this show - watch this clip. It is hilarious and I bet most of you will be hooked. If you have, take a moment and enjoy this montage of funny moments to start out your day.

Update: I changed the clip - I swear you will laugh at loud at this. Come on you know you wanna try it.


CJ Omololu said...

This topic always causes me sleepless nights. What if what you write defies platforms? What if your first book is, oh I don't know, a multicultural picture book and your second is say, a contemporary YA about hoarding? And the next one will probably about racism?

I've thought about writing PBs under my real name and my YAs under another name, but my editor and I are still working that out. I would love to be known as writing X, but I'm afraid it's going to be a little more X,Y,Z and sometimes L.

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

then you should do this exercise for each book. :)

Corey Schwartz said...

What if you write for three year olds? Are you really supposed to break toddlers down into three categories. Elephant lovers, playground fanatics, and those who laugh whenever they hear the word "tush"? Or by three audiences do you mean librarians, teacher, parents?

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

no i mean audiences

kids are not a market for PBs - adults are. small kids dont really have a say.

if it was a book about fancy nancy lets say. Maybe it is Moms, kids boutique/specialy stores, and places that do princess party themes (just off the top of my head)

Corey Schwartz said...

Okay, thanks. I was half kidding, but I really am a marketing moron. The whole process is so daunting to me! If you think I had trouble with #3, you should see how stuck I am on #4! :)

Katie Anderson said...

Oh my gosh! I just spit my tea out laughing! As much as I've watched the Office, I have never seen that clip! LOVE the new look of your blog :-)

Anonymous said...

You got a tricked out website! wow!

This was hilarious. Thanks for sharing! Can't wait for Office tomorrow.

Carrie Harris said...

I have not seen The Office. I know that I want to see The Office, but I'm one of those obsessive compulsive people who has to watch them in order. Anyone have the first season and feel like sending it to a complete stranger? ;)

I think that platform thing is tough when it comes to YA, but I think (I HOPE) I'm getting the hang of it.

Anonymous said...

That slap video cracked me up. The expression on his face!

Unknown said...

I love Jim!!!!

Dwight has my heart though...