Did you enjoy yesterday’s post where I introduced this week’s blog series on how to develop your personal brand as a writer? If you missed it, here’s the link: Lessons in Personal Branding for Writers: Day One.
Here are the next five tips in this series about nurturing your professional reputation and developing a professional brand:
6. Be Transparent
This tip goes hand-in-hand with developing a brand presence. From conventions to blogging, I’ve found it’s important to be transparent about your writing goals and intentions. As an online marketer, I can’t tell you how many examples I’ve seen where even the slightest “omission” of information has backfired on businesses.
You see, in today’s internet age it’s exceptionally difficult to be anything but yourself — especially if you’re using free tools to promote yourself and your writing.
I’ve found that being yourself both online and offline, you add a touch of personalization to your brand as an author. Being transparent does not necessarily mean that you should disclose everything to your fans and readers. What you offer them is definitely your choice and, as some notable writers have found out, you may want to think carefully before you post personal information or industry-facing discussions.
For me, I’m very careful about what I post online because I also have a “day job.” Everyone has their ups and downs, but blasting that information for all the world to see may work against you in today’s competitive environment. One way to ensure that you know how businesses perceive you online, is to set up a Google Alert. Not only is it free, it’s also a great way to stay on top of discussions and trends, too.
7. Follow-Through on Your Promises
It’s easy to make promises to people if you’re excited as I am about writing. Unfortunately, the road to procrastination and missing deadlines is paved with great intentions. Enthusiasm is great as long as you’re able to temper your excitement with a little touch of reality. If you promise to submit a story to an editor by a deadline or say that you’re going to review someone’s book, try to keep your promises.
Because I have a day job and other non-writing commitments, I used to misjudge how long it would take me to work on a project or do a favor for another writer pretty frequently. Once the holidays passed, I made it a goal to wrangle my commitments and make sure I followed through on the things that I said I was going to do. Now that I’ve been stuck inside for most of the harsh winter here, I’ve been able to get caught up on a number of projects so I can start writing what I want to write and helping out where I can. Following through on promises is a hard lesson for any writer to learn, and I have to say that it’s not easy. I’m not one hundred percent there yet — but I’ve made some serious headway.
8. Respond to Contacts in a Timely Manner
Are you blowing past a deadline? Committed to a short story you just can’t finish? Don’t want to work on a story but haven’t figured out a way to politely back out from your contract? When you get emails from publishers big or small, don’t forget to shoot an email back to them. Seriously. I don’t care if you’re as “famous” as Steven King or if you haven’t published anything before, burning bridges is not a good idea in any industry. In my experiences, there is no easier way to burn a bridge than to neglect your email correspondence, especially if you’re active in other public places online.
When I realized that I was falling behind on email, I took a day to get caught up. After going through 1,200 emails, I can’t tell you how upset I was when I realized I had blown people off accidentally. I used a variety of email filters to help tame my monstrous “in box.” I set these filters into two hierarchies based on action and subject matter. The actions help me respond when I need to; and the subjects help me keep topics of conversation straight.
For tips on how to turn down projects, read my post about sample phrases to politely turn down assignments. I also talked about how you can communicate more effectively when I outlined some new year’s resolutions for writers, too.
9. Don’t Expect Everyone Will Love Your Writing
Oh, this is a really hard lesson to learn. Just because you’ve successfully published something doesn’t mean that every reader out there will enjoy what you’ve written. If a reader enjoys reading fantasy books, it doesn’t mean that they will love every fantasy book on the market. When it comes to books, movies and other entertaining media, a fan’s preferences might be all over the board. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you didn’t do your job as a writer, it means that the reader just didn’t like it.
When I think about all the people who’ve read and commented on my writing, I’m thrilled to hear that some people love what I do. Of course, there are people that absolutely hate every word I write and admittedly that doesn’t make me very happy. My goal is to embrace the readers that are somewhere in the middle, without ignoring the other two groups.
10. Cherish Every Publishing Milestone
No matter what your publishing goals are, remember that in order to be a writer you have to learn patience. Many writers grow their career bit by bit, and rarely experience a surge of success all in one indescribable moment. Instead of getting upset because “you’re not there yet,” start celebrating what you do have. Do you have a blog? GREAT! Can we read your short stories in an anthology? WONDERFUL. Jump up and down for joy because each and every milestone is important!
I learned this lesson the hard way when I had a really tough time of things this past fall. After going through some professional rough spots, I chatted with some of my peers and received a big wake-up call. I realized that if I kept staring at that glass “half-empty” I’d cease to enjoy my writing. How great would my writing be if I didn’t love what I do?
Thanks for sticking with me in this series about developing your personal brand as a writer. I hope you’ll join me tomorrow for the next five tips.
Have a wonderful day!