Let’s take a look at Darcy:
Once upon an early Saturday morning in preparation for vacation and before the kids wake, Darcy mows the lawn while her husband packs the car. After, she discovers she’s run out of milk for breakfast. Without makeup, unshowered, red-faced, favorite holey sweats adorned and slippers, she hustles to the grocery store. No one shops before 6:30 am on a Saturday.
But behold, the rival who’d stolen her high school boyfriend, the girl she hasn’t seen in two decades, is all dolled up in the Produce section, two perfect melons held chest high that she doesn’t sniff before plopping into her basket and wheeling her cart right for Darcy.
Head down, Darcy slinks to the Dairy isle and—
Smacks right into Mr. Stolen, who smiles briefly, asks several question Darcy is too tongue-tied to answer, though later she remembers saying “Goodnight.” He hightails back to Mrs. Stealer who is now snickering away on isle 5.
Now I’m not saying this has happened to me. That’s because my fear of being caught in that predicament is analogous to my fear of being locked up in a state penitentiary, but, hey, that’s just me.
My point is that impressions have a lasting effect. In the example, that hardworking mother, busting her buns before breakfast so she and her family can spend a summer weekend relaxing at the lake, wasn’t homeless or unhappily married. But somehow I can envision Mr. Stolen counting his blessings on his choice of women, maybe even concerned and detailing Darcy’s poor state at their 20th year class reunion. Regardless, Mr. Stolen will be choking down tasteless and way too firm melons later, while Darcy’s lasting impression will forever linger.
Can you see how impressions are formed?
Now what if that had been the agent or editor you are targeting to represent your novel?
Recently, I had the privilege to hear author and branding coach, Jennifer Stark, speak at an all day event where each author, whether previously “branded” or not, further honed their brand. I’ve waited for months to hear Jennifer speak and you’ll be seeing more improvements to my blog content and website in the near future.
I’m excited about the changes to my website so far: WordPress template change, colors, Twitter feed, follower count, past blogs, and enneagram page (in progress, but I hope you’ll pop on over and take a peek, maybe even take a short test to find out more about your personality traits). I’m holding my breath as Author Elaina Lee, For The Muse Design, creates my upcoming website header that will further accentuate my brand and tagline.
Besides first impressions, some of the topics covered by Jennifer included:
- Goals: Setting a 1 year and 5 year Goal. Is your goal to produce two books a year, five, or to build a blog community?
- Limits: Assigning personal limits of what you will and won’t do. Blog topics for instance. I’m a lover of the underdog and might occasionally discuss some of my animal rescue stories. I might even plug and donate to charities. But I’ll never discuss the freedom of hang gliding, a topic I know little about.
- Tagline: Creating a tagline not only incorporates who you are as a writer, but as a person. My new tagline, Leading the Lost Home to Happily Ever After, not only incorporates the theme that links my stories to one another, it also defines my other interests of inspiration at a spiritual level, the importance of “Home”, animal rescue, scouring the internet for writing tips and articles with the intent of helping other writers who are looking for similar material, teaching the craft of writing, tweeting and retweeting my finds, “Free” reads, fellow author support, and my love of the romance genre and writing about tortured characters that learn through change to find their way home. Some of my roles are nurturing, some leading, some creating, but all are at a professional level.
A brand isn’t forced, but comes naturally. You’ve developed yourself over the years, by the way you act, your career, your volunteer work, committees, your front yard, the house you live in, the car you drive, the style of clothing you wear, your tweets and retweets, your blog topics and voice, the writing classes and conferences you partake in, and your social circles.
So whether deliberate or not, you’re branded by being you. Branding coaches, like Jennifer Stark, can help you hone who and what you want to bring to your followers, readers. That’s because impressions are formed at first glance. Make yours count.