Workshop 3: Savory Branding: Perfecting Your Unique Recipe For Successful Fiction
Katie Bond and Becky Monds, from Thomas Nelson Fiction, used cooking allegories to bring the concept of branding to life in their ACFW conference workshop, Savory Branding.
One of the concepts Thomas Nelson uses when their authors visit headquarters is to fill a whiteboard with words describing the author’s brand as the team sees it.
“Cull book reviews, reader letters, and back cover copy,” Bond said. “If you see several words used over and over again, you know more than one reader is noticing that element of your work.”
Narrow the focus
Your agent and editor are helpful to pull into this process. They often know your work better than you do. From those keywords written on the board, the words or phrases that are most descriptive of the author’s work are circled and focused on. Try to find 3-5 such words or phrases.
Once you have the top keywords delineating your brand, compare your work with old favorites on the market and with new developing trends to see how your work might fit. It’s possible you may need to shift in a slight direction to make a better match for the market. Then, run your first attempts at branding past your most passionate readers for their input.
Examples clarified the process
Bond and Monds then shared several samples from Nelson authors (Denise Hunter, Beth Wiseman, Krista McGee, and Colleen Coble) to show how cover art can subtly telegraph a slight change in content. For example, Denise Hunter’s covers began to show a man and a woman on the cover instead of just a woman. This let the reader know the content was romantic.
Once you know what message you want to convey, you use keywords in cover copy, marketing materials, and press releases to get the word out about your books. Prioritize the changes in all those materials to make sure your brand stays consistent. Once readers know what to expect, you can better hone your work at the beginning of a project.