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October 2012

Reporter: Colleen Coble

Colleen CobleBest-selling author Colleen Coble’s novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, the ACFW Carol Award, the Romance Writers of America RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers’ Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has more than 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Coble is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana. Visit her website.

Presenter: Katie Bond

Katie BondKatie Bond revels in coaching and encouraging authors and Thomas Nelson Fiction staff in their interaction with media and readers. Before coming to Nelson, Bond served as a publicist at WaterBrook Press, handling corporate communications, events, and book campaigns for fiction, nonfiction, and children’s titles.

Presenter: Becky Monds

Becky MondsBecky Monds, associate editor for Thomas Nelson Fiction, previously worked as an events coordinator and marketing manager at an independent bookstore in Nashville. She joined Thomas Nelson four years ago as an editorial assistant. She loves spending time with her husband, knitting, waterskiing, and, of course, reading great fiction.

Workshop 3: Savory Branding: Perfecting Your Unique Recipe For Successful Fiction

Branding chalkboardKatie 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.

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