Last weekend I attended WisRWA’s fall workshop, “Unlock Your A Game”, led by Heidi Cullinan. It was an intensive one-day workshop based on the book by her and Damon Suede, “Your A Game: Winning Promo for Genre Fiction”. Going in, I thought I understood the concept of branding, but I had no idea just how involved a process it is. It’s not merely a tagline that describes my books. It’s symbols and pictures and even colors used on business cards and websites, maybe even the clothing you wear to an event. It might be the font color, size and style on your website and book covers. It’s how you portray yourself in everything you say and do to agents, editors, publishers, media, and, most importantly, your fans and readers.
Think about it. When you go to the grocery store what products immediately catch your attention? Why? Which ones do you buy, claiming they taste better when maybe it’s more the color of the packaging than the actual flavor? Brand is more than the name on the label, or author’s name on the cover. There’s Flo from Progressive Insurance, the Geico gecko, Madge the manicurist who used to soak her hands in Palmolive dish soap, Mr. Clean, and those scrubbing bubbles, just to name a few. You don’t need to be told the brand name to recognize them. That’s branding.
“Your A Game” teaches using game theory to craft Brand, Presence, and Market strategy. Brand is my piece in the game; presence, the rules of engagement; and market, my playing board. I’m currently working on my brand, my tagline, my piece in the game. It’s the thing that will first and foremost set me apart from all the other players.
We spent all day breaking down each of the three components, interspersed with exercises meant to put our new knowledge to work. This proved to be not as easy as you might think. By the end of the afternoon, when it was time to put everything we learned together into draft bios and pitches, we were exhausted. Heidi warned us in the beginning that there was a lot of information and by the time we were done our brains would feel overloaded, overwhelmed, and be just plain over flowing. She wasn’t kidding! By the last exercises I couldn’t put two words together on the page and have them make sense…or even not make sense. My hand refused to move my pen across my paper. And I wasn’t the only one in the room who looked like they might need help remembering their own name.
Despite all this, I loved every minute of it! That’s right. I loved it and even bought the e-book when I got home. I anticipate some long winter hours studying and practicing until I get it just right.