You Want to Brand Yourself? Do What Tom Does.

We talk about author branding and I think most of us get how to do it in cyberspace. But what if you are in a supermarket and someone recognizes you? Or a friend introduces you as “that writer”. What do you do?

Well, I had a great lesson.

As you know I have been researching merchandising. I have a shop on Zazzle and the products are good. But a bit on the expensive side. When I ordered my buttons so I could see how they were made. I was impressed with the quality, but not the price. Two buttons cost me fourteen dollars with shipping and handling. The same size buttons I could pick up anywhere for two to four dollars. So I started to look locally.

Enter King Weasel Custom Buttons and Shirts. I found them through a mutual friend on Facebook. Its a local company. And I already was familiar with the work because I have the RESA buttons from when I helped with their fund-raiser. But I dragged my feet about approaching them for design work. If you look at the website, you’ll notice its a bit of a niche market.

Last Friday, my husband and I went out with a friend for drinks. And guess who walks into the bar. The owner of King Weasel: Tom.

I knew who he was right away. How? Through our facebook contact and his personal website, that is connected to the King Weasel site. And he wore a denim jacket with his face screen printed on the back, that said Tom Around the World.

My friend made the introductions, turns out she’s known him for years. We talked for a bit. As soon as I said “I am looking to get merchandise made to promote my books…” he had his business card out.

What did this teach me? (and other good points)

1. You have to slip into your “brand” no matter where you are. We were at a bar at ten at night. I would not have thought about bringing something with my books there (in fact I didn’t, I left my business cards at home.)

2. Always carry business cards. Make sure those cards promote you, not your latest book. It’s okay when you have one book, but more than one and it doesn’t work.

3. Do something to make yourself stand out. Tom had his jacket. It doesn’t have to be an article of clothing. But thats the easiest. Maybe you have a favorite necklace. Wear it in every photo you have taken as an author. A person might not remember the face, but they might remember the necklace. Find something that a person that has seen your name will make the connection to you quickly.

4. You are an author. Repeat. You are an author. This is hard for us that work another job to pay the bills. It is so ingrained into us that we are what we get a paycheck for, that this is hard to accept. I have recently started to introduce myself as an author. It opens up more conversations than saying where I get my paycheck.

5. You never know where the next connection will be made. My husband got recognize in the grocery store for a play he did a year ago. Just because you think you can run down to the bakery, doesn’t mean you might not have an opportunity to promote yourself.

6. Get involved in events that fans of your genre would like. If you write romance, attend a romance convention. Horror writers could go to a horror movie marathon. You can have fun while promoting yourself as a brand.

Branding is not a scary word. Its putting your game face on all the time. Sounds daunting, but we are writers all the time, why not show the world that.

8 thoughts on “You Want to Brand Yourself? Do What Tom Does.

  1. J. R. Hermes June 15, 2011 / 9:36 am


    thanks for sharing this experience here. this really does have value for a starter like me.
    especially the “building a brand” issue gives me some inspiration. reading this, terry pratchett came into my mind. he uses his black hat to be recognised after all. or the beard of steven king 🙂


    • mariminiatt June 15, 2011 / 5:07 pm

      He was the example i was going to use. Him or Neil Gaiman and the black shirts. I do have one bag with my book cover for Fledgling on it. And I wear the button I talk about in the post. Little things can spark so many chances.

  2. Linda B Myers June 15, 2011 / 1:44 pm

    Thanks … I agree about Zazzle pricing but the quality is good. One thing I have done working with local media: instead of just promoting my own book, I have talked about my critique group. This is resulting in two articles instead of one. One on me (with expertise in ebook publishing) and the other on how writers are banding together to support each other.

  3. Janet Syas Nitsick June 15, 2011 / 4:55 pm

    My brand is my hats. At networking events, church or on my Web site, I stand out because of my hats. I often kid those who comment how much they love my hats that the reason I wear hats is because I wanted to be an author. If you look back at authors of the early twentieth century, such as Willa Cather, you find them in hats.

    • mariminiatt June 15, 2011 / 10:49 pm

      Hats seem to be a favorite. I got my baseball style cap.

  4. ChristinaLi June 15, 2011 / 9:51 pm

    Thanks so much for this post. You gave a lot of good things to think about. I’ll remember to bring my business cards with me when I’m out and about! 😀

  5. Tom Carpenter February 14, 2013 / 8:01 pm

    Just had this come up in a Google search. Thanks for the kind words! Glad i can finally be used as an example of “What To Do” for a change!! LOL – Thanks, Mari!!!

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