Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Do You have to be High Tech to Build a Brand?

What a great time I had at the Blue Ridge Writers' Conference in Blue Ridge Georgia. Carol Crawford and her staff including Caroline Mann make it seem effortless to host over 80 people all day long and move them from room to room as needed, keep all the presenters moving toward their posts, and feed them lunch.
Glenda B. and Carol Crawford   

Although I was deliberately late, needing to pace myself for energy, and because I had suffered from the overload of fragrance at the reception on Friday night, the day was quite long for me. 

Eager writers filled almost every seat in the room for my 11:00 a.m. session waiting to learn something that would help them to become published writers. Even now, at my age and with my experience, I am still honored and pleased when others look to me for expertise. I was there to help all the wanna-be writers and those who considered themselves writers already, but needed a boost to get their name out there, to be known to the readers they want to reach. 

I have been going to this conference for seventeen years. Never missed one. I know who attends this event in the beautiful little tourist town in the North Georgia mountains. I have walked in their shoes and know what they want to know. I know that most of them are not into high tech marketing. 

I asked how many had a website and then how many had a blog. As I expected, a few hands shot into the air. Many of the folks in the room were over fifty. I relaxed and felt right at home. These were my people. 

We talked about building relationships with readers, building a name as a writer at home in our own community and I told them the many ways I had done that before finding the Internet in 2007. 

In another room a professional writer with a movie contract and ten novels to her name explained her method of building her career - Facebook and Twitter mostly - it seemed. I suggested to my group that they set up a free blog and "dip their toe into the water of the web." I did this because I know that most of them are scared to death of jumping into cyberspace in the way many do today to promote yourself and your work.

I like blogs because the writer has the opportunity to show her writing ability, show her readers who she is, what she likes, and what she expects and wants people to think about her. My theory is that a writer must first think about her readers and give them some reason to choose her words over others, to buy her book if she has one. I have favorite authors who blog and I like to know them through these weekly posts. I had some author's blogs I followed and enjoyed until those authors decided to go to FB and Twitter and leave their blogs. Now I don't follow them.

It is just not the same on FB or Twitter. If one is a famous author, he has a staff that plops up promotion material for him or he tells where he will appear next week. But an author, like our own Vicki Lane, author of The Elizabeth Goodweather Appalachian Mysteries from Bantam Dell keeps her readers with her every step as she writes and publishes her next book. We read her blog and we know the ups and downs she faces just as we do. We learn to care about her as a regular person as well as the author of the series. We worried about her when she had a car accident recently.

This quote from Seth Godin says what I think about depending on Twitter to build your writing platform.
How many eyeballs are passing by is a useless measure. All that matters is,
"how many people want to hear from you tomorrow?"

I had planned to go on with more information on building a brand, but our 45 minutes flew by once the audience became interactive with the discussion of blogging. I will be most interested to see if anyone there will set up a blog and I hope, if they do, they will let me know. 

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