Master Your Marketing w/ Christina Farley: Branding

I was pretty psyched to start Christina Farley’s Master Your Marketing course, hosted by Writer’s Atelier. Even though I consult on branding efforts myself, it’s always hard to be objective. I like to walk through someone else’s process and suggestions to identify where I don’t effectively see my brand.

Since I narrowed my focus to writing and outreach, it’s been difficult to express that in a way that also captures buzzwords people (and search engines) need to hear. So I call myself a Storyteller and Outreach Nerd, changing buzzwords depending on my audience.

Content and copywriting has always been part of the Outreach Nerd work, and recently I’ve separated them in efforts to write more and spend less time on social media. I still love that work and will continue, but I find freelance writing a better fit with my new-ish role as primary caretaker of two young boys, and also need to learn more about building a platform for writing fiction. I’ll soon start to query for my novel series The Blue Dragon Scribe Shoppe, and need all efforts at the ready.

Christina sent us a worksheet to prepare; just for ourselves. I worked on it and vowed to keep an open mind regarding my brand(s). I can’t go into great detail on what was involved – after all, teaching is part of Farley’s livelihood – but as someone who divides her personality into twitter accounts, the graphic representation of my interests juxtaposed with my brand truly helped focus my many ideas within each current opportunity.

Farley and Writer’s Atelier also offered incredibly easy viewing of the video course. I could wait until I had the time and focus to watch as well as return to segments that I wanted to review. She just uses an unlisted YouTube video with corresponding visual aids.

As someone with only a few hours a week devoted to her work plus any stolen time during my boys’ naps, knowing the topics to prioritize and how to use my strengths is one of the most valuable time management tools to master. Much of what I got from Farley’s first course has already helped me understand where to put my focus and what I want my brand to be.

Next up: Social Media!

Part of the Branding course was about our logo and tagline. Farley also curated examples from other authors.

Part of the Branding course was about our logo and tagline. Farley also curated examples from other authors.

Hard Fantasy vs Soft Fantasy for Children

Patrick Rothfuss profile

Patrick Rothfuss image was taken from this interview.

In Talks at Google with Patrick Rothfuss, he answers a question dear to my heart. I usually discuss it in relation to children’s theatre, but it holds. They’re smarter than you think.

Audience Question: How hard is it to make hard fantasy versus soft fantasy for children?

Rothfuss: There’s an unfortunate tendency among people in general to say, oh, I’ll just write a fantasy novel because you can just make stuff up. And that’s wrong, because that’s not – you can just do a bunch of stuff and magic will make it make sense. You can, but that’s not good writing, it’s not good storytelling, it’s not good craft.

In my opinion, similarly, people, sometimes, in the genre, are like, well, boy, I wish I could write YA because then kids don’t know what a plot hole is, they don’t care about consistent characterization, they’re not gonna call me on the million dragons ecology problem that I’ve created, this is not a sustainable eco-structure. But that, in my opinion, is a really egregious cop-out. Because in the same way that food that we feed our children should be actually held to a higher standard than the food you give to an adult, because an adult can say, blech, this is awful, or they can read the label and go, oh, this has terrible things in it and it’s going to make me sick and give me cancer. A kid can’t. 

And so you owe it to kids to actually put more work into this because it’s harder to write short. It’s harder to write simply [sic]. It’s harder to do a lot of these things, and it’s harder to write cohesive, coherent, internally coherent fantasy. And you shouldn’t go to YA thinking, oh, my, this will be way easier. I can just bang out 30,000 words and then go play World of Warcraft.

No.

I do not approve.

I know that it’s hard, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try for it. That’s my philosophy.”

Event: Master Your Marketing w/ Christina Farley

I discovered the Writer’s Atelier through NanOrlando, when they hosted a series of NaNoWriMo prep sessions. (I didn’t use NaNo for its strict purpose of writing this year, but as a motivator to continue with my Horatio edits.) I was struck with how useful and supportive their community is. Without knowing me, they welcomed my then 2 month-old into a write-in, and everyone there truly enjoyed his presence and helped me feel comfortable.

So of course I looked at their other activities, and the online class Master Your Marketing with Christina Farley caught my eye. Last fall, three of my editing/social media clients asked my advice on building a platform for their nonfiction works, and that raised new questions for me. Farley looks to address a lot of these questions along with some basics of social media.

I asked Farley the questions that my clients asked me, to see what I might learn from her course. Below are her master your marketing with Christina Farleyanswers.

CMJ: What does a writer’s brand mean to you?

CF: I like to think that a writer’s brand symbolizes who you are as a writer. It not only ties in with your books and writing style, but it draws from who you are as a person. Also a well-developed author brand is more than just the cover of the book or a Twitter header. It delves deeper into all the aspects of the persona of you as a writer. A true test of this is a reader/editor/agent/ should be able to in one glance at any aspect of your writer’s persona grasp a clear concept of who you are as a writer.

CMJ: What does “platform” mean to you? As in, when a publisher says they’ll read a proposal or manuscript if a writer builds their platform?

CF: An author’s platform is essentially like the ‘auditorium’ (if you will) where your voice as an author is heard. Imagine you standing on the stage (scary for some of us introverted writers!) and those sitting in the audience are all of the people excited and eager to hear what you have to say. What you are displaying on the stage and how many people sitting in your audience is what the publishers are interested. An author’s platform is a key component for the nonfiction writer, and though not as important for the fiction writer, it can still be a valuable resource if utilized effectively.

CMJ: How do you divide writing and marketing time?

CF: Writing must always come first. Every time. But there are hours in your day that your brain needs a creative reprieve. That’s when you can spend time on your marketing. The key is to prioritize what is most important and essential to your marketing needs. From there, you can break down a plan and schedule yourself so you aren’t overwhelmed and your writing doesn’t goes by the wayside.

C FarleyCHRISTINA FARLEY is the author of the bestselling Gilded series, a YA contemporary fantasy series set in Korea and upcoming middle grade, THE PRINCESS & THE PAGE, set in France. GILDED was nominated for Korea’s Morning Calm, Ohio’s Buckeye award, and the Tome’s It List. It also was hailed in Epic Read’s anticipated reads, PriceStyle’s recommended summer reads, Book Riot’s favorite myth inspired reads, and BuzzFeed’s 21 amazing series they’ll miss. She is a certified teacher holding a master’s degree in education and has taught writing workshops worldwide.

 

Christina’s Books:

Gilded-FarleyChristinaFarley-Silvern-high-resBRAZEN-coverpp-farley


I will always jump on learning a new way of social marketing, and will report back here on each of her courses*. You can register for the entire series or a’la carte, and also include one-on-one mentoring.

*DISCLOSURE: I arranged a discount to the courses in exchange for reporting on each one.

Cover Reveal: Dream Eater

dream-eater-front

This is how K. Bird Lincoln’s latest urban fantasy was described to me: “a half-Japanese college student discovers her mythological parentage.”

Sold.

I learned more details on Lincoln’s author page*: “half-Japanese girl finds out she’s the daughter of mythological, dream-eating Baku, yearns for delicious artisan chocolate, meets a handsome stranger with a secret of his own, and fends off attacks by creepy community college professors and water dragons.”

Although I’m a fairy/folk tale/mythology nut, I don’t know much about Japanese mythology (thanks, Eurocentric education). When I looked up Baku, I learned that is the spirit who can eat people’s nightmares.

“A child having a nightmare in Japan will wake up and repeat three times, “Baku-san, come eat my dream.” Legends say that the baku will come into the child’s room and devour the bad dream, allowing the child to go back to sleep peacefully.”

My son is starting to have nightmares. Maybe calling on Baku-san will help him fight through them. We have to stay careful though, because if you call on Baku too much, s/he may gobble up your good dreams as well. What does that leave you with?

I’ve enjoyed quite a few stories published by World Weaver Press lately, including The Falling of the Moon, Covalent Bonds (a geek romance anthology that is making me rethink the romance genre), and He Sees You When You’re Sleeping (an anthology of Krampus stories). Once I finish Dream Eater, I’ll let you know how it fares for lovers of mythology/urban fantasy.

K. Bird Lincoln’s Japanese-inspired urban fantasy novel DREAM EATER will be available from World Weaver Press in early 2017. Here’s how to add it to your Goodreads to-read shelf.

*I love that Lincoln calls this “my online presence.”

^I got this from Wikipedia, who lists their sources as:

  1. M.Reese:”The Asian traditions and myths”.pg.60
  2. Jump up^ Hadland Davis F., “Myths and Legends of Japan” (London: G. G. Harrap, 1913)

The Difference Between Goal Mapping and a To Do List

I have a Passion/Any Planner meeting with friends on Sunday, and I offered to help some people ahead of time who I thought could use it.

One person walked me through her 3-month Gamechanger, which involved cleaning her house and getting it ready for a big move. She calmly proceeded to review all the piles she had: beads and jewelry making supplies she’ll never use again, art to hang on the walls of their new house that can’t be hung at their current place, bags and boxes to donate (that have been there for months), etc.

She was calm and I started having a mild panic attack. Now, I am well aware that when you help people with their mental or physical clutter, you take some of their stress onto yourself. Yet she had no stress in her voice; I did.

I took a moment to review the image of her Goal mapping that she had sent, and then it clicked:

She had fallen into the typical trap of treating her Goal Map like a To Do List.

Here’s what I said to her:

Your Goal Map to clean/clear your house doesn’t end at “Donate old clothes to Goodwill.” You have to add the time it takes to fully get rid of every single bag, such as:

  • Load the bags into car – 15 minutes
  • Drive to Goodwill then to work – 1 hour
  • Calendar the time into a specific day (this is perhaps the last step to every Goal Map) -10 minutes

Then we got to her beads and jewelry supplies. These are more than just things; these are lost hopes of an etsy store, fun times with her best friend, a creative outlet through bad times — I think we all have this sort of collection somewhere.

She is donating them to her friend in Texas who makes jewelry to benefit a dog shelter:

  • Send to Texas
  • Pick up boxes from _____ – 30 minutes
  • Package and box all supplies – 2 hours (I always overestimate how long this will take because emotions tend to slow down the process).
  • Load car with boxes – 20 minutes
  • Drive to post office and send – 30 minutes
  • Calendar this time into a specific day – 15 minutes

Until you go into this much detail and calendar it into your planner, the goals are still just wishes. A map doesn’t just say you go from Home to Work; it tells you every turn and how long it will take.

That’s how detailed you have to get, how deep you have to go.

Then calendar it.

Passion Planner 2017 Prep

I’m the first to admit that I didn’t use the Passion Planner exactly how it’s meant to be

IMG_20161209_125715.jpg

Out of my Goals from 2016, I did the best with my one year goals. There is one on there that will be achieved before the year is over. Overall, not bad. You can read more details here.

used. I didn’t always follow my Goal Mapping or have the correct focus detailed at the top of each day.

 

I was able to track my time better, and specifically how I spend my time – not just the reality but also to see plainly where I actually spent my time vs where I want to spend my time.

While I have three weeks left to 2016, I’ll use this time to really detail my Gamechangers, and follow through on giving each task an amount of time needed to complete, then a spot in my calendar. Already this has shown me where my focus needs to go in terms of hustling for specific kinds of work and not just work in general (ah, the freelance life).

I also was inconsistent with the monthly reflections, which is partly because I had an undated planner but also because the time to do that needs to be calendared, and I just didn’t. However, I’m taking the advice that Passion Planner gives and expanding upon it. They suggest finding a PP buddy to keep each other accountable. I found some of my friends on Facebook who have or want to use a Passion Planner (or another system that’s close), and we’ll have monthly check-ins to help one another. We’re starting next week and I honestly can’t wait (except I can, because I have so much Goal Mapping to do before then).

That is our first task before we meet:

  1.  Finish the Wish List as detailed in the Passion Planner’s first pages.
  2. Detailed Gamechanger Goal Mapping for at least 3 months, 1 year, 3 years and Lifetime.
  3. Share in the Facebook Event as they’re finished.

When we do our video check-ins, we’ll go over any questions about the process and obstacles we found. Then review one Gamechanger apiece and share ideas.

We’ll see how this goes. I know that only using their methods part-time worked well, so I look forward to being more organized with my time. I already feel much clearer mentally.

I have no affiliation with Passion Planner except I’m a fan. You can find their free downloads here to try it out.

 

 

Two Articles I Wrote on Art as a Parent

eating at theater

I guess being a parent really does affect how I view art. Yesterday two articles I wrote dropped on different publications, Better Lemons and Dwarf+Giant, a blog of The Last Bookstore LA. I didn’t realize until I shared them to Facebook that both show how I view art differently since becoming a parent.

One is how The Cat in the Hat reads like a manual for child molesters. I thought I’d get more pushback on this story, but so far all comments except one appreciate my argument for removing that book from your collection. Thanks to Dwarf+Giant for publishing this one!

The other is the first in a series, What Theaters Need to Know: Courting Families on Better Lemons, a relaunched Los Angeles arts website. Here I detail how small changes and larger ones can go a long way towards making families feel welcome at your programming. Until you’ve had to change your child’s diaper on a nasty restroom floor while other audience members bang on the door during intermission, you really haven’t lived as a parent.

Stay tuned for some more interesting articles from me……