Establishing Yourself as a Brand

Gave a very well received talk at the Waterside Conference yesterday afternoon that was about how to establish yourself as a brand when you’re an author, but in fact, I think it was actually about how to stand up for yourself and make sure that you are looking out for your best interests. It was quite remarkable to hear smart professionals sharing that they “can’t work on what they want because their publisher won’t let them” (so switch publishers!) or that “they signed over the rights to their IP and now can’t leverage it” (don’t sign over your intellectual property without appropriate compensation. Your ideas are the heart and soul of your professional life as a writer/teacher!).

Anyway, I will evangelize about this at another time. For now, I want to offer everyone at the conference – and any other weblog readers, of course – the rough notes from my presentation so you can get a bit of an insight into how I have a master vision of all the projects I’m involved with and how they all (more or less) fit together. To see that, just read on…

Establishing Yourself as a Brand

Topics of Discussion

  • DT-Author-News mailing list – capture your readership so that you can communicate with them in the future, but don’t promise anything (like a weekly newsletter) unless you can deliver it consistently. Dan Gookin talked about how he offers a weekly newsletter which works great for him. But if he offered it and then only really sent it out every 4-6 weeks, with each issue beginning with an apology… well, I don’t think that serves the reader nor does it help establish a 1:1 relationship (as my colleague Seth Goodin croons about in his books and workshops). And, of course, you can also just sign up for mt DT-Author-News mailing list to see what kind of things I send out. 🙂
  • email signatures – when you send messages out, why not cross-promote your different books and projects therein? Here’s my standard “author .sig” file:
    By the way, since you liked my book and found it helpful and informative, why
    not write a one or two sentence review at  It's fun and easy: find
    the latest edition of the book on their site, click on 'Write an online review'.
    Dave Taylor, Author                                     your email addr here
    Creating Cool Web Sites, Wicked Cool Shell Scripts,
    Solaris 9 for Dummies, Learning Unix for Mac OS X Panther,
    Teach Yourself Unix Sys Admin in 24H, Teach Yourself Unix in 24 Hours
    and more! Information:
    Join my author info list:
    talk about my books:
    or read my weblog:

    And, yes, I know that it’s ridiculously long. 🙂

  • Book web sites
    • pointers to other books
    • sample chapter (substantial in length)
    • extended table of contents
    • all examples from the book (great search engine fodder)
    • mailing list signup form

    A few examples to check out: Creating Cool Web Sites with HTML, XHTML and CSS, Wicked Cool Shell Scripts, and Solaris 9 for Dummies.

  • Weblogs – a great content management system that makes it easy to add new pages of content whenever you want, without fiddling with HTML, CSS, etc etc. I have two primary weblogs:

    Both of these are powered by a single installation of Movable Type, which is a great piece of software (and Molly Holzschlag has a book about MT coming out any day now too!)

  • Pointers to Web sites in books
    – and pointers to other books in books. This one seems so obvious to me: you want to get your reader to join your family and become a “steady customer”. Of course, the flip side of that is a promise to continue to deliver high-quality works, but I think I do okay with that, so far. 🙂
  • Tech reviewers circle – make friends with your useful sources and with opinion leaders in your community. I’ve found that many many people are delighted to help with a book in progress, just to be “on the inside”. And if they get a free book at the end – and publishers should seed free books to these people too – and a mention, so much the better. Heck, I do this for other authors too. It’s a community circle.
  • press releases and publicity and here are a couple of ideas in that regard:
    • prweb – I’ve written about this site previous in my weblog too, if you want to browse and find the article (and yes, I’m trying to pull you into my little world by saying that, not supplying a specific link)
    • email to potential reviewers. Few people say no to “want a free copy of my new book? Here’s what you’d need to do…”
    • email to reviewers of previous books you’ve written – again, “thanks for that review of my last book, interested in my new title?”
  • Articles on other Web sites – again, a no brainer: content sites and online magazies are usually desparate for material, and why not excerpt a particularly interesting example from your latest work? The real value of it to me is in the bio at the end: don’t sell yourself short! That’s the advertising space…
  • Being smart about search engines and page design – I offered a variety of SEO optimization tips and the most obvious smart idea: have a web site. Control it yourself! Oh, and in terms of what are those search engine optimmization tips, well, there’s a great chapter on this topic in my new book Creating Cool Web Sites with HTML, XHTML and CSS. 🙂
  • Build experimental Web sites – do something interesting and useful with your book examples. I like to build experimental Web sites when I work on books, and I often use original content from the wonderful Project Gutenberg too. A few examples:
  • Answer all your email!! – that’s another no brainer as far as I’m concerned, but I have seen it again and again: I can turn a reader into a lifelong customer by spending a few minutes answering an email message. The number of times I’ve received “I can’t believe you answered my email!” responses is pretty amazing! But there’s a more important issue: I really like my readers and am grateful – and sometimes surprised – that they’ve purchased my book and are spending the time to ask me a question. That’s some of the most fun email I receive, so I really groove on reader messages. Send ’em on! 🙂

There are many more topics I covered in my talk, but this should offer a pretty nice sampling. As a final note, I would be more than happy to offer this talk again in other venues, whether just to authors or to any group of poeple who focus on building a brand.

And… thanks for visiting my Web site. Feel free to explore… 🙂

One comment on “Establishing Yourself as a Brand

  1. Hi from sunny South Africa. Loved this site, loved the way you express yourself – this brand of honesty and sharing indicates a high level of Self-Mastery, which is what we all strive for. My speciality is Leadership and Self-Mastery Training, and Articles are available for viewing on Look forward to future blogs.

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