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I've been reading Kristen Lamb's book Are You There Blog? It's Me, Writer and thinking a lot about blogging, branding, and author promotion. (I discovered Kristen via Laura Pauling, whose mere mention of her name sent me scrambling for more information. Laura's just that good.) Kristen's writing style is fun and goes down easy, and it's fair to say I devoured the book. Kristen's got my head whirling about many things, but the starting point for it all is Author Branding.

The concept of an Author Brand is something I've struggled with. After all, I'm not corn flakes, or a high energy drink, or a new and improved type of shampoo. I'm just me, a writer who like to conjure stories for kids and teens, like dozens (nay thousands) of other writers out there doing the same thing.

But my heart knows this is wrong.

Often, we tell ourselves lies that we would never breathe to another soul, especially a child. Sometimes, what we say to others is true about ourselves, but we're not always willing to admit it. (My mom, the psychologist, calls this projection.)

Here's what I tell the kids: You are unique.

So, if I believe that truth about them (and I do), then I need to believe it about me as well. But what makes me unique? 

Kristen makes the excellent point that all of your blogging/writing/publishing efforts should focus and enhance your Author Brand, because you are not selling books, you are selling you. The Unique You. And your brand needs to grow with you as a writer, because you're going to write more than one book, right? She has amazingly wonderful tips about how to profile your target audience, and tag your blogs to create your author brand, and craft your blog in a way that serves your readers (seriously, go read her book), but after two years of blogging, I was still overwhelmed with the idea of it all. How could I possibly do all that

And then I realized something.

Finding your Author Brand is like finding your Voice.

It's not so much that you craft your Voice, you discover it. The authentic, UNIQUE YOU comes out in your Voice. Yes, you need to learn the craft as well, so that you can hone and shape and sharpen that Voice. But like Dorothy's way back home, it was there all along, just waiting for you to discover.

Author Brand is the same way, because your brand is YOU - the authentic, UNIQUE YOU that comes out when you focus on your passions (because you're blogging about what you're passionate about, right? If not, fix that first). Yes,  you can use your blog and your writerly skills to hone and shape and sharpen your brand, but first you have to discover it. Once I realized this, I sat down with my notebook and pen and crafted my author brand in less than an hour. 
My Logic Brain wanted data, so I scoured my past blog postings to see what I had already created, where my passions had already taken me. My Creative Brain stormed up a bunch of words associated with those blogs, future tags to describe what I would produce in blogs to come. Then Logic Brain took over again (it's pushy that way) and created this:


And there it was, staring me in the face. What I'd known all along - that I'm a geek at heart who loves kids and books and all the ways those things intersect. Any one of those circles (writing books, finding gadgets, talking to kids) will get me excited. Two circles combined (getting kids to read, putting books on e-readers) will fire me up. But put the three together (my younger son reading my older son's self-pubbed book on the Nook?) and I'm on a thrill ride to the moon.

I'll no doubt be putting many of Kristen's suggestions into practice. I've already changed my blog name to MY name -  my author brand. I was sad (very sad) to see Ink Spells depart, but I realized that the tag line still fit perfectly (Conjuring Tales for Young Minds = kids, books, and a little bit of brainiac flavor). Even before I started blogging, I already had that brand tucked inside, because it is who I am.

Thank you, Kristen, for helping me find the wizard (and the way home)!

And fellow author-blogger friends, I encourage you to tell yourself the truth: You Are Unique. 

Now go find yourself. :)

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