Posted On September 9, 2013 by Print This Post

Branding Yourself. Be Careful Of The Hot Pokers. Handsome Hansel

First, congratulations to Handsome Hansel of the Dance of Romance and his new three-book deal! =) Congrats! Second, since I met HH on Twitter, his post about using social media is definitely one to listen to!

When the rest of the world decided three years ago that I was going to be a writer, I honestly believed that all there was to it was, well, writing.

Now don’t get me wrong, it is possible that to be a writer all you have to do is write but what if you want to become a successful writer? Then you have to market yourself and build your “Brand”.  In a lot of cases this can become more time consuming than the writing itself.

Three years ago when writing was thrust upon me by outside forces (Hell, who am I kidding…I went willingly) the first thing that I had to think of was a pen name. Personally, my real name would never sell books. If you say my real name out loud you have to pause halfway through to take a breath. One of my closest confidants suggested my pen name, Handsome Hansel, and it has stuck. Since I write Romance and Erotica the pen name seemed a perfect complement and it has proven to be.

It can certainly be that your current name works wonderfully as a pen name. Two up and coming authors, Marni Mann and Mary Ann Kempher, have perfect pen names already built into their genetic code. There is no need to change it up.

Internationally acclaimed author of Ricochet and The China Conspiracy, p.m.terrell opted to use her initials instead and keep the use of her pen name to all lower case letters. She writes books with strong suspenseful threads throughout and when you pick up one of her books, there is something a bit conspiratorial, yes, by simply having an intriguing pen name that lends insight into the books content.

Bounce ideas off people you trust. People you know who will be honest (sometimes brutally). After-all, aside from the title of your book, your name is one of the first things potential readers will see when deciding to buy your book or not.

Once I had a pen name I realized I had to enter the world of social media. I’m a techie at heart but entering a world I had no idea how to navigate seemed rather daunting. I was afraid in order to be welcomed into this world I was going to have to learn how to Twerk. (FYI, the first few times were a bit awkward but I eventually got the hang of it. I’m a lot of fun at parties now. :))

Or worse, have to post a series of selfies, which I’m sure was against the religious beliefs I subscribed to at that time. Turns out that three years later, it was the best thing I had done.

Twitter

I started with Twitter. I can be found at @DanceOfRomance. I have around 41,000 friends and I am blessed everyday by their friendship and loyalty. I work rather hard to not disappoint anyone and if one of my followers has a milestone in their life, I try to be one of the first to shout from Twitter’s mountaintop their achievement. You’ll notice I called them friends and not followers. This is how I see them. Truly see them. Friends will buy books. Followers won’t necessarily. Even in social media the Golden Rule applies. The rules haven’t changed, only the circumstances with which we are to abide by them have.

When it comes to Twitter, I do have one regret. I didn’t go for an Author account sooner. I can’t even tell you why I didn’t. I opened my author account, @The_Real_HH, about 6 months ago and have close to 2,000 followers which I’m ecstatic about but fails in comparison to my other account. I have my first book coming out in January ’14 and readers will always look for the Author first. I’ve tried to circumvent that recently by overlapping tweets from both accounts and it seems to be working.

FaceBook

FaceBook, Ugh! The social media site I love to hate and hate to love. But dammit, it’s necessary. I have The Dance Of Romance page set up and, honestly, neglected it for a long while. Why? It didn’t give me the draw I was looking for like Twitter did. For me, Twitter was more social and more interactive than FaceBook was so I put it in a corner to collect dust. In the last few months however, I’ve dusted it off and gave it the attention it deserved and it’s paying off. I have over a 100 new followers in a short amount of time and, once I passed the 250 ‘like’ mark, FaceBook gave me a $50 advertising certificate to use for promoting my page. It expires around the end of November but within plenty of time to help promote my book coming out in January. To say the least this was a nice surprise and one most people aren’t aware of receiving.

Blogging

I actually had a blog before I decided to start writing. For me it was a way to express myself and let go.

When I made the leap to permanently become a writer, I scrapped my old blog, transferred a few close-to-my-heart posts to my new blog, and threw my soul out to the world.

I started this new blog, TheDanceOfRomanceOnline.com, with the same intention every child begins their new school year: I have my supplies, I have my optimism of getting all As, and I’ve instilled the fortitude in me to actually believe I’ll make a difference.

WRONG!

I’m simply one in a billion of bloggers. Ever get accidentally bumped into at the grocery store? That’s what someone finding your blog feels like. Except you don’t want them to immediately go away afterwards.

I had intentions of writing at least three posts a week, Monday-Wednesday-Friday. Never happened. Certainly not because of my lack of content! My grandfather used to say I, “could talk the chicken off the bone.” It had more to do with  everyday life getting in the way. When you’re by yourself, posts can wait, things get postponed, etc.

I’ve gotten to the point where I’m down to one post every 6 weeks or so. Nowhere near where it needs to be. You want your fans/readers/friends engaged on a regular basis. They’re coming to see you, you’re not going to see them. In my case a big part of not being as engaged on my blog is because of my book deal. When you’re under the gun, it’s a lot harder to keep up with all the social media.

Other Social Media

There are way too many to name so let’s just deal with the most popular ones.

Pinterest: A social media site where you can express your inner self by “pinning” various pictures. If you have likes and dislikes, they can be expressed through photographs here.

Instagram: Think Twitter but with pictures. You can express yourself with a personally taken picture and a caption. You can add various filters to your picture to enhance it if you’d like.

Ask.fm: I believe out of all the other social media sites there are, this is the best one to be a part of. (Absolutely NO affiliation what-so-ever) My eldest daughter turned me onto this site. It’s simply a forum where anyone who wants can ask you a question. It’s a great way to engage your readers and fans. Think of it as a living biography of you set to the tune of questions by your readers.

Options

As with everything out there in this day an age…there is a solution.

When it comes to Twitter and FaceBook, there are automated programs out there you can buy. Personally, I’m not a fan. Why? Because it takes the personalization out of you and your brand. (I’m not going to use this post as a forum to promote any kind of product.)  I DO however, use an app on my iPad that lets me time my tweets and FB posts. This has helped me tremendously while at the same time keeping that personal touch with my fans, followers, and friends.

There are also companies out there as well that can help you manage your social media needs. www.terressacortez.com is one such company. These companies, for a fee, allow us to do what we do best…write.

Finally

In this day and age it’s not enough to just be a good writer. We have to be salespeople and marketers too. It doesn’t matter if you have been writing for 2 years or 50, we are in an age where Brand matters. Our fans need to see a consistency across not just our writing but our social media sites as well.

HH

***

RU Authors and Authors-to-be…what do YOU use for branding and social media?

Trends in Young Adult Romance with Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon on Tuesday – don’t miss it!

***

Bio: Like most of us, I’ve been around the block a time or two (or three) in the relationship world. I like to think of myself as having a pretty thick skin, however, that skin doesn’t surround the heart.

I’ve been in love; I’ve been in lust. I’ve been hurt and got up to do it all again, each time having learned more of myself as well as “wants” and “don’t wants” for my next relationship. Amazingly enough, I never gave up on that one true love wrapped in Romance. You can visit me here, at http://thedanceofromanceonline.com

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30 Responses to “Branding Yourself. Be Careful Of The Hot Pokers. Handsome Hansel”

  1. HH,

    I’m also more drawn to Twitter. Lately I’ve been giving Facebook more love, and I’ve been enjoying the deeper interactions I’m having there.

    I’m also a fan of Pinterest. It’s been the easiest, and most fun of the three social media sites I use. I use it to create visual boards for my books, among other things.

    Posted by Reese Ryan | September 9, 2013, 9:05 am
    • Hello, Reese!

      I’ve actually been on Pinterest for a short while and find it’s a quick way to share what’s on your mind. I like the visual aspect of Pinterest as well.

      Thanks for sharing!
      HH

      Posted by HH | September 9, 2013, 12:53 pm
  2. Morning HH!

    I’ve been slacking in the social media department, but I’ve also been slacking in the writing department. =) OTOH, I watch over about 8 twitter accounts and 5 FB accounts for my various businesses etc. Even a little interaction keeps me hopping!

    But I always enjoy your twitter posts…=)

    carrie

    Posted by Carrie Spencer | September 9, 2013, 9:40 am
    • Carrie,

      The social media aspect for me is a bit daunting. I’ve developed a pretty well honed process to take care of it but it seems every 6 months there is one more Social Media site I have to sign up for. I couldn’t even imagine having to do that for so many accounts like you do!

      All my best,
      HH

      Posted by HH | September 9, 2013, 12:56 pm
  3. Hi HH,

    Social media is the largest cocktail party in the world. Introducing yourself, knowing your limit, trying to remember names, and be witty all at the same time. I’m much better at stalking then I am engaging.

    Mary Jo

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | September 9, 2013, 10:12 am
  4. Fantastic news about your book deal …congratulations truly deserves …I believe if you dedicate time to twitter and facebook the rewards can be fabulous, time can be the issue !

    Posted by kez | September 9, 2013, 10:32 am
  5. Great article. Social Media is all about engaging. People are tired of everything automated and want to be cared about. Life is hard for everyone and people want to know they are not alone.

    You’re also correct, social media is about friends, connections and building relationships. Earning people’s trust and making them feel welcome. Key to building your business. It is not about pushing your product. That happens naturally through social media when you are genuine.

    I work on a lot of platforms daily and like them all in there own way. The key is to finding what works best for you and the audience you are trying to reach and staying consistent. Each platform allows you to connect in a different way. Twitter is fast paced. Something always happening. Facebook, allows you to get to know people on a deeper level and if you pay attention to details you can learn a lot about a person in a very short amount of time. What ever platform(s) you choose stay active,current and remember to share and care.

    Social Media is “social” for a reason. There are great friendships and relationships to be built where you never imagined.

    Thank you for mentioning me. I am truly grateful.

    Posted by Terressa Cortez | September 9, 2013, 11:05 am
    • Terressa,

      I’m glad you were ok with me mentioning you as I feel it’s important to let others know services like yours are out there.

      As far as engaging with everyone goes, I’ve found that the more followers I get the harder it becomes. And don’t even get me started on the weirdos that are out there!

      HH

      Posted by HH | September 9, 2013, 1:11 pm
  6. Congratulations on the 3-book deal. We wait, in anticipation, to see the front cover of the first book, and hold it in our hands. You have titillated us for too long with your one-liners on Facebook. Now we want to read what the real HH has to deliver. We are breathless with excitement!

    Posted by Elizabeth | September 9, 2013, 11:16 am
  7. Great post, HH! Twitter is my favorite. I haven’t found another social media outlet that brings the high level of interaction it allows.
    I do Facebook occasionally, but I never really warmed up to it.
    I like GoodReads which connects you with readers who provide valuable feedback.
    I like Quora which has a question and answer format. Loads of good information and great contacts there.
    Finally, LinkedIn which provides valuable professional networking and contacts.

    Poochie

    Posted by Pucci Laveau | September 9, 2013, 11:43 am
    • Poochie,

      I’ve heard some mixed reviews on GoodReads but I haven’t given it a look myself yet. Quora is one I have never heard of but will check out based on your recommendation! :)

      HH

      Posted by HH | September 9, 2013, 1:25 pm
  8. Hi there Handsome,
    We are still learning about this branding thing. Still new to the process. Some might say as fast as our society is today, 3 years is not new but to us, it is.
    S.F. Swem is primary when it comes to writing. His photo and a hawk turning its head upside down has gotten the most attention.
    The Demesne Series is fantasy and it is not in Vogue at present. Steve is working on brining dragons into the 21st century as well as updating and adding to another Science Fiction.
    I work Twitter and Facebook for the most part.
    We are self published.
    What catches a persons eye and gets attention depends on the person and what is or is not in style at the moment.
    I have not done the demographics on who does or does not like fantasy at this time.

    Posted by Deeitra S | September 9, 2013, 12:42 pm
  9. Congratulations on your book deal! Branding is important. Everywhere I have an account, I use my name, Delaney Diamond. I’m regularly on Facebook and Twitter, tho not as much as I used to be. Goodreads is another social website where you can interact. I joined a few groups early on and mostly lurk because I use it more as a reader. But it’s a good place for authors to update information on their books and interact with other readers. Other than that, I don’t have much time to participate in other social media platforms. I don’t know how others do it!

    Posted by Delaney Diamond | September 9, 2013, 1:15 pm
    • Delaney,

      As I mentioned above, I’ve heard mixed things about GoodReads but will have to check it out to be sure if it’s a fit for me. I think it’s best to master a few Social Media sites than do it halfway over a dozen sites. Even then it’s hectic some days!

      HH

      Posted by HH | September 9, 2013, 1:42 pm
  10. Congrats on your book deals, I hope it is all you hope for. I have recently made a discovery, reviewing a book is important. Upon my discovery of twitter, thanks to my daughter also, I found that authors actually want to hear what you thought of their stories. I always assumed that they wrote and let the publishers worry about the promotion. So, I started writing reviews on the books I’ve read recently. I am not a gifted writer by any means, but just put down my thoughts of what I have read. Now I am trying to share those with others via twitter, facebook, goodreads, etc. The use of facebook is a great source to get a msg out there, but you must cont. and keep it up if you want someone to pay attention. Twitter I like much better. It seems more instant and personal. I really can’t answer why. Goodreads is excellent to let others know your opinion. Shelfari is basically like Goodreads. This day and time there’s so many media sites it’s really hard to choose from. Now as for blogging, I did just start a site up to help an author I truly love, but like you said there’s so many out there it’s hard to get noticed. You mentioned a pen name, to be honest with you a name, of a new author, doesn’t resonate with me until I finished the book and really liked it. That’s when I really check the author out and search for other titles by them. Usually what catches my attention is the book cover and the title, then I will pick up the book and read the back. I hope this helps.

    Posted by Katrina | September 9, 2013, 2:46 pm
    • Katrina,

      Thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment. It means a lot to both me and Romance U!

      Twitter is far and away my favorite platform. I’m with you that I like the instantaniousness of it. It’s like texting all day with 41,000 people. I prefer to use Hootesuite as my Twitter platform of choice as it gives me mulitple feeds and I can keep up a bit better. I really feel bad when someone has sent me something and it gets so buried down the feed I miss it.

      I haven’t heard of Shelfarie but will have to check it out. Thanks!

      HH

      Posted by HH | September 9, 2013, 4:37 pm
  11. Thanks for the shout-out, HH!

    I began social media using Facebook but like you, I’ve found I can grow my followers and reach more fellow authors, fans and readers through Twitter. So far, those are the only two I use due to time constraints.

    I agree with everything you said about branding. When my first suspense was published, I was living in Richmond, VA – home of Patricia Cornwell. My publisher thought there would be too many comparisons with another suspense author named Patricia, so she suggested I use my initials. The bonus was with a shorter name, she could get the letters in larger print on the book covers!

    I didn’t know until I received copies of my first release that she’d placed my name in all-lower- case letters. When she saw it, she hated it. When I saw it, I loved it. I’m told in a long list of author names, mine always stands out. And since breaking away from the pack is part of the process, I kept the lower-case letters. Every author needs every bit of help they can get!

    Congratulations on your book deal, HH. Can’t wait to buy and read your books. I know they’ll be awesome.

    Posted by p.m.terrell | September 9, 2013, 2:49 pm
    • p.m. :)

      It certainly can become a part time job keeping up with everything Social Media. I’ve limited myself to Twitter, FB, and Pinterest for now. With my blog and RU posts due each month, it’s a lot of work to do on top of writing.

      I’ll admit that your author name really does stand out. I enjoyed your story of how that all worked out. Nice twist of fate. :)

      HH

      Posted by HH | September 9, 2013, 4:51 pm
  12. Very good article. We are not sure if we actually have a brand since we don’t stick to one genre. We hope that doesn’t turn out to be a mistake. So far, things are going well.

    Posted by Wodke Hawkinson | September 9, 2013, 3:58 pm
  13. Hola, HH!

    Good point about friends vs. followers buying books. Branding and social media is a double-edged sword. How much time should you spend on marketing as opposed to writing, and how much of your personal life do your reveal in order to establish the author persona that is part of your brand?

    As a reader and a writer, I’m drawn to authors who link articles on craft/publishing industry to their Twitter and FB posts. Those posts add content and it’s not just about ‘buy my book’.

    Congratulations on your contract and thanks for another thoughtful post.

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | September 9, 2013, 4:02 pm
    • Jennifer,

      Thanks for stopping by. I’ve struggled with how much of my “personal life” I should reveal through Twitter or FB. One of the reasons I don’t have an Instagram account is because it’s for uploading personal pictures. I prefer Pinterest because you can express yourself using other’s pictures.

      I believe you should use your Twitter and FB feeds to promote your book but without being obnoxious about it. That’s a quick way to lose followers.

      All my best,
      HH

      Posted by HH | September 9, 2013, 5:05 pm
  14. Congratulations on your book deal – how exciting! I’ve always been intrigued by pen names (and screen names, in the case of some movie stars). The whole pen name issue has really come to the forefront of the news since J.K. Rowling published a mystery book using a pseudonym. (Or maybe ANOTHER pseudonym, since I don’t know if “J.K. Rowling” is her real name.)

    What do you think constitutes a good pen name? One author told me she picked a name starting with “A” so people would spot it quickly in bookstores. Another author told me she made a point of choosing a name similar to her own, so if she heard someone call the name, she wouldn’t forget to respond to it!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | September 9, 2013, 6:47 pm
  15. Hi HH congrats on the book deal!!! This is fabulous news!

    Hmmm well for me, I publish all my works on Wattpad so that’s always my first point of call, building a presence, advertising on the site and engaging all my readers in conversation.

    Secondly I have my own FB page which is fun, but the build-up is slow and gets far less attention. I have my twitter account of course but with just under 1900 followers I probably talk to about 5% of those lol.

    I also have a blog but it gets seriously neglected and I end up posting excerpts from my stories because its the quickest way to post and keep it updated, but I don’t engage enough with my follows.

    It’s very difficult, especially when you have a day job too as you still have to have some work/life balance.

    Branding yourself is incredibly difficult and time consuming, so I salute those who manage to fit it all in!

    Linz xx

    Posted by Linzi | September 10, 2013, 7:55 am
  16. OMG I am SO behind. I feel awful. :( But YAY on your book deal! I am SO excited for you! I want to buy!

    ”If you say my real name out loud you have to pause halfway through to take a breath.” LOL! Oh shush. It’s not that bad. :P

    You can ask your FB people (read: ME!!!) to help you with promoting your FB. (I actually already do that when you post something of substance, I even promote DOR when you post something there.) Or make a better link between DOR and FB. Like how you have the confessional page on DOR so it gets more interactive on FB. People still do need help in the LOVE and Romance department, you know.

    As for DOR itself. Overhaul it. New, fresh design. Next promote it on FB. Have more interviews.
    Have more guest bloggers.

    I use Instagram. After I stopped with Twitter. I like Instagram. It’s easy to use. Especially
    with my smartphone, where I don’t use FB. (FB is strictly for laptop.) Also, link Instagram with
    FB. (And/or other social media.) I did and it works wonders! (I’m not a Pinterest fan. What one does there, one can also do on Instagram. IMO.) Oh and that is a HUGE misconception my dear brother, Instagram is certainly NOT limited to personal pictures.

    I was on ask.fm, but I left that too. I lost interest. I don’t miss it. I don’t miss Twitter
    either. Just the people.

    Posted by Soraya | December 9, 2013, 3:07 pm

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