Adventures of a New Writer

15. Now About that Branding…

I like to plan and I like to be prepared. When I don’t know how to do something myself, I like to try and find an expert that can help me. In my career I have spent a lot of time working with brands and I knew building my brand was important to me. I wanted to start early and on the right foot, so when the time came, I would be in a good place to promote myself and my book.

I went back to Reedsy and searched their market place for people that could help with author branding. I found a professional who had a lot of great reviews and decided to work with her. As part of her package she would review what you had posted already and give suggestions on what could be improved. I had to explain that I didn’t have anything, no website, no social media account. I was looking for help getting started.

This was a new experience for her, as she was usually helping clean up other people’s accounts, and hadn’t really been presented with creating a plan from scratch before. Thankfully she thought it was a good opportunity and put together a great packet of information for me, including what kind of content I should consider and what kinds of accounts I should set up. She even gave me great references that helped me get started. I was very happy I invested in this help, because it gave me another roadmap to follow (you know how I love roadmaps!) in getting my brand set up.

No Comments

8. Picking a Pen Name

I knew from the start that I was going to write under a pen name. I decided this for two reasons. I felt that if I was going to create a whole brand, I wanted it to be separate from my professional career. I’ve spent many years putting together a resume and I didn’t want internet searches to confuse two very different worlds. I also liked the idea of learning how to build a brand  and starting it from ground zero was going to be a great learning experience.

I was also concerned that my job may not love this creative endeavor, especially as it was connected to rom com and romance books which can be a little edgier in subject matter. So all around, I felt it was a better idea to use a pen name.

But how does one choose a pen name? Mine came  to me pretty quickly. I ended up going with the end of my first name, “Elle” and choosing my great-grandmother’s maiden name “Houston.” I really liked that I could use a family name, it makes the pen name more special to me and I think Elle Houston has a nice ring to it. I can see it on the cover of a novel.

No Comments

I am inherently a planner. I need to know what comes next or I start to get a little anxious. As I started writing, I realized I really wanted to figure out what my next steps should be. A friend told me about GoHighBrow, a site that encourages people to learn something new every day by signing up for “courses” that are delivered by email (every morning) for a quick, 5 minute read. They also only allow you to sign up for one course at a time, as they want to encourage productive daily habits and don’t want to tire out your brain from too much information at once.

I found they had a number of options to choose from and through their free trial, I ultimately ended up signing up for two courses: “How to Self-Publish” and “How to Market Your Book Online.” Both were actually really helpful and included more resources for additional information. What I basically learned was I needed to build a whole brand as an author. This needed to include a website, blog and social media presence. Great, I already had a full-time job, how was I going to make time to figure out how to build a brand, oh and also write my story?!

I decided I wanted to see if I could go the traditional publishing route. But doing this meant I would need to try and find a book agent. I know that’s a competitive field, and if I wanted to try and find an agent, I would need to make sure my book was as good as I could make it, which would also mean finding an editor.

I started to explain all of this to my husband and he told me to just focus on my writing and finishing it first. While he has always been supportive of me, the way he said it made it sound like he was questioning that I would actually finish this project. I was still going through the outlining stages in The Novel Factory, but I knew deep down that I was going to finish this story. It was hard for me to explain to my husband that I needed to figure out these next steps to feel excited and keep pushing myself forward.

Initially, I started doing some research on how to find a good editor, and went down a lot of rabbit holes in the process. I found myself getting overwhelmed by all the options. Ultimately, I decided to take my husband’s advice and just focus on writing my book. But I was glad that I had done this initial research, because it helped me understand additional areas I needed to focus on and I was excited that I now had my next steps.

No Comments