Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Learning How to Brand Myself

Now that I'm self-publishing I know I need to market my books, if I really want to sell them. How can I say this? I HATE MARKETING BECAUSE IT'S TOO TIME CONSUMING. I'D RATHER BE WRITING OR EDITING!

There, I said it. That's my truth. Yet, in my quest to get this ball rolling - - that is, sell some books, I started asking questions: What's the best way to market and promote my books? What's the most cost effective way to market and promote? Can I hire someone at a reasonable price to both market and promote my books or do I etch out the time to do it myself?

Well, one day I was at the Good Hair Shop and my loctician Kiyomi Rollins introduced me to the young lady who had the appointment ahead of mine. Low and behold, the young lady, Tamay Shannon, owned a social media marketing company. That sounded like a service I needed to know more about. Though she spent the next few minutes explaining what  she did,  the only thing I remember is her advice to me to "brand" myself. Her exact words were, "As an author, YOU are your brand. So if people like YOU they will read anything you write." Okay, I know what branding is, but how was I going to do it? Well, really, FaceBook, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Pinterest, blogging -- need I say more? I still wasn't motivated to spend a lot of time on social media (perhaps I did not make it clear earlier, I'd really rather be writing or editing). Yet, I do understand how social media is a necessary and invaluable tool for marketing and promoting.

Shortly after meeting Ms. Shannon I participated in the ATL Entrepreneurs Conference & Networking Expo, hosted by Above The Line Magazine and ATL Smart Women Events. Branding was still on the forefront of my mind. So it was a pleasant surprise when I realized one of the panel presenters was going to discuss, you guessed it, Branding & Marketing. I don't think any of this was a coincidence. I was sure that any lingering questions I had would be answered.

The speaker was Prosper Miller of Fabulous Life International. Following are the (partial) notes that I took that day.

4 Core Branding Concepts (according to Prosper Miller)
You are your brand! Learn how to market your business in a competitive market.

1. Business = Identity
- Create a website and a logo
- Know who you're marketing

2. Image
- First impressions have a lingering impact
- You must represent at all times (for an author, have books, business cards, and bookmarks at all times)
- When you're not in character (prepared) you miss opportunities

3. Media (Exposure)
- Utilize magazines, interviews (online and otherwise), TV, radio
- Focus on public speaking (for an author this would also include book signings)

4. Event Planning 
- Create your own signature event (for an author, book release parties)
- Invite people into your space (to get to know you)

Remember to continue to move forward in the development of your brand, and don't be afraid to evolve. If old stuff isn't working anymore, change it until it does work, until you hit your stride, because brand development is the heart and soul of your product.

I have to admit, after that brief "pep talk," not only did I completely understand the "branding" concept but I was excited about it. I have found some viable avenues for marketing and promoting. Now I just need to get off of my butt and do something about it.  

Until next time.

Simply TRB

aka T. R. Baker, Author
Every Time I Close My Eyes
Daddy's Big Girl

*Note: If you'd like to know more about Tamay Shannon and W2S Marketing, checkout:

Email: (tamay@w2smarketing.com)
Website: www.w2smarketing.com
Twitter: where2start
Facebook: W2SMarketing
LinkedIn: tamayshanon

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Been a Long Time

I don't know how bloggers do it. I started my blog to make myself accountable as a writer, so that I wrote something everyday. The truth is, I haven't touched my blog since July 2013, though, I have been writing. I published my second book, as an eBook, in November 2013. After resolving some formatting issues that took me forever to figure out, I finally published the print copy in January 2014. I am now a Microsoft Word aficionado. I am now trying to master Smashwords (note: I stopped reformatting for Smashwords to blog).

In addition to completing and publishing my second novel, Daddy's Big Girl, I also edited another author's novel. So, I really have been writing. And here I was beating myself because I hadn't blogged since July.

Well, this year, in addition to writing, editing, and blogging, I also want to try a little marketing--easier said than done, of course. I'm not trying to make millions, but I would like to sale a lot of books. In 2013 I attended two business functions hosted by Above The Line Magazine and the most valuable information that I gathered dealt with business success & networking and branding & marketing.

Brenda McClain, RM Enterprises, Inc.*, gave a great presentation on business success & networking, which I customized for myself as a writer:

   A. As a business owner (WRITER) say to yourself:
       1. I willl...
       2. I am...
       3. I can...
   B. Invest in yourself and don't look for handouts and deals, so that you attract similar people.
 II. Your "Net Worth" is in your "Network"
   B. Quality is critical
   C. Network with fans (READERS) (past & present) and clients (OTHER WRITERS) (consider joint ventures w/ideal clients) 
   C. Establish yourself as an "expert" (TELL THE TRUTH IN YOUR STORIES)
   D. Engage people in your network (READERS, SOCIAL MEDIA, OTHER WRITERS, ETC.), so you stay on top of their minds
   E. Accelerate growth (SALES) of your business (BOOKS) by asking for referrals
   III. Master Your Message (GENRE)
    A. Have a problem/solution statement
    B. Leverage your expertise (as a WRITER), using as many options as possible (FREE ONLINE WRITING COURSES (IVERSITY), WRITING ADVICE (WRITER'S DIGEST), ETC.)
    C. Place value on what you do (WHAT YOU WRITE /YOUR PUBLISHED NOVELS)!

Okay, I don't want to overdo it on my first blog back, so I'm going to save the branding information for next time, which will take much less then six months. I hope someone, writer or otherwise, finds this business success & networking information helpful. Thanks!

*For more information on business success go to: http://www.lifetreasuresllc.com/

Simply TRB

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

When The Music Stops

My soul is troubled beyond words. Sporadically throughout the day I have found myself gasping for breath. As I work, I’m listening to house music because it’s the only music that drowns out the world around me. I’m not given to drinking, but what I really want to do is have a drink…and talk…talk until I run out of words, until my throat is so dry that I become hoarse and my words come out as little more than a whisper, but instead I pray. I staved off the tears for a while by avoiding the news and the daily tabloid television entertainment news shows. I have been watching old movies and PBS, or anything else that helps me to avoid the subject at hand. I waited 24 hours before I checked Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. I have prayed more in the last couple of days than I can even express. That’s saying a lot because I already pray incessantly. But Sunday morning I was caught off guard. With no notice I began to cry. No, I began to sob uncontrollably. Please know that I often cry for many things: the death of the innocent, the weak, the mentally ill, and the less fortunate; the birth of babies because they don't know what kind of world they're being born into; for many things, but this was different for me. It almost felt personal.

My heart is broken for a life that was lost for no real discernible reason that I can come up with, in spite of all of the commentary to the contrary. My heart is broken because  a human life, a young boy, who only did what young boys and girls have done for years—walk to the store and then back home. My heart is broken because from the day my nephews were born—20 yrs ago, 18 yrs ago, 15 yrs ago—I knew their lives were at risk, at no fault of their own. I pray for them several times a day. They should have been born girls, all of them. Then, of course, there would have been other worries, but never a concern that they would be gunned down in the street like animals or that they would be hated merely because they live and breathe. My heart is broken because this is the 21st century and the “Strange Fruit” has taken on a different form, yet it remains strange none-the-less. My heart is broken because there is a clear divide that says death is deserving even if you've never maimed, murdered, or robbed. It is deserving because you exist…because you live and breathe.

Moments like this bolster my faith because the Bible says: “…that in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up [with pride], lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power; That’s from 2 Timothy 3:1-5, if you’re wondering. I’m not going to turn this into a spiritual or a religious dissertation. I just know, for me, I see this every day, and today, this week, I see “no natural affection.”

In a different life I would have wanted to protest to affect some kind of social change. The truth is, though, even if a change occurs is it lasting? For many years people have given their lives for equality, as well as other causes…and look where we are. Again, this will not become a spiritual or religious dissertation.

So, here I am. Far from helpless, but broken hearted as I drown on my tears on the inside, playing house music to rid myself of the noise of the voices that continue to loudly cry out for justice, as well as the ones that cry just as loud with indifference. I already know that when the music stops I will find myself in a fog, my mind flooded by words being simultaneously spoken all over the world. Words that will sound like rushing storm winds that can only be held back by my prayers for peace and strength, not just for me, but for every single human being who has lost someone to random violence and senseless indifference and ignorance.   

Simply TRB

Friday, June 21, 2013


Experience earlier this week. I had to sign a bunch of documents and in the body of one of the documents it described me as: "an UNMARRIED WOMAN." Okay, upon seeing that I was "an UNMARRIED WOMAN" I got very tickled.

First, because it was in all capital letters. Why was it in all caps, just in case there was some misunderstanding? Funny, right?

Secondly, the only thing that was missing from the description was the word "BLACK." For some strange reason this made me think of a young, virgin, slave girl for sale on the auction block. Had the word "BLACK" actually been included in my description it would have read: "UNMARRIED BLACK WOMAN," but that certainly wouldn't be the politically correct thing to put in writing in the year 2013.

The irony of all of this is that, though I have been divorced for several years, I have never  thought of myself as either single or married. Well, I'm clearly "NOT" married, but you know. Yeah, I know, "CRAZY." That would be for a different conversation, though. Today, I can't even begin to make anyone understand the logic behind my previous state of mind with regards to my "MARITAL STATUS." But, I must say, looking down on a legal document and seeing the words "UNMARRIED WOMAN" finally cleared it up for me. I am not divorced, widowed, or separated. I am merely "an UNMARRIED WOMAN." In all honesty, this has always been my status. Before I was married I was clearly a "SINGLE WOMAN." Yet, when I got married I was kind of, sort of, an "UNMARRIED WOMAN," long story. Once my divorce was final I officially became an "UNMARRIED WOMAN." And this week it was confirmed. To some extent I have been on the proverbial auction block for some time now--albeit a different kind of auction block (little virgin, slave girl reference, remember).

Don't worry, there are lots of adjectives that describe me:


...to name a few. And let's not forget:


Simply TRB

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Where Does The Time Go?

I have been so derelict in my (writing) duties. You know, I was going to say I haven't written anything in awhile, I've written several letters, and I've worked on another author's manuscript (great story, by the way). Something is going on with me. I think I'm a little tired. A lot has been going on. That is, I've taken a few road trips, and even preparing for them (mentally) took up much more time than I should have allowed (I hate when that happens). Like this morning, I spent a lot of time on Twitter thanking people for following me (By the way, I need some help with the tweeting thing).

Ultimately, I'm certain I've wasted far too much time. I have deadlines to meet, which I'm sure I'll make. I guess I'm facing the dreaded "crunch time." I didn't want it to be like that, and it certainly didn't have to be. I'm just a little out of order right now. I have to find my order. I'll probably start with not touching my doggone Smartphone so often. Those things are like "crack." No, really, they are. I play games on it. I check Instagram. I look at Twitter and Facebook. Of course, I text. The only time I'm not touching it is when it's charging and, the truth is, I even fiddle with it while it's charging. It's too much. I should be writing during all of that empty time.

I'm a little disappointed that I haven't blogged since the end of April (where does the time go). I have to do better by myself. After all, I am a writer. I'm supposed to make the time to embrace my craft. May 26th, 2013, wish I had something more introspective and interesting to talk about, but this is what you get today. Check me out in a week or so.

Simply TRB

Monday, April 29, 2013

It Only Takes One

Well, I got my feet wet over the weekend--I had my first book signing in eight years. It wasn't really a book signing, as much as it was an event with vendors, and I happened to have books that I was going to sign and sell. But you know what? I had a great time. I met some great people, made some great connections, and met a vendor that may change my life as a writer as I know it.

The vendor that sat next to me, to my right, offered all kinds of advice regarding events that I could participate in and sell lots of book. I believe her, so I'm going to look into it. I shared my table with another writer, who seemed to also have a good time. I also spent much more money than I should have (there were some great vendors there).

There was one vendor that made relishes, pestos, and salsas. When I tell you they were good, that is an understatement. There was also another room where they were doing manicures and pedicures, but I could never leave my table long enough to take advantage of any of it. I know there was some aroma therapy going on in there too because I received a coupon for it. Oh, yeah, and I sold some books.

Overall, it was a good experience and a great way to get re-acclimated to striking up conversations with strangers to sell books. But the highlight of the event was the one contact I made that truly has the potential of changing my life as a writer. That's all I'm going to say about it. Great annual event, Duke's Academy's Educator's Empowerment Seminar. Look for it in 2014.

Simply TRB        

Monday, April 22, 2013

Nigerian Sister, Friend, and Writer

Last night I had dinner with a dear friend who I hadn’t seen in about three or four years. The circumstances of our meeting each other are really funny, but I won’t go into it. I will just say, as a result of our conversation(s) I invited her to visit a writers’ group that I am a member of, BWWP (Black Writers With Purpose). She joined and happily attended several meetings. There was no doubt that she enjoyed herself, and that the camaraderie motivated her to write. During National Poetry Writing Month one year, she even participated in a Poetry CafĂ© with me at a local alternative school.

As I was getting to know her I visited her home and even got to know her two sons, the youngest of which is autistic. I admired how driven she was to aid her son in living the best possible life. I appreciated that she nurtured and encouraged her oldest son’s natural talents, and that she insisted he work hard for what he wanted. As a writer, I loved that she dealt with the difficulties in her life by writing. That is what we share in common, and the fact that she is Nigerian and my paternal family’s origin is West African.

The circumstances of our reconnecting are also noteworthy. A couple of weeks ago I decided to send an email about the re-release of my book, Every Time I Close My Eyes, to all of my Yahoo contacts. Low and behold, shortly after doing so I receive a call from my long lost cohort. She decided to use the last known number she had for me after she received the email, and the rest is history. 

I was glad our paths had once again crossed because as a woman, a person, I’ve learned so much from her. I’m moved by her knowledge of all things African (that may just speak to my ignorance of Africa). I could sit and listen to her talk about Nigeria, as well as other African cultures, for hours. We won’t even talk about the food that she has prepared for me the times that I’ve visited her home. I love that after all of these years, I visit her and her oldest son, who is back from France, where he graduated from college, is no longer a mature, responsible, teenage boy, but a very handsome, astute, well-balanced, college educated young man. I was marveled by the fact that her youngest son is speaking, that he plays the drums, is a whiz on the computer and all things technical. I respect that she raised him as a “normal” child, but along the journey learned all that she could about autism so that she could make sure her son would have a “normal” life. That was not all that had changed. She is now a married woman. I thought that would change the dynamics of our visit, but it didn’t, he’s a great guy.

After cocktails, and then dinner, we settled down in her family room and we talked. We talked about writing and all the things that happened in our respective lives that led us to become writers, and the things that continue to facilitate that desire. I’m excited that I’m going to be a part of her publishing experience (she will be published this year). I know, with all that has transpired in her life the last few years, seeing her words published will add a new dimension to her life. I’m hoping it will fulfill her lifelong dream of being a published author and fuel a desire to write more. I’m still excited for myself, but even more so for her because I know well the feeling of accomplishment and pride after birthing a book that is quality through and through. All I can say now is I hope she’s excited, too.

Simply TRB