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Branding is – always being yourself.
Remember when I said in Indie Marketing Tip #101 how you could sum up branding by figuring out exactly who you are and then acting like it? Well, it’s a good thing if you look like it too. This was my first professional author head shot and it was taken by Studio at an RWA convention in 2006, not long after my first manuscript, A Desperate Journey, was in the American Title II competition. We all had to have a website before we even had books out and the first photo I had up on my site was a quick photo my husband had taken in the kitchen on our little camera. That first photo didn’t have the clarity a professional shot had and it was a bit fuzzy when picked up by my hometown newspaper for an article they ran, so I, along with many other authors at the convention, signed up and paid for professional photos.
For the photo shoot we were to bring a couple outfits to get some different looks, so I picked three of the outfits I’d packed and did my makeup, basically got all dolled up. The shoot proceeded with lots of shots, three outfits which meant some quick changing, and a lot of posing here and bending there to get the angles the photographer wanted. He was a great photographer and he was creative. He was also used to shooting models. In this shot he moved the lighting to go for “something different.” He liked the way it turned out and called it his “fire shot.”
The photographer called this his “fire shot” and it was used in their marketing.
While it was very cool, the photo pulled attention to my hair and the light behind it which lit up. The photo was also touched up in the same way photographs are touched up for fashion magazines. Notice, not one freckle showing. So while it is me, it’s just like the photos you see in fashion magazines – touched up. I don’t believe my skin ever looked that flawless. This photo was used in some of their marketing materials, people would tell me about it even when I wasn’t at an event and so this photo was around for a while, which was quite flattering, but – did it help me sell books? I suspect it mostly helped sell photography services.
For years, when my husband would hand out my bookmarks, people would say, “Is that your wife?” Yes, that’s probably a compliment. But maybe, the ones who had met me were thinking – she didn’t look like that when I met her. The idea here is to sell books, not sell my face, since I’m not a fashion model. The idea is not to sell my hair in a fire shot, cool as it is. Eventually I caught onto the fact that people weren’t recognizing me at large book signings with many authors and I knew I needed to use a different photo.
Of course we want to look our best, but remember, your reader needs to recognize who you are in the photo and who you are at a signing or anywhere else you’re appearing so that you aren’t lost in the crowd. If your photo doesn’t match your regular appearance, they might have a little more trouble recognizing you. Yes, it is your image, your face, but let’s think for a minute about what you are selling. Try to keep your hair, makeup, clothing, etc. close to your usual style – this is not a glamour shot, it’s a professional author head shot, so no fancy makeup or hair is needed.
Watch out for that author ego. We all have one. Not enough of one and you’d never put a book out there. But don’t let it take the wheel and go veering off in a different direction. Would it be tempting to use a glamour shot? Sure. Would it be tempting to use a picture from 2006 instead of 2018 because I was twelve years younger? (And who doesn’t look better in younger pics – most do.) Sure. But that choice would not be the best one.
When you choose a head shot, try to select one that looks like you do now so your readers can find you. And if you change your look drastically as we sometimes do, it might be time for a new head shot.
– Debra Parmley
Indie marketing tip #1 – “Keep your profile pics/head shot out there. If they don’t know who you are, they won’t read your work.” – tip from Mike Pettit Your face should be recognizable. Imagine being at a signing event of 350 authors. I bet if you read romance you could pick out the big names, like Nora Roberts. Friends and fans love this pic which was taken of me with my first book by Monica Parks. I love it too, it’s fun and is a good memory for me. But, guess what it doesn’t do? Boost my brand. You need a full head shot to do that. Branding – it’s important. I’ve listened to a lot of people give talks on branding and have read about it. I’m going to sum up branding as simply as I can, to cut through some of that for new Indie authors. Your brand. How do you brand yourself? New authors often ask me that question. Here is the answer I always give. Branding: “To brand yourself first you must know who you are and then act like it.” – Debra Parmley So there are two steps. Do you know who you are? Ego comes up in this topic. And what is ego? It’s our personality, the things that make us who we are. We came down here to earth to be somebody. Remember that. Living small does not serve you well. There is nothing wrong with having an ego. Not enough and you’d never put yourself out there. You’d hide in your author cave. Too much and you’d be insufferable to be around. But you are in control of that. So know who you are. The more you figure that out, the better your branding will be. And guess what the experts who will charge you money to brand you are going to ask? The same questions you have to ask yourself to figure this one out. So you figure that out and then, step #2, you act like it. Be true to yourself. There is only one you. And readers want to get to know you. Every social media site out there is going to want a profile picture. Because that is step one of people getting to know you. So… profile pic = head shot. And as Mike Pettit says, you need to post new ones to keep your brand, your face out there. I’m going to take my own advice here and will be changing my profile pic once a week. Will call it Brand Boost. Cause I have to boost my brand. There are thousands of authors out there and we have to keep boosting our brand if we want to be remembered.
Montana Marine just re-released on July 15th through Twisted Pages Press LLC, Elle James new publishing company!
Protecting Pippa just re-released on July 16th through Aces Press LLC, Susan Stokers new publishing company!
I’m so excited the books are out again and were only down for a day. I’m also excited that they will be available outside the U.S. and there is the option to go to print, which wasn’t possible before.
My other exciting news is … I have a new book coming out in Elle James Brotherhood Protectors World! Watch for Defensive Instructor on July 24th!
And in August, Split Screen Scream will be out in Susan Stokers Special Forces Operation Alpha World! So keep watching!
I’ll follow these up with a few books my readers have been patiently waiting for. It’s a busy writing summer! Happy reading!
There are two ways to see and hear the news first. One is to sign up for my newsletter and the other is to join my Facebook Fan Group. Here are the links:
Newsletter sign up link: http://eepurl.com/ZUyC1
FB fan group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/debraparmley/
It has been exactly one month, thirty days to the day I last blogged about Kindle Worlds closing and how authors must adapt and adjust. Today I’m happy to share that Montana Marine, which is in Elle James Brotherhood Protectors Series World, will be back out on July 17th through Twisted Pages Press, Elle’s new publishing house! I’m also excited to share that Protecting Pippa, which is in Susan Stokers Special Forces Operation Alpha Series World, will be back out on July 17th through Aces Press, Susan’s new publishing house!
The covers will be slightly redone to remove the Kindle Worlds logo and to be fitted in the new templates for each series, but the titles and the cover models poses will remain. I’ve posted them below. The books will come out in ebook first and will be available on Kindle, but print is now an option which would not have been possible with Kindle Worlds. So, I’m excited about the future and can’t wait to have the books back out along with some new books.
Then in August I’ll have a new Brotherhood Protectors book, Defensive Instructor, out! And I’ll have a new Special Forces Operation Alpha book, Split Screen Scream out! Now to get this done I have adapted and adjusted again, putting the other books on hold. Those will follow these new releases.
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If there was one skill set or one set of tools I would recommend every author carry in their author tool box, it is the ability to adapt and adjust. I would go so far as to say it is the one set of tools every person needs to survive and to succeed in life. I am blessed to have acquired these abilities or skills and very thankful for them.
If there is one constant in the author world today, or in our modern world today, it is that things change and they often change fast and unexpectedly.
As an author I’ve survived more things than I can count, though I’m going to attempt listing the major ones. I’ve survived many rejection letters, and then competing for a publishing contract with a major publishing house during the American Title II contest and having my husband flatline for three minutes nearly losing him and seeing him on total life support during that contest but then soon after being voted off the island of that contest. I’ve survived receiving “the call” for the sale of my first book while looking at the letter on my desk which would sever the contract with my agent. Finding out later the editor at the house who bought it never received the last chapter. They bought it missing a last chapter. I’ve survived being passed to five different editors at that house and the house sitting on two manuscripts before being orphaned at my publishing house. I’ve survived firing two PR people, one after my father passed, who’d done nothing to promote my new book launch. It came out with no promo beyond what could be done the day it came out. I was with five publishing houses and of those, two are no longer in business. In some cases I was never paid my royalties. I never received my advance from the first house I was with. I’ve survived internet trolls and bad reviews, slings and arrows, whatever you want to call the things people fling at you when they want to pull you down. I refuse to be pulled down. Through it all, I survive. Beyond that I am determined to thrive. To succeed. To do what I love and to share my stories with the world. I write because I love it. I protect my writing with a ferocity few have ever seen and which has even surprised my husband.
Recent news reminded me it was time to adapt and adjust again. And that is exactly how I see it. Kindle Worlds is closing. We just got the word this week and my email came while I was in the hospital. Boy, talk about timing. I had three more books scheduled to come out in two different Kindle Worlds. So of course this affects my writing and publishing schedule for 2018. It affects my today and my tomorrow. The next book was to be out in June. I’m now readjusting my planner and turning to work on a different story. And that is what we authors must do if we are not only to survive but to thrive. Not just on a financial level but on an emotional level as well, on a happiness level.
How much time do you spend on the negative curve that has just been thrown your way? Change can propel you to better and greater things or it can bog you down, if you let it. Don’t let it. Adapt and adjust as quickly as you can. The past is the past and needs to remain there. You are in charge of your tomorrows. Make them good ones.
Today I am working on book three which will be in this box set, tying my first two westerns together. Tying them together and wrapping up the past into the future where good things can and will happen. Desperate, Dangerous and Deadly: A Western Collection containing A Desperate Journey, Dangerous Ties, and Deadly Adversaries. Look for it soon.
Sometimes you just have to write a monster … or bake one.
Did you know I have a story with a monster in it? I have one story where a monster appears. Vague Directions has a shape shifting monster. A hamster. Yes that’s right. A hamster. Sometimes my imagination surprises even me. I was writing and a shape shifting hamster monster appeared and went after the heroine. Sometimes when you are writing, thinking you are writing a certain kind of story something will pop up and insist it be written. This is how I ended up with a monster in the short story.
Writing students will often hear me say, you must write things out of you. If something wants to be written, then you must write it. Otherwise it will nag at you while you are trying to write. So, write those monsters out when they pop up. Get them out an onto the page. Then you can go on and write something else. It is best not to bottle things, monsters especially.
We are celebrating everything monsters this month on my social media. Hence these contests. I am giving away 13 ebook copies of Vague Directions for Halloween. How do you play to win?
I love cookies and monster cookies especially. The pic above is of the monster brownies I baked last week. I just had to make them. Halloween holiday foods are so much fun and I have two boards on my Pinterest page to collect the pics. Now here is how to win.
WHAT you need to do is ADD Monster Cookie Recipes or Food Recipes in our PINTEREST FOLDER on Author Debra Parmley’s Facebook Page. MY FB AUTHOR PAGE LINK: https://www.facebook.com/debra.parmley.7
We will then ADD them here so that I can keep them and write the book: https://www.pinterest.com/debraparmley/monster-cookies/ & https://www.pinterest.com/debraparmley/monster-foods/
THEN to ENTER our Contest: Email my PA: email@example.com using subject line: Vague Directions Ebook. 13 LUCKY Winners will be chosen on November 1st. YOU MUST SAVE RECIPES TO DEBRA’S FACEBOOK FOLDER & EMAIL TO BE CONSIDERED TO WIN. Good luck and we look forward to hearing from you. – Debra Parmley
“THE END …. IS THE BEGINNING” Writing Workshop with Debra Parmley
Saturday, August 19th, 2017 11 am – 4 pm
(includes an hour for lunch on your own)
At Ervin Hypnosis Center, 2965 Summer Oaks Dr., Ste. 100, Bartlett TN 38134
$65 per person Energy Exchange
Join Amazon Bestselling author Debra Parmley as she demystifies the process toward publishing your book. Set your path, see your path and step forward into your future as an author.
11:00 to 1:00~~
Taking your book from idea to first draft
Finishing your first draft.
Polishing your first draft to present your best book. Structure and title your book so it resonates with your reader.
One-hour lunch break
2:00 to 4:00~~
Get your book published – which way will you go, traditional or Indie self-published? Choosing your path.
Landing an agent or publishing contract or self-publishing on platforms that pay.
Marketing your book.
Building your brand.
Debra is a writing mentor and is available after the workshop to take appointments to look at your manuscript. Appointments may be scheduled to be in person or on Skype. You will need to provide a hard copy of your manuscript.
Students of Debra’s workshops are invited to join her student newsletter and to follow her writing blog.
RSVP for this special experience to Madra Little at 901-827-0023 (call or text)
Today I’m Dancing For the Broken – My Seventh Year With Shimmy Mob Memphis
Today, Saturday May 13th marks seven years since I founded Shimmy Mob Memphis. I’m proud of all my dance sisters and the work we’ve done to raise founds for our local domestic violence shelter over the years.
People have often asked me why I signed the city up and took on that job the first year even though I had retired from dancing and was focusing on my books and book signings with little extra time to spare. I usually have a four word answer.
Babies with broken bones.
I do not want to live in a world where babies have broken bones because a malicious adult injured them. That’s simply not acceptable to me. The work I’ve done with Shimmy Mob fights that problem and is just one small way I could help. Can you imagine what would happen if we each did one small thing to help? You can by making a donation when we dance.
There were lots of challenges that first year. In 2011 here in Memphis we had tornados and the river rising. No one wanted to let us dance because a Shimmy Mob/flash mob though organized and not mob like at all was brand new and flash mobs in the past had sometimes led to violence. I often thought of the irony of that as I searched for a place to dance. We ended up dancing downtown on the trolly line with the proper permissions in place as the City came through at the last minute, thanks to Dawn Vinson. Forty five dancers had signed up but because of tornados that day only a fraction of that number made it out to dance. We danced in between tornado sirens and watching for tornados but we got the job done and we raised a thousand dollars that first year even though we received no local news coverage for our event. The photographer for the Commercial Appeal called me as we were driving away. He had just missed us. I thought we had been a small voice that few heard, but even a small voice can help. Even a small voice can speak up. That too is an important part of fighting domestic violence and an important example to set. Later, we were honored by Shimmy Mob International for our efforts.
Since then we have gone on to dance each year to raise funds. Our first year the funds went directly to the YWCA shelter and I took toiletries and diapers which we’d collected to the shelter. At the time I was told it was the only shelter in the tri-state area – which is not enough for a metropolitan area this size. Now here we are in our seventh year and we now collect for The Family Safety Center which is the first place domestic violence victims can go. It is a wonderful place and offers many services.
Things often come full circle, at least they do in my life. Last year I wasn’t able to dance because I’d fractured my talus bone (ankle) in half. (Not domestic violence. Before you jump to any conclusions here. In fact my husband was out of town at the time.) I’d stepped off two steps as if it were one, rolled my ankle and landed on the ankle bone on concrete. I was in a boot for several months. So dancing of course was out. This year I am dancing, though I’m wearing an orthopedic ankle brace and have to put a medicated cream on my foot. It’s nothing anyone would pay to see, I’m slow on the turns and have to modify many things and if the dance were about me or about that I’d sit it out. But it’s not. It’s about dancing with my dance sisters all over the world on the one day a year we come together to raise funds for our local domestic abuse shelters. It’s about dancing for the broken women and children (and yes men too) who cannot dance.
How can you help? Today we are dancing from 5:30 to 7:30 at Overton Square in midtown Memphis, TN and will be taking donations there for the Family Safety Center. We have two Facebook event pages:
There will be other appearances throughout the year as our team leader schedules them and you can keep up with us at Shimmy Mob Memphis on Facebook