Thanks to all the authors who actively and passively (damn lurkers) participated in the Author Branding Bootcamp.

If you missed any part of it you can check out the lessons here:

Author Branding Bootcamp, part 1: you don’t know jack about branding

Author Branding Bootcamp, part 2: target your brand. p.s. don’t use a shotgun

Author Branding Bootcamp, part 3: branding vehicles. no lemons here, people

Author Branding Bootcamp, part 4: don’t let your brand get stale. it leaves a bad taste in our mouths.

You guys rock and if I had the time and resources, I’d do a case study on each of you.

But, alas, I don’t, so the winner of the  Author Branding Case Study is:

CJ Lyons Author Branding Case Study

CJ Lyons

When CJ Lyons first commented during the Author Branding Bootcamp, I was intrigued by her branding. Probably because my husband is currently studying medicine and a big part of my life revolves around actively listening to his class drama and kicking him in the pants when he gets the woe-is-mes. You see, it’s not just you guys I kick. I’m an equal opportunity kicker.

With this case study, CJ also wins a platinum level Creativity Loft Branding package which includes:

-Custom Brand Evaluation with tips and insights to building a better brand (the case study)
-Year-long Branding Action Plan
-45-minute call or chat with me to discuss branding (and kick you in the pants)

CJ, I’ll contact you about the details of this.

Author Branding Case Study for CJ LYONS
CJ wrote in one of her comments during the Author Branding Bootcamp:

“My current series of medical suspense/thrillers/women’s fiction from Berkley is ending and I’m beginning a new non-medical series that will also combine women’s fiction/thriller/suspense with environmental themes”

Overall diagnosis of current branding:
-The medical branding is SOLID. It is almost overwhelming, this may pose a problem in the future as you try to portray a more general thriller brand.
-The header image on your website says “suspense for women”, the majority of the site says “medicine,” but it seems as though you are trying to more broadly brand as “thrillers centering on strong relationships.”

This may be a bit confusing. But most brands in a state of transition can be a little confusing.

With your next set of releases, you are in a prime position for brand tweaking.

Based on a few comments you left during the Author Branding Bootcamp and the information on your site, I’ll assume your author brand identity is character-driven thrillers for women and we’ll move forward from there.

Branding vehicle suggestions:

Keywords and Imagery:

Focus on keywords and imagery that hit the center of the “character-driven thrillers for women” area.

Shoot for the chest and don’t worry about the extremities.

Avoid words like “medical” or “environmental themes” in general discussion about your brand and your works.

You want to have a targeted brand identity that appeals to the broadest number of people in the market for your type of book.

Let’s break down your brand identity and associate specific keywords and imagery with the different parts:

– Keywords: real characters, characters I can relate to, 3-D characters
– Imagery: people, relationships

– Keywords: high-stakes, excitement, fast-paced, drama, danger
– Imagery: dim, dark, hard, stark

For women:
– Keywords: emotional, heartfelt, meaningful, positive resolutions
– Imagery: women, softness, light colors

This should give you examples of some of the keywords or imagery that can be combined to create verbal and visual representations of your brand.

Some of these items may conflict with each other, but the purpose of the list is to give you a pool to choose from. Feel free to add to or subtract from these at your leisure.


It’s my understanding that you will be shifting to more general thrillers for women.

I suggest keeping this as your over-arching focus and creating a “sub-brand” for your previous works that are a little more targeted.

What I mean is, CJ 2.0 may be writing character-driven thrillers for women, but, if a reader is interested in reading your medically-influenced character-driven thrillers for women, they can check out your backlist.


While I like the header graphic on your site, if you anticipate changing it regularly because of the inability to find something that fits your brand “just right,” I suggest using an artwork-less header.
Perhaps stylize your name, use keywords or color patterns to create emphasis.

General comments:
– On your books page that lists all you works in one place, include the title of the book typed either above or below the cover. It’s easier on the eyes to read it that way.
– Change your author photo to have less of a medical focus.
– Your recent release are shown on your homepage in a prominent position. GREAT!
– You have links to where people can purchase your books. Excellent!
– Thank you for having a newsletter sign-up. I suggest it to ALL authors. Even if you don’t know what to use the list for yet, it’s better to start building one now and already have one once you decide how to use it!

Social Media:

You are more than “trying it”! Fabulous.

One thing to remember, if you are using your Facebook profile to promote CJ Lyons the author, you will be limited to 5,000 friends. You may want to create a Facebook Page for CJ Lyons or CJ Lyons Books and link to that from your site.

Excellent that you provide people the ability to share, like or tweet your works on your site.


While I don’t know you well enough to make an assessment on your character, you don’t strike me as a crabby, bitchy whiny author. I think you represent your medical thriller brand well and I have no doubt you will do the same for your more general character-driven thrillers for women brand.

Overall Branding Tips:
– Because you will be tweaking your brand slightly with your next releases, I suggest some heavy brand image marketing and leg-work.
– Your new books will be out in March 2011, right? Start getting things in order NOW! You want to give yourself a solid 3 months of promotion.

Because of the strong medical influence your brand has now and the lack of medical material in your new books, you may have to work to make your brand seem more general.

– Change your imagery. Not much you can do about your past book covers, but, as I said, you may want a new author photo, Twitter background, etc.

– Get the word out. Start lining up guest blogs, maybe teach an online class in thriller pacing or suspense. The more you can get your name out there and associate it with character-driven thrillers for women, the better.

– Tap into your characters more. You have 3D characters? Use them. I like your “Women of Angels of Mercy” page on you site, but it’s hidden. Think about ways you can use your characters to draw people into your works and keep them interested between releases.

Want to take things to the next level? Go hard with your brand tweaking for your next books to reach new markets, but remember to keep your current audience on the line. They already trust you to deliver an awesome book, just assure them that your new books will still deliver!

I hope to chat with you soon to come up with an action plan that can help you create some “BREAKOUT BRANDING” success over the next year.

I hope you all have enjoyed the Author Branding Bootcamp! I had a blast teaching it.

DON’T FORGET: All subscribers who sign up for my blogfeed will get access to a handy, dandy eBook of all the materials from the Author Branding Bootcamp, so sign up for my blogfeed TODAY. It’ll go out on Saturday.

Next week, I’ll return to the blog with more general advice for ALL creative businesses and brands, so keep checking back. Or miss the exposure to awesomeness.

My next class will be:


We hope to discuss business basics and dive a lot deeper into strategy, including marketing, sales and social media strategy. It’ll be aimed at ALL creative businesses and brands.

I’m still working out the details, but if there is something specific you are interested in learning more about, something you may struggle with, when it comes to running or starting your creative business, feel free to leave a comment or you can ping the content minions at henchmen (*at*)

More details coming soon.

Alright, enough of you guys. I’m going to paint my nails and watch Gossip Girl, because that’s what you do when you have a business at home.

Sign up for my blogfeed to get the Author Branding Bootcamp eBook tomorrow, and get plenty of awesomeness delivered daily. It’s better than pizza.