Since 2011, I’ve led a chat every Thursday at 8pm ET. Called #StoryDam Writing Chat, this hour-long Twitter conversation is a major source of creative camaraderie for me and other writers. #StoryDam is a friendly crew and I’ve made some dear friends there, many of whom I hope to meet in person one day. Among those is Dianna Gunn! There really isn’t space in this post to share all that she does (burlesque, hosting a Spoonie Podcast, etc) but I hope you enjoy learning a little bit about her in the following 4 Question Author Interview:
1. Hi Dianna! Thank you for being part of my 4-Question Author Interview series! Let’s start by having you tell us a little more about yourself. What makes you so passionate about writing? What’s your writing routine?
Dianna: I was lucky enough to grow up in a very bookish household. We were poor, but the one thing we never lacked was books. Once I got the hang of reading, I devoured books like candy. It honestly didn’t occur to me that I could write my own books until my mother made some off-handed comment about JK Rowling getting rich. My mind basically imploded. Wait, you can… Write your own books? I thought all the books had already been written by dead white guys (an unfortunate indictment of traditional publishing). To know I, a young girl, could write my own books, and that writing books was a job, was revolutionary.
I decided right then and there I would become an author. I have cursed myself for that decision sometimes, because writing is hard and publishing is harder, but I have never once considered quitting.
As for my writing routine, that’s a little more convoluted. I have insomnia and a variety of other health problems, which make it difficult to keep a stable routine. The one thing I am consistent with, however, is that I do a warmup before I start a big writing session, usually in the form of worldbuilding or a character development exercise. This helps me get into the right mindset for my work and allows me to achieve a state of flow more quickly when I do turn to my main work in progress.
I do also like to do my writing right after a workout and breakfast, but sometimes that’s not possible. My health, and the freelance work that currently pays the bills, have to take priority, which means some days I write last and occasionally I don’t write at all.
2. Tell us about Branding for Fiction Authors: A Workbook for Authors with No Business Experience.
Dianna: Branding for Fiction Authors is a printable mini-workbook designed to help fiction authors build a brand around their work. The workbook provides a step-by-step process for creating an authentic author brand so you can build a devoted fan base.
By the end of this workbook, you will have developed the following essential aspects of your brand:
• Brand definition
• Brand aesthetic
• Brand voice
• Brand keywords
• Book profiles to establish how your existing works fit within your overall brand
You will also receive the tools to create important marketing materials, including author bios for a variety of contexts, book titles, and book blurbs.
Over the same time period, I started paying more attention to the resources available. I noted that all of the self-publishing blogs and podcasts I followed came from a specific type of author. These authors had run multiple businesses in the past. Many had worked in consulting or accounting. They were people with an instinctive understanding of how business works.
Because this knowledge was instinctive for these authors, they developed a laser focus on specific tools and strategies for publishing. This is all great knowledge, but without a basic grasp of how branding and marketing works, the information is overwhelming.
The type of writer coming to #WeeknightWriters, however, had spent years or even decades perfecting their craft. Most had some desire to improve their brand and marketing, but were so intimidated by the advanced resources available that they never even started.
Branding for Fiction Authors aims to bridge this gap. I introduce basic concepts related to branding and marketing, then provide exercises to help authors apply these concepts to their body of work. By the time an author finishes the workbook, they should be able to approach marketing with confidence.
4. You are obviously passionate about sharing what you’ve learned with other writers. Which writers, in turn, inspire you?
Dianna: So many! In terms of writing craft, I am constantly awed by NK Jemisin. Her worlds are all radically different from one another, the stories are incredibly complex, and the characters are fascinating and diverse. I’m not sure an author has ever so thoroughly smashed my heart and left me still loving them anyway.
Another author who inspires me on a craft level is NS Dolkart. I read his debut trilogy, The Godserfs Trilogy, and was obsessed. The worldbuilding, the diversity of the characters, the way multiple storylines were woven seamlessly together into one. A masterpiece.
The other way authors inspire me is through the work they do to nurture other writers and writing communities. You are definitely on that list, Tui :) [Note from Tui: Awww! Thank you, Dianna!]
I also want to mention Nisi Shawl and K. Tempest Bradford, the creators of Writing the Other. Writing the Other offers a variety of courses to help writers create more inclusive worlds and storylines. They also offer a variety of payment options and an extensive scholarship program. I’ve been lucky enough to get scholarships to three of their courses, and they have enormously improved my writing skills. They have also given me something to model my own workshops and courses after, as I love their discussion-focused approach.
Learn more about Dianna Gunn:
BIO: Dianna Gunn is a freelance marketing consultant, dark fantasy author, podcaster, and indie author community mentor. She runs the Business for Authors newsletter and the #WeeknightWriters Twitter chat (Thursdays at 7PM EST). Her first workbook, Branding for Fiction Authors: A Workbook for Authors with No Business Experience, was released in November 2019.
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