About the Episode
What’s in a name? Today Rachel is starting at the very beginning with her new Author Platform. She’s covering 3 of the decisions you’ll need to make for your author platform and what she has decided for hers.
📒 Show Notes and Resources 📒
Topics covered in this Entry:
- Starting in the Middle
- Strategic Platform Decisions
- Having 2 Different Audiences
- Business Name
- Pen Names
Click for Transcript
[00:00:00] Welcome to the Write and Rally series where I pull back the curtain on building your author platform while writing your novel. We’ll talk about the specific steps you need to take as well as tools that you can use to help you do it along the way so that you really set yourself up for success as an author. Hi, my name is Rachel Fahrenbach. I help fiction writers just like you get their novels into a hands of a reader. Let’s get to it.
Write & Rally 1 – Business Decisions: Well, as we kick off the series, I thought a good place to start at would be kind of the business decisions that you need to make as an author.
Now, I want to preface all this with this understanding that the majority of you will not be coming at this brand new with nothing. No decisions having been made, no work having been done. You most likely. Probably almost finished your novel. Maybe you’re in revisions and you’re like, oh, well I need to publish this thing.
How do I do that? And so you started searching around, realized you needed to be doing something like platform building, and you started doing that, and you may have [00:01:00] found yourself thinking, I am missing something. There’s some things here that I just feel like I don’t know, and that’s why you’re here in this space.
So if that’s you, I just wanna say like you’re not behind. You may not know everything. You may not have, you may have some steps you need to take to kind of bring clarity around what you’re doing, but at the end of the day, you have not wasted time, you are not behind.
You are exactly where you need to be at and nothing is wasted. And so I just wanna start the series out by saying that. So if you, are not at the very beginning stages, maybe some of you are, but if you are not, I just want you to know that it’s not, it’s not a detriment to what you’re trying to do to be starting in the middle.
So what I’m gonna be doing throughout this series, you’re gonna be seeing me doing it from the very beginning of building this platform and writing this novel. But I am recognizing that I’ve already put in a ton of years into thinking about platform into thinking about my business.
When I’m telling you to do these things, like I’m coming at this new [00:02:00] platform building knowing that that’s what I need to do already, whereas you probably haven’t had that instruction and so you probably aren’t bringing the same thing into the situation. So just give yourself a little bit of space to be like, okay, I haven’t done it perfectly, but I’ve done it and I’ve made progress. And so, now I’ve got some decisions to make and maybe some pivots or adjustments to move towards. And that’s okay. That’s what we’re doing. That’s where we’re at.
So having said all that, let me explain a little bit about what’s gonna happen in the series. If you’re watching this right now, you’ve either accidentally discovered me through YouTube or you know me already through my other platform or other social platforms such as Instagram or Facebook. And so you have some interactions with me as a coach. Even if you just stumbled across me on YouTube you did so because I have set up this coaching platform to do just that, be discovered by you through searches that you’re doing on YouTube. And so those were all key strategic decisions I made for my coaching [00:03:00] business. What I’m gonna be setting up in this series is what I’m gonna call my author platform.
Now, just to give you some context, my coaching platform actually started out as an author platform, but over the years has shifted into a coaching platform, and so if you search way back in the archives of Instagram @rachelfahrenbach on Instagram, you will see my author post from quite a while ago, and so you’ll see me kind of developing my voice, my messaging, all of that, until you see me get to here where I have shifted into the space of coaching fiction writers on business marketing principles.
And so you’re interacting with me on my coaching platform and the decisions I’ve made for this space, for my socials, for my website have all been very calculated decisions to frame myself as a coach. And the first services I provide as a coach, such as actually coaching one-on-one, my [00:04:00] write and rally planner, some other things that are coming down the pipeline.
All of that is positioned around my coaching brand. What I’m gonna be building in this series is my author platform, which is going to be wrapped around my novels and my other books. So I actually do have a guided journal that’s already published. So I am a published author, and that is called Rest and Reflect.
And so that will, you’ll start seeing that show up on this author platform when we get there. But it’s going to be focused on what’s coming down the pipeline as far as my novels. And so you’re gonna see those two separate things.
Now I want to explain why I’m separating the two out, because you might have maybe more than one business.
A lot of times I talk to authors when I’m coaching them and they’re like, well, I do this thing and I do this thing, and should I keep them separate? Should I merge ’em together? They feel like they don’t connect, but maybe they do. And so we talk through a lot of that and we talked through well. What’s the purpose of this one?
What’s the purpose of this one? Who does this serve? Who [00:05:00] does this serve? And when we answer those questions, we get to that final decision of should we merge it or should we keep it separate? And so when I was trying to decide this series and I was trying to decide how I could best serve you, my coaching clients, I had to decide if I wanted to break the two out or not.
And so up until this point, I have just kept my author stuff and my coaching stuff contained together because in my head they pretty much served the same reader. A lot of my writing as an author dovetails into that space of identity and purpose, and a lot of it talks about being a writer and so, I just kept them together.
But when I was thinking about my coaching clients, when I was thinking about you, the fiction writer who is being told she needs to build this platform while writing her novel, and yet there’s so little out there showing what exactly that means. There’s a ton of information about the [00:06:00] actual craft of writing a novel, which is fabulous. I’m so glad there’s so many valuable resources that authors can tap into to figure out how to plot a novel well, how to do great character development, how to write compelling dialogue. Like all of that is out there. If you Google, YouTube is a fabulous resource for it, but there’s also writing communities and writing courses.
But when it comes to this, Like step by step of setting up your author platform and the step by step of like making these calculated business decisions. There’s not a whole lot of information out there tailored to writing fiction. There’s a lot for non-fiction writers, but not for fiction writers. And so what fiction writers often have to do is make this connection between, this is the principle. Okay, how do I apply that to fiction? I don’t see, I haven’t seen anybody do it. So as authors, we’re not really being told what to do, but we also don’t have anybody to emulate explaining, well, this is what I’m doing and why, and you need to decide that for [00:07:00] yourself. And so I was realizing there was a gap in the, in the space that we’re in, and I decided, okay, I’m going to break out my platform so that I can demonstrate it to you .So that I can actually create the posts that I’m telling you to create so that I can actually set things up and show you exactly what needs to be set up and so, and then show you how that dovetails with your novel as you’re writing it as a pre-published author who doesn’t have this writing career quite yet.
And so what do you actually put on your platform until then? What do you actually talk about? And I, so I wanted to demonstrate that all for you guys, and I realized I couldn’t do that well on my coaching platform. So I split those two, I’m splitting those two out, and I will, I’m going to say this here. I’m only doing this because it’s helping my coaching clients.
If it wasn’t gonna help you guys, I would keep them together because it is added work. It is a different [00:08:00] platform to pay attention to. It is different, not necessarily branding per se, but it is a different like mindset, a different way of approaching it. And so it’s like an added thing to do. And so my first.
My very first thing to most authors when they’re like, should I keep things separate? Most of the time I say to them, no, keep ’em together. And they’ll, they’ll, most of the time they’ll say like, well, this is non-fiction and this is fiction. How do I keep this? So the first thing you have to do is ask yourself.
What is the messaging? What am I trying to accomplish? What am I trying to do for them? This is what’s called the x, y, Z statement, and I do have a podcast episode on the business of Christian Fiction podcast about the x, y, Z statement. As a fiction writer, what does that actually look like? And so, excuse me.
You’re gonna need to define that X, Y, Z. Like I said, I, I know what I wanna help you do as a coach, how I wanna [00:09:00] help you. And so I knew I needed to break out the author platform.
For myself, but for you. And so you’re gonna have to ask your same yourself the same questions. Like, if I have two different communities, do I need to keep them separate or are they really the same messaging, just different tools that I’m using to communicate that message? Do I still have, like I have talked to authors who are like, well, like I talk about this in my non-fiction and I talk about this in my fiction and most times I’ll be, most of the time it’s the same message at the heart of it, it’s just a different mode of delivering that message. And so that would be the very first thing I ask you if you are struggling: is what you talk about at the heart of it in all the different content you make at the heart of is it the same message?
So if you’re just taking my coaching platform and my author platform and [00:10:00] evaluating the two, my coaching platform’s message is you can make an impact and the income with your fiction writing.
The message of my author platform is God has called you, he has gifted you, he has given you something to steward. You need to be obedient to it and you need to walk that out and walk out that identity. And so even though they. Talk nicely to each other. They’re actually different focuses, different purposes and different, possibly different audiences.
And so that would be that would be a argument for keeping them separate. Now if you are like, okay, I have this audience over here and this audience over here, and both of them are passions of mine. Both of them are things that they’re a little bit too different of messagings. They’re two different auth audiences.
So which should I keep them separate or should I pick one? What I would say to [00:11:00] you is pick one at the beginning if you can. You are playing a long game. You are playing a long game. So what you’re gonna do is you’re gonna start this one business, you’re gonna get it rolling, and then you can start the second business.
Okay? You need to give yourself space to think strategically, creatively, and big picture for one thing at a time. I, this is one of those areas where, I hate hearing this as a creative because there’s so many things that I wanna do, but it really is one of the wisest things that is said out there by business gurus when they’re like niche down.
Focus on one and then add others later if you want to. Because creating the business and doing it well requires a lot of focus, requires a lot of energy, and you can only go so far, so fast if you’re spreading your resources amongst other things. If you. [00:12:00] Put all of your resources into one thing and begin to build that thing first.
Get that going underway really well first, and then maybe get some help in there. Then you can begin to bring on another thing and build that up. So that’s a decision you’re gonna have to make for yourself. That’s a, this conversation you’re gonna have to have between you and God. But my first initial encouragement to you would be to focus in on one and wait to start the second one.
And just go all in. And, and we’re not talking a long time to start the second one, like in a couple years you could start it. And so just, just know. Okay.
So as we are talking, you can kind of hear me saying like, you’re gonna have to make this decision. You’re gonna have to make this decision. That’s the reality of your situation. You are a business owner, and I know you might not think it yet. You might not. You maybe you were like, yeah, I’m cool. I know this.
I know that’s what I gotta do. But you might still be struggling [00:13:00] with that a little bit. Like I just really wanna be just the creative. I just wanna do the creative work and, and just move on with my life. The publisher can take care of all the business decisions.
Here’s the thing. You’re gonna have to make some key business decisions. You have financials you’re gonna have to pay attention to. You are going to have production costs, research to do marketing to figure out. There’s a lot of things that you will have to do as an author. That is very business related and very business driven. So you’re gonna have to set yourself up as a business to be successful.
Now, I wanna explain. How my business structure works and kind of my model and whatnot, because you’re gonna see me building a platform that separate my author platform, but I want you to know that it’s actually part of my coaching business. It all falls underneath my personal brand. Me creating a separate platform is not the same as me creating a separate business because I’m creating that separate platform in order to serve the same audience. [00:14:00] My coaching clients. And so even though my author platform and novels will be positioned a certain way and have a certain messaging and reach a certain targeted area, I’m doing it so that you guys can see the behind the scenes. And so at the end of the day, it actually is a part of my coaching business, and so it all falls underneath Rachel Fahrenbach.
I do own another company with I have a business partner. I own a separate. That’s completely separate. We have a different bank account. We have we are a partnership, so we have a different business model. We have different people helping us. I, this personal brand is separate from that business.
However, my two platforms, my coaching platform and my author platform both fit underneath that personal brand. I hope that helps a little bit. I, it might be a little nuanced and it might be a little bit like, eh, it’s a little bit more than we need to know, but I just wanna give you that understanding so that [00:15:00] you, you know, that it’s not that I’m creating a separate business, I’m creating a separate platform. However, you will have to make a business if you have not done so already. And one of the very first things that you’re gonna have to do is figure out your business name and type of business, I suppose. So as far as a business name goes, like people always debate this left and right in the writing communities I’m in, in like, do I use my name?
Do I come up with a like a blog? And so it’s shifted over the years. You’ll see there’s people who started a really long time ago. They tend to have like these, their website will have like almost like a blog name to it, like a certain, like a branding, like it’s almost like their business and it won’t be their personal name.
And that’s because they probably started when blogging was a big deal and the blogs had a name to them. And so they just kind of have taken that and used it as their business. Or you’ll see this happen when people decide that [00:16:00] that’s their business, like they’re gonna have a a business that is forward facing rather than a personal brand that’s forward facing.
For authors, I think the best thing for you to do is to use your name to have a personal brand, because here’s the deal, you’re writing novels, don’t, don’t build a platform around that novel because that’s just one thing that you’re doing. Don’t build a brand around a cute catchphrase. Build a brand around you and who you are and how you can serve your reader and what they can come to expect from you.
So use your name as you know, like create a personal brand. Use your name as your business name, use. Use your name as your domain name and we’ll talk a little bit more about that later. Build it around you, the author, because when people are looking for you and they’re looking for your books, they’re gonna be typing your name into Google into the search engine.
And so you want it just there [00:17:00] readily. You want people referring to you by name because your author name is what’s gonna be on your books. Not your cute website name, not your cute business name. People are not looking for your business. They’re looking for you when they’re trying to find your novels. So I hope, I hope that kind of helps clarify that a little bit for you. So my suggestion to you would be to use your name as your business name and and create a personal brand. I will be interviewing somebody who is a little bit more of an expert as far as like l l C goes, l l c versus sole, proprietorship and all of that, because I don’t, I wanna make sure that you’re getting the best information.
And so I want to interview somebody who knows all the details about all those different things and what’s beneficial to have, what’s not. For right now as you’re just getting started, don’t worry about doing the L L C. Just set yourself up as a sole proprietor. We’ll talk about that aspect of setting up your business in a different episode of, [00:18:00] I’ll do that on the podcast, but here in this series, I just wanna talk about like the nitty gritty stuff of setting up your business. And so for right now, Decide if you’re going to use your name or not on your branding, and then decide if you’re gonna go with that personal brand aspect of things, or if you’re gonna try to kind of be more like a business or a ministry.
Having said that, I wanna just talk quickly about the ministry versus. Like ministry name versus personal brand name. You will be tempted as a writer to write underneath a ministry name, especially if you have non-fiction tendencies. If you have like things that you write in non, the non-fiction space as well as the writing space or fiction space, you’re gonna want to kind of have some kind of ministry name there.
It, it’s very likely that that will come up. You will be like, oh man, I should have. I wanna have this ministry out there and right underneath this ministry name. [00:19:00] Here’s the problem with that. Your ministry name is kind of like that cutesy blog name. People aren’t searching for that. They’re searching for you.
And so when you are putting that all over the place in the socials, on your website and all of that, it becomes, Nobody’s searching for it, so you’re not coming up in their searches. And so you have to think long term as to far, as far as like how do people discover you? They discover you through searches and word of mouth, and so you have to frame everything in that context.
And so as far as your business theme goes I would suggest you avoid using a ministry name. Just use your, create a personal brand. You’re an author. If you are creating in a ministry that other people are working with you in then and you have like a community, you maybe have a membership, you all those things, then I think that falls back into that conversation of do we have two separate.[00:20:00]
And at that point it might be two separate businesses, but you have to ask yourself, is it really that different of an audience? Am I really trying to do something different or do I need to just own the fact that I am an author with a personal brand? We sometimes don’t like to be in the limelight, and I feel like when we hear personal brand, we think influencer and we think like, oh, well I don’t wanna be in the spotlight.
It’s not about me. It’s da da da. You’re right. It’s not about you, it’s about your reader being able to find you. So it’s about your reader. So when you’re worried about like, well, if I take on, if I do a personal brand, I’m gonna be, that’s kind of weird.
That’s like self-promotion. No, it’s not. It’s being kind to your reader so that they can find you. It’s as simple as that. On the same note, pen names. People ask me about pen names all the time. And here’s the thing about pen names. You’ll not see me use a pen name now. I am, I am. [00:21:00] I you’ll not see me use a pen name.
I will always use my name. I will use my name across everything. So like sometimes people will sometimes, sometimes people will do their real name for their non-fiction and then they’ll do a pen name for their fiction and to try to try to create two different brands. I. I’m not a fan of that. I think once again, I think it makes it complicated for your reader.
I think it can help you as the author, separate those two out and kind of feel like, okay, it helps you mentally separate the two out. Personally, I don’t think you need to separate the two out. That’s my personal belief. I know others suggest you do. I know others have different opinions about that, but I think I think nonfiction and fiction are just tools that you use to share the same message, so I don’t think you need to separate the two out. So I don’t think you need two different names. [00:22:00] If you do wanna use a different name, that’s totally up to you. I know many authors who have, and they’re very successful doing that.
I personally find it difficult as a reader. To learn more about an author I like. So I might read a book and I’ll be like, oh, that’s really cool. I should Google her. There have been times I read a non-fiction book by somebody and then I don’t even know they have a fiction book because they have pend it underneath a different name.
And so I never have the opportunity to read that fiction book because trust me, if I knew you had a fiction book, I probably would read it if I liked your non-fiction book. More likely than not, I’ll go read your fiction. And so it’s, it seems very, It feels like it muddies the waters to me. But once again, that’s my personal belief as from a marketing standpoint as far as being kind to our readers, making it easy for them to discover the work that we’re doing and engage with us in the work that we’re doing.
And so I would say no to pen names. I I have said no to pen names. I’ve chosen not to use a pen name for my fiction. I’ve chosen just to [00:23:00] stay with my name. Now, there are times your name is a little complicated and it’s a little complicated to spell, and it’s a little complicated to write and maybe it’s misunderstood, and so you might be like, well, I should just pick a pen name because it’d be easier on my reader.
Do not be afraid of that because if your name’s unique, it makes it easier for your unique name to come through. I hope that makes sense. My last name is kind of a, like, when people hear it, they think it’s this long, complicated thing.
It’s really not. It’s, it is very much spelled the way it sounds, but people kind of bulk at it. Fahrenbach, it sounds kind of like it should be complicated. Do you know, it’s a lot easier for me to find stuff with Rachel Fahrenbach, like domain names social media platforms and stuff because it’s more of a unique name.
I don’t have to worry about adding in extra words to get it because somebody else has a similar name. Also, even if your [00:24:00] name has a weird spelling to it, it’s still, it’s still unique. It’s still like, it’s almost like a personal branding. It’s like a branding piece. It just, it’s so. Different enough that sets you apart from all the others out there.
It’s actually a good thing. It works in your favor. Now, you might be like, well, yes, but people mistype my name. They misspell my name all the time, so they won’t be able to find me. That’s why we make content that has keyword in it, so people come across us in other ways other than. Typing out our names. It also, once you people start to get to know you, they’ll start to know your name is spelled weird.
You know, I think about as far as unique spellings go, I think about like Lysa TerKeurst, I think that’s how you say her last name. I know her name’s not spelled normally. I know that. And so, because I have seen it enough times to know like, it’s not spelled how you would think it would be spelled.
And so I know how to search either by her, not by her books names or by her name, just enough that she. [00:25:00] But she comes up. So I guess my point to you is you have to make the decision for yourself. Make it with the mindset of is it clear for my reader? Can my reader find me other ways? Is it gonna be one of those things that actually helps me in the long run get space on the internet makes me unique enough that people notice because there’s a lot of information, a lot of content coming at people, and when your name is unique, it makes, it, gives them pause and makes them think about you a little bit more. So don’t shy away from your unique name.
Whew. So I’ve talked a lot about business names and I didn’t even realize there was so much to talk about, but there’s a lot to talk about.
So what have I done? What have I done as far as naming goes? I, like I’ve mentioned, this is a personal brand, so I just use Rachel Fahrenbach on everything. I am going to keep that for my coaching stuff Rachel Fahrenbach, because the majority of what I’m doing is going to fall in that coaching space.
And so [00:26:00] I’m keeping my personal branding more closely tied to just my name. As far as my author platform goes, I’m going to designate that as Rachel Fahrenbach books. And I have seen people do this with like, especially if their name is pretty common, they might add author after it, a writer after it. Just want you guys to know that when I make these decisions, there’s reasons why I’m making these decision.
They may or may not be the best decisions. I may or may not have to pivot later, but for right now, this is the best decision that I feel like I’m making. I’m going to name it Rachel Fahrenbach books, because I want it to be associated with the books that I’m creating, not the coaching that I’m doing. I don’t want it to be associated with authors with being an author because I want being an author associated with my coaching too.
I’m an author that’s coaching you. I don’t want it to be writer because. Once again, I’m a writer who’s coaching you. I’m coaching you on writing, like this is my world. [00:27:00] Being an author, being a writer is part of my coaching. And so the, for me, it felt like books designated it a little bit better. Like this is about my books.
This platform is about the things that I create as far as books go. And that kind of keeps it separate from the coaching. Like I said, maybe not a perfect decision. Maybe doesn’t even have to be that complicated of a thought, but that was my thought process with it. So you’ll see my branding on everything will be rachel Fahrenbach books.com on my socials, there’ll be Rachel Fahrenbach books, all of that.
So you can see that as we go throughout the rest of the videos. That’s where I’m gonna land, and then it will be more of a personal brand. It won’t be. A business front or a ministry front, it will be more of a personal brand as far as how I set that up on the platform, how I set that up as a business.
So, like I said before, though, it’s still with, it still is under my coaching business. So it’s [00:28:00] actually all a part, a part of my personal brand. It’s just you’re gonna see it as a separate platform. That was a lot for this first one. I. You know, you don’t even think about how much goes into the things and the decisions that you’re making.
So I hope this kind of pulled back some of those thoughts, some of those questions, some of those like decisions you have to make for yourself As an author, you may have made some decisions already and you’re like, eh, I might have to go back and make some adjustments or pivots, and that’s okay. And is they okay?
You are doing the best thing with the information you have right now, and you’re making the best decisions you can, and I just, I’m cheering you on and I just hope you know that.
So I did mention an X, y, Z statement earlier on and I mentioned how I have a podcast episode on that. If you have not watched that podcast episode, you’re gonna wanna go do that, right now.
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Hey! I'm Rachel and I'm so glad you're here today!
I help Christian fiction writers figure out how they can make an impact and an income from their storytelling while keeping rest a priority.
You can learn more about how I’m in your corner here.
And you can learn more about my personal journey here.
One last thing, if you’re looking for a bit more rest in your life, be sure to check out the Rest & Reflect guided journal.