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Men With Pens is one of the top copywriting sites on the web, and James Chartrand is well known on the small business and internet marketing blogs. Today I'm excited to talk to her about writing under a pseudonym, website design, branding and copywriting.
In the introduction, I talk about my current fiction rebranding for JFPenn.com: Ancient Mystery, Modern Thrill and tell you a bit about my protagonist Morgan Sierra as I have been challenged by a listener to reveal a little more. The interview starts at 10:30 mins in if you want to skip the intro section.
James Chartrand is the founder of Men With Pens, creating world class websites and copywriting that will bring you business results.
- James Chartrand is a pseudonym. James explains how the business copywriting world favored men. Women were earning the leat and men were running the companies. She also wanted some anonymity. She found it was refreshing to work ‘as a man' since people treated her with respect. Even bidding on the same jobs as a man vs a woman, she noticed the difference in the way she was treated as well as the rates she could charge. The credibility in using a man's name was immediate. As soon as she started to use James, her business improved. Men With Pens is also a masculine styled site so the branding is consistent. It suits James' personality but is also a business focused site. For the full story, check out this post on Copyblogger.
- On authenticity when using a pseudonym. A name is just a label you give to something. The personality can remain constant but the name can be whatever is it. The person behind James is the same so the authenticity isn't a problem. On changing my author name to J.F.Penn – read this post to find out my own full story. James and I discuss the personal attacks we have experienced from women who were angry at our decisions. The men didn't care and moved on to business and results. But James wants to change the perception – it's about being a businessperson first. Gender shouldn't matter these days but unfortunately it still does.
- Brilliant website design and why it's so important for authors. James mentions some of her favorite authors who have ugly and terrible websites. BUT if the author is established, it doesn't matter. New authors don't have this luxury. We have to stand out in the market. We have competition. The author website is a way to connect. It's critical to make a good impression and a personal connection. You can only do this through your web presence and social media. Bring them back to reading your work, so they will read your books, enjoy them and tell their friends. Chris Guillebeau, author of the recent $100 Startup tells how it was easy for him to get a book deal as he had an established platform online. Read more in James' guest article – Is your website hurting your writing?
- Website mistakes. A bad choice of colors can kill first impressions. The first thing James notices is the color blend on a site. Looking alive and that someone is there and active can give the impression that the author is doing well. You can create a “bigger” impression than where you are right now. There are a lot of color associations people make. James goes further into Color Psychology which fascinates me. Perception and mood are critical. Colors have to reflect you and the brand you're trying to evoke. A mystery might be greys and blacks, whereas a go-getting kickass non-fiction book might be red and modern white. People will judge you on first impressions so you have to get this right. (This discussion is part of why I have gone with a grey, black & white palette with JFPenn.com)
- A mistake is believing that the book will speak for itself. So the author doesn't explain anything – about themselves, the book or where it sells. The book can't sell itself. You need to provide information. Why does this book matter? Why should they read it? Treat the book like a business.
- If you have several different books, think about branding yourself. You might have wildly different types of book so focus on you as the author. The first impressions of your site will influence how “important” people think you are. You can make yourself look a lot “bigger” than you are online by a great design. How you dress your online presence makes a huge difference. Don't lie but do play up your best qualities so people can get a good impression.
- On copywriting. Fiction is about story and entertaining. Copywriting is about selling a message. It might not be for money, but it is meant to evoke action of a specific kind. It's about influencing people through words and uses sales and marketing techniques. Influence is not about being a scammy online marketer. It can be done in a professional and authentic way. It should make people feel comfortable. Your back blurb is a Product Description. This is the realm of sales copy. It is copywriting as you want people to take action and actually buy your book. For more info on copywriting, check out James' Men With Pens blog and also Copyblogger.com Copywriting 101 tutorial
- On writing fiction. James has been writing fiction for years and was originally in role playing games. James thinks that fiction writers are great copywriters. She mentions Johnny B. Truant who was on the last podcast.