The Super Secret Sacred Words and our Fearless Leader

People ask me all the time how old my children are and I reply with a proud smile, “I have a 91, a 93 and 97.” Everyone reading this post who has a child who has played or does play hockey is rolling on the floor laughing hysterically because they get it.  They also understand that my nearly new SUV has more miles than the average 1966 Chevy owner. Seriously. Of course there is the advice I give my boys every time they leave for the big game, “make mama proud and hit someone.” Yes. I really say that. $20 bucks goes to the first Talty who “drops” someone. For those of you who have hockey players or follow the sport, this all makes perfect sense, for the rest of you it’s a foreign language.

All of the above is what is known in the “branding” world as SACRED WORDS. Sacred words are simply terminology that helps people feel as though they belong, and we all want to feel like we a part of something.

Sacred words are important because they are created out of communication with your readers and in such a way that makes them feel as though they are part of a special little world. When Bob and Jenny Crusie did the He Wrote/She Wrote blog their fans (the Cherrybombs) took a hold of things that Bob and Jenny said and made their own little language consisting of living the dream, we’re all doomed, nothing but good times ahead, and whose turn is it to watch moot?

Bob and I use things like: many roads to Oz, content is king, know the rules, break the rules, write it forward, lead follow or get out of the way, writers create the product, readers consume the product, readers rule, and of course Bob has been abducted by aliens 14 times and knows exactly what that mothership looks like.

Scared words are simply sayings we use over and over again that when people hear them they think back to us, or our books, or our blog, or whatever it is we are working on branding. These words or phrases should happen organically and not forced on our readership, but they are things we need to think about because they support our Creed: the singular notion we want people to think and feel.

Everything about Branding I’ve talked about so far (Creation Story, Creed, Icon, Rituals, Pagans, Sacred Words) are meant to be used as a looking glass into the connection between you and your readers. Remember, we writers produce the product and readers consume the product. That is a relationship and every relationship has a beginning (creation), a special meaning (creed), a symbol that connects them (icon), a set of interactions (the rituals), the people who don’t like your books (pagans) and a set of words or sayings that bind you together (sacred words).

And then there is the LEADER. A leader is a visionary. A leader has the ability to make tough choices and do what is best in the long run. A leader is good with big picture and projects out, but also has the ability to make adjustments when the big picture shifts. A good leader listens to the people he/she works with. Not everyone is built to be a leader. I always joke with my husband that I’m really, really good at being the support vehicle. The one that takes the visionaries plan and implements it. The joke is I take direction well, but at the same time, taking direction well is a good quality.

In your own branding plan YOU are the leader. In your network of followers YOU are the leader and it is important to exercise good leadership. This comes at the reader level and also at a professional level. Bob mentioned in his last post that no one is going to care as much about your book as you, and for the most part I agree totally, except YOUR readers care and any one else you bring on your team. Readers are a big part of your team and if we go back to the very first post I did on branding I talked about the promise you make to your reader. That promise is a trust and a bond.

Branding isn’t about marketing as much as it is about understanding yourself and finding that comfortable place where you belong…with others. This entire series is meant to show you how we as humans connect with others and build communities. Understanding that dynamic will help you develop a real reader/author community.

The 7 parts of primal branding are important and I truly believe it is important for every author to really examine each part. The creation story is who we are and from that everything else is built. It will change and grow over time, because we change and grow.

What are you doing to make that connection with your readers? And just for fun, what are your personal sacred words?

I’ll start. One of my sacred words/sayings that I use in my circle of friends all the time is: write ugly, it’s beautiful.

About Jen Talty

Publishing Consultant, Author of Romantic Suspense and Co-Creator of Cool Gus Publishing with NY Times Best-Selling Author Bob Mayer.

Posted on May 4, 2012, in Author Branding and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. I use my Special Forces background and my traditional publishing background as part of my brand. I invested over 20 years in each so I feel that’s appropriate. Also, I now use my indie author success as my new focus.

  2. My brand is magic fantasies. I have an angel icon on my Guardian Angel ebooks that is the brand for them. Sacred words? I know I use ‘sure enough’ a lot, and get things to shine and glow or tickle, itch, in my work, which is part of the magic.

  3. Jen, this is a great way to set ourselves apart while keeping us on the minds of our audience and network. They’ll associate our unique creed or sayings with us. Branding. I’m still trying to figure mine out as a new author…and this helps as I muddle through who am I, who do I want to be as an author, what do I want to represent, how do I want to connect with people, and what passions of mine do I want to express? Thanks Jen!

  4. Helen W. Mallon

    The religious imagery in this sytem is pretty striking–makes me think of my “brand” which is my Quaker background –interesting in the light of Bob’s military one. As deity of my creative world, (monotheism prevails even in Quakerism today) key words are from the Quaker plain speech–thee and thou, used ungrammatically. (Does thee?, not dost thou?) The trick is to offer that to readers in a way that’s not so obscure that it’s alienating.

    Another word–phrase–would be–“May I be open to this moment”–that’s from Buddhism, but the Quakers are down with that! Helps greatly with the ups and downs of this writin’ life.

  5. I haven’t come up with any buzzwords for my brand but former NFL player and coach Dan Reaves had a big sign with this slogan when he coached the NY Giants (Bob will like this):

    Expect nothing
    Blame nobody
    Do something

    Words to live by for writers.

    Thanks Jen for another great post.

  6. Two words – brilliant post. Some writers brand instinctively. Other writers take intelligent guidance and run with it. However one achieves success, the endeavor is a worthy one. Thanks for validating! LT

  7. Spread knowledge (with me it’s the Civil War) in such a way that informs while providing entertainment. Indeed, we writers will all eventually “drive our own wagon”…it’s just so much easier if we’ve learned to do so using the best leather, the best mules, and the best hardware out there. ANOTHER EXCELLENT POST! ☺

  8. Hi Jen, I think I mentioned to you once before that I live in Hawaii so that means I don’t know dick about hockey, so none of those numbers mean anything to me, but because you put it in the context of sacred words, I understand that they don’t have to mean anything to me, but they do mean something to you. Over the years in countless work situations and with friends we’ve come up with all sorts of “catch words’ that we just have to say out loud and then all fall over laughing because we all remember the event where the words were spoken. And for some dang reason, most of them were lines from the movie “Jaws.” I can go a year without seeing my friend Kris, but all she has to do is get on facebook chat and say: “that’s a big fish” and it makes me smile. Thanks for the great post.

    • We say that’s a big fish all the time! Of course my favorite movie line of all time is from Overboard “Its a hell of a day at sea, Sir!”

      Those numbers are the birth year of my kids. Hockey teams are made up of birth years, so you know what age level your kid is at based on the year they were born. What really freaks me out is when some says they have an double 0 or an 01–only because it reminds me I’m getting old.

  9. Great post, great series of posts – congrats, it’s never easy to get this sort of stuff down in simple fashion. One thing I was wondering: would you consider, under the overall umbrella of sacred words, the cadence of the author’s voice (i.e. how the author uses language)? I’m thinking of authors like JR Ward (an obvious example), but also Susan Elizabeth Phillips, even Nora. I know I have a pattern and rhythm to my writing that my readers pick up on and identify with me. I think most bestsellers do. Could that be a further evolution of Sacred Words?

    Thanks for making me think :)

    • Stephanie–excellent question and the answer is ABSOLUTELY! That connect to readership is key and the majority of our communication with our readership, especially for fiction, is through our book and how we use language when we write. When I was at the NEC conference last weekend the keynote speaker was Kristen Higgens. Her speech (which was fab) was in the same style/voice as her books. I was sitting next to a friend who is a huge Kristen fan and she made the comment of why she loved Kristen’s writing comparing it to her speech. Later, my friends spoke with Kristen and that communication/connection was continued through exactly what you are talking about–that pattern and rhythm and even sometimes its simple words used in our writing that is used in our speech patterns.

  10. Great post, Jen!

    I use Sacred Words like: Nothin’, over the moon, writers helping writers reach readers, great books for great prices, D.D. Scott-ville, Nothin’ beats…

    I’ve also used those words in my Creed:

    Nothin’ beats writers helping writers reach readers with great books for great prices

    Thanks bunches for all this Primal Branding scoop! U rock!

    And it so works…I get a kick outta my readers saying: “as D.D. would say…”

  11. great article! Haven’t read the others, but will go back and look for them! Thanks!

  12. Yvette Carol

    Yay!! Jen, another primal branding post, just what I’ve been waiting for. I love love this series. You’ve helped me so much, so far, to really solidify my brand. I am such a green novice, on my own out here, and it really helps me to feel ‘up with the game’ being part of this online community. Now I followed the Creation Story and Creed posts and have a file which I’ve been adding to with those. I see that you have skipped to the end with Sacred Words. Please tell me I didn’t miss the others in between somehow?? Anyway, you’ve really got me thinking with Sacred Words. I know I say certain things over & over, but I’ve always tried to monitor myself and curb that habit. This is the first time I’ve thought of it in a different way…. I will work on this one!
    Yvette Carol

    • A couple of posts back I did the one on Pagans and Rituals.

      We often pick up on things other people say and sometimes adopt them. When they become part of our communication in a given community then a tighter connection has been formed. This really needs to happen organically and forced on people and others will contribute to our sacred words.

  13. This post turned the old lightbulb on in my head. I write medical romance and adventure. The hero of my first book said: “Don’t add to the problem. I’ve got enough corpses to worry about.” I find myself repeating this phrase a lot. I think those have become my scared words.

  14. I have such a smattering of different genres in my books … but if I could claim one constant thread, it would be conversational comfort. Not exciting, is it … but it is the one constant that people who take the time to review my books include in their remarks… “like she is right beside me, holding my hand,” and “I am right there with her.”
    Now, how would you market that kind of brand to promote books of poetry, education commentary, small town life, and Multiple Sclerosis?

  1. Pingback: The Super Secret Sacred Words and our Fearless Leader « Jen Talty and The Glamorous Life

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