Another key topic at the Backspace Writers Conference was marketing or, more specifically, branding. Who are you and what do you stand for? Think authors and consumer assumptions.
If you pick up Nicholas Sparks you know it's very book club-ish as in people fall in love, someone dies, and everyone feels reconciliation at the end. If it's Jodi Picoult, you know there will be serious issues tackled and likely alternating points of view. Melissa Banks or David Sedaris equal comedy and often shorter vignettes. John Grisham is legal thrillers. You get the point. The big question is what are you synonymous with?
If you're just starting out the answer may be, "not much" but that's why planning ahead is important. Successful brands don't just happen; they're strategic and opportunities are taken to reiterate that brand in the marketplace.
If you have a platform let it be known. That means if you're a lawyer and you write legal thrillers or you're a doctor and you write medical dramas then you should include that in your query. That helps give you legitimacy and is part of your brand.
Ways to improve your brand recognition is to be your biggest advocate--to get out there whether with your local writers club, critique partners, social media platforms, book review mediums etc. As one agent said, "Think of a Google search as a personal resume." Check what the Web says about you and work to reinforce, modify, or fill in the blanks.
So, who do you want to be and what do you want your writing to stand for?