Business First

Everybody wants to be the star. At least it seems that way.

Every day, there is a new business, new artist, new book, new music, new something to support. And artists are breaking mediums and doing any and everything to become the next “it” factor. Many fail—at first.

One area most artists struggle with is branding. Not necessarily finding the right specialty, but not taking care of the most important steps for setting up the brand.

Coming up with a name that would honor a friend and be catchy took some time. I needed a name that people would recognize and not have a hard time spelling or remembering when looking for my books. When I started writing as Cedric Quincy, one of the first things I did was make sure I could purchase the name as a dot com (.com). Registering the web domain was one of the first signs that the name wasn’t trademarked or being used to promote other products. The company I owned at the time bought the name and built the blog. Soon after, I secured the Yahoo and Gmail email addresses, gaining access to two of the most powerful social media outlets. Then initially, I registered the name on many of the adult websites I knew my readers frequented.

I took care of making sure the Cedric Quincy name meant providing relatable male/male/female and sexually fluid content from the black prospective. I also made sure that my backstory was solid and unique. I did what many independent artists are doing now and securing a future for themselves.

The outcome. My first print LBGT novel, Blackberry Molasses secured major promotion from two well-respected adult websites. I am forever indebted to Mike and for a large marketing campaign that reached thousands of readers. And a well-respected adult entertainment site paid for my cover and helped set up extensive marketing beyond social media.

So if this is what you want to do, you have to take care of the basics. I’m not going to say that you need to have a polished product, though that would help. I am saying spend a little money and take a little time to protect and build a foundation for your brand.

While I was publishing my story online, I built a Facebook and MySpace pages. I registered locally with the Register of Deeds (in some counties, you’d go where you’d acquire your business license) to use Cedric Quincy as an assumed name. This would allow me to set up a bank account and purchase certain properties under that name if I should so choose. A good idea would be to get an employer identification number (EIN) through the IRS. And even if you are a solo act, I would strongly recommend incorporation or forming an LLC as your name. Even if you choose to use your birth name, this will allow you to create a formal and legal separation from your business should things go south. Ludacris gave the best advice on getting started in his song, “Tell It Like It Is” off his Release Therapy.

When I first got in publishing, I didn’t know that some of my favorite authors who used pseudonyms incorporated or created legal holding companies as their pseudonyms. I also didn’t know that many of my favorite R&B and rap groups that owned their names were able to do so under the production companies they created. Those who didn’t ended up fighting later on for use of names that belonged to someone else or in the case of Soulja Boy Tell’Em, had to change his name temporarily until that was straightened out.

Of course, the finish product would have to be dope, or else who’s going to remember you. But what you don’t want to happen is that you put out something hot and lose the revenue because you didn’t take care of the basics.

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