As an author, you want to build a brand. And for any author, his or her name almost always is the brand.
Readers look forward to their favorite author’s next book. If you’re on of those favorites, that means they liked the first book they read of yours and have come to equate your name with quality reading. The more books of yours they read, then the more your name becomes the mark that they associate with a certain style of book and quality writing they like.
Your challenge then – in the marketing aspect of your writing career, at least – is to get them to pick up that first book of yours so they can get hooked and then to make sure they don’t forget your name and are aware of when your next title is released.
Be forewarned: That is going to take some time to accomplish, and it will require ongoing work to maintain.
Establish your brand
Begin by determining what your brand will be. Will you use your real name, a modified version of your name (such as abbreviating your first and middle names to two initials), or a pen name? What type of books will you write and what will be their tone?
Always be consistent every time you refer to and present yourself. All of your books must use the same name, your website must use that name, all of your social media and press releases must use that name, your business cards must use that name. Use the same avatar and if possible the same color scheme across social media platforms and all other promotional efforts as well; if someone doesn’t perfectly recall your name, the avatar and color scheme will help them be more certain that they’ve come to the right author.
Next, establish who is the audience for your brand. This will in large part depend upon the genre you write, as genders and age groups tend to prefer specific literary forms. Find that target audience on social media and elsewhere online, as you want to focus on selling your books and brand to those readers. Your message to this audience should be how your books meet a need of theirs – a style of writing they enjoy, a subject matter they are interested in, and so on. You will tailor your tweets and sales pitches to meeting those readers’ needs and wants.
As you promote yourself on social media, your website, and elsewhere, always differentiate yourself from the competition. Remember, hundreds of books are released every month in your genre; you must convince readers to purchase your book rather than all of the others.
To achieve this, ask yourself what sets your books apart from the competition? For example, you might pen hard science fiction that doesn’t forget the value of characters who grow, or rollicking adventure tales based on sound science, or near future stories in which the problems read in your tales today are those that readers will experience tomorrow. This feature of your writing must be emphasized constantly across all of your platforms. Focus in your messages how this makes your books important to your potential customer – that is, your books meet their needs and wants.
Along with this, also ask if there are unique ways you can successfully build your brand. While you want to do what works for the competition (such as an email list), you don’t want to write books exactly like theirs or repeat their marketing failures. For example, if you write near future stories in which “the problems read in my stories today you will experience for real tomorrow,” perhaps post pictures of those inventions, which are currently in research development, on Instagram. Those interested in such innovations will find you – but not other, less savvy authors – through those photos.
In addition, you want to establish a “voice” that is used across your promotional efforts. Your voice is the tone you take; it might be friendly, informative, serious, irreverent, self-deprecating, or any of a thousand other emotional states. This voice should match your avatar/color scheme and the genre you write in (an irreverent avatar, for example, wouldn’t work well with a serious non-nonsense voice). It also should resonate with your target audience. Whichever voice you decide, your messages should be conversational in tone by using “I” and “you” and share stories about real experiences, such as “behind-the-scenes” material from your writing and research.
Brand building done consistently over time will help you sell more books as readers who love your kind of writing can more easily find and follow you. “A brand is a story always being told,” former Starbucks executive Scott Bedbury once wrote. Well, for an author, telling a good story is what it’s about, so you should be fantastic at building a brand!
My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.