If you're serious about publishing and have done some research, you're probably familiar with the term "author brand". Numerous sources online, book coaches, and marketing experts all agree- having an author brand is crucial to your success as an author regardless of how you publish. But for someone new to publishing and book marketing in general, hearing this can be daunting at best and confusing at worst.
What exactly do we mean when we say author brand? For many authors this can translate into being brainwashed, limiting your creativity, and restricting yourself to a certain color-scheme, imagery, or PR spin. While some of these elements are applicable, this is a myth that we'll be debunking in this article.
Having a streamlined author brand can also affect your book sales. A cohesive message can provide the clarity and interest needed to boost your author business and generate more income. Done successfully it will do the following: 1) Define exactly who and what you are as both a person and an author, 2) Will inform your readers about your books, and 3) It will tell your potential readers why they should choose your book over your competitors.
What Is An Author Brand?
An author brand seems like a scary concept if you don't know where to start. That's why we're taking a moment to define precisely what an author brand is supposed to be. An author brand is an umbrella term used to describe multiple elements that meet one goal: Telling the reader who YOU are and why they should buy YOUR book.
An author brand is an umbrella term used to describe multiple elements that meet one goal: Telling the reader who YOU are and why they should buy YOUR book.
Without one, you risk confusing your potential readers, not establishing yourself as an authority within your genre, and losing out on current and future book sales.
What's The Purpose Of Having An Author Brand?
Naturally the second question is typically, what elements create an author brand? When we use the term "elements" we are referring to all the specific style choices, created tools, and identifiers that create a unified image that represents both you as a an individual and you as an author.
Think of it like this: An author brand is the "essence" of YOU. That means that you are building whatever visual meets your likeness. The primary goal of your author brand is to announce to the world who YOU are and say "Here I am, this is what I'm about".
For this reason, an author brand isn't supposed to be cookie cutter! When done well, it should accurately reflect your own unique vibe and personality. After all, you WANT to stand out in your genre and attract attention. You WANT to build a following that is loyal to YOU. Most importantly, you WANT to create a recognizable image, which means you WANT to stand out enough that readers (and future readers) will be able to recognize your work without you having to specifically tell them it's yours.
More than that, your author brand serves a very important purpose. It helps to build the trust between you and your readers. When readers get to know your author name and have their interests piqued, they're more likely to listen to what you have to say- and read what you have to say.
What Elements Make Up An Author Brand?
Creating an author brand consists of many individual elements. Here are the most basic, and arguably the most important.
Your About Me (Author bio)
Chosen design elements: color scheme, fonts, stylistic elements, etc.
Professional headshot/candid photos
Your interests, skills, and accomplishments
Your book and other literary works
Any Awards you've won
Your education and experience
Your mission statement
Your social media
Together these elements create a cohesive look that help explain to your audience what they should expect from you and your work.
The Myth Versus The Reality
Many times we've heard from writers that they don't want to build an author brand, unaware that that's exactly what they're already doing. We hear common complaints such as "I don't want to do what everyone else is doing", "I don't want to adhere to a boring color scheme", "I don't want to drink the marketing cool-aid", and "I feel like there's a lot of pressure to adhere to just one type of author brand". We hear you!
From experience we know that many of these complaints come from a misunderstanding. Many authors believe that in order to have an author brand, they have to transform themselves into the cookie-cutter heavily-polished type of branding that we often see authors use. They see it as having to be something they are not and having to "put on a show" that doesn't fit with their idea of what they want themselves as an author to be.
If this sounds familiar, allow us to clarify. Regardless of whether you are intentionally doing so (or not) if you're in the process of or have already published, you already have an author brand. The difference between an author who is successfully marketing themselves versus one who is not, is whether or not you know how to use your author brand and are actively putting it to use.
The difference between an author who is successfully marketing themselves versus one who is not, is whether or not you know how to use your author brand and are actively putting it to use.
As creatives ourselves, we completely understand the desire to be free and unrestricted. We know that writers fear that actively using their author brand means that they will have to define and put themselves into a category or box. This is the myth that holds so many authors back from their true potential!
Having an author brand doesn't mean you're limited in what you can do. Quite the opposite, in fact. It's about unlocking your author potential and showing the world what makes YOU unique. The point of marketing is to create a strategy that works for you, your goals, and makes you stand out amongst your competitors. Simply put, you can't stand out if your author brand looks exactly like everyone else's.
Ready, Set, Brand!
Now that you understand what an author brand is and what it is supposed to do, here are a few things to keep in mind:
There's no "right" way to create your brand:
Remember, it's not a competition, rather a journey of self-discovery. Building your author brand is about finding out what resonates with you and finding ways to visualize it. Once you know what you want to say to your readers about yourself, it's your job to pick out ways to show them exactly who you are. It's going to take time to figure out how to make it all come together, and that's okay. You'll know when you're doing it right based on the positive responses you're getting from your readers and followers.
Be yourself and have fun:
Creating your author brand should be fun! Don't stress about being perfect, having it all together, or whether or not people will like what you're doing. Instead, focus on trying new things. Determine what you bring to the table (and your genre) and use that as your inspiration. What makes you different? What makes you unique? How does that come out in your writing? Your future fans want to know! If you're enjoying the process people will connect with that energy and rock out with you.
Find what works for you:
Not everything you try is going to work. That's okay! What works for one author will not work for another. It's a natural part of the process and the number one reason why you shouldn't strive to copy another author brand. If you see an author who has gained popularity, sold a ton of books, or is genuinely connecting with their audience it's because they've tapped into their author brand potential. While you can follow their lead, it's important to find your own magic.
How Can An Author Brand Help Your Book Sales?
The big question of the day is how your author brand affects your book sales. The answer to this question is that it can have a significant difference. How, you ask? Let's explore.
Having a clear, concise, unique message and a strong visual impact can open many doors to an author. At the basic level it allows your readers to understand you and get to know you. Better yet, it allows them to peek into the window of your world and root for your successes. It allows future readers to gain a sense of what they'll be paying for when they buy your novel (and you best believe that if they like you as a person they'll be more willing to shell out the cash!). But beyond that, leaving a memorable impression can lead to greater opportunities in the future.
The biggest benefit of polishing your author brand is that it leaves a lasting impression. When people feel they know you, what your goals are, and can support your journey and novel they'll be loyal in their pursuit to help you. That alone does amazing things for your business and your reputation as an author. The more people you have in your corner, the more resources you have to work with. Gaining the trust and respect of other authors in your genre will lead to collaborations and eventually keys to reach a larger audience collectively.
With a larger audience comes the inevitable boost in sales. It stands to logic that the more people who are talking about, reading, and reviewing your novel the better it is for your career. When you have a network based on communication and a strong message, it's then possible for more prestigious doors to open. Media outlets such as podcasts, literary magazines, or blogs may ask to interview you. An agent might see you've collected a sizeable following and ask to represent you, or a publisher might find you on Amazon's Best Seller's list and want to publish your next book. From there you'll gain a bigger platform to promote your books, more sales and reviews, and who knows? Maybe you'll go on to win awards or sign a deal to turn your book into Netflix's next adaptation series.
Amazing things can happen when you present a unified, cohesive view into your life as an author. Now it's up to you to show the world exactly who you are.
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