How to Build Your Author Brand in 3 Easy Steps
If you want to build a successful career as an author, there’s one thing you need to know:
You should create an author brand to attract your ideal readership and form a deeper connection.
The best part is that you might never need to “sell” your books again. Your author brand will take care of that for you.
What are we waiting for?
Let’s take a closer look at how to build your author brand right now.
What exactly is an author brand?
Let’s start with the basics.
An author brand is basically a set of opinions, associations, emotions, and value characteristics about you and your work in the minds of the audience.
There are two sides to branding, physical and psychological.
Think about the actual identity elements, like your name, tagline, logo, selected colors, supporting graphics, and so on. That’s a visual representation of your work, aka the physical components. It helps you to stand recognized on the market.
And then there’s another side to an author brand, which is basically reputation, expectations, and so-called promises. In other words, a set of ideas that a reader has formed about you on a mental level.
Let’s break it down even more with some examples.
When you think of, let’s say Agatha Christie, what visual mental flashbacks do you get?
Let us guess. Crime?
Then, there are physical components, such as:
- author headshots
- black and white color theme
- the image of Miss Marple
How about the psychological side?
- plot twists
- unexpected endings.
That’s the deal: when you decide to read Agatha Christie’s books, you already know what to expect from her brand.
Get the idea?
As you might have guessed from the previous examples, the author brand is a combination of a strong recognition tool and a bunch of promises to the readers.
How to build a successful author brand
You may start by answering the following questions:
- Describe what exactly you write about. What type of activity should others associate with you?
- Who is your target audience? Who are the people you are trying to reach out to?
- What’s your mission? Why do you want to promote your book through author branding?
- Give a clear description of yourself as an author using just a few words. Emphasize both professional and personal qualities.
- Are you an innovator or conservative? Depending on the answer to this question, your branding style will either defend traditions or look for new ways.
- What are your competitive advantages? It is necessary to indicate not positive qualities, but what allows you to stand out from the crowd.
- What are your disadvantages? What can prevent others from perceiving you as they should?
You may use the questions above to create a raw idea and foundation for building an author brand.
Now let’s talk about some important steps that you need to take into consideration in order to create a successful brand.
Step 1. Define an author brand story
This one is relatively easy. You write stories for a living, don’t you? So all you need to do is use your skills to create a story about your brand. It’s basically the “About us” section on almost every website you visit. Make it engaging, add some interesting details, but at the same time, be honest and transparent. You do not want to confuse your target audience. That’s why your story should be closely related to the products you are offering, in this case, books (#duh). It should make sense. Your actions, decisions, and flashbacks should be harmonized with the themes you use in your writing.
What are you waiting for?
Create the first draft of your brand story by answering the following questions:
- How did it all start?
- What life-changing event/moment/thought occurred to you so that you decided to start writing books professionally?
- What is your character as a writer? (You may even change the writing tone (soft, humorous, aggressive, etc.) depending on what impression you want to create).
- What should readers definitely know about you?
- Why are you writing this right now? What is your aim and mission?
Keep it simple. However, your story should have a beginning, a mid-climax, and an end result.
The experience of world-famous companies confirms that a worthy brand story should include:
- Success outcome
At the first stage, tell us what problem you encountered.
Then describe the decision-making process.
And finally, show everyone your achievements and current situation.
Be careful with the last step.The listener should not have the feeling that this is the “end of the road.” Assume everything is just a beginning. Mention that you plan to develop further.
Author brand story tips
Now let’s take a look at some other author brand storytelling insights :
- A great story helps you connect with people on a subconscious level. When you have something exciting to tell, there are high chances that you will find a grateful listener.
- Another thing to keep in mind is that the brand story is not just a marketing necessity. It is not advertising or selling text.
- A good brand story is always told by the person who is associated with this brand in the audience. Personality is always the central element.
Step 2. Define your target audience
We’ve heard about it. We’ve even already discussed it before way too many times. Behold the target audience! It’s quite similar to the book audience. Same same, but different. In this case, we are not taking into account a particular book that you are researching before starting writing, but your whole writing career. Find your ideal customer and reflect on them when creating the author brand.
Knowing how to find and analyze the target audience based on psychographics and demographics might work to your advantage.
Take into consideration that your brand’s ideal customer should be attracted to every aspect of your work. Your style, your tone, your characters, essentially your brand.
So, all you need to do is find common ground with people that you need to reach out to. Speak so that your words resonate with potential customers. They should mainly agree with your guiding lines and support your values.
When your brand story reflects in the target audience, consider that you have laid a solid foundation for trusting relationships. Mission accomplished!
Step 3. Define your unique selling point
Every brand should have a unique selling point or preposition as part of their marketing plan. We are talking about a few core qualities that your brand focuses on.
Now it gets a bit tricky in the book publishing business, simply because there are tons of authors and works out there. Whatever topic you’re covering, you are most probably not the first one. So do not, we repeat, do not think that you can take a broad term “story writing” and turn it into your selling point. Look for something else.
We recommend concentrating on 2-3 aspects, and keep 2 more as a backup plan. Do not focus on too many things, because the readers might get confused and just forget half of the information.
As a test drive, write down five qualities you would like to be associated with as an author.
Just to give you an idea, you might want to be THAT guy, who is very serious about environmental issues, or THAT lady who writes about and often travels to Asia. Got the point? Great.
Now let’s also describe some practical elements of the author brand.
Author branding checklist
If you are just getting started, go through the list of the branding elements. And begin working on your author brand as soon as possible.
And if you already have an established author brand, you can use our checklist to review, modify, or just scan how many of these items you crossed off your list.
Enough chitchat. We present you with a branding checklist.
An author logo should be the first thing on a branding “to do” list.
Think about it, the logo is extremely important to make sure your name stands out from the rest, and both your existing and potential readers can immediately recognize it. It also makes you appear much more professional.
Here’s what you need to do once you get an author logo:
- Update your social media profiles/ banners/cover photos
- Get business cards
- Use the logo in your printed materials
- Update your email information
Your name is your logo. Don’t be too shy, and make your name the key element of your logo. In the book writing business, using symbols might not be the best idea, so it’s better to just come up with a catchy design for your name/surname variation.
Brand colors and fonts
Select two or three dominant colors and stick to them. You can and should use some colors in your author brand. Move away from the old-time favorite black and white combination and try something different. The color scheme that you choose can become a memorable and recognizable feature of your brand as well.
However, be sure to select your colors carefully, not to become an eyesore. You need to pay attention to your genre (especially if you write in several) so that the colors will match it well. You might want to take into consideration color theory.
The same set of rules applies to the font choice. It sometimes has even more value and meaning than the words you are spelling out. Be consistent. Use the same font style for your author branding.
A lot of self-publishers use a tagline when designing their author brand. Brainstorm it for a bit and come up with a catchy and short phrase that will explain what you, your books, and your author brand are all about.
Website and blog
This one is huge. If you don’t have a website yet, stop reading this article and fix that.
A basic idea would be to get a domain of your nameandsurname.com. And then use your imagination of what you would prefer the website to look like. There are some options here.
- You can just have a landing page with a call to action, let’s say follow you on the social media platform of your choice. Hint: it’s the one where you are planning to engage with the readers the most.
- You can also go full in and keep updating your website with the information about your books, news, and interviews. The list is endless.
Another trick is to get an author blog.
Classified information: An active blog gets way more traffic than a static website, and Google ranks websites by activity level and links. When Google likes you, you become visible to the rest of the world.
- You can use the blog to share your thoughts (well, that’s what blogs are for, aren’t they?), ask for feedback on your ebook cover design, connect with the readers, or network with other authors.
- You might want to link the blog to your website and social media channels, and here you go, enjoy author branding. Now you are in charge.
Social media accounts
Build a strong presence on social media.
We can go on and on and describe how important social media are for any branding these days. But you most probably already know it. A picture is worth a thousand words. So we will just illustrate some social media branding style:
Business cards and other printed marketing materials
Create some physical materials. It just helps your reputation. You seem much more professional if you have those. Sure, it’s old school and might not be the most effective method, but trust us, it still works.
Update your email to make it more professional. These are baby steps to real author branding. Get a professional email account. Modify your email signature. So that when you start sending out, let’s say newsletters, you would also promote your author brand. By the way, this is perfect timing to take advantage of your book cover design. Use it as an email header. This way, you can kill two birds with one stone: improve your author branding and promote the book itself.
Author branding design tips
Last but not least, you should not neglect the power of design in author branding.
Remember, we talked about building a reputation through author branding? Well, here you go.
- Be consistent in all your branding elements
No one wants to be dealing with a muddy puddle of colors, fonts, and images. The design of all elements should look professional, have the same style, and be in harmony with each other. It boosts your reputation a lot.
- Be clear and precise
Be clear with yourself or the hired help (designer) regarding your needs and expectations.
And of course, if you are going with the second option don’t forget to leave some space for the graphic designer to conduct his own creative research.
To sum up
We hope we managed to persuade and motivate you to start building your author brand. Go through our step-by-step branding guide and define the core elements of your author brand. Once you are done, go back to the branding checklist to make sure everything is ready to go.
Remember: There are so many ways to build a strong author brand. Get to it!
Let us know if you have any questions.