Author branding, when done right, can be critical to future success. And self-publishing authors must be able to do this right.
Even when choosing traditional publishing, something many authors miss at the beginning of their careers is creating an authentic online presence to engage readers. If you’re self-publishing, though, it’s central. You’ll be your own editor, designer, social media coordinator, production team, etc., and everything traditionally done by a publishing house, you’ll need to be doing yourself.
And you may not like imagining yourself as a marketer when all you want is to get on and write.
In this article, graphic design platform 99designs walks you through a few key tips (and how to keep it fun, too).
Why branding is essential for authors (self-published or not)
Building a brand for yourself helps your audience find out what your work is all about, what you stand for and what they can expect from you. It establishes a connection with your audience and takes no more than a few careful steps to consider.
Step 1: Defining yourself as an author
The following aspects can help you communicate your unique personality and engage with readers.
Your author persona
Use the storytelling skills you (almost certainly) possess already. Then apply them to you. What is the character of your public self? Are you snarky, quirky? Or more introspective? What is it you are sharing with your audience? Defining yourself will help you understand what you want to create. So consider your story, or “public persona”.
Next, think about your reading audience. Who is reading your books right now? Who do you want to read your books? Are they the same? Think about what kind of person would represent your current or ideal audience. Then examine why they are interested in your writing. By defining who your ideal audience is and understanding what they are looking to get from you, you’ll be able to communicate with strength and clarity to the right people, and think about the community you want to create.
Finally, and most importantly, you will need to define your specialty. You may not be the only romance or fantasy writer in the world. But whatever you are writing about, you are bringing your specific one-of-a-kind perspective, voice and way of thinking to the page. This differentiates you from other writers out there. This is your “Point of Difference”. Do you have a specific style, unusual skill or experience? Consider how these things may make you or your writing special. (But, please, never show off.)
Step 2: Presenting yourself as an author
You need the right tools to communicate with readers. So here are a few tips on presenting yourself as a writer through design and social media.
Get your author website designed
You’ll need to get a website and logo designed. And both must look clean, polished and professional, no matter how wacky the design. Your logo could be your name or a graphic, as long as it works with the style of the website and doesn’t clash. The look and feel of your logo and website should depend on this vibe you are going for. Look up any images that inspire you. Note down hues and typographies you like for CSS. Then once you’ve decided on a look, keep it consistent.
Then build a presence
It’s not enough to simply have a website. You also need to actively build your online presence around it. Engage with readers and other writers to have the most impact. One of the most effective ways is regular blogging, keeping your audience engaged and helping them to know you better. It’s also good to be active on social media, but consistency is everything. So select the channels you’re sure you’ll use. Stick with them until you’re happy to experiment. Share updates and answer questions, but don’t just tell us about you. Look up chat hashtags to join (i.e. #amwriting on Twitter). If you see things you like, repost and reply. Others will be likelier to reply to you, too, building your following. And engagement is better than constant self-promotion. Look also for Facebook groups, forums or other blogs, where you can comment, write posts or share your content and opinions.
Brené Brown’s website, for instance, is an excellent example for author branding.
Find your readers where they are
Though it’s good to stick with the social media you’re confident with (especially if you’re new to it), look online for where you would find readers that could be interested in you. Say if this is Instagram (i.e. perhaps you’re a novelist, but also an aspiring poet), and you’re not an Instagram user, then it might just be time to learn. Join in the likes of Rupi Kaur and Lang Leav. Get to grips with hashtags, too. You can become part of the conversation and people will get to know you. By interacting via social media, as a general rule you can find vast groups of interested people to engage with, spread the word and start building a following of your own, leading them back to your site.
Step 3: How to stand out as an author
The true challenge is to create a one-of-a-kind-brand for yourself as a writer that sets you apart from everyone else. To achieve this, here are some last pointers.
Be true to yourself
To really be successful, you need to be authentic. Only if you let your authentic personality shine through in all your efforts can you build a strong and compelling presence as an author. Your readers will appreciate your honest voice, so stick to who you are to build a connection. The most important core of your author brand is you.
It’s easy now to be impressively consistent with your site design. Online tools exist to help you create matching Twitter and Facebook cover and profile photos, etc., for a polished look across your site and social media. To establish a clear idea, and so everyone knows it’s you, create a consistent style across the digital channels your audience can find you on.
Incorporate your ‘Point of Difference’
As discussed earlier, this is your biggest selling point. The clearer you can let it shine in all you do, the easier it will be for you to build a loyal audience.
Conclusion: your aide for success
So, the obvious: good writing is what will get you read as an author. Nevertheless, building an authentic brand as a writer is well worth it, despite the effort involved.
A clear and convincing image of your work to the world will be key to building a loyal and engaging audience – vitally, one which loves you not just for your writing, but also for who you are as an author.
99designs is an online graphic design marketplace. Cookbook or crime thriller, 99designs’ community can create compelling book covers to stand out on Amazon or the shelves of your local bookshop.