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Ask the Publisher: Building Your Author Brand

Ask the Publisher

On Monday I wrote about an author platform and whether or not one was required. Every step you take to build a platform goes toward building your author brand.

What is an author brand?

A brand is “The intangible sum of a product's attributes: its name, packaging, and price, its history, its reputation, and the way it's advertised,” says David Ogilvy, author of Ogilvy On Advertising.

For an author it’s the impression that people get about you. It’s the way they feel and the words they would use to describe you—what they associate you with. These perceptions are formed based on:

  • the genres you write in

  • your book covers

  • your social media presence

  • your website look and feel

  • your blog content

  • the substance of your talks and public appearances

  • your author photo

Everything you release under your author name whether it’s a book cover or a Facebook post gives a reader an immediate impression of what you stand for. From that, they will decide whether or not they want to investigate you further. You can take control of this impression. You can decide what you want them to see and hear and then be consistent in your delivery.

How do I build an author brand?

Building a brand is a matter of meeting expectations. For instance, it is a book cover that matches the contents. It is a website design that is consistent with the genre you’re writing (a website full of pinks and peaches and curly fonts had better not be for an author who writes thrillers). It consists of designing your brand and then communicating it consistently across anywhere you are public.

Pro Tip: If you write in more than one genre, or both fiction and non-fiction, and there is a clear distinction between the two (or more), consider having separate author names and public presences for each to avoid confusing readers.

Designing your brand

Consider these questions when designing your brand:

  • What key words and categories best describe your books? What words might a reader use to Google for a book they were interested in reading? These words or phrases set a reader’s expectation.

  • What images best represent your writing and are attractive to potential readers? These include the images on your book covers, your social media banners, your website and any marketing materials you use, like posters or bookmarks. If you can, put your face on your website, social media profiles, business cards and other public marketing materials. This helps to build a sense of connection with readers.

  • What colours are best for the images you chose? For example, darker colours evoke darker themes like those in thrillers, horror, murder mysteries; pastel colours evoke romance or ‘chick-lit’.

Pro Tip: To get started, look for successful authors who write comparable books to yours. See what they are doing and model (don't plagiarize!) your images, colours, and descriptive words after theirs.

Think about these three components, make decisions, and then move on to developing your brand consistently. If you keep changing things, you’ll always be starting again, and no one wants that.

After design…comes content

Content is king. Content in your books, your blogs, your articles, essays, and talks should consistently reflect your brand and be of use to the reader. If you use the content you produce to create long-lasting relationships with people—to connect and make their lives better in some way⎯you are well on your way to building a successful author brand.

What contributes to your author brand: -the genres you write in  your -book covers  -your social media presence  -your website look and feel -your blog content -the substance of your talks and public appearances -your author photo

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