Developing your author brand

Your author brand is determined by several things, including your writing voice, personality and the way you communicate visually on your website and social media profiles. Although you may think that branding is an odd concept to work with in publishing, as it sounds like it would be more suited to a board meeting at ‘Coca Cola’, it is actually used by the most successful authors today. A strong author brand can drive audiences to buy and read books. If you would like to reach a wider audience, establish your name and generate more sales, you should invest some time in developing a brand. Here’s how.

Pinpoint your audience

The first step to building an author brand is to pinpoint who your audience is – then you can think of the best way to reach them. You might find that there are a few different types of people who will enjoy your book. Try to narrow it down to one ‘Primary’ audience and one ‘Secondary’ audience, first.

Try answering these questions to pinpoint your audiences:

  • Who reads books that are similar to yours?
  • If your book was in a public library, where would it be?
  • What age and sex are your main characters? Do you think this will match your audience?

J.K Rowling’s books eventually had an unrivalled reach, but she was initially targeting the older child market. It was only later that young adults, and then everybody, caught on.
Similarly, art historian Erich Gombrich intended his ‘Story of Art’ to be read by high school students. Since it’s first publication in 1950 it’s become one of the most popular art history books read by wide audience and has been revised 16 times.

Figure out what your audience likes

Once you have pinpointed your primary and secondary audiences, start by writing down some of the things they would be interested in. What brands do they like and why? What personalities appeal to them? Think of other authors they might follow and have a look at how they present themselves in the media. Are they approachable or aloof? Do they give tips to fellow-writers, or focus entirely on readers only? What websites are they on and what colours do they use on their profiles?

If you try to put yourself in their shoes, then it will be much easier to select the best tools for reaching them and figure out how best to persuade them to read your book. Otherwise you’ll end up with a one-size-fits-all-scatter-gun approach which will have little chance of achieving your goals.

Appeal to your audience

Now you have a clear idea of what kind of thing your audience likes, spend a few hours writing the following for your own book and author brand:

  • A short bio – Talk about who you are, why you write, where you come from.
  • A short synopsis of your book – Write it in a style that would appeal to your audience.
  • A list of colours, images, and websites that would appeal to your audience.

With these things in mind, you can now build up a personality that you can use in events and online. In terms of your marketing, you are going to need to get yourself out there as much as possible. Like any brand, you will need a logo, so ask a friend to take a professional photograph of you in a style your audience would like. Also, download a copy of your book cover and use this on every profile you make for you and your book.

Here are further tips on how to effectively build your author brand:

  • Develop a voice
  • Your voice could be your own personality, or your writing voice. What kind of voice does your audience want to hear? Note down all of the products and brands your target audience enjoys, and then try to imitate their ‘copy’ style. For example, Aussie hair products have a very different tone of voice to Head and Shoulders; which one would appeal to your readers?

  • What media channels work for you?

  • Are you the type of author who prefers to meet their readers online, or offline? Are you aloof, or do you like to get involved with discussions? Think about your habits and gear your branding outlets – such as social media, events and websites – accordingly. Instead of trying to master all online platforms, choose few that have the biggest potential for you and use them well.

  • Don’t give up if you don’t see results immediately.

  • Building your author brand takes time, but the results are worth it!
    Now you are recognisable and have a clear aim, you can begin marketing! Take a look at our Marketing Plans to help you get started.

    More advice and articles on developing your author brand

    A bit more on marketing & the author brand
    An interview with Polly Courtney, which contains helpful tips

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