In: Insights for Authors
Creating an author brand is the perfect way for you to present yourself to your readership and to build a following. Your brand is your authenticity — your voice — your identity as an author. Stay true to yourself, your writings, and who you are.
Writing your novel can be difficult, hard and extremely demanding. Turning your inspiration, passion and creativeness into words, into chapters, into a complete book. Yes! You did it! You wrote a book! Now let the publishers come — let the readers find your work — you just know it will blow them away.
But then, the journey only begins. It is a frustrating one as you not only have to convince others to read your manuscript but also have to edit your ‘baby’ and edit again… All authors recognise this. Whether they are famous or just starting, everyone has been there. You are so thrilled with the final product, to hold your book in your hands. What will readers say?
You now throw yourself into the happy bubble of social media: you engage in Facebook Book Groups, you even create your Author Page, you love your book title so much that you decide to create a website, a Twitter account and even an email address with your book’s title! There. Done! Easy peasy — everyone will now be drawn to your book immediately.
How do I say this? Errm… NO!
Author Branding ≠ Book Branding
This is what I want to talk about today. You have been working on your book and thus, focused on how to brand your book. Many authors do. I know quite a few who still have their book’s title as their Twitter name (‘handle’) and the same for the website name. But think about this — you now are an author and are you positive your debut is the last book you’ll ever write?
So you say I’m the Author of Tittle Tales. What does that tell the reader, the audience? Are we drawn in — yes, we want to read Tittle Tales — or do we think ‘ok, so this author has written one book and is, apparently, awfully proud of their achievement.’ I apologise if this sounds offishly. But I do want to make you think about who you, as an author are.
Often, readers read interviews, have heard of an author’s name before they have read any of their books. What makes you as an author relatable, interesting and most of all, what is your unique feature or, as we call it, Your Unique Selling Point?
Branding is so much more than trying to sell your book — branding is the presentation of you as an author (and your books!) to your (future) readership. Branding is what makes you stand out from other authors. Branding is showing the public who you are, what you do and influencing what people think and believe of you.
Before you start marketing your book you have to establish your author brand — the foundation for your writings. For your presentation to the world. The public. For all those readers out there. As you might know, I used to organise book blog tours for new releases or to celebrate a book birthday or a specific date. Book blog tours are devised to put your book in the spotlights at a certain moment. That is marketing: trying to impact the sales for a specific book at a specific time.
Branding, however, relates to and builds a readership, a following. Your book may not be hot on the charts two years from its publication day, but you as an author have connected to readers that follow your blog, read and comment on your posts, are eager to hear news about your writings and your next project because they feel a connection with you — the author. The brand.
Author Branding… How To
“A professional headshot in front of a bookshelf says you’re an intellectual. A professional headshot peeking through a bookshelf says you’re probably under a restraining order.” ― Ryan Lilly, business professional
Now that made me smile! But really, it says it all. Think about how to position yourself out there between all those other authors. What makes YOU unique? Are you a one-genre writer? Then say it. Are your writings influenced by something specific? Great, let’s hear it. Show your following who you are and how you, the author, the person behind the words, relates to their stories. For instance, my friend, author P.A. Davies, loves to write in different categories — he is a storyteller. That is his unique feature — his signature — and that is what he shows the world.
Another author friend, Malcolm Hollingdrake, is a collector of art, paintings by Northern artists. This is something you will find in his books, this is who he is. A writer of detective fiction with always a mention of a new artist, an auction or a painting the protagonist admires or is about to bid for.
What they have in common is, that their social media profiles, be it Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, have the same look and feel. They are in accordance with, in this case, the man behind the books. As a reader, it is easy to identify them as their images are the same, their ‘signature’ is recognisable and thus, readers have no trouble in finding them and connecting with them.
Their Twitter handles, FB Author Pages, Instagram, and other accounts are (almost) identical. Represent their author brand. Not hint at a specific book but at the author, who in turn, shares their books, thoughts and musings with their following.
But… I have advised quite a few authors on their Twitter ‘handle’ and/or FB Author Page name. And, we found a much better Twitter name, representing themselves and their authorship, and changed the handle. Doable if you have but only a few followers — not so easy when you have many. One author had a brilliantly funny Twitter handle — but hardly professional and readers could not find him as the name was not at all his nor his books. Another author used his series name but now decides it is time for the author to come forward from behind the ‘screen’ of his alter ego and his series. People have yet to discover who he is, he has yet to establish a connection with his readers, a connection that could have been there from the start.
Your brand is your authenticity — your voice — your identity as an author. Stay true to yourself, your writings, and who you are.
- Have a funny Twitter name — you want people to take you — the author — your books, serious so start playing your part! In fact, don’t have a funny name at all! I recently came across an email address like this, “firstname.lastname@example.org” — yes, that is perfect to show your audience that you take yourself, your books. and your following seriously!
- Make it a puzzle for readers to find you on Social Media by creating perhaps exquisite but totally incomprehensible Twitter/FB Page names;
- Use your book’s title for your Twitter handle and/or FB page;
- Neglect your Amazon Author page — often the first impression new readers have of you as an author whilst discovering new authors;
- Only interact on social media when promoting your book(s) — not making any effort to create imaginative content
- Have a fitting email address, website name and Twitter handle — if you are, for instance, Agatha Christie, your Twitter handle could be: @AgathaChristie or @AChristieAuthor — in her case, being @AgathaMallowan would not be an option as it is not recognisable enough to readers;
- Be recognisable throughout ALL your social media channels — make sure the images you present yourself and your books with, the header for Twitter, your FB Author Page, Instagram, all have the same feeling, the same appeal. Whether I would visit your Facebook Author Page or your Twitter account, I would be able to instantly ‘see’ it is you;
- Define who you are in your bio and/or author profile (and make sure you update the profile if needed — I have read quite a few in the past days saying, ‘working on book 2 in the series’ where book 4 is due for release (book 2 and 4 are examples, not related to specific authors or series).
- Be concise, to the point and… a little bit of humour is always appealing;
- Make sure you add links to your social media platforms and your books so people can easily find you and your books.
- Create your unique tagline.
- Your brand is your reputation — how do you want to be perceived? — make sure your (created) identity represents you;
- You leave a mark with your books whether or not intentional;
- So you might as well MAKE it just the way you want;
- To engage with your readership — to connect with your readers;
- Your brand represents you — and your books. Everywhere.