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If you are writing a book (or hope to someday) at some point you are going to have to create an author brand. Without it, you’ll be hard pressed to sell any books or get noticed by the media. 

The good news is that developing and optimizing your author brand doesn’t require a ton of steps or an unlimited budget, but it will take time, strategic thinking, consistency and determination.

But before we get into specifics:

What Do We Mean by Author Brand?

If you’ve been reading our blog for awhile you’ve heard us talk about author platform before. Your author brand is not the same thing, but it is related to your author platform and certainly the two should always exist together. Whereas your platform is more like the distribution methods you use to interact with your community, your brand is what ties it all together cohesively and actively builds trust with your audience. It is both how you present yourself as an author, and how your readers perceive you. 

Whether we know it or not, all of us have a personal brand. You could think of your personal brand as the words people might use to describe us in a conversation. It could be things like: Kind. Friendly. Motivated. 

At Launch My Book, our brand is honesty, integrity and shooting straight with our authors. Above all else we want to make sure we are providing quality information to help authors make the best choices for their book – without all the hype and inflated expectations that is all too common in this industry. We find people like working with us because we are friendly, knowledgeable, and take a vested interest in their book. 

Our brand dictates how we show up on social media, on our website, and one-on-one with clients. 

But, our brand didn’t happen overnight. We had to think strategically about how we wanted to be perceived in this space, and what sets us apart from other self-publishing and book marketing companies. 

How To Develop Your Unique Author Brand

As you start to think about your author brand, ask yourself what makes you unique, and what are some qualities and attributes you want to be known for. Write down some words you want people to use when describing you. What feeling do you want to give them?  What message do you have for your audience that is unique and helpful to their specific situation? Will you be optimistically positive or use humor when addressing your audience? 

Answering these questions and more will help you remain consistent as you develop the different brand elements needed  to start your platform. 

Your author brand elements includes everything from your:

  • Author headshot
  • Bio
  • Tagline
  • The colors you use on your website
  • Logo (if you have or need one)
  • Your unique value proposition that sets you apart from others in your field

You‘ll also want  to spend time developing your author brand and growing your author platform before you think about things like approaching the media, landing a book agent, or even selling a high volume of books. That’s because potential readers will want to interact with your brand first before they decide to make a purchase. In fact, there is an old marketing adage that says a person will interact with a brand at least seven times before making a purchase. That means you need to not only develop a strategy for consistently engaging with people across a multitude of platforms, but you also need to create a brand they trust and enjoy.  

Once you’ve fleshed out what you want your author brand to be, it’s time to infuse it across your entire platform. 

Here are five ways you can start optimizing your author brand:

  1. Figure out who your audience is and why. The key to building any decent brand is knowing who your target audience is and why. There is no such thing as a general reader, and there is also no such thing as a general audience. 

Getting clear with yourself on who you are trying to reach and how you want to positively impact their life will dictate everything you do – including how you write website copy, what kind of social media channels you need to be on, what kind of book reviews and testimonials you should go after, and so on.It will also help you determine if your efforts are successful or not. 

Knowing your audience and their specific pain points will help you develop your core messages, your tone of voice, and how you show up and interact with your audience. 

You cannot move forward with building an author platform until you know who your specific audience is so that you can learn to speak directly to them, address their frustrations, and help them understand why they should be a part of your author community. 

2. Build a website: Arguably the most important thing you can invest in when building your author brand is a website. Your website is also a crucial piece of your author platform, because this is your home base. It’s where you can do everything from create original content on a particular subject to generate email leads for your newsletter. It’s also a resource to tell people more about yourself, and your book. Yes, your author website can literally do all that, which is why it’s such a crucial tool.

Because you have full control over your website this is where you can create the building blocks of your  brand elements – everything from your color scheme, your logo, your tone of voice, how you talk about yourself, your core messages, etc. In fact, your website is the only space you have full control over so really lean into this space to emphasize your author brand.  

As a side note, your website does not need to be complicated with a dozen pages. However, it should have an inviting homepage, a way to contact you, an ‘About the Author’ page, links to purchase your book if it’s live already, and a blog where you can continue to generate original content for your readers. 

3. Get on Social Media: Love it or hate it, social media is a key structure for building your author brand. Even if the thought of being on social media makes you cringe, it is the place where people from all walks of life come to engage, connect, and interact with one another. Social media is also where you can spend advertising dollars to utilize the intricate algorithms to help you find the right community. In other words, if you aren’t utilizing it you are missing out on infinite potential to reach your audience. 

When done right, social media can help promote your brand and potentially your books to people who may not be signed up to your newsletter or follow your blog. It’s also a great place to test if people are interested in what you have to say, and how they engage with your messages. 

Make sure that your social media channels are indistinguishable from your website and are highly optimized. In other words, use the same author headshot, include links back to your website and book pages, add a professional bio and cover image that reflect your website, and keep your posts consistent with your tone of voice, mission and core messages. In other words: stay in your lane.  Unlike your personal page where you might be taking pictures of what you made for dinner that night, every post on your professional social media channels should be focused on building your authority on a particular topic, and reinforcing how you want to make people feel when they interact with you. Everytime people show up on your social media channels to see what you have to say, you want to be delivering content that feels authentic to your brand. 

4. Optimize your book pages with reviews, testimonials and content: Looking for every opportunity to build your author brand means even looking at your Amazon book page and seeing how you can customize it to reflect your brand. This includes things like 

Every misstep in your author brand can negatively impact your credibility and accidentally make it look like you don’t know what you’re talking about. 

Again, making sure your brand is seamless across all platforms is key, because if someone lands on your book page and they see an unprofessional book cover, or a poorly written book description, or no customer reviews,they are going to feel duped and leave without making a purchase. Worse, they may stop trusting your brand all together. 

5. Stay consistent: In the beginning it’s going to be really hard to stay consistent. Getting on social media and posting might feel like screaming into the void because no one is even there to hear what you have to say. A simple mind shift can help this and it’s a great lesson we learned from award-winning children’s book author Krystaelynne Sanders Diggs who said “you’re doing this for you.” 

Instead of focusing on your end goal, which may be having thousands of followers eager to purchase your book, think about the journey instead. Use these early months to document your progress, your process, and your small wins along the way. Do it for you, because your story deserves to be shared, and eventually people will find you. Don’t get discouraged! 

Not taking the time to work on your author brand can really hurt your chances of being a successful author. It’s never too early (or too late) to start building a credible author brand where you can consistently show up to engage and interact with your audience. 

If you need help assessing your current author brand and what steps you can take to improve it, reach out to Joel Pitney for a free consultation

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