By Cecilia Lewis
Previously, I’ve written several posts about marketing tips for authors. But one important element of branding I haven’t yet discussed is branding. Your author brand will influence many, if not all, of your marketing and promotion decisions. Knowing your brand and what fits within it is a crucial element of marketing both your work and yourself as an author.
Many authors are reluctant to think of themselves as a “brand”—they want to feel that they’re connecting with readers, not trying to make a sale. Which is a good feeling to have! But it’s important to realize that everything you do to promote yourself—even if it’s just posts on social media—contributes in some way to readers’ perception of you and, by extension, your brand. Understanding how your brand is perceived and cultivating it is a valuable skill.
So, how can you determine what your brand is? Here are my tips:
- Familiarize yourself with other author brands
If you’re not doing so already, pay attention to what other authors are doing, especially those in the same genre and category as you. Follow other authors on social media. Subscribe to their blogs and email newsletters. Check out their website. Notice the way that these authors distinguish themselves from one another. I’d recommend looking at authors whose books you’ve read and those whose work you’re unfamiliar with. If you’ve read the author’s books, do you think their branding represents their work well? How so? And if you haven’t read their work, can you tell what kinds of books they are just by looking at their website/social media? How can you tell? What are they doing to convey their brand to you? Familiarizing yourself with what different brands look like and how they can be expressed will help you in thinking about your own.
- Decide what works for you
Now that you’re familiar with multiple branding strategies, think about which of these strategies appeal to you. What are you comfortable with? What do you enjoy talking about? What fits with both your books and your personality? How can you bring out those elements in your branding? Don’t force yourself into doing something that doesn’t feel right for you. Recognize your own marketing strengths and cultivate them.
- Ignore what doesn’t work for you
I’ve heard a lot of branding advice given to authors—some of it good, some of it less so. Know that some advice simply doesn’t work for everyone. For example, I’ve heard it said that authors shouldn’t be outspoken about politics on social media, yet I can name a large number of authors who are very outspoken about certain issues and have cultivated a large social media following because of it. At the same time, I don’t think that being so outspoken about these issues is right for every author or brand, especially if the author isn’t comfortable with it. It’s okay to ignore advice that just doesn’t mesh with your brand—even if that advice is in this post!
- Be willing to experiment
This might seem contradictory, but it’s important to be open to new ideas concerning your brand. While you need to know the fundamentals of what works for you and what doesn’t, that doesn’t mean you can’t be open to trying something new. Successful brands are able to grow and change over time in order to fit the author’s evolving needs. Don’t be too attached to an idea or platform that isn’t working, and don’t be afraid to try a new one. Whether it’s experimenting on a new social media platform, trying a new marketing technique, adding a new element to your brand, or something else entirely, it can be good to keep your brand looking fresh, and you might find that doing something new will keep you feeling energized.
- Be genuine
Ultimately, the best thing you can do for your readers is be honest and represent yourself authentically. Don’t get so caught up in branding that you forget to connect with your readers. No matter what branding style you choose, there will be readers that relate to it—as long as you present yourself genuinely. Instead of lessening that connection with readers by turning yourself into a marketing machine, use your branding to connect better with readers by reflecting who you are.
Have you noticed different branding styles before? What works for you as an author? What works for you as a reader? Let me know in the comments!
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