There is a difference between book branding and author branding. Book branding means that everything you do online will encompass your books. They will remember the name of the books over who wrote them. If you step outside your book branding with a new series or genre of books, you better have a pen name for those books because people will be upset if they are too different from your book brand.
Now, if you build your brand around you, this means making a name for yourself in the reading world. Yes, you heard me right, reading world. Why not the publishing world? Because not all of us have to answer to publishers and their impossible dictates. Some of us only have to answer to our muses, ourselves, and sometimes our readers. Although the opinions of readers are rather subjective to tastes, so that doesn’t always work.
An author brand is more than logos, color schemes, taglines, or message points. Though those things do help create an ambiance, but what you need is:
Write a Great Book and grab your readers attention
This isn’t the NaNoWriMo novel that you slapped together in four weeks and never touched again. This is the book that you revised, edited, and proofread. This is the book that you sent out to beta readers for feedback. This is the best version of the book that you created, and finally let go into the world, only to think of more things you could have done better. Like the Underworld in my novel could have been darker and more gloomy at first, oh and there was that part…See what I mean.
As an author, the ability to provide readers with something unique that no one else can offer will grab the readers attention and make them fans.This usually takes the shape of author’s voice, because no two authors write the same way. Although some may try.
This emotional attachment happens when people believe that they have formed a bond with the author, think they understand them, and/or they are moved by the stories they love. Note: the stories don’t necessarily have to be any good for readers to become attached to them. Readers will buy a book on the sole fact of this emotional attachment, because the perception of higher quality is there. Now not ever reader will agree that the same author is worth reading and buying. The reading experience is subjective.
Define what makes your brand unique and stick to it
Find a distinctive word or phrase that defines an aspect of what you do and then make it yours. I’ll take my writing as an example. At this moment I’m a fantasy and paranormal romance author. So what would be my brand? What should I focus on? Romance? Fantasy? Paranormal?
If you chose any of these you’d be wrong. I focused on none of the genres. I noticed that my story ideas all have a common thread. Every single story idea is based on a creature from myths or legends. Every single one of my ideas has a romance running through it. So that’s what I focused on, Myths and Legends and Love. My tagline is, “Where legends live. Where myths walk. And where love is eternal.” I says everything about what I write.
Build every aspect of your brand equally
These are your actions as well as your visual and verbal elements. Your message points that should be used in every spoken and written communications. This would be your email signature, you sign off at forums, reviews, and interviews. Your visual elements would be your website, your letterhead, and your professional photo. Think about that one for a moment.
People are judgmental; it’s just part of our nature. We judge a book by its cover, a website by its look, and an author by their photo. So take a good look at your website and author’s photo. Do they reflect the image you want to send out to others? Do they look like other authors in your genre?
Just like book covers have a certain look for different genres, so should your websites and author photos. Take a look at a few of your favorite authors. Then look at some that aren’t in your chosen genre. See if you can tell the difference. And if not, look for my post on author websites, author bios, and author photos another day.
Be consistent on marketing your brand
Just as publicity works better than advertising in the beginning to get your foot in the door. People who visit your sites need to know what you are marketing, which means that you need to communicate with a solid core message. Your brand should be in all that you do. However, if all you do is sell your, what makes you different then a car salesman with a flashing sign screaming: SALE! SALE! SALE! EVERYTHING MUST GO!
Part of effective marketing is the ability to connect with people on a personal level, not just because I want them to buy My Lord Hades (transmit subliminal message: Buy my Book! Mawhaha…)
The connections you do make with readers in chats, workshops, interviews, random emails, and reviews are what sale your book. Think word of mouth. One person tells five friends. Those five friends might tell five more friends. And the cycle goes on.
Deliver what you promise
Whatever your brand image, make sure that you stick to it. I made this mistake two years ago when I co-authored a book with a relative. I didn’t want to do separate websites so I ended up confusing my merging brand. I put a fictional book on my romance website. People bought the fiction book thinking it would be a romance. Others, who would have read the fiction thought it was a romance and didn’t buy it.
I removed it from my website and created a website that I hope better fits the brand I want to convey. Consumers are loyal. But they’re also fickle. Disappoint them and you lose them.
Always evaluate, build, and refine your brand
This will be a constant thing as society, readers, and your career change. When your image is no longer consistent with your brand, you need to refine and adjust the brand to make it fit you as an author. This is going to be a continuous process.
I hoped this helped. I invite you to comment, question, or discuss what I’ve said below. And if you found this of help to you, please share this with your friends.
(Disclaimer: This is a re-post of articles written in Dec 2010 and updated.)