How to Brand Yourself as an Author
In the age of social media, branding is key not only to corporate but also to individual success, and as an author, you are your own brand. You’re also largely your own marketer because even if you sign with a traditional publisher, it’ll expect you to do much of your own marketing.
Engaging with your audience and creating an image that represents you and your work is essential to making an impact, which will then be reflected in sales, so don’t ignore these elements when marketing your book. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, check out our bespoke book marketing packages to improve your chances of success.
What is branding?
Branding is what defines a product or a service and allows it to stand out from the competition. It’s what makes someone or something recognizable, unique, and memorable—qualities you definitely want to project as an author. Just as you can recognize major companies from their logos, slogans, or other branding elements, you want to create an immediately identifiable image for yourself.
Making a good impression comes down to presentation, and for emerging authors, this can mean the difference between enticing a reader to purchase your book or losing a potential buyer. After all, there are a lot of authors out there, so if your branding is lackluster, readers will start looking for someone else.
Branding is about visibility, relatability, and building a following: it’s the way you create your public identity and how your image represents you and your work. It’s what will make your name recognizable, your titles coveted, and your fans loyal as they’ll feel like they know. If you brand yourself well, you’ll be more successful as an author because you’ll be someone. Branding must be intentional, thoughtful, thorough, and genuine, connecting you to your target audience. You have to stay consistent, too. You can rebrand if you need to, but don’t make a habit of it.
So, how do you build your own brand?
Define yourself and your work
We know you’re multifaceted and layered, but creating a brand is all about building your reputation, which means choosing a few words that describe you and your work. Your branding should be relatively simple and straightforward—if it’s too complicated, people won’t be able to get a solid impression when they first find you.
Think about the authors you love and what words you would associate with them—creative, compelling, gripping, exciting, original, funny, profound, romantic—and then think about the words you want associated with you. You should go with words that accurately describe you, but don’t be afraid to be aspirational—remember that branding is about how you want to be seen. It’s a persona because you’re playing up certain aspects of yourself while keeping others private, but it still has to be genuine. Also, don’t plaster the words you choose everywhere—they’re not meant to literally describe you but to guide your style and presentation.
Part of defining your work is understanding what you’re offering. To do that, you need to have a clear idea of what genre you’re working in, who your target audience is, and how you stand out from the crowd. Identifying these points will make it easier to describe yourself and connect with your demographic by being clear and deliberate with the message you’re sending. If you’re exceptionally creative, you may produce works in different genres, in which case you’ll need a particularly strong and carefully designed brand to tie all your books together.
Conceptualize your style
Branding is visual, so you’ll have to consider things like colors, images, and fonts you want to associate with your brand. These visual elements must be congruent with your message and portray the kind of writing you’re selling. Keep them consistent across your website, social media profiles, and anywhere else that you can display your brand as this will enhance your professionalism and keep you easily recognizable.
What kind of author are you? Are you writing children’s books, romance, sci-fi, or political thrillers? Answering these questions will help you define your brand as each genre has a style that readers are already familiar with, and although you aim to stand out, you don’t want to stray too far from the conventions. Creativity simply for the sake of creativity is no good—successful marketing needs to take human psychology into account. Connect your cover design to your general brand and make it consistent across the board so your audience can easily recognize your work.
Create headshots, logos, and taglines
Given that marketing is such a visual field, colors, fonts, and images aren’t enough to build your brand, which is why you also need a logo, a tagline, and a headshot. Your logo should be simple but memorable and look good on a small scale so it can be used on profiles, business cards, and other promotional materials.
A tagline—a single sentence that tells us something about who you are—can be paired with your logo to add depth to your brand. Think of it as your social media bio: a description that tells your audience who you are, what you care about, and what you’re selling. It may be short, but it has to pack a punch if you want to make a splash, so take the time to craft an impactful tagline.
Your headshot is probably one of the most important elements of your personal brand, which is why we highly suggest hiring a professional photographer who specializes in portraits if you can afford it. We know not everyone enjoys having their portrait taken, but think about how good your black-and-white shot will look on your book jacket, eBook, author website, guest blogs, or interviews. Readers want to be able to associate your work with your face, so give the people what they want. A great headshot can make you appear more professional and personable. Make sure you also love your photo because you’ll be using it everywhere.
Build your online presence
Social media is a great way for authors to promote their work and grow their audience, but it’s not enough. An author website is an essential element in marketing your book and establishing your brand. It should, of course, link to any online shops that sell your work and to your social media profiles, where you can interact with your audience more directly, but having both static pages (your author bio and book highlights) and dynamic pages (blog posts, interviews, and videos) will allow people to get to know you and better understand your brand. A website lets you share what you want with your audience on a platform that fully embodies the brand you’ve created.
You can also include a press kit that will provide journalists, reporters, and bloggers with all the necessary details to promote your work. This should be offered as a downloadable PDF as well as on a permanent static page on your site and should include information such as a short bio, a press release and synopsis of your latest book, your headshot, and your contact information. Keep it on-brand and brief so interested parties will have to contact you for any follow-up questions.
Publishing your book doesn’t mark the end of your journey—not if you want to make money from sales. It’s really the beginning of your career as an engaged and strongly branded author. Marketing is a huge portion of what makes a book successful, and branding is what makes marketing effective. If you need some help with this step, reach out to our experienced team for a book marketing quote and get ready to start promoting your book.