Author branding is something all writers, authors & poets need to consider in 2020 & beyond. Here are 5 tips to write your own story & connect with readers.
In this Author Branding article, you will find information on the following areas:
- Why identifying your ideal audience is vital to plan your content creation and social media strategies,
- How being yourself as a writer will help followers and fans engage with you on a deeper level,
- Why identifying your USP is critical to carve a niche for yourself and make your author branding stand out from the crowd,
- Recognising author branding is selling yourself and not your book is one way to focus what you share online, write about in blogs, and create content to promote,
- Why consistent author branding is required to ensure you build a style, look, and tone that is seen across all of your content.
Read the rest of the Author Branding article to start building a brand that will stand the test of time.
Like many writers out there, I had the impression that ‘author branding‘ was simply a case of setting up a writer’s website and several social media accounts. However, as time went on, I found there was quite a lot more to it than that.
Posting random images on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook isn’t enough to ‘connect’ with those who choose to follow you. Rather than readily consuming content, fans want to feel as though they engage with you on a deeper level. They want the content you produce to resonate with them and be something of an experience.
As many writers out there in the online writing community are self-published or independently published, they do not have the luxury of a marketing team or branding experts to assist with such issues. Unfortunately, those of us who are on our own need to learn author branding from a standing start without a team to help. Usually, with nothing more than YouTube Channels and creative writing blogs to learn from.
In this creative writing tips article, I wanted to address one of the issues suggested by my followers on Instagram and Twitter. As a fiction author and professional marketing copywriter, I wanted to share some tips that you can use to build an author brand that is more than a flash in the pan.
Identify Your Ideal Audience
Before you consider author branding as something you want to invest months and years into, it is vital to put serious thought into who your ideal audience is and how you feel you can engage with them. By researching who your audience is, you will be able to build a persona for the ‘ideal audience member’.
This process will include a lengthy spell of research to profile other social media accounts and websites that resonate well with your demographics or ‘audience persona’. As you compile this information, it is essential to gauge the type of content that your audience enjoys consuming.
Here, you will also be guided to the social media networks that your audience uses. Many writers and businesses set up social media profiles simply because they know they ought to ‘be on social media’. However, with targeted social media usage, you will be able to focus on the networks that work for you and help grow your author brand in an appropriate manner.
Through my Social Media & You e-Learning course, I have worked with businesses in multiple sectors to help shape their social media usage. One of the most common mistakes I see is that managers set up social media accounts across every possible network. This dilutes their content, and they quickly find that social media ‘takes too much time’, meaning it falls by the wayside. Ultimately, this hurts their business and brand exposure, leading to audiences disengaging and losing interest entirely.
When approaching author branding, take the time to focus on who it is you’re writing books and content for. This will mean you have a group of people in mind to whom you will shape your content and promote yourself when fiction writing.
Be Yourself When Author Branding
As social media and internet trends evolve, so do the tactics required to develop brands online. Audiences around the world are becoming much savvier about whom they choose to follow, engage with, and promote online. Rather than blindly following a company or writer for the sake of it, people need to feel a connection and a sense of engagement with personalities.
Writers need to think carefully about how they wish to portray themselves in all forms of media, whether they are blogs, websites, social media, or podcasts. It is through these media that your audience will connect with you. Therefore you will want to showcase the person behind the books. By doing this, you will bring an air of authenticity to your author brand, and it is this authenticity that followers and fans want to engage with.
When you be yourself as a writer, you want to sound authentic and put your voice across as a writer. Where you may spend many hours developing your fictional or poetic voice as an artist, it is crucial to devise a similar approach to how you will appear to those who invest time in you as the creator. It is this brand voice that followers and fans will invest in. Readers may buy your books but, longer-term, they will invest in you as an author.
Identify Why You’re Unique
Online, there are millions of experienced and young writers who are all vying for the same pounds, dollars, or euros. With the accessibility of KDP and writers giving away free Kindle books to appear on the ‘bestseller’ chart, it is getting harder than ever to sell a set number of books a month.
This is where you need to have a longer-term plan and take ownership of your author branding. By creating an image and style that sets you apart from the crowd, you will have a much higher chance of growing your readership and spreading your author reach through social media shares and word of mouth.
All of this starts with identifying why you are unique and how you can portray that USP in the content you produce and share online. Rather than doing what the rest of the ‘sci-fi authors’ do, you should look to what your unique properties are as a person and a writer. Consider questions like:
- What is it about my writing that sets me apart from other authors?
- What personal strengths do I have that other writers don’t?
- Do I have any professional skills or abilities that others would be interested in?
Afterwards, you will be able to promote yourself as a writer with a focus on what it is you are trying to share with people. By sharing your USPs, you will be able to convince people easier when it comes to buying your books and following your journey as a writer.
Sell Yourself, Not Your Book
Author branding is about gradually crafting an online persona about you as a writer. As an author or a poet, you are more than your latest fiction books or collections of poetry. In time, you will hope to write many pieces that you’re proud of, so taking time to build the foundations of something that will last for years, rather than a matter of months.
Start by setting out to create an author website that elevates you as the writer. By all means, create landing pages for your books, but don’t make the entire site about your latest piece. Doing so will mean that your author branding will get lost.
This means you will likely have to purchase a domain name for the site. Here, it is vital to choose a domain name that will stand up against time and also the competition. For example, when I was looking for a domain name for my author website, I was unable to use Scott Gilmore. The reason for this was that there were other Scott Gilmore’s out there with much higher exposure than I had at the time.
Therefore, I decided to look at my author branding as a company name, SG Fiction. This meant I wouldn’t be competing against Scott Gilmore, the Canadian entrepreneur, with a much higher Domain Authority (Search Engine Optimisation term) and awareness online.
For those of you who want to use an alias or ‘pen name’, you should follow the same approach I have laid out above. Search the name online and see who else comes up. You will want that name to be as unique as you can make it in an already crowded digital world.
Be Consistent When Author Branding
One of the most critical points to consider is that of intent. Powerful author branding doesn’t merely happen. It is forged and developed over the years to show an online vision of you that you wish others to see. This forging is calculated, planned, and structured, meaning that the writer has a clear mission and focus for the months immediately ahead.
If you wish to develop a brand as a writer, you need to be calculated and consistent in how you approach all digital media, interviews, and appearances in person. In other words, you are developing a ‘brand identity’. Therefore, others need to identify your brand with a particular look, feel, and voice.
Ask yourself whether you have, or need to organise, resources like:
- An author website,
- A logo and colour scheme/colours,
- A succinct ‘tagline’ or mission statement,
- Targeted social media profiles that tie in with your author brand,
- Professional headshots for books and other promotional materials, and
- A bank of graphics and images.
When a business looks to develop and grow a brand, they will ensure there is a consistency with their brand identity. Therefore, as an author, you ought to craft a similar approach when you promote yourself or your books.
If you choose to stray too far from the outline you have set yourself, in your brand identity, your message will become disjointed. Thus, your following and readership may grow disengaged with your message, and all your hard work will have been for nothing.
Remember, the most potent author branding doesn’t just happen. The people employed by those writers will compose content plans and a look for that writer when they share their voice in public. Therefore, you should try to retain an element of consistency in what you post, share, say, and write when you hope to expand your author profile.
Author Branding: The Takeaway
Author branding isn’t something that should be taken lightly. For all writers who are independently published or self-published, it is vital that you put much time and thought into developing an author brand that is personal to you.
When I work with small businesses, they don’t usually have multiple members of their team to whom they can delegate or assign roles. In many cases, the business owner is responsible for numerous jobs. However, they realise they need for their company to have a logo, a tone of voice online, a website, and to use social media networks.
Many writers see branding as something secondary to their ‘craft’ or ‘creative voice’, but I disagree. There is nothing to say that writers can’t utilise their creative voices to shout about who they are, what they do, and how they do it.
Rather than shying away from author branding, my advice is to embrace it and envelop yourself in the process. Where other mainstream writers can hire marketing and branding professionals to help them find a niche, many of us are left to navigate the wilderness alone. By utilising my five tips to help you brand yourself as a writer, you will be that much further down the road and can start selling yourself online, as well as your next book.