Author Branding: Complete Guide to Building a Powerful Author Brand

author brandingCan you easily describe why your work is important and what makes it stand out from other writers work?

Standing out as an indie author and attracting the right audience starts with recognizing the value that only you can offer them. Then, you’ll need to position yourself in such a way that your readers will know and believe that your work provides the value they’re willing to pay for.

As an author, being good at writing isn’t enough. There are many bad books out there that sell thousands of copies simply because their authors spent time building their brands. Author brands create emotional bonds between writer and reader such that the reader feels that they know an author even before reading their work.

Building your author brand is an ongoing process that allows you to stand out among other authors. It also makes it easy to identify and tap into readers needs and build a lasting experience around them.

Powerful Author branding doesn’t happen by chance

To become a successful indie author, you have to actively work on building your brand. There’s no way around this.

Readers will always assess and evaluate both you and your work before passing their judgment. If they have a positive experience after reading your work, they’re likely to become loyal followers and advocates of your brand. The opposite is also true.

Everything you intentionally or unintentionally do is placed under scrutiny by both your readers and fellow authors. Whether it’s a tweet about a quote that inspired you or even being spotted hanging out with a famous author, everything you do contributes to the bigger picture that’s your brand. The interesting thing is that, as more people recognize and associate with you the more scrutiny every action you make will receive.

If you want a powerful author branding, you’ll need to deliberately take control of how others judge you and your work. But does this mean molding your creative genius into a something society approves of but doesn’t represent what you’re all about?

No.

You should always be in control of your author brand and not let society decide how it should be. In fact, you should start working on it right before publishing your first book. Start by discovering what’s unique about you and your work. Then create your brand story around this. The story should be presented in such a way that readers can easily understand and relate to it.

Your author branding is not static. It continues to evolve adapting to changes in your reader’s needs and other factors such as technology changes. However, even as it evolves, it should not deviate from its main purpose; defining what makes your work unique and assuring your readers that they can always count on you to deliver what they want.

Powerful author brands represent an emotional connection between writer and reader. That’s why many authors attract a huge following of loyal readers who will do almost anything to defend their affiliation to them.

Your story is what separates you from other writers. How you present it determines whether readers find it credible and therefore are willing to buy your work.

If your story strikes the desired emotional response from readers, you’re on your way to building a powerful and influential author brand.
This means that you’re likely to get more followers within a short time, command premium prices for your work and be considered an influencer in your niche or genre.

Creating a powerful brand requires that you have control over its story and how it’s presented to your readers. It’s about creating a unique experience that starts before readers buy your books to after they’ve purchased and read your work.

But how can you do it?

Building a powerful author brand from scratch

You’ve probably worked out what makes you and your work stand out as well as your target reader. But how will you be able to create and present a brand story that influences your target reader to add you to their favorite author’s list?

Many professional writers find the concept of creating an author brand intimidating. However, given the many different tools and resources available, it’s now easier to create a powerful author brand than it has ever been before.

Today, it might only require understanding and applying branding fundamentals to create and tell your story, and leveraging different online channels such as social media to reach the right audience.

Understanding the two fundamentals of branding

1. Brand identity

Creating you brand identity involves creating a clear definition of the following:

  • What’s unique about you and your work?
  • What is your vision as a writer, your values and what do you want to achieve through writing?
  • Who are your target readers, their needs and how your work will address these needs?

Once you’ve answered these questions, the next step in defining your identity involves selecting the different elements that you’ll use to craft your story. Choosing the right elements will make it easier to pass on your message in a way that your readers can easily understand and relate to. It also makes it easy to create a consistent and memorable brand identity that your readers can easily recognize.

Many writers often confuse brand and genre. The former encompasses the emotional reaction your work evokes in readers. Genre on the other hand encompasses different things like style and form. Genre is therefore just one of the elements that will help create your unique identity. Unless you plan on sticking to a particular genre in the long term, it’s recommended that you don’t focus on a particular style when developing your identity.

Elements for developing an author brand identity
  • Graphics or fonts that can be used to uniquely identify you. A logo is a good example
  • Colors. Stick to two or three main colors. More than three can be distracting and barely memorable.
  • Style elements. These include specific graphics, patterns, icons etc.
  • The tagline. A single statement that describes your mission.

These elements of your brand identity should be used in all forms of promotional and marketing media you use. When used together, these elements will create an identity that’s unique and easily recognizable and associated with your brand.

Some of the branding media these elements will appear on include the following.

  • Your website or blog
  • All social media accounts you might have
  • Offline publicity materials such as business cards, posters, flyers, photos, book covers etc
  • Online publicity materials such as newsletters, bylines etc

2. Brand awareness

Brand awareness is simply the process of promoting your work to your target readers. As such, it’s an ongoing process that you’ll be involved in throughout your writing career.

Some of the questions you need to answer before embarking on a brand awareness drive include:

  • Who is your ideal reader and where can you find them?
  • Which is the best way to ensure that readers react positively to your work?
  • Which is the best way to attract your target reader’s attention and keep them interested in what you have to say?
  • Are there other authors within your niche and how do they approach their brand awareness drives? Can you easily model your brand awareness campaign to theirs and be successful?
  • How can you position yourself and your work such that it gains the most exposure with minimal effort?

Once you’ve analyzed and answered these questions you’ll be in a good position to work through the three main stages of a brand awareness campaign.

A. Creating goals and objectives

What are your goals and objectives as far as getting your brand out there is concerned? For example, would you want your potential readers to sign up for your newsletter or, would you want them to buy you new book?

B. Launching a brand promotion campaign

With your goals all set, your next step will involve running a brand  awareness campaign aimed at achieving these goals. The campaign might
involve running paid and free promotions on different media. It will also
involve testing and comparing among different promotional methods to find the one that enables you reach your goals faster and while spending the least amount of money.

Here are some of the recommended promotional channels you can use to create brand awareness.

  • Content marketing which involves publishing written, audio and visual information on different online media that include your author website,
    social media accounts and video sharing sites.
  • Partnering with upcoming and established authors and industry influencers to get the word out about your brand.
  • Going offline and using word of mouth to promote your brand.
Tips to launch and execute a successful brand promotion campaign
  • Have a brand style guide you can refer to when creating promotional materials. The guide should outline all the identity elements you use as well as how and where they’re used.
  • Make it simple for authors, potential readers and the media to interact with your brand. This means being accessible through different ways
    including email, social media and even phone.
  • Collect potential reader’s contact information every time you can.
    Having a powerful lead magnet that enables your website visitors join your
    email list will be necessary.

C. Growth

Once your author brand gains credibility and recognition among your target readers, you’ll need to sustain its growth or else it will fizzle out and die. For sustained growth, you’ll need to take into account your reader’s changing interests and ensuring that your new work is aligned to them.

In some cases, your target audience might shift interest to a different genre or niche. Growing your brand might therefore require producing books that your readership is looking for.

Growth might also involve creating sub-brands. This involves making moves such as tapping into new markets or even create a new series of
books.

Is it really necessary to create an author brand?

Yes.

Your author brand uniquely sets you apart from other writers. For readers, interacting with a powerful author brand provides a unique experience that they cannot find elsewhere. This experience is what justifies why they keep purchasing a specific author’s books.

Do you have any thoughts regarding building author brands? Kindly share them in the comments below.

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