You hear more and more often that indie authors need to create their own brand. But positioning yourself and standing out in a big pond full of talented and creative writers is not an easy job. Determining who you want to be and getting known as an author is also not happening overnight. Many writers are afraid of marketing and branding, but don’t be one of them: in this article, I’m going to painlessly explain what to do and how to do it. Stay with me.
There is no secret sauce to becoming a successful brand, however, there are two things that will define it: your work and you, yourself! Marketing is a full time job: it takes a lot of effort and hard work to put your name out there and gain awareness, but once you do, I have good news: you’ve just become a brand. Happy days!
The bad news is… the really hard work starts now: maintaining your brand and constantly feeding your readers fresh content.
What is branding?
“Brand” is a word we use every day, but what would you say if I asked you what it refers to? It is easier to grasp it with an example: why do you choose Apple over Samsung or a BMW over a Mercedes? I’m sure you have good reasons, but how many of these reasons are emotional? To put it simply, brand is the image customers have in their minds about a product or service that helps identify and differentiate it from the competitors. According to Ze Frank, brand is the “emotional aftertaste” that comes after experiencing a product or service. And it is something a brand can do by itself.
Branding is what makes you stand out, it is the expression of your work. Once you have a strong brand, people will remember your name, you’ll have your own dedicated audience and readers will buy your new book without even opening it first. Just think about E.L. James, Stephen King or J.K. Rowling who have all become brands with their work.
It is never too early to establish your own brand when you are a writer. Building Brand “You”, you must go through all the steps brand managers do when they are building a brand for a product. If you would like to read more about the importance of self-branding, click here.
And now, let’s see 5 rules you must obey when building your author brand.
#1 Get your name out there!
Attend book festivals, meet industry professionals, speak at conferences, join online groups on Goodreads or Quora. Use every opportunity you have to spread the word about your book and yourself, and to tell people what sets you apart from the competition. Try to make an impression, be someone people remember fondly. It’s going to be a long ride, so be patient and consistent.
#2 Be social!
Living in the digital world, having an online presence is inevitable. But, before creating an account on every social media platform, just stop for a second and ask yourself: how being on that particular platform will help me build my brand? You don’t necessarily have to be on every single channel. Find the platform(s) you are most comfortable using and manage only those, but those daily. It can be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. There are also great services out there to help you with social media management such as Buffer, Hootsuite or Sprout Social. Try them out and make it easier managing your online presence. Being social also means that you have to interact with your readers, so don’t forget to answer their questions or just ask them if they need any help.
#3 Build your author website
As an author, you definitely need a website where you can promote your book, create blog posts, connect with your readers and just show yourself to the world. You can build a website using WordPress which is an easy to use and free of charge website content management system. Remember, the design you choose, the content you publish, the tone you use will also determine your author brand. So, don’t forget to use consistent visual design elements on all the sites you manage. It will help people recognize your brand.
#4 Be consistent, build connections!
The key to branding yourself as an author is consistency. Creating a strong and successful author brand is not something that’s happening overnight. Build connections. Keep in touch with your audience. Answer to their questions. Simply, be there for them, if they need you. Once you do, they’ll become your fans and more importantly your advocates. They will buy your book no matter what and will help you sell more.
#5 Be YOU!
Probably, the most important thing is to be true to yourself. Figure out who you are as a writer, what your readers like, who you want to attract with your story. Stay authentic. And don’t give up if you don’t see results immediately. Building your author brand takes time, but trust me, it’s worth the wait.
If you got to this point, I hope you already have an idea about branding and why it plays an important role in your job as an author. I mean, all you have to do is to sell your work and yourself. It can’t be that hard. Get right to it!
Ramona Tanay is a content marketer and growth hacker at PublishDrive; a fresh graduate of Corvinus University of Budapest. Ramona enjoys covering topics from self-publishing to ebook marketing and promotion.