You are the storyteller of your own life, and you can create your own legend, or not - Isabel Allende.
What is an author brand? And how do you create yours? Branding is something many authors gloss over or completely ignore, leaping into creating a persona that alienates or confuses their readers. It’s often over-simplified as an author logo or website, and while these are components of branding, your brand is much greater than this. It is the whole experience you offer your readers. It’s a mixture of the visual elements (your author profile, your logo, the photos you post, the details in your books) and verbal elements (your tone of voice, your blogs and appearances) that make up your public persona. It’s how you relate to your readers and their impressions of you.
Personal branding is about identifying what makes you unique and leveraging these differences as strengths. It’s a commitment you make to the reader about what you represent. A reputation that you build for yourself. To get to the heart of your own author brand ask yourself:
- Why do people read your books?
- How will you stand out from the other books/authors in your genre? How is your writing different?
- What message or themes are you trying to convey with your writing?|
- How do you want to be known as an author?
- What adjectives would readers use to describe your work?
Within these answers are your brand values: what is important to you as an author and what you seek to share with your readers. A successful author brand should be a genuine reflection of your own values as a writer and how you naturally communicate with your readers. It’s not an ill-fitting persona that you adopt because that will be difficult to sustain long-term and come across as fake. If you are still not sure how to define your author brand try thinking about how your readers would describe your writing. How does your writing make your readers feel? Consider your story as an author: What inspires you? Why do you write?
Make a list of your key brand values. These should inform your whole marketing strategy, including:
- Your tone of voice
- The fonts, colors and imagery you use
- The design of your marketing (website, logo, book covers, marketing materials)
- Your content (what you post and where)
- Your author headshots
- Your blurb and bio
You have to decide how you want readers to perceive you. Your brand doesn’t need to be restrictive, and many of it will come naturally based on your preferences, but it should be consistent. Your books, website and social media should blend together naturally. Use the same tone of voice, colors and imagery throughout. Imagine, for example, picking up a book featuring a decorative swirled logo only to find it’s a gripping psychological thriller. Or looking up a romance author online to find a website full of dark imagery and dripping blood. These are extreme examples but plenty of authors change the colors and imagery from one marketing piece to the next. Use the same headshot or logo across your social media channels to give your readers a consistent experience. Set a color palette throughout your communications. Make sure your tone of voice is a constant. Consistency gives a sense of professionalism. You may want to take this further and create your own personal style guide, setting out your chosen:
- Logo usage
- Tone of Voice
- Style guidelines
As you evolve as an author so will your author brand. This is when the need to rebrand and adapt arises. Review your branding periodically to ensure that it reflects you as an author and is consistent. Build your account around your unique strengths and you’ll attract loyal readers.