7 Steps to Build Your Author Brand & Sell More Books
Your author brand is a major factor when it comes to book marketing.
All authors need a comprehensive sales and marketing plan; even traditionally published authors assume some, if not most, of the responsibility for marketing and promoting their books. But to fully build an all-inclusive marketing strategy, you need to first create a unique author brand.
Why You Need to Create an Author Brand
Your author biography is made up of your personality, interests, skills, and accomplishments (published books and other content). When you combine your biography with your mission statement (think author taglines) and social media presence, you create your author brand. Your brand identity helps build trust in your work, attracts new readers, builds your fan base, and ultimately leads people to buy your books.
Your brand identity is a major part of what makes your buyers (in this case, readers) have trust in your work and your books. When people get to know your author name and have an interest in who you are, they'll be much more likely to take an interest in what you do and what you say; perhaps even enough interest to make them want to buy your books!
In other words, your author brand helps sell your books, and that's why it's so important for you to create one.
Branding Fundamentals for Authors
- There's no one right way to create your brand. The important thing is to balance trying too hard and overdoing it, and not trying hard enough and neglecting to consistently maintain your brand identity across your author platform.
- Be unique and genuine. Your persona, voice, and handle/name should be unique, true to who you really are, and indicative of what your writing is about.
- Your real name typically works best. If you know you've only got that one book in you and the title is solid, you might try using the book title as your URL. In other cases, published authors build author platforms using each of two author names: their real name and their pen name. However, this can be tricky if your two author brands are not genuinely distinct.
For example, the websites for Benjamin Black and John Banville depict author branding examples for two distinct voices and genres that are, in fact, the same author. Literary writer John Banville uses the pen name Benjamin Black for his murder mysteries. His mystery books are so distinct from his literary novels he even writes them in completely different locations!
The takeaway here is that in most cases, it's best to use your real name for your author blog, website, and brand identity.
- Not all metrics are created equally. Measure various ways your potential and current fan base connects with you, and use the system that works best for you. Where have you built your largest audience? Is it through email lists and platforms like MailChimp? Instagram? Twitter?
Find a way to convert your 400 Tumblr followers to your Instagram account (or YouTube channel) that has 4,000 - 40,000 followers. Take advantage of data analytics and Amazon algorithms to help you find your readership, price your book, and sell more books.
7 Steps to Build Your Author Brand
1. Find and establish your brand voice. Do you write in a specific genre? Determine how you want to be known and what sets you apart. An important, distinct part of your brand voice is visual:
- Color Scheme
- Logo or Imprint
- Professional Headshot
Use the same voice, including visuals, for your website, business cards, book covers, communications, and other marketing materials.
2. Write a mission statement. What conveys your message and purpose? Write down a few sentences and read other author taglines. Then boil it down even further. What one sentence conveys the message you want to send?
3. Build an author website that will be the base of your author platform. Include your bio, mission statement, blog posts,links for readers to buy your book, and contact information.
4. Develop a social media presence and build your author platform. Your public presence across all social media sites (your visibility) is your author platform. Use Amazon algorithms and other data analytics to determine which social media sites are the most effective for you.
The best author platforms aren't spread across every site; spend your time steering your small audiences to your most effective social media sites. Use your platform to establish relationships with your readers.
5. Create a social media kit that contains a concise packet of information about you and your work. Make sure it is freely available to journalists and others both digitally and physically. Be sure to include your:
- Author bio
- Contact information
- List of books
- Links to reviews, book trailers and all your social media sites
- Book launch & book sales information
6. Generate additional content. Maintain your blog, conduct email surveys, hold contests, start an email newsletter, and consider SEO content as you write and communicate.
Build a content funnel that starts with your social media presence. Reach across your author platform and other appropriate social media sites, and engage with readers who read your books as well as the work of other authors in your genre. The next level of your content funnel is your blog, as people will go there to find you.
The deepest level of your content funnel is where established and potential fans have access to premium content only available behind a paywall or submission form. It may include discounts, writing not available anywhere else, extra chapters or even a place where subscribers can read a book for free for a limited time.
7. Maintain your online presence. Once you've established a voice, built an author website (or have one built for you if you're not technically savvy), and begun to engage with readers and book buyers, don't stop! Your author brand needs to stay "alive" if you want to keep selling books.
Keep up your relationships with all kinds of "book people" including readers, writers, influencers, industry professionals, and others related to your field. You can do this by publishing quality content on your blog, reaching out via your most effective means of communication, linking to content across your platform, and simply being available.
The bottom line is: Your author brand will help you sell books! Your brand identity is how readers see you apart from your books, and helps build relationships with book buyers, booksellers, book reviewers, and others. When people trust your brand, they want to buy your books.
Build your author brand from the ground up. Be concise and consistent, and keep it up. (A stale blog is a stale author brand so keep yours fresh!) Coupling your established brand identity with continuous, high-quality, interesting content greatly increases your online discoverability, and that's how people find - and buy - your books.