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5 tips for building your author brand

A brand is more than just a logo or a catchy slogan. It’s the overall perception that consumers have of a product, service, business, or individual. A brand communicates what sets a business or individual apart, differentiating it from its competitors, as well as its values and the customer experience it offers. Ultimately, branding is about creating trust and customer loyalty. A well-crafted brand drives recognition and preference in the marketplace. 

Crafting a compelling brand as an author is crucial for establishing your identity in the literary world and connecting with your audience effectively. If you plan to publish a single book to meet a personal goal or to share with family and friends but you have no intention of writing anything beyond that book, then branding might be overkill. If, however, you plan to make a career or a second career out of your writing, branding will be a necessary part of the process.

For authors, a brand encompasses their unique voice, writing style, and the overall experience they provide to readers. It's about establishing a distinct identity that resonates with their target audience, communicates their values and themes, and fosters a connection that goes beyond individual books. A strong author brand can help attract readers, build a loyal fanbase, and ultimately, contribute to long-term success in the literary world, whether you’re self-publishing or seeking out traditional publishing options.

The big question is where to start because the options for branding can be overwhelming. There’s a lot to say when it comes to branding, but here are my top five tips for building your author brand. Think of these tips as the basic foundation or starting point for future brand building and expansion.

1. Define Your Unique Voice and Style: Your brand should reflect who you are as a writer and what sets your work apart. Consider your writing style, themes, and the emotions you evoke in your readers. Are you witty and humorous, or serious and introspective? What tones or moods do you evoke in your writing? Are you quirky, eccentric, knowledgeable, authoritative, funny? Understanding your authorial voice will help you shape your brand identity with consistency.

2. Identify Your Target Audience: Know who your ideal readers are and tailor your brand to them. This should be easy. If you’ve written your book, consider who you wrote it for. (The answer is never everyone!) Consider their demographics, interests, and preferences. Be as specific as possible! What do they look like? Where do they live? What sort of lifestyle do they have? What do they expect from the author/reader relationship? Do they have genre expectations that will need to be reflected in your branding material? Understanding your audience will guide your branding decisions, from the tone of your writing to the visual elements you use in your marketing materials.

3. Design a Professional Author Website: Your website serves as the hub of your author brand online. Ensure it reflects your brand identity through its design, content, and functionality. Include a biography, information about your books, a blog, and ways for readers to connect with you or sign up for your newsletter. Depending on your web host, you can potentially sell your books directly from your site.

4. Develop a Strong Online Presence: In today's digital age, having a robust online presence is essential for authors. Maintain active profiles on social media platforms relevant to your target audience, such as Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, Facebook, TikTok, or LinkedIn. Regularly engage with your readers, share insights into your writing process, and offer valuable content related to your books and interests. Interaction shouldn’t be limited to “buy my book” type content—real engagement will foster natural interest in you and your books, resulting in more book sales that aren’t forced. And you don’t have to be everywhere at all times! Choose one platform, post and interact consistently, and build your following. Spreading yourself too thin can have a negative impact on your ability to authentically engage on a consistent basis with your audience.

5. Create Consistent Branding Across Platforms: Maintain consistency in your branding across social media platforms, your website, and communication channels (like your newsletter). Use the same author photo, color scheme, logo, and style/tone of messaging to reinforce your brand identity wherever readers encounter you, whether it's on social media, your website, or promotional materials.

BONUS TIP—Start an Email List: Building an email list is akin to building your own fanbase. By allowing you directly into their inbox, your email list subscribers are saying that they’re your biggest fan. They want to hear directly from you (not just as they’re scrolling casually through Instagram). An author newsletter allows you to build trust and loyalty, interact directly with readers and nurture the author/reader relationship, drive book sales, and expand your reach.

While there are many other tips I could give on branding, I’ll leave you with one final thought: authenticity is key. Stay true to yourself and your values as a writer throughout the branding process. Your passion for storytelling in the unique way that only you can do it will shine through in your branding, helping you to stand out from the crowd and create genuine connections with readers. 

At the end of the day, the goal isn’t to appeal to everyone. No one can do that. But by developing a strong author brand that shows off your stories and who you are to the world, you can connect with readers who resonate with your distinctive style and voice, readers who will keep coming back to read your books again and again.



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