So it’s not enough these days to work on developing your “Author Platform” on social media, but you also have to think about your Author Brand. What is the difference? And if you are not yet published, should you even worry about it?
Why You Need A Brand
Like it or not, the internet has exploded the amount of opportunities and methods for marketing just about any product or service you can think of. Which means there are many options to choose from when planning a marketing strategy. The down side, of course, is the sheer volume of competition, and the end goal is how to get noticed when potential customers are being bombarded with tons of information.
As an author, your stories (books, novellas, shorts, etc) are your product, and you, the author, are the brand. Your social media platform is how you engage with the general public, and readers in particular. Advice gurus, agents, and even some publishers are currently advising authors to start building their author platform on social media as early as possible, to find their audience and gain potential readers. We’ve been told to post, tweet, blog, share photos, and engage with the public. I agree that social media engagement is important, and can be effective, but only if you enjoy it and are consistent. Pick the social media outlets that appeal to you and work them into your routine.
Your Brand is Your Promise
But your Author Brand is much more than your social media profile; it’s how you represent and market YOU. Your author brand also represents your style, your voice, the genres your write in, the themes of your stories, and your body of work as a whole. As author Roni Loren explained in a recent guest post over at Fiction University, it’s your author promise.
Just as each book (or novella, etc) you release needs a marketing plan, so does your author brand. The right tag line explains the essence of your work and not only tells potential readers what to expect from you as an author, but is a great tool to get people to remember you. For example, BDSM Romance author Annabel Joseph’s tagline, which is prominently displayed on her website, is “The Romance of Dominance and Submission.”
It’s simple, easy to recall, and if you’ve ever read her books (and if you haven’t, you should), it succinctly describes what you’ll find, from her historical romances to her contemporaries. A good author tagline should be broad enough to describe most of your work, without being vague. Another good example is author Jami Gold’s tagline, “Where Normal Need Not Apply.” It gives readers a hint of the experience they’ll find, without being specific to one story or genre category.
Once you come up with that perfect tagline, put it everywhere- emails, newsletters, business cards, your blog, your website, and in your books. Be creative, but be consistent. Those few words identify the feeling you are hoping to evoke in the reader, whom you want to entice to purchase your product.
Identify Your Tagline
Even if you are a newbie and writing your first draft ever, start thinking about your potential brand. I am no marketing expert, but I have been observing how other authors approach branding in an effort to develop my own marketing plan. But how do you figure out what your message, your author promise, is?
Some writers may know what their niche or brand theme is when they begin their writing career. But for others, it may take time, and several different drafts or years of blogging to figure out what the common themes are in their work. That is what happened to me, but when the idea of what my brand might be crystallized, it felt right.
As it says in the About section of this blog, I am “keenly interested in human nature, and believe unconditionally in the power of love”. If you’ve read many of my blog posts, even though they may be on vastly different subjects, those two themes shine through. My bio also states I am a “die-hard skeptic who loves to imagine the impossible, then write stories about how it just might work”.
Yep. That’s my work in a nutshell, some of which I described in a recent post, “The Metaphysical Side of Love.” Most of my stories are romance, with metaphysical/supernatural/paranormal aspects to them. I guess real-life problems aren’t enough for me- I have to throw in a psychic, a ghost, and a witch or two, so I can explore those impossible ideas of mine!
But I had to condense all of that into a tagline, so I came up with “The Power of Love with a Supernatural Twist.” It may change by the time I am ready to launch my product- my first novel- but for now, it feels right. I hope to have a solid marketing plan in place for my debut, which will be one less thing to worry about if I keep working on it now.
So, it’s never too early to start working on your brand, or to start marketing yourself as an author. Social media and your brand are two ways to get started.
What do you think? What are some examples of authors who are doing a great job of branding themselves?