If you’re going to succeed as an author, readers need to think of you as one. That’s why it’s important to take your author brand seriously from the start.
This guest post from author, Nichole Severn, will show you how it’s done. Here, Nichole covers the why and how of author branding and 5 ways to do it right.
Take it away, Nichole!
Nora Roberts. Stephen King. James Patterson. JR Ward.
You know what genre these authors write without having to Google their names. They’ve succeeded in branding themselves as authors. Granted, they have a lot more money than the authors just starting out and bigger publishers, but it took years to get to that point.
So what exactly am I talking about?
The importance of branding yourself as an author. Branding is getting your readers to recognize your name and automatically know what you write so they don’t second-guess buying your newest release.
Publishers use branding as well. Think about Harlequin Romance. Yes, they publish strictly romance (not including their subsidiaries), but within each of their imprints they limit that line to genre (contemporary, romantic suspense, paranormal), themes, author voice, and word length. Any reader who picks up a book in any one Harlequin Romance line knows going in what exactly they’re getting by the end.
And your readers should too. Here’s how.
#1 Stick with One Genre and Build Your Author Brand from There
Scott Eagan of Greyhaus Literary Agency is a fantastic resource for new writers and authors. While he targets romance authors (since that’s what he represents) his post, “Pick It and Stick It” elaborates on branding for all newbies in all genres.
His advice? Find one genre you are passionate about and really good at writing (those kind of go hand in hand) and build your career from there.
You recognize all those big authors above because they’ve done this exact thing. Nora Roberts is the queen of romance with over 200+ books under her belt. Stephen King is known for his horror stories and James Patterson his thrillers. These authors have picked a genre they enjoyed writing (and are really good at) and built their careers on those successes.
Both aspiring authors and published need to do the same.
I’ve published in two different genres, and you know what? Genre #2 isn’t working out so hot for me anymore, because I enjoy Genre #1 more. My passion and pleasure reading lay in Genre #1, so I need to build my career on that one before I can move onto a second.
#2 Create an Author Website and Logo Around the Feel of Your Genre
Take a look at Nora Robert’s website and tell me that doesn’t scream romance to you. You have the light colors, swirly backgrounds, and soft lighting used in her author photo.
Now how about Stephen King’s? Immediately, I’m reminded of dark, weird, deep stories just from the images flickering across his website. His logo typography alone scream action and defiance against the ordinary.
Compare your website and logo to those examples. What genre does your website scream to your readers? Are they doing you or your genre justice? If not, research up-to-date designs. Check out some web designers. Even a quick consultation can put things into perspective for your brand.
#3 Consider Writing Under a Pen Name
Nichole Severn is not my real name. Ha! Fooled you, didn’t I? It’s my author name, and I’ll tell you the reason I chose to publish under a pen name.
My RWA chapter in Las Vegas hosted romance novel cover model, Jimmy Thomas. His presentation focused on how he’d branded himself. Specifically, he shared that he wanted readers and authors to know him by a short, easy to pronounce name.
He mentioned how your author name should reflect your genre. That way readers will associate your name with your genre.
My real name doesn’t do my genre justice. If anything, it confuses readers because I have a Russian first name and a Jewish last name (thanks to my husband).
Nichole Severn, on the other hand, is feisty and dark. Just like the romantic suspense genre I write in.
#4 Use a Tagline That Evokes Your Genre
It’s simple. And it works.
You may not see taglines very often anymore, but it’s still a great tool to brand yourself as an author in a particular genre.
My tagline is, “Betrayal. Forgiveness. Romance.” To me, those describe my genre, romantic suspense. This is the feel I want for my books, what I want for my readers, and it gives those readers an idea of what to expect from me.
Taglines work for your books as well. In fact, if you’re self-publishing, I highly suggest writing up a sentence—yes, a SENTENCE—describing your book. Not only can you put it on the cover of your book, you’ll be able to pitch the idea to potential agents, editors, and readers without bogging them down with details.
#5 Be Consistent across Author Platforms
No matter where you’re promoting, engaging readers, or selling your books, consistency is the key to any brand. And I’m not just talking about staying in one genre here.
Social media is the biggest tool for getting your books in the hands of your readers, but things will get very confusing if you’re not organized or consistent with your platforms. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, every platform you use for promoting needs to have the same information and graphics.
- Bio information
- Author photo
- Contact links
- New releases
All of it needs to match your brand. That is the only way people will start recognizing you and your work automatically.
So there you have it, just a few steps to push you in the right direction of building your brand as an author.
For more on how to brand yourself as an author, check out:
- 6 Branding Tip for Writers and Authors by Joel Friedlander
- Why Every Writer Needs an Author Brand by Writer’s Relief Staff
- Managing Your Online Brand by Malle Vallik
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