Monday, February 20, 2017

Developing Your Author Brand

There’s no denying that the publishing world is saturated, especially in the day and age of self-publishing and social media marketing, so how does one manage to stand out in the crowd and get their work—and themselves—noticed? While social media is an undeniable asset to the game, developing a strong author brand is also something that can help shine the light on you and your work.

Your author brand will refer to the unique identity that you build through your writing and marketing presence. Essentially, you will be become your own walking-talking trademark or logo, and regardless of the market you’re working in (fiction, non-fiction, journalism, poetry, etc.), the following tips will help you find your voice and style as a writer, and then target readers who are interested and hungry for what you’re publishing:

  • Do genre-oriented research.

How are other writers in your genre marketing themselves? Research the websites of your favorite authors to see what they are doing, and then make a list of what you like, don’t like, and want to see more of. It’s also a good idea to go to bookstores and newspaper stands and look at the cover art and design themes that are circulating in your market so you can get a better idea of what is most likely to catch your reader’s eye. This is particularly relevant to word choice, color schemes, headlines/titles, and font types.

  • Determine who your target audience is.

Take a look at your writing (language, style, word-choice, overarching themes, character ages, etc.) and think hard about who is reading your work. Ask yourself if it is age appropriate for children or if you think it’s more suitable for an adult audience, only. In some cases, maybe it’s fine for both! Once you determine this, you can start building your social media platform, website, and/or blog around those age groups and then market towards them specifically with like-minded material.

  • Think about how you will demonstrate the message that you want recognized with you and your writing.

What do you want to accomplish with your writing? Are you writing about a particular topic or theme? Think about what your interests and values are and how you want to incorporate them into the bigger picture of how people see you. This will become your brand statement, which is something that you should use consistently across all your social networks via the same title, tag line, photos, fonts, colors, etc. You’ll want to be sure to always link back to your website or blog, all of which should be similarly marketed with search engine optimization (SEO) techniques taken into consideration.

  • Consider whether or not a pen name is right for you.

At one point or another, many writers consider a pen name. For some genres, this makes    more sense than others, especially in speculative fiction where there is a trend to see the initials of the first and middle name, followed by the full last name to mask gender or in some cases, hide it completely. Some writers also are concerned with being completely in the public, both for professional and personal reasons, or are concerned that their sexual orientation/gender will create bias for the readership they’re writing too. Note that these are all valid concerns because people will be able to find you and your work by your name alone, so take time to consider what works best for you.

  • Decide what you will do that’s different from other authors in your field to keep your readership engaged.

Most writers have websites and newsletters that they send out, in additional to being on social media and updating their readers through a variety of outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. What will you do that breaks the mold? Maybe you’ll do live readings or author asides on Facebook once a month? Or host a private Q&A session for subscribers to your newsletter? Maybe you’ll even set up fanfiction writing contest and give away a free book to a reader with the best submission, or start your own radio show?

Look at the material you’re putting out and think about the fandom and following that you’re creating. What do you wish your favorite writers would do to stay in touch with you? What would you like to see? Be unique and daring. Your readers will appreciate it, and better yet, if it’s something that you consistency do—which I highly recommend!—they will look forward to it, expect it, and your audience will start to grow because your work has become part of their reading routine now.

These tips can be an asset to building both your brand, and consequently later on, your social media platform because in addition to selling your work, you’re also selling yourself, and once readers get a taste of your work, they will be curious and interested to learn more about the person behind the story. 

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