This is a guest post by Stewart Dunlop. Stewart is a full-time content marketer at Foundr and part-time reader, gamer & footballer. You can follow or tweet him @stewydunlop.
How to Develop Your Brand as a Book Author
From a literary point of view, we live in blessed times! Thanks to the development of modern communication devices and platforms, almost anyone can put their thoughts on paper (or the word editor of their choice) and release them to the world.
We now have access to printed books, e-books, audiobooks, and more. This allows the information to flow unhindered and creates a wonderful environment for those who love to read and learn.
But this level of progress has also led to a change in your role as the author. Back in the day, your job would’ve been over once you applied the last of the requested edits. Nowadays, there’s a ton of things to do even after that.
Whether you are a self-published author, or you work with a publishing house, you still need to find the right channels to promote the book. While it’s true that a publishing house will take over most of the promotion, authors still need to help build the book’s brand and connect with readers.
Creating a Brand & Story for Your Book
Any successful brand is supported by a good story. If the story is good, it will catch by word of mouth and will continue to grow years after the moment you started.
Just look at Apple! Everything started with the story of Steve Jobs and his passion for perfection. Decades later, people still line up to buy his products. So, the story of Apple is built around its founder, just like it happens with other huge companies today (Tesla, Virgin Airlines, or Microsoft).
The same can be achieved for books. Promote them with their authors’ stories (if your life is an adventure that moves readers). “But,” you’ll say, “the Elon Musks of this world are rare.” So, what do you do when your life is normal, without extreme adventures or craziness in it?
Strategies Implemented by Successful Authors
You can still promote your brand, even if your story is a mundane one. The first step is to put together a promotion strategy.
Identify the right channels
This step is mostly for self-promoted authors (publishing houses usually take control of this step and the author can’t interfere).
Most people think that Amazon is the best platform for selling books online, but there are other ways to let people know you just published new material. As such, platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, and others can be used for promotion and finding more readers (read here some tips on using video marketing to sell your book).
You just need to know where your readers are and start a conversation with them using their favorite channels. Regardless of the chosen channel, as an author, you should cultivate your public speaking skills so you can win over your followers.
Invest in your website/blog
One of the best channels to raise awareness and even increase sales is your very own website.
Many authors don’t see the benefits behind this endeavor and would rather focus their efforts on social media (which is not a bad choice). If they build a website, it is a haunted place, with out-of-date information and little of interest to the casual visitor.
However, a website allows readers to learn more about you as a person and what drove you to write the book they want to buy.
This is a space where you get the chance to talk about the problems you hope your book will solve and the motivation that got everything started. Moreover, you know that the people who come visiting are interested in learning more – they’re not just browsing on social media.
The good news is that you can start with just a simple website with a few pages talking about the author and the book, then move on to a blogging routine which will keep them coming back for more.
Keep readers engaged via newsletters
Another benefit of having a site to promote you as an author and the books you write is that you can gather email addresses for newsletters.
Even in today’s crazy world, email remains one of the best and easy to use marketing tools ever. So why not use it?
You can send emails to keep readers engaged once the book is out, but you can also amp the hype in the weeks before the release. Some authors like to do this by sending exclusive content (one chapter of your new book, for instance) that only newsletter subscribers get to see.
To grow the engagement, ask subscribers to give you their opinion on the material they receive and what they’d like to see from you.
Create content around the book
One sure way to promote a book is by creating additional content that supports the book. Podcasts, blog posts, social media posts, and more are some of the ways you could go about it. You could create your own channels or partner up with other authors or influencers that activate in the same niche as your book.
Keep in mind that this is content that’s built around the book but it’s not overly promotional. You want to offer a snippet of content that teases buyers and makes them want to buy, instead of bombarding them with “Buy Now” buttons.
Brands from Which You Can Learn
We were talking about how the story of the author’s life can influence the sales on the book, so here are some great examples to illustrate the concept in today’s modern world:
- “How to Be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life,” by Lilly Singh aka Superwoman on YouTube. Lilly has over 14 million subscribers, so she knows her stuff.
- “The Power of F*cking Up,” by The Try Guys. These guys have built a following of over 6 million YouTube subscribers by simply being honest about their shortcomings. You don’t have to be perfect to be a success!
- “Grace’s Guide: The Art of Pretending to Be a Grown-Up,” by Grace Helbig. Grace makes 3 videos a week, all of them memorable. Her YouTube channel now has over 2.5 million subscribers.
The titles mentioned above all have something in common. They are fun. They make you feel good about yourself. And they promote a book. The authors built a powerful following on social media (in the examples mentioned above, their powerhouse channel is YouTube) and released a book that talks about their amazing journey to fame as an influencer and content creator.
The titles tell the story behind the videos we see and let the readers see a more personal aspect of the author’s lives. As such, they took the opposite route from most authors: they built their following first, then released a book.
Of course, most authors start building a following after they release the book and use the channels to promote their latest materials. As such, here are some accounts you may want to check for inspiration on how these authors use Instagram to promote their work:
“Wait a second,” you’ll say. “Why does a mega-author like Paulo Coelho need to take to Instagram to promote his books?” Well, he doesn’t. He does so to create a connection with his readers. And this is exactly what today’s authors should consider doing!
Overall, social media and similar channels provide authors with the unique opportunity of reaching out to readers and starting a conversation. This way, you get to know your audience and they get to know you.
You also get to receive feedback directly from your readers (which can be both positive and negative). But most importantly, you build a brand and a story that will drive readers to your book for generations!