The inspiration (and Infographic) for this post came from Resume Now, which has an article about branding yourself. While they are focusing on job applications, what they say is remarkably useful for those building an author brand, too. I am summarizing below, but I suggest you also visit the original post for more ideas and examples of successful brands.
How to Develop an Author Brand
Developing an author brand helps add value and credibility to your books. Here are seven steps to help you get started.
1. Find a Niche
The first step in building your author brand is to find your niche. Some questions to help foster this process are:
- What are your passions and interests?
- What credentials do you possess?
- What types of writing do you particularly love working on?
- What makes you forget to look at the clock?
It’s crucial to find a niche that can evolve with you. Your interests are not stagnant, so choosing an area of focus with growth potential is crucial for long-term satisfaction.
2. Determine a Target Audience
Once you’ve identified your niche, you should figure out who your target audience is and how to tailor your author brand to them.
While many people make the mistake of casting their net too wide, it’s essential to understand that you can’t cater to everyone — and that shouldn’t even be your goal. You should start by determining who you want to connect with and the best ways to reach them.
A great way to figure this out is by creating buyer personas, which are fictional representations of who you’re trying to market yourself to. Buyer personas are a common tool used in marketing to create tangible examples of an ideal customer and can help you work backward to determine where and how to reach your target market. They’re also a fun writing prompt.
3. Develop Your Brand Personality
Once you’ve figured out your target market, you should move on to developing your brand personality, or the human emotions and characteristics that become associated with your brand.
When developing a brand personality, it’s essential to stay authentic. Your brand personality should accurately reflect your goals and values — because you are your brand. To develop your brand personality, try asking yourself questions like:
- How do you differ from others?
- What can you bring to the table?
- What are your passions?
- What are your most integral values?
It’s important to note the difference between your brand personality and brand identity. While your brand personality highlights the characteristics and emotions that your brand evokes, your brand identity covers the more tangible aspects of branding, such as your book covers.
Developing your brand identity is rooted in design. Whether you are building your website, posting on social media, or choosing a book cover, having a consistent theme across all platforms helps tie together the idea of you as a brand.
4. Create Relevant Content
A great way to connect with your audience and build so-called brand equity is by creating relevant content. By sharing your content, you build trust, establish yourself as an authority, and nurture relationships with your audience.
One of the biggest upsides of content creation is that there are so many types to choose from, so you can find the content format that works best for you. Popular formats include blog posts, newsletters, videos, and podcasts, but there are several ways to create relevant content for your audience.
A common way to build your personal brand equity is by sharing third-party content (like I often do on my blog). Sharing helpful, industry-specific information shows your audience that you are always consuming knowledge and learning more about your field. It also helps them have a single place where they can learn the latest about your industry instead of having to dig out that information every day for themselves.
To increase your visibility even further, promotional aspects like guest blogging, appearing on podcasts or radio shows, and consistent posting can all help you build a bigger audience.
5. Take Control of Your Online Image
Along with creating a content strategy, it’s important to have a social media presence to match.
A good trick is to Google your name and review the results as if you were a reader. Does the content you post support your books?
Depending on your kind of writing, you may want accounts on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or any other platforms relevant to your genre.
For social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter, many people choose to have separate personal and author accounts. Using an author account, you can increase conversation flow and prompt responses by asking the audience questions or having links (CTAs) in posts and stories. These direct-response methods encourage feedback and create a dialogue with your audience, building trust and credibility over time. Facebook also lets you directly sell your books, if you’re so inclined.
To elevate your social media presence even further, have a consistent profile picture and username across all platforms. Additionally, and unless you write erotica, you should always ensure your content is clean (even if your personal profile is private).
6. Learn to Network
Learning to network effectively is crucial to building a strong author brand. When done right, sincere networking can give you a library of new resources, increase your web of connections, and help you stay on people’s radars.
For many, one of the best resources for networking is a mentor. Finding and maintaining a relationship with a mentor is one of the most powerful tools to boost your career. Mentors usually have an extensive network of relevant industry connections and can provide unique and relevant insight into your career.
Another great networking resource is to follow industry thought leaders. Whether you are following the biggest in the business or smaller micro-influencers, engaging with thought leaders lets you build rapport in the industry and connect with others motivated individuals in your field.
Informational interviews with people in positions or companies you want to work for are another tried-and-true networking method. These interviews can help you build connections, find a potential mentor, get referrals, and receive useful feedback on how to improve your writing (and your brand). You may be surprised at how many authors will agree to a 20-minute informational interview to talk about themselves and their books.
7. Sell Yourself: The Art of Building an Elevator Pitch
An elevator pitch is a 30-to-60-seconds summary of your book. Your elevator pitch is where you can show readers, agents, and publishers why you stand out from the rest. This is particularly useful in conventions and shows, where you may wish to sell your book to readers, agents, or publishers.
To nail your first impression, you should have your elevator pitch practiced to perfection. When crafting your elevator pitch, ask yourself some of these basic questions:
- What makes your book different from everyone else?
- What are its goals?
- What is the key tension?
- What does the protagonist want? What’s stopping them from getting it?
Your elevator pitch should be concise, positive, and, most of all, confident. No matter your skills or experience, delivering your elevator pitch with certainty and poise is what will make you unforgettable.