5 Ways to Brand Yourself as an Author
5 Ways to Brand Yourself as an Author
It’s no secret that the world of publishing has changed. Books are going digital, self-publishing is coming out of the shadows, and authors are no longer hermits hiding behind a mask of anonymity. In many ways, we should have seen this coming. Musicians do more than just play instruments; they also design clothing lines and create fragrances. Actors don’t only act; they also speak on panels and support popular causes. And now, writers cannot only write; they must also find ways to promote themselves.
However, before you pack your bags and hop on the tour bus, you have to do a little preliminary work called branding. As anyone selling a product will tell you, you have to know what you’re selling before you try to sell it. You need to know who you are as an author before you can try to promote yourself to the world. Skipping the branding step is like handing out blank business cards to potential clients. With that in mind, here are five easy ways for authors to brand themselves:
1. Get your own website. Remember that blank business card? Neither does anyone else. Like contact information on a business card, authors need to think of their career as a business and make sure they provide their readers with everything from contact information to personal tidbits. Probably the best way to do this is via a website. In fact, a website is vital to an author’s success. After all, what is the first thing anyone does these days when they hear about something that interests them? They type it into Google to find more information about it. Having your own website does not only put your name out there, it also gives you complete control of your online presence.
Without a website, you’re allowing readers to define who you are, which can be a tricky slope. One bad review can put a mark on your character. However, once you buy your own website, you become the one in control of telling readers exactly who you are. Just as many readers judge a book by the cover, they may also judge the author by the website, so make sure to put your best foot forward and give it an simple, easy on the eyes design. Websites are also useful for promoting all of your books in one place and keeping readers up to date on all your activities.
2. Get a book trailer. If a website is a tool to define the author, a book trailer is a great way to define your book. Book trailers are quick and easy ways to spark some real interest among readers and get their attention instantly. In the world of movies, many screenwriters will develop what they call an “elevator pitch.” The premise is, in case you find yourself in an elevator with Martin Scorsese, you can pitch him your script in a way that will catch his attention before he reaches his floor. The book trailer, in many ways, is the author’s “elevator pitch.” This is your opportunity to catch your reader’s attention instantly and make sure they want more.
3. Talk to your readers. The digital age has given readers and writers something they never had before—an instant method of communication. The dialogue between readers and writers used to be a one-way street, generally speaking, a brief bout of praise at a book signing or a long-winded letter of admiration. Now, through social media, readers have the chance to get to know their authors and engage in a genuine two-way dialogue.
Develop a genuine interest in your readers. People respond to genuine emotion. With that said, be careful not to alienate potential readers. Unless the driving force of your novel revolves around politics, try to steer clear of controversial issues, even if they “started it.” The internet is full of bad apples, so don’t let one negative commenter turn you into the petty author who argues with his or her readers. Remember, the internet is a public space and everyone is watching. Rather, if you take the high ground and treat all comments (even the negative ones) with respect, your readers and followers will be the ones to defend you.
4. Give yourself a platform. It’s the first question anyone will ask you when they learn that you are a writer. “What is your book about?” Every book should have a cause or a theme behind it. If you know the underlining theme of your book, you will know your target audience. A political biography about Al Gore might be, at the heart of it, about climate change. A fictional story about family dynamics might have mother/daughter relationships at the core of it. A dystopian fantasy novel might really be about empowering young women. Once you know your platform, make sure you use it to open up discussions among your readers. Brand yourself as an expert or, at the very least, an important voice in the field of your study or topic.
5. Give something away. Promotions always catch the interest of readers—especially when they see a product for free or for a discounted price. Online promotions via social media outlets are a great way to attract the attention of your readers and to keep your books flowing off the shelves.
Building partnerships is a vital part of promotions. Once you know your platform, reach out to organizations with similar interests or target audience as yours. For instance, find bloggers with a comparable focus who are willing to promote your book. You can also find companies to give your readers free products for using their services. With everyone working towards the same cause, a partnership can be easily beneficial for everyone involved. It’s important to note that you have to know your platform before you can build a partnership. Otherwise, if you partner with people unrelated or even antithetical to your cause, you may be sending your readers mixed messages.
With these 5 tips, you can (and should) start promoting yourself as an author even before your books hit the shelves. Then, once you have a concrete online presence and a solid idea of what your book represents, you can start to really market your book. You will be able to get involved in activities such as book signings and meet your readers face-to-face, knowing you know how to use the tools to engage them in meaningful, relevant discussions. At Allwrite Publishing, we offer many tools to help authors market and brand their books, such as book trailers and more. Allwrite Advertising offers branding services for authors, including online marketing and public relations. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Written by Morgan Hufstader, Managing Editor at Allwrite Advertising & Publishing. Contact Morgan at email@example.com.