As an entrepreneur, small business owner, or speaker, you want to grow your business. Perhaps you’ve decided that writing a book will be the perfect way to accomplish this. Therefore, your next step is to create an outline and run with your book idea, right?
New authors often get so excited about the prospect of writing and publishing their first book that they rush ahead without taking the time to properly plan. This can lead to an unfocused book, an incomplete platform, or lackluster sales.
The truth is, before you start the process of writing or building a platform, it is important to take a step back and get clear on your author brand. Having a clear understanding of who you are and what makes you unique will serve as the foundation for all future marketing efforts. Otherwise, you’ll be like a horse without a cart—you’ll end up going nowhere fast!
What Is a Brand for an Author?
Simply put, an author’s brand is the image that an author presents to the world through their writing and public persona. It captures the heart and soul of who you are as an individual and as an author. And it embodies the message and values you want to communicate through your work. It also defines how others perceive you and shapes their expectations of what they can expect from your books. By having a clear understanding of your brand – and the promise that the brand makes – early on in the process, your brand will help guide all aspects of your publishing journey—from the type of content you create to the marketing efforts used to promote it.
Why Does Branding Matter?
Branding matters because it helps you connect with readers on a deeper level than any website or social media post could ever do alone. When done right, it can help create loyalty among readers that will keep them coming back for more.
Having a strong personal brand will not only help readers identify with you as an individual but also make them more likely to trust in the quality of your work. Furthermore, having a strong branding strategy will help promote yourself as an authority in your field which can increase visibility when it comes to speaking engagements or partnership opportunities.
How Do You Create an Author Brand?
Creating an effective author brand is a multi-step process.
- Understand and identify personal and brand values
- Identify your target audience
- Describe your brand personality
- Pinpoint brand differentiators
- Develop your vision, mission, and brand promise
Each step flows from the other. Your brand should grow from your values and be in alignment with them. That can’t happen if you aren’t aware of what those values are. Your target audience should be in alignment with those values because you don’t want to work with people who are diametrically opposed to what you stand for. Your brand personality is an expression of those values in a way that attracts your ideal clients. Your brand differentiators illustrate how your books and business are different from others that are similar. And all that information informs your vision, your mission, and your brand promise.
Before I go further, let me clarify some branding terms:
Your vision describes what you want your business to achieve in the long run, generally in five to 10 years—sometimes even longer. It depicts a vision of what your business will look like in the future and sets a defined direction for the planning and execution of your overall business strategies.
Your mission, on the other hand, defines what line of business a company is in, and what purpose it serves. It should also define the company’s business strategy and is generally a couple of sentences in length.
A brand promise is one-to-two sentences that internally communicate what the customer can expect from all the brand’s offers. It aligns all product and service development efforts and keeps the business from developing something that is out of the scope of the brand. It defines the scope of a brand in terms of product category, quality, price level, and values. I reiterate it is NOT a public statement. And it is different from a Unique Selling Proposition in that it is long-term and business-wide.
Getting clear on your overall brand and brand promise helps set boundaries for what activities make sense for your author career and business – so that each project serves its purpose within the bigger picture.
Only after you are clear on your brand promise can you truly write the books that will grow your business. And, only after you’ve completed the steps I just outlined, can you select all the “fun” stuff that most people go to first: Logo, fonts, colors, and other imagery.
These last pieces are used to build out a unified visual identity for your author business across all platforms. All these elements must work together cohesively in order for them to be effective in communicating who you are as an author to potential readers.
Developing Your Platform
Once your author brand is established, it’s time to start developing your platform (website, social media accounts, email list, and community) around it by sharing content related to both yourself and book topics that interest your target audience.
When crafting content for each platform consider which types of posts perform well with each one—for example videos for YouTube and TikTok, and image quotes on Instagram—and tailor accordingly so that each post offers value to followers while maintaining consistency with the overall theme and message of your brand.
Also, take advantage of opportunities such as speaking engagements or interviews where you can showcase both yourself and how passionate are about your book topics in front of potential readers who may not be aware of who you are yet but could potentially become fans if given the opportunity!
Your Brand Helps You Stand Out
Developing an effective author brand helps you stand out among your peers. It gives you something unique to offer potential readers that is different and unique in a crowded marketplace. Taking the time upfront to define what makes YOU unique will pay off long-term as readers begin recognizing who YOU are as an author rather than just another face vying for attention! So don’t put the cart before the horse; make sure you have a strong grasp on defining YOUR personal brand before starting any other aspect related to building out a successful platform or launching your book into the marketplace!
If you’d like to find out how your author platform is doing right now, and gain some insight into the state of your author brand, take the Is your Author Platform Healthy? Assessment.