How To Discover and Build Your Author Brand

    Categories: Marketing and Promotion

OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn

If you think branding is a business marketing term and doesn’t apply to authors, it’s time to change your mind!

The internet is made up of many tiny niches and websites, blogs and books relate to those markets. People find those sites by searching for specific words and phrases based on what they are interested in. Your author website, or your book, can be found in this way too.

Branding is important because it enables people to find you, and when they find you, they might just buy your book. So who are you online? Which niche do you fit into? How do people find you?

Creating an author platform is vital for a new author’s success, and creating a brand is the basis for the platform. You need to know what you are creating before you start!

Deciding On Your Brand

To decide on your brand, answer the following questions:

  1. How do you want to be known? What words do you want people to associate with you?
  2. What are your goals for the next 3 years? What words are associated with that?
  3. Will your books be in a particular genre?
  4. Who do you admire and want to emulate in writing and also as a brand? Find their websites and keep screenprints of what you like and don’t like. Use them as a model (but obviously no plagiarism!)
  5. If you have a website already, enter it into Google Keyword tool. Are you happy with the keywords associated with your site? Do you need to change your focus?
  6. What images do you want associated with you and your brand?

You also need to know what you want for your future, because if you can’t see the brand extending over multiple books you have hard work ahead! I made this mistake after my first book “How To Enjoy Your Job” when I branded myself with “career change” and a business image. I quickly realised that I didn’t want to speak or write on this topic anymore and started The Creative Penn, a new brand, from scratch. I brainstormed ideas and settled on using my own name and the image of a pen with creativity. You can still keep more than 1 niche/brand, but be aware of the effort involved!

Having a brand doesn't mean you need an expensive logo or unique design (although you can do these things). It means you have an image and words associated with you in people's minds. You resonate with something to your fans and customers. People will form these opinions themselves, but you can control this if you build a brand.

Building Your Brand

Once you have decided what you want your brand to be, then you need to ensure you stay on message, and make sure people don’t get confused when they arrive at your site. For example, if you write a horror book, people will not expect pink teddy bears and smiley faces on your site. If you write romance, have a site that reflects that.

* Blog and network on topic and within your brand niche. For example, on this blog I will not talk about my day job, I won’t give you cooking or family advice. I also won’t review a sci-fi book. I will stay within the bounds of The Creative Penn brand because that is what you expect (and want) from this blog. I will also only tweet the same topics as it fits with my brand.

* Be consistent. Try using the same photo across multiple social networks so people recognise you. Put your picture on your key material because you want people to connect with you personally, not just your book. Try not to jump around too much with your brand ideas. Think about it, then focus your energy on developing that brand consistently. The internet compounds your efforts, so the longer you are in the game, the more effective you will be.

* Find others in your brand niche. Connect with likeminded people and follow similar blogs. Get to know who makes an impact in your area and read what they are doing. Connect with them on Twitter if you can. Perhaps interview them for a podcast? Google them and see where they have been posting or appearing. Do they have video or audio? Which social networks do they use? Where do they sell books? From there you will also find people you can network with and who may start following your blog.

Image: Flickr Creative Commons Eleaf Questioned Proposal

Joanna Penn :

View Comments (38)

  • I'm not too sure who pointed me to your websites, but you have a wealth of information that will be a huge benefit for me. Thank you. I am starting a new series of personal devotional journals called Bible Bites which will make it extremely easy for people to journal and track their prayer requests. I just had my first printing and currently am blogging while learning Facebook and Pinterest. My product is for people who want to develop a closer relationship with God, but are really stressed for time, like working Moms and Dads, college students and grandparents who want to pray for their grandchildren (like me) and everyone else in between. Thanks for your great information and numerous posts! God Bless!

  • An excellent post on the subject of branding. My author/composer/filmmaker/artist :) husband has always had a battle with branding as he doesn't easily fit one niche or genre. Had we known these things years ago, at the start of internet popularity when we put up our first (of six or seven—I lost track, lol) web sites, it would have made life, and marketing, a lot easier.

    Your blog is wonderful, and the quality of whatever you offer is equally so.

  • Joanna:

    I'm grateful to your branding information. I've written 7 medical thrillers and am just now getting into Amazon.com and Facebook for electronic publishing. My Christmas medical thriller THE DUTY CREW was posted for free for 5 days and 213 people are reading it. My next step is to set up a blog.

    Peter Glassman MD

    • I'd like to know where you post your book free - on Amazon? I use CreateSpace for publishing as well as Nook Press and Smashwords. I would appreciate any insight you may have.

  • I would like to co-write a book with someone interested. I haven't worked on a theme or title but we can brainstorm.

  • Another great post. I think what I came away with that was most helpful was 'network in your niche'. This is an area where I can certainly improve. I also found the questions you asked very helpful.
    Wishing you a great week.

  • I have taken your advice, and started building my brand, so over this weekend, did a free Kindle on my first book "The Baltic Triangle Codename Seaforth" and over 500 took up my free offer, and 20 bought my latest book Deadly States, I have also produced a YouTube video of Deadly States, but its still hard work!!!!!!!! not that moi is complaining, thank-goodness I don't have to earn a living trough my writing, I would be destitute!!!!!!!! I ma about 90% on my third book, which I hope to have out in the summer of 2013, but one big draw back, is that Waterstones have stopped allowing self publishing authors book signing days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Joanna I really enjoy and appreciate the wealth of information you provide. Thank you so much.

  • Thanks for another useful post! I'm just getting towards the end of my first draft (non-fiction) and beginning to think about marketing and so forth. I had been considering self-publishing for some time but your excellent Guardian Masterclass tipped the balance and now I'm definitely on that route. I have had a blog for a number of years, but the problem I face is planning and timing - when do I do what to build up brand and platform as the time for actual publication approaches? I know, I should read your recommended guides first - including your own, of course!

  • THANK YOU so much for such good advice on book marketing and author branding! I edit and promote my husband's books; COASTAL CONFESSIONS launched in December 2012; CORPORATE RULES coming Nov/Dec 2013. I've spent a good part of today on Author 2.0 Blueprint and will mark it as a huge success because of the excellent content and everything I've learned from you today! I have been following you for a while, but just overwhelmed with everything out there - I finally made myself focus today! It feels great!

  • Thanks for all the excellent advice. I think the idea of niche is particularly relevant to my first indie book, which is about Spain and the crisis, involving corruption and human rights issues, which I didn't write as a commercial proposition, but do want it to be a success. Maybe all non-fiction books are niche publications by definition and involve a recognition of their limitations. Trish. Watson, "Eternal Spain: corruption and crisis. AMAZON Kindle ebook.

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