Author branding can get tricky…
But what if you knew of a way to be a successful author before you opened that blank Word document?
What if you knew you could share the story inside you with an audience excited to hear your every word?
There’s a way to up your levels of success before ever writing the first word or your book. Actually, for some people, it’s even easier to up their chances of success than it is to write the book.
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Let me explain…
When people hear I’ve written a book they often respond with, “I’ve always wanted to write a book!”
The next phrase is usually something along the lines of, “I’m terrible at writing.”
And in the back of their minds, the other hesitancy might be, “Who would even read it?”
It’s a scary thing to sit down and stare at a blank screen.
It’s intimidating to write that first sentence.
“What if I never make it to the last sentence?”
“What if nobody cares if I do end up finishing?”
Perhaps the biggest question of all: “What if no one reads it?”
These are real questions. Questions I’m here to answer.
It all comes down to branding.
A few decades ago books sold based on the quality of the writing. While that’s still true today, often books are sold based on the platform of the person writing the book. That’s where branding comes in.
Here’s what you’ll learn about author branding:
- Passive author branding
- Active author branding
- Developing your brand voice
- Choosing your author brand themes
- Discovering your why
- Developing author brand colors
- Discovering your audience
- Focusing on the author behind the brand
Author Branding Basics
When it comes to being an author, your best bet for success is attracting the right readers.
Contrary to popular belief, you should never aim to attract all types of readers, because your content isn’t going to speak to all of them the same way.
As an author, establishing a brand is one of the best ways you can put yourself out there and show people what you’re about in a simple glance.
Here’s how to do that.
[Pssst! Want to see some of our students’ published books? Check out the SPS Library here!]
#1 – Passive Author Branding
Everybody has a brand…
Not everybody realizes they have a brand.
If you’re in college maybe your brand is sweatpants and too much coffee, late-night Instagram stories, and weekend adventures.
If you’re in the world of business, maybe your brand is pristine suits, important meetings, and networking with the right people.
Either way, this is your passive brand. It’s the self you portray to the world without really thinking about it.
Of course, you considered what to wear this morning. You saw the still kinda clean shirt on your dorm room floor and decided to wear that to the exam.
Or you chose the darker suit to wear to your business meeting because you didn’t want to stand out too much. You probably made sure it matched your pants (always a good thing!).
But you probably didn’t think about it much more than that. And that’s ok!
Regardless of what you put on this morning, let’s talk about how personal branding can be the difference between writing a book and writing a book people read.
#2 – Active Author Branding
Active brand is the part of you that you intentionally choose to let the world see.
There are ways to do portray yourself that will greatly impact the influence you have. Influence brings followers.
Followers turn into fans.
Fans turn into avid readers…who leave you 5-star reviews that allow more readers to find you.
The following tips will help you develop intentional author branding.
#3 – Developing Your Author Voice
Your author voice is important. After all, it’s what the world hears from you. Yes,
you can alter this if you want to, but we recommend leaning into your natural voice so the you you’re showing the world is authentic and real.
Countless factors determine your voice:
- Your job
- Stage of life
- Personal goals
- Who you hang out with
- Your past experiences
All of these and more play into your personal voice.
It’s how you talk, in person and online. It’s how you communicate to the people around you. The type of punctuation you choose. Even the emojis that consistently stay in the time box in your messages.
All of this factors into your voice.
But using voice to intentionally create your active brand goes a long way in establishing yourself.
If you don’t know what your specific voice is, go through some of the recent texts you sent your friends. Next time you grab coffee with someone, take note of how you naturally communicate with them. That’s your voice.
The next step is to implement that voice across all platforms. The social media outlets you use. The blog you run. The conversations you have.
People want to hear what you have to say, but more importantly, how you say it. They want to know you, not just the knowledge you bring.
#4 – Discovering Themes in Branding
Next up are themes.
These themes seem to run through your life and your writing.
When identifying the themes of your life here are some questions to ask:
- What opportunities do you jump at the chance to volunteer for?
- What type of movies do you regularly choose to see?
- What books do you read?
- What type of people do you choose to hang out with?
- What stories do you love re-telling from your past?
These are the themes you’re passionate about. These are the themes that should dominate and infiltrate your writing.
Because readers can tell when you’re passionate about what you’re writing and when you’re not. Passionate writing engages readers.
Engaged readers read books, cover to cover.
That’s a win!
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#5 – Discovering Your Personal Why
We’ve established you want to be a writer, it’s why you’re here learning about author branding.
We’ve talked some about how you want to communicate what you want to communicate. But why do you want to write?
The answer to this question is one of the biggest factors when it comes to defining your personal brand.
Simon Sinek has a great video on this called Start With Why. I’d highly recommend you take a few minutes and give it a watch.
If you don’t know why you want to write, it will be hard to continue when the writing gets tough.
While writing books is a privilege and a truly creative process, getting all the words on the page can feel daunting. Editing can get overwhelming.
Ask yourself why you want to write a book. Then ask yourself “why” again. Do this until you get to the core of why you truly want to write a book.
It will pay off when you’re stuck in the middle and you need to remind yourself why you started in the first place.
#6 – Your Author Branding Colors
Why you want to write a book greatly influences how you portray yourself online and in person.
Let’s say you were a college drop-out and started your own graphic design business. You grew it from the ground up with nothing but your creativity and an old desktop computer.
You market to large businesses and while you’re still growing, you’re pretty successful already.
Now you’re several years into the hustle and want to write a book about your life and this incredible journey.
Using neon colors on all your social media platforms probably wouldn’t be your best idea. Showing up to meetings in a plaid suit wouldn’t be the best option either.
Big businesses usually take a more formal persona. And as you’ve probably guessed, neon isn’t usually associated with formality.
Instead, using neutral colors with a pop of red or yellow could be a good starting point for you.
Clean formatting is huge when it comes to marketing, and if you’re a graphic designer, you’re going to want to be ahead of the curve on this.
Dark colors would portray a completely different theme than pastels.
White space comes across much differently than black.
Decide what you want to communicate, then choose colors that help you communicate this theme through your author brand.
#7 – Finding Your Audience
At first glance, you might think an audience is the result of personal branding, not part of it.
While audience does come with good author branding—and that’s definitely part of the why behind personal branding—it’s important to know your intended audience.
If you don’t know who you want to reach, it’s hard to know how to brand yourself.
Scroll through the social networks you think your audience would use most, then take note of:
- The voice your audience uses online
- The themes they gravitate to
- The colors they most use
Having a personal understanding of your audience will go a long way as your work to build your personal brand.
People post photos, captions, and colors they gravitate to, so make it a point to know your audience’s likes and dislikes.
This will not only help you brand yourself, but help you successfully reach your audience!
#8 – The Person Behind The Author Brand
Author branding takes time and effort.
It’s easy to know you like a certain movie or that particular color shirt, but it’s harder to know why. It takes purposeful time to discover what you naturally gravitate to.
It takes effort to use those personal preferences to market to your intended audience.
But it’s so worth it. People connect with the person behind the product.
Defining who you are and what you’re passionate about will reap dividends when it comes time to write the first sentence of your book.
Not only will you know why you’re writing, you’ll know who your audience is and your audience will know YOU.
It’s one thing to write a book.
It’s another to write a book to people who already know the person behind the words.
Author branding is just that – personal.
It takes book marketing from selling a product (book) to sharing a passion with friends.
It allows you to give your followers what they actually want, because you know who they are.
It takes the fear out of writing, because when you have a personal brand you know the people who will want to read your book.
Now you can write that first sentence in confidence, knowing your fans are just as excited to read your book as you are to write it!