Every author needs to think about branding, whether you’re a DIY Publisher, a hybrid author or traditionally published.
Because no matter how you’re published, you’re going to work hard for people to discover your book. Consistent author branding makes it easier for people to find you in lots of places, makes it easier for them to recognize you when they do find you and helps build the sort of friendships that are more valuable than any adwords campaign.
It’s so important, there are hundreds of articles out there with advice, strategies and suggestions. But few of them break it down to the nuts and bolts you need to do in order to get started. It’s not the most fun parts of setting up your brand, but they’re valuable steps and once the pieces are in place you’ll have a great platform from which to launch your book.
Choose your venues
The first step in establishing branding is determining where you want to be seen. I read that a good marketing strategy is to have 7 different places in which you engage and share your work. And while I’m sure it’s solid marketing advice, unless you have a publicist or marketing manager it might also be a bit overwhelming (at least it was for me). It’s best to start where you’re comfortable and the avenues in which you’ll truly engage with readers and friends. Some venues to consider include:
Whether it’s the cover of your book or an author photo, you want to use the same image across all platforms, including your website. That way, even if you can’t get the same username everywhere, anyone looking to connect can recognize you.
Your profile photo can also reflect the tone of your brand. Are you going for mysterious or elegantly classic with something black and white? Or fun and lighthearted with a bright photo with lots of colors? I went for bright and friendly, but having a sort of woodsy picture I thought was a little bit fairy tale.
PicMonkey makes it easy to adjust your image and add filters to create a rockin’ profile photo.
This is a bit out of order since we won’t talk about covers for several weeks. But one of the easiest ways to be consistent with your branding and highlight your book(s) is to create headers utilizing elements of your cover. If you have multiple books, you can even showcase a different one on different outlets.
Since Enchanted Storms is my newest book, I used a section of the background for my header on both Twitter and Facebook. But I only have videos on YouTube about Tattered Heart, so I left that header up, even after my new book came out.
In addition to headers for specific social media outlets, a basic header can be handy to have for a newsletter or to add to form pages. It’s also a good idea to put your website url on your images.
Canva makes it easy to create headers for several venues with pre-made layouts and lots of options to customize your header.
LouiseM also has templates you can download to make sure the important information (logos and text) are in mobile safe areas.
Links, links and more links
When it comes to consistent branding, you might think you want to have the same username across all platforms. And while it would be really cool if you did, there’s so many users on most platforms it’s probably unlikely.
What’s more important is to have links to all the different outlets where you hang out. Links in your header, links in your footer, links on your About page. If I want to find you on social media, the first place I’m going to look is your website (and likely a search to find that – so it’s good idea to focus on the best possible SEO around your name on your website).
You want to make it super easy to see and connect to all the venues that are a part of your branding strategy.
Font Awesome icons are a nice and clean way to link to social media. They’re simple to use and easier than hosting your own icon images. The only icon they don’t have that is useful for authors is goodreads.
For goodreads I used manual code with the font-family: Arial, Sans-Serif; font-size: 26px; and the letter “g” which looks similar to the font awesome icons.
It’s great to have a central location for information about you, your books, possibly your blog and definitely links to your social media outlets. And while creating a great website probably requires its own series, here’s a quick checklist adapted from Darcy Pattison with some resources.
- In a few seconds, can a reader figure out where they are and what they can do here?
- Is your site attractive, easy to read with a clean usable design? (Tweak Me v2 is a versatile and easy to use WordPress theme)
- Are your social media links easy to spot?
- Have you clicked on every link to make sure they work (if not, W3C has a good tool)?
- Did you include a way for people to contact you through a form or by email? (CP Easy Form Builder and Email Address Encoder are helpful plugins.)
- Are you tracking statistics for your site? (make friends with Google Analytics)
- Are there images people can easily share? (Images are an increasingly powerful way to connect with readers. Naked Social Share makes it easy to share posts to several social media outlets. Also Canva has templates for blog posts and Pinterest. And tnypng can compress images to improve site performance.)
- If you have a blog, are you cross-posting to social media?
- Are you providing a way for readers to buy your books, either on your site or through links to your distribution venues? (Novelist is a great resource to display information and buy links for your books. And WooCommerce can facilitate selling your books directly on your website in order to offer signed copies.)
The most important thing to keep in mind when creating your author brand is consistency.
You want readers to be able discover your work. Once they do, you want it to be simple to find other outlets to connect with you.
Or when people come across your social media make sure they can easily find your books. Then when you release the next book you’ve got a great audience to share it with.
Check out the entire DIY Publishing series.