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. I feel like that’s old advice, prior to social media when you were limited to ads and maybe email. These days, unless you have a publicist or marketing manager it seems 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.
Author bios can be tricky things. First person is more casual and relatable. Third person is more professional, however writing about yourself in the third person can feel odd.
Sometimes it’s best to start with 3 – 5 things to highlight.
Do you want to focus on your career? Or education? Interesting hobbies? Do you want to share information about your family, pets or where you live?
Also read the bio of some of your favorite authors to see what they do well then ask yourself how those things might relate to you.
Once you’ve got a few things to work with, put your fabulous writing skills to work and hammer out a paragraph or two. A little humor is a good idea. As well as being relaxed or fun even with a third person bio. Then have a friend read it and give you some feedback until you’ve got a bio you’re comfortable with.
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.
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 any images you create (see bottom left below).
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 html 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. Check out the series on building an great author website for details on getting everything set up.
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.