Building a brand as an Author
When someone mentions building a brand as an author, what does that mean to you? I ask this because I asked this on Twitter and received a wide variety of answers. These ranged from not knowing what a brand for an author looked like to selling merchandise for their books. I mean, when you think about it, one would assume that the brand an author presents is building upon the list of books they are putting out, right? Well, personally, I think it can grow to be much larger than that.
Before we dive into what a brand looks like for an author, let's talk about what in the world a brand actually is.
Ahem... (turns on serious voice), a brand is something that promises the customer they are going to receive a quality product, content, or customer service when they come to your 'brand' and that it is going vary from competitors similar to yours.
Now that that is out of the way, let's talk about how you build this brand as an author. To start, think in terms of a well know business or service you regularly use. What helps you recognize them? Is it that they have the fastest customer service? Or is it that they have the best Ziplock bag for your kid's snacks? When people recognize your brand, this moves beyond the logo, it's about the experience. About what they spread through reviews or word of mouth to other potential customers (or in author stats, readers.)
So, how do we determine what our author brand needs to start building?
Identifying your Target Audience- A brand needs to know its customer, right? Who do we want to read the books we put out? Who do we want to listen to all the mumbo jumbo we spew? (as long as it's good mumbo jumbo) Start by looking inside your genre and determining the gender, age, and main social media used by your target audience. This helps narrow your path a little. As your brand grows into other avenues, just repeat this process for each of those branches. For more information check out my post on Finding Your Target Audience.
Who are you as a brand?- This is important. This is how you want your audience to see you and your brand. In other words, what tone are you setting for your brand? Are you purely informative, teaching others, and giving information? Do you dazzle readers and customers with your knowledge and wit? Once you figure this out, make sure it's even and consistent across all of your platforms. (By this I mean, social media, your site, your work, etc.)
Figure out whats sets you apart: Why should you be chosen over competitors? What can you deliver that others can't? This is how you really can focus and target your desired audience. Identifying theirs needs or a place in the market of the genre in a different way is where you should be if you can.
What are the important things to remember when building your author brand? (In my opinion.)
You are more than just your books. We all learn along the way, whether this is how to publish, what to avoid, or little tips and tricks of the business. Why not share it? Why not pass along those nuggets of wisdom? There are tons of platforms where you can make a video and teach other writers things you didn't know before. You may even make a buck or two.
Keep building. Many authors set their expectations too high when they start only to feel let down when their books don't get added to the bestsellers list on day one. As hard as it is to hear, you need to keep giving it 100% until it happens. This means numerous books, courses you teach, short stories, or blogs/ vlogs. It happens over time. Build your brand/ reader base and it will come.
Make connections. I can not stress this enough. Knowing people in the writing community and collaborating with others is also a step in your growth and your brand's growth. Help one another out and learn some stuff along the way.
Keep up the hard work. It's more than just a tough skin for others to read your work and know your name. It's dedication and hard work, but it's achievable.