Hello writers and welcome to the middle of the week! Today we are kicking off a new series on the Sword & Silk blog called the Writer’s Toolbox. The emphasis of the toolbox will be rooted in the indie market, however, the topics discussed will be useful for writers in every avenue of publishing.
Today we are focusing on the importance of Branding. We have touched very briefly on the subject in past posts in regards to social media presence and pen names. For Indie Authors in particular, creating a Brand is a boon to marketing not only your books but yourself as an author and creator.
Author Branding: What is it? Why do it?
An Author Brand is the cohesive image you present to a readership as the embodiment of your collective works. Think of it as your personal tagline. You should be able to sum up your Brand in a sentence.
“I am _____, author of sweet and savory small town romance” “I am______, author of comic mundane science fiction” “I am ______, author of gritty contemporary YA”
The idea of boiling down a body of work into a simple concept can be tricky, but the payoff is worth it. A Brand makes it easier to market yourself to the right audience, to find readers looking for the content you create, and your Brand creates a sense of loyalty in your readers. For Indie authors, Branding is vital to creating a reader base. It guides the sort of ads you create, the marketing opportunities you pursue, and so much more.
Creating a Brand to fit your body of work and you as an author is a matter of trial and error. It might take a couple tries to get it right. If you write under different pen names you have to create a Brand for each name. If you write in multiple genres under the same name, you need to create a Brand that fits the overall essence of your work across different age groups and genres.
Building Block Questions
There are a few questions to ask yourself as you set about creating a Brand. Think of these as foundational questions, your starter building blocks.
1.Who are you? Who are you selling to? Who wants to read your work? Do you write for the 15 and older crowd? Do you write children’s and middle grade fiction? Are you an adult only author? Do you write for teens and adults? 2. Identify your message
The idea is to whittle this down further. Distill the age group and genre you write for into a single sentence. Do you write for teens who love dreamy fantasy stories? Do you write for teens and adults who love dark, lush, romance stories? Laying this groundwork allows you to identify your audience when it comes to marketing.
Once you have pinpointed age range and genre, you can zero in on the tone of your Brand. Will your Brand pop with bright colors or draw readers in with a spooky dark aesthetic? Picking the right visuals to fit your Author Brand is crucial, but it is important to remember if your chosen Brand doesn’t quite fit, you can scrap it and start over. Daunting as starting from scratch can be, you owe it to yourself to find the correct Brand message that fully encompasses you as an author.
Utilization & Execution of Your Author Brand
How, when, and where does an Author Brand apply? Once you’ve set up your brand, you want to create a cohesive visualization that carries across your social media platforms and website. This means identifying while social media platforms work best for you and what you can give your time to as well.
If you have the funds to hire a personal assessment to aid with social media management, providing a complete branding kit makes their job easier as well, however, a PA is out of reach for many authors, especially those starting out. Realistically, it is better to concentrate building a presence on one or two social media platforms that you find it easy to engage in, rather than stretch your time and effort too thin across too many platforms.
Each of the social media platforms you use should have visuals, color scheme, and tone that link back to your website.
Let’s use Victoria/ V.E. Schwab for an example:
Victoria uses a somber color scheme of brown/black, off white, and red. She is actually a great example of an author who writes across multiple genres and age ranges. Her tagline of ‘For those who dream of stranger worlds...’ boils down the essence of her style of writing rather than boxing her into any one genre or age group.
She keeps a style that is simple, often text driven, and often uses pared down visuals in her posts. Her color scheme and theme hold true across each of her platforms. This holds true even on her twitter, where her latest book, ‘The Invisible Life of Addie Larue’ is promoted in a header that echoes back to the same muted brown/black tones present on her website. The bulk of her posts on Instagram often feature flashes of red, bold black text, and off-white colors. Variations of this color scheme are repeated in many of her book covers.
Pulling from that example of visual branding, the best time to start creating your Personal Author Brand is prior to your first book release. However, that does not mean you’ve failed as an author if you are five plus books in and haven’t done so yet. You could begin branding for your next release. You can brand to fit your back catalog. You can brand any time that works for you. Branding does come into play as you plan releases. It determines how you market your book, the sort of promotions and giveaways you create, and might affect your publishing timelines if you have a tight release schedule.
This is no ‘set in stone’ method or timeline to creating your Author Brand, but it is something an indie author should invest time and effort into creating. Creating an Author Brand is a basic implement in every author’s toolbox, and it is a tool that makes other tasks, such as marketing and self promotion, that much easier going forward.