Any brand aspires to reflect back the expectations of their target audience. When what a person or company offers in in sync with what their audience expects, you get brand synergy. So what does that mean for authors?
Beyond a logo, tagline, color scheme, or headshots, an author brand includes how you are perceived through your writing, both in your books and online. It establishes the what and why of your work. If you want someone to care about what you’re doing, you need to clearly communicate to them the value you add to their life.
Are you going to entertain them, educate them, scare them silly, make them think, or something else? And how are you going to do it — are you light-hearted, or full-on, or earnest, or something else? Basically, how do you want to be perceived by your audience. And before you can convince someone else, you have to be super clear on it yourself.
This doesn’t mean you’re locked in for life, it just means that you need to know what your audience can expect from you right now so that you can clearly communicate it, and so that you’re clear on what you want out of your writing career at present.
This also means you need to know who your target audience is. It’s rare that writers tell me that it’s not “everyone!” — but it’s a huge mistake to not narrow down the field to who your ideal readers are. As much as anything else, it’s difficult to differentiate yourself and what makes you unique if you don’t understand who to distinguish yourself to.
In today’s world, you’re not just selling your writing, you’re selling yourself and your capacity to connect with other people. What differentiates a great author brand from terrible one is that great author brands focus on the connection between the writer and the reader.
So what elements should you consider when developing your author brand? Here’s a quick list:
- Your URL and social media handles
- Your headshots
- Your tagline
- Your website’s design, including color palette & font
- Your book cover designs
- Your email address
- Your email newsletter
Once you have your author brand established, it makes all of your choices with regards to your marketing collateral easier. From your website, to your social media profiles, to your communications — knowing how you want to be perceived allows you to narrow down the limitless choices into what serves you best. And that consistency across everything that you do lets your audience build trust in your brand.
It’s also important to realize that even if you haven’t thoughtfully and intentionally developed your author brand, you already have one. It just might be one that’s doing you a disservice because it’s clearly not something you’ve invested in. But it’s never too late to fix things! If you’ve made the mistake of thinking of your brand as your book, you can invest in your career as a writer by crafting your brand for yourself, even if that person isn’t the “real you,” but instead your author persona.
Lastly, revisit your brand periodically to make sure it still matches what you want to be putting out into the world. Successful brands constantly evolve, so check in with yourself to make sure your brand is still serving you and your goals as an author.