by Marie Lavender
In the beginning, most writers believe that they should wait until they’ve landed a big six publisher or officially published a book before even thinking about the development of a ‘brand’. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
No matter what stage you are at as a writer, you can work on building your author brand. Even from day one.
1. Consider what you are writing.
Most of us have numerous works sitting around in various stages of progress, either on a flash drive or stuffed in file cabinets (if you’re that organized). But take a moment to look at what genre or genres you’re writing in, and then decide some of your goals.
Where do you see your career headed? Are you open to trying out different types of fiction or non-fiction? Or are you content with staying in one category alone?
Maybe this is a good time to figure out what your work is telling you, and who your target audience might be. It’s never too early to learn this essential fact about your writing. Sure, you don’t want to exclude anyone who might stumble across a book you’ve published, but you also can’t simply state that the world is who you’re trying to reach.
What is your mission here, besides writing for enjoyment? When the creative spark first hit with your story or book idea, did you have a specific goal in mind? Perhaps to help a certain person?
With some genres, you might think it is already assumed. Romance is for lovers of love, right? Or people who are avid readers of the genre. The same goes for mysteries and thrillers. Thrill-seekers or lovers of suspense will gravitate toward those, or at least the books are for folks who love to piece together different clues to solve a puzzle. Maybe you know some family members or friends who tend to know the identity of a villain early on when you watch a film together. Wouldn’t they be your target audience? Of course. But beyond that, you also need to figure out your basic target audience with each story. And knowing it will provide sufficient information about how to build your brand.
2. Using a pseudonym.
Don’t be ashamed if you decide to use a pen name. It offers a layer of privacy for your personal life. To embark on a writer’s career is no casual thing. It requires a certain level of professionalism, and you must adopt that mindset from now on. Choose a name which is easy to pronounce and spell, yet is still unique. Make sure it’s something you don’t mind someone calling you, too.
However, if it doesn’t bother you to throw in your given name, that’s fine too. But fair warning…being a public figure can attract social media trolls and stalkers. Just use the author name that makes you feel most comfortable.
3. Develop an author tagline.
I’m sure you’ve been asked once to give someone a tagline for your book. To offer a hook, or a short sentence that sums up the premise of the story.
Now, though, you must apply the same principles to yourself. If you mean to launch a writing career in any capacity, you should think of your author brand as a business too. If you had a small store that offered candles, how would you market your product effectively? You must think of your author name the same way.
My author brand has evolved over time. I used to say I was a romance writer. When I first started publishing books, I put ‘Romance Author’ after my pen name. A proud moment, for sure! My target audience was made up of men and women who enjoy reading romance. What more could you need, right?
Except then I had a big author interview, and in the days leading up to it, the host asked me probing questions via email that I had not yet entertained. Inquiries that might prepare me for the interview.
What is your author brand? Tagline? Who is your target audience for this book, and for all your work?
Everything got complicated. Honestly, I was stumped, and I had to figure out what the host meant.
Did I successfully get through the radio interview? Of course, but it also left me stewing about these aspects of my writing career I probably should’ve known already.
Soon, though, I was writing different tales. Children’s fantasies, mysteries, psychological thrillers, horror…just so many that I could no longer fit into the typical mold of a romance writer. Though I still love romance, and I’ll always have a soft spot for it both as a reader and a writer, it didn’t make sense to call myself that alone. I had to take on a different title, put on a separate hat. So, now I am ‘multi-genre’. And I needed to take my all-encompassing author title and incorporate those flexible aspects into a tagline that would still reflect my work. I started thinking about how I approach each book project, and the way I feel about my writing overall. How that could translate into a consensus to reach readers.
My love of various types of fiction, being immersed in a different world with each book series – just the way I do while reading books – won out. Hence, ‘Exploring worlds one page at a time…’
4. Market your brand.
Once you have a sense of your author brand, as well as pinning down a tagline, it’s time to market ‘you’ as the author. Even if you’re not a published writer yet, it’s never too early to start putting yourself out there. Heck, in the six months leading up to the publication of my first historical romance novel, I had several guest spots on different blogs. And part of branding your work is having the paraphernalia to back it up.
I’ve learned all of this the hard way – backwards – so believe me when I say it will help you beyond measure to have everything organized in advance for when your book actually gets published.
I can’t stress this enough…have an author website. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just professional. But visual appeal can’t hurt either. Depending on your budget, the sky is the limit. The point is just to have a place where readers can find you and your work. Make sure you’re linking back to all your social media profiles from there as well. This website should be a safe haven for book readers, a one-stop shop to locate you wherever you may be online. Plus, all artwork which is designed for your website (whether you do it yourself or hire a service) or your books should always reflect your author brand.
Get business cards and bookmarks to hand out at book fairs, or during book launches. Vistaprint is a great resource for that.
If your manuscript is written and edited, you can set up a media kit to be ready for when you need to email it out to bloggers, book reviewers, and interview hosts. If you have a publicist, he or she will need this information as well. A media kit entails information about your book, such as the book blurb, book cover image, one to two page book excerpt, purchase links on booksellers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble (if available), Goodreads book link, BookBub link for the book, a brief author bio, author picture or logo, and author links (website/blog, and social media). Some people like to put all of this info in one Word document, or have the attachments available through a remote server such as Google Docs. Additionally, you can include promo teasers which highlight the book release. Some just promote the book, while others actually include a brief excerpt. As a blogger on the side, I must admit that the more organized your kit is, the easier the process is for putting up a post.
One part of marketing is to be listed in as many places as possible as an author. Here is a good list to work from.
There are so many others, of course. Social media presence is key in this modern, competitive age of technology. Try also to get some guest spots on blogs before your book release, not just to build up some hype about the book but also for your work in general. Promote your author brand. Be open-minded enough to try different types of marketing, yet if possible, when you’re writing an article, work to relate the topic to your book or genre somehow, so it all ties back in. Don’t oversell it; you want to come across as a human being too. For example, if your book is about three friends, maybe you can talk about how friendship enriches people’s lives. Carefully follow the guidelines for each site. Here are some possible websites to which you can submit guest posts.
And if you’re trying to build your own blog (some people choose WordPress or Blogger), here are some helpful hints on how to talk up your book for blog posts. These also would work for guest posts on other sites.
The truth is that building your author brand will take time and patience. But soon enough, you’ll be able to do a Google search of your name (+ ‘author’), and if you come up with at least three pages of quality hits, you’re doing something right. Also, you’ll feel even more validation with the process when you tell someone your author name, and their response is, “Oh, yeah…I’ve heard of you before!” ♥
5. Be professional.
Your writing career is your job, whether or not you see profits from your work yet. Take it and your reputation seriously. If at all possible, avoid inflammatory remarks on social media, and especially political statements. They can always be misconstrued, and unless your book is about politics, your views on anything are your business, and no one else’s. Might your fans glean some clues from reading your work? Perhaps, but never go out of your way to talk about politics or triggering issues on your website or social media pages. It just opens up a whole other can of worms that you’ll quickly regret. Stay professional. You now have a public presence to maintain.
6. Enjoy the rewards of your career.
I’m not referring to royalties that come from your published book. Just relax and savor the journey. Watching your career unfold before you should actually be fun, and also just as pleasant to grow your reader base as you meet new people in the process.
About the Author:
Multi-genre author of Victorian maritime romance/family saga, Heiresses in Love, and 18 other books. Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and two cats. She has been writing for a little over twenty-five years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands. Since 2010, Marie has published 21 books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, romantic comedy, dramatic fiction, fantasy, science fiction, mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry. An avid blogger on the side, she writes adult fiction, as well as occasional stories for children, and has recently started some young adult fiction. She also contributed to several anthologies. Though Marie has standalone titles on the market, her current published series are The Eternal Hearts Series, The Magick Series, The Code of Endhivar Series, The Misfits Series and The Blood at First Sight Series, but she has many others planned. Her Victorian maritime romance series is coming back soon, and the second editions of the trilogy will be released under her new publisher, Foundations Books. Discover more about her and her work at the following links.
Official Website: http://marielavender.com/
Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/marie.lavender.58; https://www.facebook.com/MarieAnnLavender; https://twitter.com/marielavender1; http://www.linkedin.com/pub/marie-lavender/27/187/10a; https://www.instagram.com/marielavender1/
Amazon author page: http://bit.ly/MarieLavender; https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6938764.Marie_Lavender
Follow her on BookBub for new release updates: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/marie-lavender
Universal Reading List link: https://books2read.com/rl/marielavendersbooks; http://authorsdb.com/authors-directory/1578-marie-lavender; http://marielavender1.allauthor.com/; https://www.booksradar.com/lavender-marie/lavender.html; http://www.pw.org/content/marie_lavender; https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJu8HjRVYCFOqcIoX6ZxdqQ/videos
Sign up for Marie’s Newsletter: http://bit.ly/1g3wO13
Fan mail email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.