At some point during my weekly #BookMarketingChat (every Wednesday, 6pm pst/9pm est on Twitter — join us), I discuss branding (no matter the topic), and I will make this statement:
In publishing, we brand the author, not the book.
It’s even become a running joke at this point with my chat community as if they’re waiting for me to throw that line in there. Yet, it’s not just a line. It’s what makes the difference between a successful author and a not-so-successful one. I’ve written about branding before in great detail, so in this post, I want to go more into detail about the importance of author branding and its impact on your success.
The Importance of Branding in Your Author Platform
In Alexa Bigwarfe’s guest post here, she discussed the importance of an effective author platform and how that can make a difference in the success of an author’s book release:
“Most first-time authors that do not have a significant author platform will sell less than 500 books in the lifetime of their book. In fact, most self-published authors will sell less than 100 books.”
Here’s where many writers (published or pre-published) get stuck: should I focus on my new book and create social media for my new book, write about my new book, focus only on my new book? Or should I brand (or continue to brand) me, the author?
Brand the Author
Not the Book
Just keep coming back to this mantra. Because this is what happens — and let’s use a real-life example.
I have an author friend who writes business books. He also writes books about wine, dogs, and karate. So, all non-fiction but lots of different and unrelated topics. He has many ideas to create interaction on these topics (promos, contests, groups) and I love brainstorming with him.
The issue: each time he has a new release, he wants to create social media profiles for each book; and each time, we discuss the dilution of his author branding and he agrees with me that it’s better to brand him, the author, than all those books individually with their own book brand. Which isn’t to say he doesn’t promote the new book – of course, he does. However, he avoids rebranding, the author, every time he has a new release.
What is Author Branding?
Author branding is the same as personal branding: the way you want people to remember you. We brand you, the person, the author. Who you are, what you do, your interests, your expertise, your experiences. Your author brand is not about selling — it’s about creating your authentic, recognizable persona. Think of your author brand as finding that bespoke wardrobe that fits and perfectly represents who you are and what you’re all about.
Pro Tip: So you’re a writer (obvi), but what else do you do? Think in terms of verbs — not nouns. Most people will say ‘I’m a writer, nice to meet you.’ Instead, say:
I‘m a writer who writes books that teach writers how to market their books (@BadRedheadMedia). Or:
I’m a writer who shares uncomfortable truths (@RachelintheOC).
What is Brand Dilution?
See, books can speak to us as we read them, but they aren’t three-dimension beings (though some would argue with me on that). Having a Twitter stream solely for your new book might seem like a great idea at the time, yet what happens when you move onto Book Two, and then Book Three, and so and so on and so on?
Surely there’s a social media graveyard for all those Book Ones and Book Twos, dripping with the digitial cobwebs of good intentions.
We want our readers to know us by our author name because we will release more than one book (hopefully you don’t plan on being a one-hit wonder). If you create a new site and new social media profiles for every book, how will your readers ever know where to find you? Or if you’re just blogging about your new book only — where’s the YOU in that? What if your newsletter consists of ‘Buy my book!’ links only? That’s a completely one-dimensional message (not to mention full of uninspired spam).
That’s what I mean by diluting your brand. If you’re inconsistent and all over the place with your message, you will lose readers before you even have them.
What is Your Branding Message?
Here’s an easy, basic exercise: if you’re a reader looking for books that you write, what would you enter into Google Search? Okay, so that’s one keyword or phrase.
Now, let’s focus on you, the author. What are you an expert in? What research have you done for your book? What interests you? What are you passionate about? If you are a speaker, what do you talk about? Now, write those words or phrases down.
Childhood sexual abuse, love, loss, relationships, mental health, women’s issues.
So now I know what to focus on. These are the topics I write about on my blog, have guest bloggers write about, share quotes about (mine and others), share articles about on social media, write guest articles about for others, etc. I am consistent with these topics, and this relates to me as a person, and as an author.
By having set these consistent parameters, readers know what to expect and that’s the basics of branding: setting expectations.
What if you’re a fiction author? Same thing. Many fiction authors tell me they find personal branding difficult: how can they discuss what’s in their books and still brand themselves? It’s entirely possible through the same process. Look at writers like Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Barbara Delinsky, and so many others. They discuss what’s important to them in their real lives, what they’re reading, what’s interesting to them.
Brand the Author
Not the Book
Branding is Not Selling
Marketing and sales are tactics; branding is strategic. Once you’ve figured out your strategy, then you can figure out your tactics. Will you post daily? What will you post? How often? Where? Will you use a social media scheduling tool (great for time management) mixed with organic posting?
How about promotion? When and how often? That’s another discussion entirely and one we can have another day.
For now, focus on what I’ve laid out above, and read through my previous branding articles here:
- The Reasons Branding Confuses You and How To Fix That Right Now
- Branding 101 For Authors: What You Need to Know
I also recommend taking a look at these excellent articles for further education:
- Learn About Personal Branding and Why It Is Important for Business
- Author Branding And Book Marketing For Self Publishers via @justpublishing
or join my Rachel Thompson Street Team for insider chats, access, and lots of fun stuff!
For a more detailed plan on developing your book marketing, purchase Rachel’s new book, The BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge now on Amazon and her brand new SEO mini-book — already #1 in 3 categories!
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