Walk through a grocery store. Chances are you can spot your favorite products from the colors and style of the packaging. Drive down the highway. Does your stomach rumble when you see the familiar Golden Arches of a fast food restaurant? That's successful branding.
Branding authors seems like more of a challenge, but the basic principle is the same. You want readers to have an instant reaction to your name and cover style. Authors can also take advantage of genre branding by matching the kinds of titles and covers a genre typically uses.
Developing your brand helps readers find you. It lets readers know what to expect when they pick up your books. And whether you like it or not, you already have a brand if you are anywhere on the Internet. People get an impression when they browse your website or Facebook page, or read your tweets. Why not control that impression?
Study other authors in your genre. Look at the colors, imagery, language, and fonts on their social media sites and publicity materials. What impression do you get? Can you identify the genre and target audience? Does it fit the work?
Studying other authors' sites should give you ideas for your own branding. Then it's simply a matter of being honest about yourself and your work. If your books are humorous, your social media presence should be playful. If your work is lyrical and poetic, take the time to make sure your Facebook posts and tweets have the same feel. If you write nonfiction, use keywords that people will search for if they want to find something like your work. For fiction, come up with a good tagline to give people an impression of your books.
If you write in a variety of genres, or for a variety of ages, look for common themes. Do you always have strong female characters? Do you bring humor to everything you write? Do you explore history in fiction and nonfiction?
You may also want to focus your brand on only some of your work. For example, I do a lot of educational nonfiction on a work-for-hire basis. I don't promote this, since I don't get royalties. I also teach writing workshops and offer critiques. One tab of one of my websites focuses on that, but the rest of my branding focuses on my fiction.
In some cases, you might be better off creating more than one brand. I write romantic suspense novels for adults as Kris Bock, and children's books as Chris Eboch. While maintaining two websites and two Facebook pages is a hassle, I didn't want young readers accidentally getting my sexier adult books. The separation also allows me to brand each persona differently. My Kris Bock website’s mysterious red background suggests danger and passion. My tagline ""Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Adventures"" hints at my characters and plots. For my Chris Eboch children’s book site, an antique paper background references the past, appropriate to both my historical fiction and my ghost stories. On both sites, I use travel and outdoor photos, branding myself as adventurous.
If you are newly published, don't tie your brand too closely to your first work. Think about the elements that are likely to reappear throughout your career. In addition, look for elements that people will enjoy or find useful. If you write cozy mysteries about a caterer, offer recipes on your blog. If your children's books are suited for classroom use, provide free materials for teachers. If you write inspirational romances, share inspiring news stories or blog about maintaining a happy marriage. Give people a reason to visit, rather than focusing on ""buy my book.""
This may sound like a lot of work, and it is, at the beginning. But once you have figured out your brand, you can use those elements across social media. Get an appropriate, professional-looking headshot and use it everywhere. Use the same color scheme, tagline, and keywords for business cards, post cards, bookmarks, social media networks, your blog, and even your e-mail signature. Collect all the material in a convenient place, and you can quickly create an author page on whatever new media site comes along.
Branding comes down to a simple principle:
Know who you are and share it with the world.
____________________________________Questions to help you develop your brand:
- Who is your ideal audience?
- What is your message? What themes do you address?
- What is your attitude?
- How do you want to be known?
- What words and phrases would you like people to associate with you?
- What colors and images suit those elements?
- Where do you hope to be in five years? Ten years? How will that affect your branding?
- How do authors with a similar genre/audience express their brand?
Contributed by MFRW Author Kris Bock
Kris writes novels of suspense and romance involving outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. Counterfeits features an art theft that brings danger to a small New Mexico town. Whispers in the Dark follows a young archaeologist who stumbles into peril as mysteries unfold among ancient Southwest ruins. What We Found is a mystery with romantic elements about a young woman who finds a murder victim in the woods. The Mad Monk’s Treasure features two friends and a handsome helicopter pilot hunting for a long-lost treasure in New Mexico. Read excerpts at www.krisbock.com or visit her Amazon page.
Kris Bock's latest book is The Mad Monk’s Treasure, a Romantic Suspense, with Pig River Press.
The lost Victorio Peak treasure is the stuff of legends—a heretic Spanish priest’s gold mine, made richer by the spoils of bandits and an Apache raider. When Erin, a quiet history professor, uncovers a clue that may pinpoint the lost treasure cave, she prepares for adventure. But when a hit and run driver nearly kills her, she realizes she’s not the only one after the treasure. And is the handsome pilot who found her bleeding in a ditch really a hero, or one of the enemy?
"Oh my wow! You've heard people say you gotta read this book...well for this one, it's true!! The story is worth the read (not a page turner, but a page burner) and the characters are awesome! Can't wait to read more from this author!" – Kathia