Your Author Brand
Author ... what? Yes. The elusive author brand, something that often gets forgotten in the confusion of releases, sales, promotions, and marketing. I wanted to be sure and share this important piece of the author puzzle and invited Rebel to ATI, and asked her to breakdown branding for us. Thanks Rebel!
from Rebel Farris:
A brand is a collective experience of your customers (aka readers) in visual and verbal form about your product and services (aka you and your books). You use color, images, writing, and actions to convey what you want them to think, but in the end, it's them who decides what your brand is.
Branding is something that you should think about before you write your first word, but chances are you already have been branding and didn't know it. Your brand as an author is YOU. Who you are at the core, is the basis of your brand. You can't fake it. If you try to brand yourself as sweet, fun, and flirty but write dark, edgy, blood-soaked spy novels, your readers will know it's a lie.
To start down the road of branding you have to do some soul-searching.
- Are you a traditionalist or a rule breaker?
- Are you messy or neat?
- Are you a realist or a dreamer?
- What genre(s) do you write?
- Are you colorful and fun or more stark and serious?
The best thing to do is to brainstorm words and phrases that apply to you and your writing. Just write everything that comes to mind as fast as you can. Then read over the list and narrow it down, remove repetition and pick words that are more concise.
Brand building is a four part process: iconic, intrinsic, extrinsic, and shared.
Iconic is your logos and book covers. It's the visual tie that makes readers aware at a subconscious level that the product is you. Have you seen an author whose book covers, while different, are identifiable as their book without reading the title, name or blurb? Like the font Steven King used on his books for years? That's good branding.
Note from Alessandra - check out these cover branding examples. Both do a great job of communicating the 'feel' of the author:
Intrinsic is going to be the other visual stuff. Teasers, advertisements, swag, etc. that reminds people of your ties to your product. It's more temporary than the iconic visuals and it's more focus on reminding them of the experience you provide through your writing.
Extrinsic is more communication-related. It's how you interact with your readers through social media, how responsive you are to their thoughts and comments, the community you build through your fan groups and the emotions you evoke. It's the culmination of the experience of reading your books and interacting with you.
Shared is the most temporary in terms of impact, but is no less important. It's event related and the most common way authors utilize this strategy of brand building is through signings, readings, and other in person events. It's the one-on-one interactions with your readers. Events through libraries, bookstores, conventions, charities, etc. all say something about you through association. If you show up at a romance convention with your hard sci-fi book in hand, expect confusion. The chance for in-person face time reinforces reader perception, but there's also power in social media coverage about your involvement with the event and what the event's brand says about you.