Wondering what is an author brand and how you create one? Here is everything you need to know about author branding, including how to be authentic in your branding while maintaining personal privacy.
Ugh, branding… I absolutely hate selling and being sold to. As though everyone is just a walking wallet waiting to be transformed into $$. However, if your name is on the cover of a book, the end of an article, or the about page on a blog, then you already have an author brand, whether you’ve created one or not.
What is an author brand?
An author brand is all of the public elements that you present to the world. This includes:
- Blog posts, magazine articles, books, and any other publications.
- Public social media accounts.
- Any time you appear in an interview, podcast, youtube video, etc.
- Public appearances.
- If your name is unique… then it’s anything else you have done in the public domain. This could include comments made on other blogs, previous careers, your friend’s Facebook photos. If you aren’t sure what’s out there, do a google search on your name.
Curating your author brand
An author brand is a bit like a character sketch. You want to present yourself like your favorite book characters: well-defined and interesting.
Here are three things to consider before you create an author brand.
As much as I hate the nonsense of branding… I actually love interacting with my readers. And in this way, branding is powerful and enjoyable. The secret to enjoying your author brand is to be authentic.
- When you are authentic, it feels good to interact with your audience. You aren’t putting on a show, you’re being yourself.
- It’s easier to be consistent if all elements of your brand are authentic.
- I’m definitely not famous, however, I’ve been recognized in public several times. It doesn’t happen often, so it always surprises me. Thankfully, I don’t have to worry since my brand is authentic. I’m usually “on brand” in my everyday life.
Just because your brand is authentic doesn’t mean you have to share everything. Privacy is an important part of your author brand.
- You don’t have to share anything you don’t want to share. This is always true… and as much as our culture LOVES it when people share their difficulties, sometimes healing is better done in private.
- Likewise, your children, spouse, and other relatives have the right to their privacy. If your children are under the age of consent, then you’re not respecting their right to digital privacy if you include them in your branding.
- Those of you who know me personally, know that my kids are not named Max and Una. I also don’t often feature their full faces on social media or on my blog. This allows them to create their own digital lives when they are adults.
- Some elements of your life are probably not consistent with your author brand. Keep these private.
- Unless your brand is directly related to political or religious topics, it’s best to keep those private. Politics are not the same as values… your brand can (and should) reflect your values for authenticity.
- Use private social media accounts to share photos and stories with your close friends and family.
Your author brand needs to be consistent. Consistency helps your audience know what they’re getting when they sign up for your newsletter, buy your book, or follow you on social media. Unlike your mom’s Facebook page, your content needs to be curated for consistency.
This is why Agatha Christie published her romance novels under a pseudonym. No one wants to pick up a romance novel, thinking they’ll get to read about Hercule Poirot.
Sometimes consistency might mean that you have brand-related traits that aren’t 100% authentic. If it’s a trait that is consistent with your branding, you just have to play along.
My favorite example of this is from an author who writes women’s fiction (romance, family drama). She hates chocolate, however, chocolate is so much part of that genre that readers are always giving her boxes of chocolate. She pretends to like them, then gives the chocolates away to her kids. (For the record, I am truly addicted to dark chocolate!)
How to build an author brand
There are lots of different ways to hone in on your author brand. Here are the questions that I used to create my author brand. Once you’ve answered all these questions, you should have a pretty good idea of how you want to present yourself publicly.
- If you write in more than one genre, do you want multiple brands or a single brand? I decided that I couldn’t manage marketing my fiction and my food writing separately, so I have a single brand.
- Who is your target audience? What do they expect from the genre?
- Mystery, Sci-Fi, and romance all have very different audience expectations.
- If you write in multiple genres, is there an overlap between them? Can you focus your brand on the overlap?
- Come up with a list of adjectives that describe your brand. Only include ones that are an authentic part of your personality. Start with a long list, then refine it as you hone in on the central theme of your brand. Some adjectives to describe my brand are vintage, wholesome, thoughtful, and sustainable.
- What are your values that fit with your author brand? I’m a cycling advocate, which fits with my brand’s wholesome and sustainable aspects. So I have included some articles about cycling on my blog.
- Are there aspects of yourself that you just won’t be able to keep private? What are they, and how can they fit with your brand? I’m dyslexic. I edit A LOT, but I know that I will still make the occasional dyslexic type of mistakes. So I don’t keep my learning disability private.
- Before finalizing your brand, talk it over with a trusted friend or family member. They’ll help you decide if your author brand is authentic. If it doesn’t sound like you, then marketing and publicity will be exhausting.
What do you do with your brand?
Your author brand impacts every aspect of your engagement with the public. Here are a few ways to ensure consistency within your brand.
- For things you can control, like social media and websites, choose a color scheme, font, and style that fits with your brand.
- Your newsletter should have a welcome series that introduces readers to you and your brand.
- When you get publicity, figure out what your brand message is for your interviews. Make sure you stay on brand. It’s fine to side-step questions that don’t fit with your brand.
- Have a signature style so that readers recognize you from the photo on the back of your book. I wear outfits with a slightly vintage feel, rather than business suits or hemp dresses.