Greetings from Jackie M. Johnson!
Most people are familiar with “brands” for products and services. For instance, a can of Campbell’s soup (the original line) is always red and white with the name in a unique cursive font. It’s instantly recognizable on a grocery store shelf crammed with different brands of soup.
As an author, your brand is essential too. First, you need to know who you are and how you want to be perceived. Then, get your message to your readers—and do so consistently. By being immediately recognizable, you are in a better position for readers to find you, to connect with you and, ultimately, purchase your books.
Branding, whether it’s for a product or service—or an author—is all about identity. As an author, your brand is who you are and what you will deliver to your audience.
In a book publishing market jam-packed with hundreds of thousands of new books every year, how will you stand out?
To create your author brand, ask yourself:
- What makes me (my books) unique?
- How do I want to be known?
- How do readers perceive me? (It is important to differentiate yourself from the crowd and from your competition.)
- Why should a reader want to connect with me?
- What do I offer him or her?
Then develop your key messages and media to support your brand promise. Just as you use emotion to evoke a reaction from readers in your books, use emotion in your marketing and branding efforts too. Finally, make sure your author brand is genuine. Does it feel like “you”?
“A great brand must reflect your own passion…It’s like trying on a new dress or a suit. You buy the one that best fits you and makes you feel confident. When you create your brand, you must feel comfortable, positive, and excited to share it with the public,” says Rob Eagar of WildFire Marketing (one of the best go-to marketing experts to help fiction and nonfiction authors to get the message out about their Christian books).
Eagar continues, “A great brand communicates the kind of results you produce for others. It’s not enough to simply have a clever catch-phrase or tagline. Your brand must express how you make other people’s lives better. In the corporate world, top brands achieve this goal.
“For example, Wal-Mart’s brand is “Save Money…Live Better.” This phrase tells me that my life will better, because I’ll be saving money. Home Depot says, “You can do it. We can help.” Do you see the implied result? Consider the value-laden expression in these brand taglines that I’ve created for some of my clients: “The Stress-Buster,” “Love Wise,” “Storm-Proof Your Life,” and “Strength for the Soul.” The taglines are memorable, and they reflect results.”
So, let’s get practical. What are some fundamental steps you can take now to begin creating your author brand?
1. Make a list of ten words that describe you and your books, words that vividly explain the essence of you. Then use these words as a foundation from which to build your brand. You have to know who you are, and what you’re about before you promote it to others. For example: humorous, relevant, authority, encouraging, knowledgeable, faith-based, etc.
2. Select the look and feel—the design—for your brand. Will you use bold colors or a soft palette? Will you have a logo? What will it look like? A good web designer or graphic designer can help you with these items.
3. Promote your brand, and do so consistently. Ask yourself:How will I communicate my brand in all my marketing efforts? Which social media channels (and other outlets) am I using now, and how do I want to expand? If you’re already on Facebook and Twitter, for example, you may want to learn more about Pinterest or create videos and audio clips for your website.
How do you build a successful author brand? First, know who you are (and aren’t). Then promise (with your key messages), deliver (through social media, book covers, speaking, and every area of your book marketing) and repeat consistently.
Jackie M. Johnson is an author and freelance writer in Colorado. She also edits book proposals and provides insight to writers as a book publishing consultant. Previously, she worked at the premier literary agency, Alive Communications, and the CBA-publisher, WaterBrook Multnomah. Visit her encouragement blog, A New Day Cafe, or website for more information.