This is a guest post by Amanda Winstead.
Writing a book is a personal experience. It’s special to you. It can quickly become the love of your life as you’re pouring words onto a page.
But, no matter how great your writing is, and no matter how wonderful the story will be, you’re always going to compete with other authors who feel the same way about their own work. You’ll be on the shelves with everyone else, and it’s up to you to find ways to stand out.
While many books end up speaking for themselves, it can be hard to establish a name based on great writing alone. If no one knows who you are, they’re less likely to pick up your latest release.
What sets you apart from other authors is your personal brand.
As a writer, you have to think of yourself as a business. That includes branding and marketing yourself in ways that help you become a household name and stand out from the competition.
So, what is a personal brand, and what can you do to establish one, in the first place?
Showing your audience who you are
Most authors have a specific target audience in mind when they’re writing—that’s why there are so many genres. While your book might cross over several different genres, keeping that audience at the forefront of your efforts will help you to hone in on the way you word things.
It can also help you with your branding.
As an individual, being your own brand is beneficial. People are craving more humanistic businesses and personal touches when it comes to marketing. You can be yourself, showcase your personality, and show fans of your writing that you’re a real person they can feel connected to. So, it’s important to ask yourself how you want the world to see you. Some tips to keep in mind as you ponder that include:
- Decide how much you want to share publicly
- Be authentic and honest
- Be recognisable
- Use a voice and tone in your writing that reflects you, as a person
- Be consistent
Why is a personal brand important? When someone picks up your book and enjoys it, they’ll want to know more about you, as an author. They might become lifelong fans, and because they like who you are, as a person, they won’t just be excited for your next release because they know it’s great. They’ll be excited because they know it’s coming from you.
Think of authors who have become household names over the years, like Stephen King or John Grisham. Even people who have never picked up their books know who they are, and associate them with quality writing. So, even if someone has never read a Stephen King book before, they can buy one knowing they’re not going to be disappointed in the story.
Offering something of value
What you write can be a part of your personal brand when it’s something you’re passionate about.
Mark Twain famously said ‘write what you know,’ and that’s still great advice for any author trying to build a brand based on honesty and authenticity.
When you write and publish a book, you’re essentially offering potential customers a product. But, if you want to stand out and start establishing your brand, you need to offer more than that. People are inundated with thousands of product offers each day. If your particular product isn’t something of value, consumers are more likely to overlook it.
Until people know who you are and what to expect from your writing, make sure they know about the value of what you’re creating. For example, if you’ve written a book about a person who lives in a big city, you should probably have some big-city background, yourself. If your book talks about familial hardships, money struggles, or even darker themes, it’s important to be able to connect to those subjects, so your readers can relate to you and your words, and know they’re getting something real out of their purchase. Offering value to readers will help you:
- Set yourself apart from competitors
- Instil a sense of urgency for people to buy your book
- Appeal to investors
- Build your reputation quickly
Write what you know, especially when you’re just getting started. The more authentic your words are, the more valuable they’ll be, and people will notice.
Building a multi-faceted brand
If you truly want to build a strong brand, you’ll have to strategise across multiple platforms. Thankfully, technology has made it easier than ever to reach your target audience(s) and engage with them. So, as you consider how you want others to view you, it’s important to market yourself using the following outlets:
- Social media
- Your own website
- Email newsletters
It’s not enough to just create multiple social media accounts or have a stagnant website that never gets updated. Make sure you’re regularly connecting with your audience. Answer questions on social media or host live Q&A sessions. Ask questions of your own or set up prompts for people to respond. Again, this is a way to ‘humanise’ your brand and build trust with current and potential readers.
Set up a YouTube channel and use specific colours or your own logo to establish a unique identity. Or work with influencers who already have a strong brand as you start to make a name for yourself.
When you think about branding, your greater focus should be having such a recognisable image that your audience will know what to expect when they see you.
Your writing should always be your top priority. One of the biggest mistakes you can make as an author is completely losing yourself in the marketing aspect of your career. But, that doesn’t mean it’s not a crucial component. Finding that balance between quality work and strategic branding will allow you to become a household name like the authors listed above.
So, whether you’re about to publish your first book or you have a few out there and you’re trying to generate buzz, put some of these ideas into practice. The world deserves to read what you have to say, but they also need to know the person behind those words.
Amanda Winstead is a writer from the Portland area with a background in communications and a passion for telling stories.
Along with writing she enjoys traveling, reading, working out, and going to concerts.
If you want to follow her writing journey or even just say hi, you can find her on Twitter.