It’s no longer as simple as writing a book and leaving the rest to the publishers. In a world of cuts, most publishers won’t spend tonnes of money promoting an unknown.
That’s if you’re lucky enough to get a publisher, of course.
If you’re not at that stage yet you should still be thinking about your author brand. If anything, it’s more important at this stage than when you have an agent and publisher behind you. Your author brand may just be what gets you the deal. If an agent/publisher can see that you already have a loyal fanbase, you have your target audience already and you’re less of a risk for them to take on.
If you’re thinking of self-publishing, meanwhile, all the hard work is down to you anyway.
The sooner you start to create your brand and reach out to your target audience, the easier it will be.
Know Who You Are
Your author brand isn’t about who you are when you’re sitting around the table eating tea with your family. It’s about who you want the world to see you as. It’s important to be authentic, but that doesn’t mean you have to bare your soul to a world full of strangers. Be honest, and create a voice and tone that matches both you as a person, and your writing.
Make Yourself Recognisable
If you can afford to, get a professional headshot taken and use that across your marketing materials. This makes you instantly recognisable. Whether you get the photo done professionally or not, make sure that it’s a high quality image and that it reflects your personality. You could wear a hat, or do your make-up in a particular way, or have it taken in your favourite place. No photos from drunken nights out though—you want to be professional and personable. Those kinds of photos should stay on your hard drive and far, far away from anyone else.
Your facial expression will tell your potential readership a lot about you, too. There’s no point being a children’s writer who can’t smile, for example. As a children’s writer you should appear to be friendly and approachable, not poe-faced.
Know Your Target Audience
If your target audience is an eighty-year-old woman, there’s little point being on social media.
If your target audience is young adults, Instagram is perfect. Richelle Mead does a great job of interacting with her followers, posting pictures of her characters and exclusive diary entries only available online. Joanna Penn uses Pinterest for her crime novels so that readers can get a visual for her settings.
Your target audience will depend on which social network is the best fit for you. Most authors will automatically go for Facebook and Twitter, but don’t underestimate the power of Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat and others. It’s becoming harder and harder to get your work seen on Facebook, so don’t rely on it as your sole source of promotion. Especially if you can’t afford to spend money to promote yourself.
If you don’t write about politics, don’t post about it. Especially if your target audience is people who aren’t likely to listen or care. Pick what you’re going to post about, for instance, cute dog memes sandwiched between quotes from your novel, and stick to it.
It’s also important to post at the same time everyday. People will come to expect something from you at this time, and may seek it before you’ve even posted.
You can schedule posts to most social networks these days using sites such as Buffer (my favourite), Sprout Social, and HootSuite.
Being consistent isn’t just about social media, though. It also means sticking to the writing style and tone that you’ve chosen. If you’re writing in a more serious tone, don’t suddenly start using slang. Likewise if you write in a more colloquial way, don’t suddenly switch to formal language. Doing so confuses—and puts off—your audience.
Pick Your Frequency
The more you post, the more people who will see your posts. If you’re not saying anything, how can you expect people to listen?
Buffer helps you to work out the best times to post to each network. You can then schedule your posts to go out when they’re likely to be seen by more of your followers, and in turn, more of their friends/followers, therefore increasing your reach.
However, if what you’re posting isn’t relevant to your target audience, be careful. You don’t want to bore/overwhelm them, or post simply for the sake of posting. Your audience are savvy, and this could put them off.
Writers such as Matt Haig and J.K.Rowling do a wonderful job of interacting with their readers and posting musings that are relevant to their audience/books.
J.K.Rowling regularly tweets about Hogwarts, while Matt Haig discusses mental health and politics.
As mentioned above, know your target audience and post what appeals to them.
- Be yourself
- Get a professional headshot
- Know who you’re trying to reach
- Be consistent
- Pick your social media posting frequently
- Be interesting