By Beth Barany
Many authors are confused about their branding, either because they haven’t thought it through, hadn’t needed to, or didn’t know where to begin.
When you communicate a clear and compelling author brand, you can attract the right readers and fans and potentially sell more books.
A Word About Branding
I don’t have a degree in marketing. I do have life experience as an author and an author’s coach. An important thing to keep in mind is our brand evolves as we do. The point isn’t to get your author brand perfect. The point is to define a brand you can live with it, like, and feel comfortable sharing on your website and in your marketing.
Branding Comes from Within
Branding is an external exercise, but it stems from what you have already within you. You’re not trying to create something that doesn’t already exist.
If you’ve already done an exercise on author branding and have your author brand in operation, then you may want to review these points and see what next steps they inspire.
If you’re new to thinking about your author brand, then use these tips and action steps to think through the process and develop your own author brand.
Why Develop an Author Brand?
Who cares? You may wonder. Well, if you just present yourself as “your name, author,” I don’t know hardly anything about you. Even if you add “romance author” or “thriller writer,” I still don’t know what kind of story you write. There are so many subgenres these days, and readers are particular in the kinds of books they crave.
The questions we all wonder when we encounter a new author is:
- Will I like his or her books?
- Would I want to pick up their books?
Branding Reduces the Risk During the Discovery Process
Help us get to know what you write, so we can make an informed buying decision.
You as the author need to answer the questions:
- Why would someone want to pick up my books?
- Why would someone care?
This is not as hard as it sounds, though it does require some inner investigation.
I’m going to presuppose that a romance author wants to attract romance readers. Great, but the romance genre is way more complex than that.
The main reason to have an author brand is so that readers will know if you are their flavor or a flavor they are curious to try.
My take on branding is that we need to convey our specific flavor in our marketing.
Just like when you walk into an ice cream store, they have fifteen to twenty flavors to choose from. No one flavor is better than another. Although readers are going to have their preferences and so are you.
The other reason you want to be specific in your author branding is so that the people looking for that type of book can say, “Yes!” And, the people who could care less can say, “No!”
People don’t like to be sold to, but they love to buy. Make it easy for them to check out your books.
What is Involved in Creating an Author Brand?
Today we’re going to cover the tagline—three to seven words to identify your “flavor”—not the design. I’m not an expert in design, though I have opinions about this and will touch on it briefly. Our brand is represented in the words we choose, and in font, color, images, and shapes.
Let’s drill down to the five main components of your author tagline.
#1: Genre, Really Sub-genre
Let’s start with genre.
What sub-genre of romance or mystery or fantasy or (another fiction genre) or nonfiction do you write?
If you’re not sure, ask your friends, colleagues, critique partners, family members, beta readers, etc.
For example, I write sweet paranormal romance. I know other romance authors who write sexy suspenseful romance or military romance, or military romance about SEALS, or hot medieval historicals, or contemporary sensual small-town romances.
As you brainstorm the kind of sub-genre that you write, at first don’t pay attention to the standard categories that might exist on Amazon. Just make up a bunch of words and phrases that represent what you think you are writing. This is a starting point.
Imagine a reader coming to your site or to your Facebook page or Twitter or Pinterest and seeing that you write your specific kind of romance or mystery or thriller or non-fiction. It will be that much easier for them to know whether or not they are interested in reading your books if you are super specific.
Action Step: Define your sub-genre in two to five words.
#2: The Big WHY
The next aspect of defining your author brand and your tagline answers the question, “Why did you write this book?”
Let’s take the romance genre… so many kinds! Do you want people to:
- fall love again?
- be inspired by love?
- be enchanted by love?
- escape into a world where anything is possible?
- Or… something else?!
What inspires you to write fiction and this specific kind of fiction?
If you write in multiple genres that are very different from each other, I advise you create a specific tagline for each genre. It helps readers know what you’re doing and decide if they want to read what you’re writing.
You can also create what I call an Umbrella Brand, where they can see the commonalities between all of the genres you write.
I’d say that my umbrella brand for my fiction and my coaching is about empowering others to live their dream life today, step-by-step.
Action Step: Define your Why.
Simon Sineck: Find Your Why
#3: Emotional Impact
My question for you: “What is the emotional impact you’d like to have on your readers?”
In other words, when your readers are done reading your book, how do you want them to feel?
- Turned on?
- Sighing with contentment?
- Happy and cozy like a cat?
- Excited to take action?
- Empowered, ready to take on the world?
Next, represent this emotion in one of the five senses. How can you represent the emotion in a:
- symbol, shape, icon, or image?
Doing this exercise can help you choose a color for your site and other marketing materials.
Make sure the color is alignment of the emotional experience you want to convey.
I use orange in my coaching business because it is a joyful, playful, action-oriented color. I use a grey-blue on my author site because I think it’s dreamy and invites people into my magical tales of romance, mystery, and adventure.
Action step: Write down the emotional impact you want your books to have in a few words, no more than seven.
Bonus step: How can you incorporate color and shape into your site and social media?
Basic Color Theory: Color meaning and symbolism: How to use the power of color in your branding
#4: ACTION: Draft Your Tag Line
Play with various combinations of words until you find a word or phrase that you like.
You want your tagline to:
- be in your own words for your genre, so it sounds unique
- be in alignment with your WHY
- convey the emotional experience of your books
Examples of Author’s Tag Lines:
Beth Barany, Magical Tales of Romance, Mystery, and Adventure
Liz Adams, Hands-On Fairy Tale Erotica
Regina Kammer, Provocative Historical Romance… and Contemporary Romance with a Touch of History
Sharon Hamilton, Romantic Suspense Author of Hot Navy SEALs and Paranormal Romance
Tawny Weber, Hot, Sassy Romance…It’s All About the Sexy Attitude
T.J. Kline, Finding Romance in the Heart of the West
#5: Support and Feedback
An important part of developing your tagline is testing it.
If this is a difficult step for you then think about how developing an author career is about putting yourself out into the world and letting people enjoy your fiction.
If it’s hard for you to share your developing author brand, then this is a good area to bring in some appreciation, acceptance, support, and healing.
It helps to get support around your developing author brand, so if you feel comfortable share your musings in the comments below and I’ll give you my feedback.
To review, your action steps are:
- to clarify your genre as specifically and as clearly as you can;
- to define your big why;
- to declare the emotions that you want readers to feel by the time they’re done reading your book;
- to draft your tagline; and
- to get support and feedback while you develop your author brand.
I look forward to seeing your tagline. Good luck!