If you are like most authors, you love writing, hate marketing, and don’t even know what branding really means. That is totally ok! The fact you are reading this article means that you understand the importance of building a brand if you want to sell books. But what does an author need to do to build a brand?
Branding is a modern way to say reputation. Like a reputation, branding is finding the balance of people’s perceptions, your awareness of your audience, and how much value you give those you follow you or work with you.
Awareness is achieved either by organically networking or with paid advertisements. Unfortunately, the days of far organic reach are gone on most platforms, so to really get your message seen will take some financial commitment.
Are people seeing my work? Am I posting my work in places that people interested in it are?
Perception follows awareness because it is the reaction of people after your content appears on their feeds. When someone sees your content they either skip by it, take note of it, or interact with it. The interaction is what you will often hear as engagement. Engagement is your most important metric when determining the strength of your branding.
Are people interacting with your posts? Are you getting comments or leads from publishing your content?
If you are getting no growth or engagement your issue is probably due to you asking for more than you give.
Value is crucial in building brand. If you can master this part of the formula then the other areas will fall into place naturally.
Value means to give more than you take or ask for. Instead of only asking people to buy, ask yourself what you can give. The answer to that question will vary author to author, but the theory is simple:
When your nose is dripping, do you ask for a tissue or a Kleenex? When you are thirsty, do you think you want a carbonated soft drink or a Coke/Pepsi? What I am getting at is the two examples as well as being an author are fields where there are a lot of competition. It is hard to get people to notice you and then want to support you.
By building a brand, developing a core fan group, you will be able to get enough traction behind your projects to make them commercially viable.
The best way to ensure a positive perception of your branding and marketing is to identify your reader. There are numerous ways to do this, the most basic being ask people who like your book what else they are into. You can also do this with social media ads, targeting different demographics and seeing how their responses to your ad differ.
It is important early on set an identity. That means have the same logos, profile pictures, cover photos, etc. on all platforms. You want to develop a uniformity to your content and messages that allows the viewer to get a good idea of what to expect, and to easily recognize something as yours.
It is important to be aware of trends, but not copy them. There are millions of books, millions of authors, but only one you. Be sure to let your unique personality and perspectives to shine. These are the qualities that you will be most reluctant to share but will get you the best ROI.
The aim of your brand is to tell your readers what they can expect from you. It is up to you to set a tone for your brand and make sure that everything you do under that brand lives up to and exceeds those initial expectations.
Luckily for you, it is up to you the tone that you set. That can even mean that you are going to write all sorts of different genres, different lengths of stories, etc. However, if you set the tone you are a horror author and come out with an unexpected kids book, things might not go over well.
The biggest key with this step is consistency and also accountability in the absence of consistency. If you start slacking, call yourself out, people respect that.
The key is to brand you, not your book.
Supreme sells basic cotton t-shirts with their logo on it for hundreds of dollars. That same shirt, when sold by Fruit of the Loom without the logo, costs only a few dollars. The reason that Supreme has so much more profit margin is that they have created value to their ideal customers.
It is no different from your book. If you are not confident about the quality of your book, don’t present it as a must-read, something that means a lot to you, then people won’t receive it well.
People want to feel good about the inventor of the story, not just the story.
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