Are you that author who regularly shouts “buy my book” on Twitter and Facebook? If this is your idea of book promotion, you need to get comfortable with the fact that your personal brand is “salesperson.” That’s fine if your books are about how to sell things, but a terrible fit if you write novels.
Authors are often uncomfortable with the idea of personal branding. Yet, by being part of the social conversation, most are creating some type of brand whether they’re aware of it or not. Why not be more deliberate about the process? In today’s crowded book marketplace, crafting an effective personal brand has never been more important.
So what exactly is personal branding? We like this straightforward definition: “personal branding is the process by which individuals and entrepreneurs differentiate themselves and stand out from a crowd by identifying and articulating their unique value proposition, whether professional or personal and then leverage it across platforms with a consistent message and image to achieve a specific goal.” (Just to clarify, a value proposition is a promise of value to be delivered.) For authors, this boils down to what is the type of reading experience you promise to deliver to readers.
So if readers were asked to describe your personal author brand in a few words or phrases, what would they say? Do you know? If not, perhaps it’s worth taking some time to define and create a plan for your personal brand. Here are five simple steps:
- Discover your brand. Explore and define your life-long aspirations, passions, and goals as an author. When you start in a place of honesty, you build a brand that is genuine.
- Know your audience. Brands do not exist in vacuums. They are designed to reach a specific audience. You can’t craft an effective author brand without understanding your target audience. Do your homework. Research everything you can about your target audience. Do you know their genders? Age? Areas of common interest? Favorite social channels? Popular entertainment (movies, books, songs, etc.)? Find out as much as you can about your target audience. It is central to your success.
- Ask hard questions. What makes your work compelling? What differentiates you and your writing in today’s book marketplace? How do readers perceive you and your work? Is that perception aligned with the perception you desire? Do the books you create and the way you market them help you cultivate your personal author brand and achieve your goals? How do you add value to your community of fans?
- Create a plan. Map out a clear roadmap to help you reach your readers. If you don’t have enough information, consider surveying your audience. If you know where and how your readers are discovering new books like yours, map out a marketing plan to reach them. This includes creating a content calendar to share relevant content with your audience on a consistent basis. Your planning should also include long-term strategy sessions. in which you outline the types of books you will write (not necessarily just genre, specific qualities are important too), when you will release them, the way you will share them with the world, and the types of actions you will take on a regular basis to demonstrate the qualities and values for which you wish to be known. Thinking strategically will help you craft a more effective author brand.
- Choose your platforms. Where are the best places to communicate authentically your brand’s message? Research social and real-world communication channels that make sense for your brand message. Execute on your plan across your chosen platforms.
- Think long term.Building an effective personal brand takes a long time. It requires commitment and consistency. Don’t give up on your roadmap just because you’re not seeing results quickly. If you stick to your plan, you will achieve your goals over time.
Kathy Meis will hold a session at this year’s AuthorU entitled, “Metadata IS Your Brand.” She is the founder and CEO of Bublish, the world’s first complete publishing solution with integrated brand-building, marketing, and discoverability features. With more than twenty-five years of experience in the media and publishing industry, she has served in a wide variety of editorial and management positions at some of the world’s leading media companies, including CBS and Forbes, Inc. She is a founding partner of PubSmart, a publishing conference in Charleston, South Carolina as well as a professional writer, editor, and ghostwriter. Kathy speaks and blogs regularly on the subject of book promotion, author branding, social marketing, and discoverability. She has appeared at many conferences, including Book Expo America, Women in Media, GrubSteet, PubSmart, and IndieRecon.
Author U is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to the author who wants to be seriously successful. Monthly education programs delivered face-to-face and online, The Author Resource ezine, BookCamps and the annual Author U Extravaganza are tools designed for authors pre, during and post publishing of their books. Join AuthorU.org today.
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