Writing a book might be on your bucket list, but just loading it onto Amazon and not building a brand is like getting a driver’s licence and never driving anywhere.
Why go to all the effort of getting a driver’s licence and never driving. Why give up when the world is just opening up to you. Like having a driver’s licence, writing a book opened up a new world to you. Now you need the vehicle and some fuels and your life can change in ways that you never imagined.
To get sales and I mean real sales, the kinds that feed your family, you need to build a brand. What is a brand? It is the way that your audience, customers, readers, call them what you will, perceive of you. It is not just big brands like Mercedes Benz, BMW and Ferrari (I am keeping with the car theme here) that need to build a presence, new authors must build up an online presence.
So what is an author brand and how do you build one?
Start by asking yourself, “What are my values and how does that link in with my writing?”
When you know this, you know how to find your loyal fans. Fans who believe in what you believe in, who value what you value. This is also going to dictate what you share about your life. For example, if one of your values is physical health, then most of your food decisions would be based on good and wholesome choices. So when you are on social media, you will post pictures of your family eating a salad or homemade fruit juice ice lollies. Does that mean that you will never eat junk food? Probably not. We are all humans, after all. But posting a picture of you and your kids at McDonald’s having soft serve would not match your brand.
Now that you know your values, think of four cornerstones of your communication. What is a cornerstone? It is traditionally the first stone laid for an architectural structure, with all other stones laid in reference. When you know your values, all your communication is going to be in relation to your cornerstones. So if your four core values are health, fun, truth and growth, all your posts are going to align with these values. This can also help you schedule posts and articles for specific days of the week, as you can dedicate one day of the week to a specific value.
Who is the Brand?
Be clear of who the brand is. Your book is not the brand. You are the brand. Authors spend money on a cover designer and a layout artist for the interior, but fail to spend money on a decent public relations picture. When that next series comes out, readers need to know that you are the creator of all that passion, drama, intrigue and passion. It is you they are going to send fan mail to, and it is your bank account the royalties will come into.
Readers want to connect with who you are. That does not mean that you have to be an extroverted party animal. But it means that you have to present the authentic you so that people can connect with what your brand stands for. In all your platforms, choose fonts and colours that support your brand voice and message. If you’re a horror author, for example, you may consider dark colours for your website. A children’s author may want to add bright colours to their website and Facebook page.
What vehicles can you use to communicate your brand?
While there are many ways to communicate your brand, as an author with limited time. This means that you have to make the best use of your time, that you have to make sure that you keep writing and produce books that readers love.
Readers don’t pay you for your social media activities, they pay you for books, so get the balance right. Just writing books without handling the marketing is like being in a rowing boat with only one oar. You will go round in circles, but never reach your destination.
Choose only a few key activities and find ones that can link, so that you minimise your time spent on them. Remember that there are a lot out there, but the list below is a sample of the key starter brand building sites.
Now, some people may say that Facebook is more important and easier. However, a website is a spot that you own and within reason you can communicate in that suits your brand. Facebook is more like a rental property where you depend on the rules that your landlord sets for you. On your website you can post your links for your books, get people to sign up for your newsletter and even sell from your website. You own it and you can make the changes you want. If you invest a little time and money in understanding SEO (Search engine optimization) then you can get more people to visit your site, but that is an article for another day. Unless you have a Facebook link to your site, you can also control what gets communicated about you.
Facebook is like that special friend of yours who is the life and soul of the party. They drive a fast car, can talk for hours and have the most outrageous stories. You love to have them around, but sometimes you need a bit of break. Your friend may just jump up one day after too many drinks and say, “Let’s go skinny dipping in the fountain outside the hotel,” and suddenly, someone sees you and then you need a reputation management specialist to fix up a problem you never expected.
So with Facebook, be clear on what your values and cornerstone of communication is and then plan your communication around your core values and don’t get sucked into things that don’t match your brand. Having said that there are few vehicles more powerful for gaining exposure as a new author than Facebook. With so many special interest groups available on Facebook, you can easily find groups with readers who read your genre. Expect to do some work through. Facebook likes users who actively engage with others. If you lack time, then choose only one that suits your values and plug away at making connections there.
This is an area that many new authors neglect. They add their books to Amazon and then neglect to add an author photo and bio to their author page. Most of the sites such as Amazon, Bookbub and Goodreads all have a place to add a photo and details about you. But also to connect with other authors and readers in your genre. Amazon and Goodreads allow you to link a blog to your profile, which gives readers another way of experiencing your brand.
Instagram is now owned by Facebook, which saves you a lot of time because you can post on Facebook and Instagram instantaneously by using your Facebook Business Manager. There is an entire reader community called Bookstrammmers on Instagram where members just love sharing pictures of books they have read and loved.
So there are the basics for building a brand.
Be sure to check in with us for more blogs about book marketing and sales.
Copyright: Kim Vermaak 2021