Author Branding: How to Get Started
We’ve all heard the advice to create your brand as an author, but what exactly is author branding? Being an author is so much more than just the books your write. It’s about your image in the real world and online in the cyber world. The Internet has made it possible for people to connect with people around the world and to create an online persona, all from the comfort of our homes. As an author, it’s a good idea to consider what your image or “brand” as an author is. But first you’ll need a few things to get your author branding started.
It’s All in the Name
Have you decided on a pen name or do you want to publish under your real name? The arguments for and against for each path are valid. What it boils down to is which path is right for you.
Pen Names: You keep your private life somewhat private. If your real name is hard to pronounce or unusually long, a pen name might be right for you. If you write for more than one genre, say steampunk, Viking romance and horror, the use of pen names makes it easier for your fans who read your steampunk books to follow you and not get mixed up with your books in the horror and romance genres. Some notable examples of authors who use pen names for different genres are Eleanor Robertson, who writes as Nora Roberts (romance) and J.D. Robb (romantic suspense), and Joanne Rowling, who writes as J.K. Rowling (fantasy) and Robert Galbraith (crime fiction).
Real Name: The biggest argument in favor of using your real name is simple. It’s your book, so why not put your name on it? I’ve also heard the “Are you ashamed of what you’ve written” argument as well, but I’m not a fan of that one.
Whether you use a pen name or your real name boils down to one thing: what’s right for you as an author. Whatever path you choose is the correct path for you.
Create an Online Presence as an Author
The time to begin building your online presence as an author ideally is before you even start to write your book. That being said if you’ve already started your book or you’ve finished and are not sure when to begin, the time is now.
Social Media: If you haven’t already done so, you should secure your social media as an author. Open accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr or on as many networks as you please. Many authors find their personal name is already taken or they don’t want to mix their personal Facebook with that of their adoring fans. This is where you often see “author” before or after their name. It’s an easy way to keep your personal and professional monikers separate. If you don’t want to use “author,” you could add your middle initial. If your book is a series, securing the series name on social media might be a good idea as well.
Website & Email: Don’t forget the all-important email and website addresses too. If you decide to create a blog or simply a website that lists your books, where to buy them and your email address for you fans to contact you, secure your name or pen name as a dot-com. Do you have to blog? No. I know authors who don’t blog. One of them put it this way, “If I’m writing, it will be for my book.” I know other authors who use their blogs to create a following of potential readers. They share their journey as a creative writer and build a base of fans and a buzz about the upcoming release of their book.
In today’s ever-expanding and competitive book market, have followers is a huge asset whether you decide to go the traditional route with a publisher or decide to blaze your own trail and self-publish. Either way you’ll need followers. The attitude that “if I write it people will read it” is one that could lead to great disappointment. Writing is hard work. Selling your book is even harder. Nowadays publishers are looking for authors who already have an online presence, followers, and potential readers. Will not having a fan base keep you from getting signed with a publisher? No, but it does make your package or author branding much more appealing. And if you’re self-publishing, it’s a lot easier to sell your book if you have a number of people who are already following you on your blog or social media.
Connect With Others
Rome wasn’t built in a day and it wasn’t built by one person either. Making connections with readers, authors, editors, agents, bloggers, cover designers, book designers, fans, and online forums is an essential element that could make the path to publishing success a little easier.
Whether it’s advice on finding a great cover designer or asking your favorite book bloggers to review your book, making connections with others online is a fabulous way to get ahead. The world of blogging is a reciprocal world. If someone promotes your book, pay it forward. The Internet is not a finite universe. It’s infinite and the idea that my followers can’t be your followers is ridiculous because people can follow as many people as they want. There’s no limit, so sharing is a good thing.
Make connections now, establish yourself online and return the favors others have done for you.
What author branding have you done? What has worked for your and what hasn’t? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. We’d love to read about them.
Now… go write something!