Five tips for promoting your author brand… and why no writer is an island.
Now that you’ve created your author brand it’s time to share it with the world. Here are five tips for promoting your author brand.
1. Build a website
Rather stick pins in your eyes than write code? Put your sewing kit down - these days creating a website is almost as easy as opening a social media account. If you haven’t done it before, here’s your how-to guide:
Need more help? Check out these blogs on creating an author website and getting to grips with SEO.
2. Start a blog
So now you’ve got a website with a blog section - but what are you going to blog about? And why?
Take another look at the work you did on developing your author brand - it will help guide your content decisions. If you’re writing historical novels then you might want to share interesting tales from the vaults of history. If you’re a fashion writer you might share beauty product reviews.
Why not take your reading and writing journal online? As well as giving you interesting material to share with your audience, this has the added benefit of forcing you to write well-structured reviews. Have you read an interesting book lately? Been to see an inspiring play? Instead of keeping all of this to yourself, why not share it with other people?
Assess your content from your reader’s point of view. Do they want to know how much of a struggle writing has been for you lately? Do they want to read about your head cold, how tired you are this week, and how you struggle to spend quality time with your cat? Probably not. But they’re likely to be interested in your thoughts on that book you just read, or what you learned from that writers’ event you attended. By sharing interesting and useful content with your readers, you give them an incentive to keep returning to your site.
Aim to blog once a week, and at around the same time every week, so your readers know when to check back in. Once you’ve published your blog post, share it with your followers on social media.
3. Get on board with social media
So now you’ve got a great website with an interesting blog, but chances are people aren’t just going to stumble upon it. Luckily you’ve got millions of people at your fingertips thanks to social media. Check out Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads and other social media platforms and figure out what’s going to work for you. (Personally I went with Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads - but if your work has a visual focus or if you do a lot of visual research, you might want to consider other platforms.)
People refer to using social media as ‘connecting with your tribe’. I recently went to hear Tui Allen, author of Ripple, speak about self-publishing. Tui’s book is about dolphins, and through social media she’s managed to reach almost every dolphin lover in the world. She has definitely connected with her tribe - and she’s had amazing opportunities because of it. In their book Branding Yourself: How to use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself, Erik Deckers and Kyle Lacy talk about the concept of ‘givers gain’. Tui is a real social media ‘giver’ who takes the time to review other peoples’ work, comment on forums and share her insights. Think of social media as your opportunity to connect with and support your followers. Like Tui, you’ll find that they’ll start to support you, too.
Tips for using social media:
Worried that you’ll spend all your time on social media instead of writing? Check out Hootsuite, a social media scheduling system that enables you to plan future posts across multiple platforms (they’ll let you use up to three social media accounts for free). When you spot interesting content you can click the owl icon on your browser and schedule a post for later.
4. Track yourself
Your website and your social media accounts allow you to track the number of people who read, like and share your posts. Check in every week or so to see what’s resonating with your audience. Once you know what appeals to your followers you can tweak your content accordingly. You can also experiment to find out what times of day are the best to post.
5. Create good material
Releasing great content is the best way to cement your brand - so now it’s time to focus on writing again. Along with working on your major project, consider other ways that you can practice your craft while promoting your brand:
Developing and promoting your author brand will take time, but stick with it. Your brand will give you credibility, a point of difference in the marketplace - and it will lead to new connections, business contacts and opportunities.
If this post has been useful for you please let me know in the comments!
Five tips for creating your author brand... and why you shouldn’t mention coffee and cats in your bio.
What is an author brand?
Whether you’re a novelist, a poet or a food blogger, if you’re sharing your work in the public domain, then – like it or not – you already have a brand.
Your brand – your name and how you present yourself – is what sets you apart from everyone else. It helps people categorise you and it helps them remember you. It’s important that your brand represents you and your work well.
Think about the following fictional social media avatars. What do they tell you about the author’s brand?
The first person comes across as a serious author – perhaps someone who writes non-fiction or literary fiction. The second person also seems like a serious author, but they’re probably not writing romance novels –– they’re more likely to be a fantasy or sci-fi writer. You can’t tell much about the third person other than that they can’t upload a photo properly. Don’t be that person!
In this article I’ll expand upon five tips for developing your author brand:
1. Conduct a self-audit
Before you develop your brand you need to do some background research – on yourself. Take some time to answer the following questions:
2. Write your story
Whether it’s your twitter bio or the author’s note that appears in a journal, your story helps your readers connect with you. You’ll need two different biographies of different lengths – your social media bio and your submission bio. Keep them on hand so that you can quickly and easily edit them as you need them.
Social media bio
This is the short teaser that you’ll use on social media such as twitter. Be specific and interesting – and don’t mention coffee or cats. No matter how much you love coffee and cats, no one wants to read another bio about them.
Bad: Scribe, cat lover, coffee addict.
Better: I’m a Dunedin-based author excited about gothic architecture, local history and combining photography with the written word.
When you submit work you’re often asked to submit a bio. Submission bios are generally written in the third person (though once you’ve changed it into first person, this is the bio that you might want to use on your website). This is your opportunity to go into more depth about your achievements and reveal something personal (but not ‘coffee and cat’ personal) to your readers. Keep it relevant and up-to-date.
Bad: Jemima Ted was born in Dunedin in 1972 and attended Dunedin Secondary School where she won the prize for fiction every year. She studied fiction at university and went on to write for magazines and publications before writing a novel. Jemima lives in a mid-century home with her cats Binky, Bompy and Bill. Jemima is a coffee connoisseur with a weak spot for a macchiato.
Better: Jemima Ted attended Otago University where she completed a degree in journalism and Master’s degree in creative writing with first class honours. Jemima wrote for the magazines Architecture Unlimited, Historical Observer and Photographic Weekly before self-publishing her first novel Sunken Seas, a story based on the 1889 ‘Lotus Flower’ shipwreck, which was accompanied by Jemima’s original photos.
3. Find your mission
Now it’s time to set some goals. First, define your mission by answering these questions:
Bad: I would like to make millions of dollars and appear as a guest on the Graham Norton show before I die.
Better: In the next five years I aim to publish two books: a collection of essays on Dunedin’s past and the novel Buttermilk, a fictionalised account of the fire that destroyed Dunedin’s first dairy farm.
4. Create your own personal style guide
Have a think about your written and your visual style. Go back to the four words you want your readers to associate with you. Whether you’re fun, whimsical, modern, cynical, obtuse, poetic, ordered, intellectual, biting, goofy or spooky, you want your written and visual style to reflect it.
If we go back to our social media avatars:
5. Get to know your audience
Think about who your target audience might be. Is it the newspaper editors who have the power to accept or decline your submissions. Women who read erotic fiction online? Tech-heads who love reading new product reviews?
Bad: I think everyone would probably be interested in my work.
Better: My work appeals to academics and people with an interest in New Zealand history. My audience reads specialist magazines and historical fiction.
Once you’ve defined who your audience is, you can start figuring out how to reach them. More on that in an upcoming post – Promoting your Author Brand.
If this post has been useful for you please let me know in the comments!
2023 Burns fellow Kathryn van Beek has an MA from Victoria University Wellington - Te Herenga Waka’s International Institute of Modern Letters. She is a winner of the Mindfood Short Story Competition and the Headland Prize. Her collection of short stories, Pet, is available as a podcast, and her work has also appeared in Overland, takahē, Newsroom, and the Sunday Star-Times. She lives in UNESCO City of Literature Ōtepoti Dunedin with her two rescue cats.