As an author, promoting and selling a title is a lot like starting a business. You have to build awareness of your book but you must also start to build a brand that your following can trust and relate with.
Building a personal brand is something that authors don’t always focus on. As a writer, it’s easy to rely on the fact that your readers will start to know you through your work. The reality is, building a personal brand will help develop a narrative that people will recognize. Doing this requires organization, a concerted effort, and a little creative thinking.
Define Who You Are
When a company or other organization sets out to create a brand, some of the initial steps are to determine who they are. What is their mission, what are their values, what is their purpose? Defining who you are and how that will be reflected in your personal author brand is a very similar process.
Think about how you want to be portrayed. How do you want your audience to see you? Why do you write? Who are the people you are writing for? In a way you are building a persona of yourself around which you can build a narrative.
Come up With a Marketing Strategy
Come up with a goal and then outline the broad steps you will take to reach that goal. Many self-published authors don’t have a lot of money to throw at marketing their titles. In fact most are working professionals who are producing content in their spare time. When you don’t have the backing of a huge publishing house with tons of resources or aren’t a well-established self-made author who has already experienced success, use what is available to you.
In the age of social media, sometimes all you need is a good idea and word-of-mouth will do the work for you. Develop a presence online using social networks where your readers hang out. Hit all the usual suspects like Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn, and Twitter but also listen for where your readers might be on other networks.
If you are publishing a book odds are you already have a blog but if you don’t, set one up. You don’t have to be a super web master these days to build a blog. There are a variety of web-based platforms available like wordpress.com and blogger.com where you can customize and add content very quickly.
Learn how to leverage your blog, too. Here are some ideas you can use to generate interest in your title or titles before they are released:
- Post snippets of your book as blog posts.
- Serialize your book to get readers wanting more.
- Have a call-to-action at the bottom of every post that leads to a sales page for your book.
- Submit your blog to local directory sites such as Best of the Web for blogs or Bloggeries.
- Get other websites in the publishing and/or printing industry to build links to your blog on their pages.
- Share links to your blog posts on social media sites that you are active on.
- Network with other bloggers and get them to post links to your blog.
Print and eBooks
We’ve heard that to be taken seriously you should probably have a printed version of your book at some point in your plan. That doesn’t mean you can’t start with an eBook version of your title in order to generate buzz in the beginning.
You will find that it is cheaper in the beginning to do your own eBook conversion and promote your title online in that way first. If you start seeing some interest develop, you can then move to a print version of your title.
Learn from Others
Don’t be afraid to look at what other authors or even small publishers are doing in their promotional efforts. We learn by watching others and sometimes there is a tendency to want to go at it all alone. Network with other authors that you know, share best practices, find out what works and what doesn’t from other’s advice instead of on your own.
This is an important one because if you aren’t consistent in the image you portray, people will have a hard time taking you seriously. In any kind of new endeavor where the road to success isn’t very clear, it is easy to lose sight of your goal.
Set up profiles online and construct them all as the persona that you are building. If that is as a self-published author, then so be it. Whatever you are calling yourself, make sure that message is consistent anywhere you have publicly available information about yourself.
If you want to have a social profile that isn’t representative of your personal brand that’s fine, just be sure that you keep it as locked down as possible. Promote the profiles that have your author brand on them.
Building a brand as an author can be simple as long as you stick to your messaging and make a consistent effort. You don’t have to use a lot of money either. You can leverage the internet to get a lot of exposure through social media, blogging, and networking with other authors.