In my quest to help authors navigate their path to literary success, I’ve learned how important it is for you to develop your brand. I asked an expert how one goes about doing that. Jeniffer Thompson describes herself as an award-winning author, speaker and Internet marketer, but I think of her as a brand consultant for authors. “A brand is a promise,” said Jeniffer. “It isn’t a logo, a tagline or a feeling. It’s all of those things. We recognize and trust brands.” And that leads to a purchasing decision.
In her free, downloadable book, Web Site WOW, Jeniffer explained that authors need to think of themselves as a business. A well-branded author will have done some homework before plunging into the design of her look. She will know who her audience is and what she wants that audience to feel when they think of her or read her books. She knows her message and delivers it consistently, both visually and in what she writes online and offline.
Eight Steps to Branding Yourself
- Know what you sell. Are you selling spine-tingling fiction that will leave people like me afraid to turn off the lights at night? Or laugh? Are you selling your expertise on a particular topic? Information?
- Understand who will buy what you’re selling. Identify your audience and what appeals to them. Everything they see about you should appeal to their perceived needs, not necessarily what you would like them to need.
- Think about what you want people to feel about what you’re selling. When people are reading what you wrote, do you want them to feel like they’re chatting with you over a warm cup of tea? Should they look up to you as a professional whose advice they need to follow?
- Find a professional to help you design the look that says, “This is me.” Your design doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does need to look professional. Strive for consistency in look and feel, whether online or offline.
- Get a well-designed website. People are no longer impressed if you have a website. They’re shocked if you don’t. Everything on your site—images, words, buttons—should state or support your message in ways that are meaningful to your audience.
- Get the word out. Social media makes it easy to do that. You can even find your competition and tap into their audience. Jeniffer says she’s helped people grow from one to 1,000 Facebook likes in a couple of days by running a Facebook ad to the right demographics.
- Keep up the momentum.You build and keep a loyal audience by engaging them. On your website and social media, whether you’re published yet or not, give people a taste of your character and get them invested in the story. Jeniffer worked with an author whose main character went to a party. The author posted a list of the top 10 ways to throw a party, written in the character’s voice. An historical fiction author could talk about the resources she uses to research, or interesting historical facts. You could suggest a bed and breakfast in the area of the book’s setting.
- Pause to make sound decisions. Just because someone claims they can turn you into an over night success doesn’t mean they can. Take the time to talk to people, get recommendations and carefully consider the steps you take in your writing career.
Finding joy is essential to making good branding decisions
Jeniffer also recommends that you take the time to find joy in life. She believes this is an essential element of making good decisions for every aspect of your life, including your brand. “I need to put myself in an environment that stills me and completes me,” said Jeniffer. “If I don’t get outdoors, I feel something is lacking in my life. It distracts from my ability to make good decisions.”
Jeniffer recommends that you find the spot that calms you and carve out time to go there. For her, rock climbing and working in her garden clears her mind so she can make solid decisions. For me, the forest surrounding my town brings clarity of mind. For you, it could be a coffee shop—or someplace where you can watch a beautiful sunset. “Don’t make decisions before going to the place that stills you,” said Jeniffer. “There are a lot of people who will give you advice. If someone tells you they can help you make the best seller list, you want to believe them. But, don’t jump too fast. Talk to more than one professional. Get referrals. Set realistic goals and deadlines. Don’t push something out that isn’t ready yet. You can’t go back once it’s out there.” Through her company, Monkey C Media, Jennifer helps authors identify, develop and maintain their brand. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and her blog.