Branding is something that I’ve been discussing with friends, family and other authors a lot lately. It’s always tricky to know how to start your brand and then follow through; after that, keeping your brand is even harder, especially if the one you started with is one you don’t like anymore. It means a total re-do, which, trust me, I’ve done before. I’ve had a “brand” for a book series / novel advertising and then a year or two later, I realised that I had grown so much since then, in my ability to choose, recognise and develop a brand, that I had to start over. Which meant choosing a new brand for a half dozen books and redoing nearly 50 teaser posters, to make sure that they all fitted the new branding I’d decided on.
But, how did I get there? With a lot of help. A LOT. Some branding geniuses in my publishing company helped guide me in the right direction and now I can recognise what my brand for a book/series should be and implement it, until all of the posters fit that brand.
In part 1 I’ll be focusing on:
Part 1 – Social Media Personality
To get your author “brand” you need to know what you’re about. Me, I’m a geek, an LGBT author and a paranormal lover, so most of my posts on social media are related to those things: geek fandoms, LGBT related images, paranormal images and writing. This can be anything from author tips, advice articles or writing prompts. To secure my brand, I chose a “schedule” for my FB page and sit down, once every 3-4 months, to spend one day planning ahead.
I have a folder for my FB author page on my laptop, with the following folders inside it : Teaser posters, LGBT pics, Vampire pics, Geek pics and Writing pictures. I use these to schedule my page for the 6 months that FB allows. I have set days for each post : Monday – geek posts, Tuesday – Teaser Tuesday, Wednesday – WIPs, Thursday – LGBT posts, Friday – vampire pics, Saturday – I share the FB pages of authors in my publishing house, Sunday – writing posts. In between, I also have one promo post per day, at a different time of day to the scheduled posts.
So that, for me, is who I am as an “author brand”.
Part 2 – Author Logo/Image
How my author brand looks? Well, that took some time to figure out. I played with some awful – awful! – ideas for an author logo, because I’m seriously camera-intolerant. Being disabled and sick most of the time, it’s hard to get a good picture of myself and I don’t want to be stuck with one that I’m not happy with. So, I use an author logo, instead. These terrible attempts were how I began:
You can see that I had no clear idea of how to “show” who I was as an author through my logo. I played with theme, colour and image for far too long and never really came up with anything that I liked or that I would be proud to display on my social media pages or promo material. Then I came up with this image, which I now use in the back of all my books:
This ^ is me. It’s colourful, it’s about writing and imagination, it’s simple and it has a rainbow effect that links into my LGBT writing. It was perfect. It consists of three key elements, so it’s full of effects. The image of the pencil, trees and birds is one picture that I found on a stock photo site. The line with leaves is an overlay from Picmonkey and I used one font that is simple, clean and easy to read, while being a little ‘romantic’ and cursive.
For my social media profiles, I had to use something different, only because this ^ image doesn’t show so well in a thumbnail. But then, that was never what it was designed for. So, I created a simple, clean banner and profile sized image for my social media platforms:
This is one image – the filigree, 3d background – with a birds and heart overlay. Again, I used one font that is cursive, easy to read and simple, but effective at portraying my tagline – “romantic at heart”. I created it in Picmonkey, meaning that I could create the banner first, then crop my final image into their social media square template, adjusting the very same background, text and overlay until it fit the required space. I didn’t have to start over from scratch, which is the beauty of Picmonkey, in my mind.
Part 2 – Author Identity/Tagline
Another key aspect of author branding is your tagline. This is something short, to the point, that describes who you are as an author and what people can expect from you. Mine is “romantic at heart” because I write in all genres as long as they contain romance. Other authors choose something punchy, like my publisher’s tagline “Where Dreams Take Flight”. My lit-sister TL Travis uses “Erotica with Bite”, while Jadis Shaw chose “Paranormal and Beyond”. Now, can’t you just imagine how they look? “Dreams” and “take flight” suggest wings, imagination, magic and anything being possible. “Erotica with Bite” just makes me think of teeth nashing in a bite, vampires, hotness and super-sexy. “Paranormal” comes with it’s own implications of vampires and magic and the dark depth of humanity, while “and Beyond” says that this author takes things further than you’re used to. Those two words add depth to the meaning of those three simple words.
All of them inspire the imagination and provoke powerful images in the human mind; this is what you’re looking for in your tagline. It doesn’t have to be long or complex. Just something that speaks to you and speaks about you, at the same time. Need another hint? The awesome Bryan Tann asks you to “Let me in your imagination. You won’t be disappointed.” Now, doesn’t that just say something? Brilliant!
In the end, it’s all about personality. Me? I now have two beautiful images that represent me, as an author, and show my “style” as a writer.
In the end, you have to show your readers/viewers who you are in these three simple ways. It’s about how you represent yourself and want to be represented, visually and stylistically. It’s about showing the reader/viewer who you are as a person and as a writer. Because, 50% of being an author is about being yourself and showing a personal, human side of yourself to your readers, while the other 50% gets to be about you as the writer, who is constantly busy writing, promoting and gathering inspiration.
Just remember, your readers won’t be interested in your work if they can’t get interested in you. If you don’t show a part of yourself, even if it’s a small hint of personality, then they’re not going to risk their hard earned money on your work. Because if you come across as boring, they’ll place that image onto your work and pass you over for someone with clear branding and personality. It is the sad but proven truth of the writing world.