Things are not as clear cut as they used to be. Previously, traditional publishing meant you wrote the book, the publishers sorted cover art, editing, marketing & had the control. Self publishing meant you covered costs for everything and didn’t have the resources available to presses. Now everything is different. The publishing industry is becoming a melting pot where authors now need to become essentially business owners in order to make a living through writing books. Self publishers need to cover the cost but also understand how it all works to best produce their content – what current trends are in young adult fiction; whether covers with people on, sell better than illustrated covers in their genre; they need to find the best possible editor for their story & make sure it is of the same quality as books published by Penguin, HarperCollins & Simon & Schuster etc. If they don’t… their books won’t sell half as well. Readers can spot an amateur cover or blurb from a mile away. Not to mention other reviews aiding in their decision to buy or not. Traditionally published authors may assume that this ‘business mindset’ doesn’t need to apply to them. I assure you it does…
This topic is too big to cover in just one blog post so this will be the first in a series of articles focused on marketing for authors entitled ‘The Importance of…’.
Publishers will not put their money into a debut author – they reserve their big marketing budgets for famous names like Stephen King or JK Rowling. Often now, publishers will expect authors to already have a following of around 3,000 when they query their work. Because they know that if the author doesn’t have a good platform, the book won’t sell & won’t make them money. Authors have to market themselves in order to sell their work. In order to do that effectively you need to work on branding. According to Oxford Dictionaries branding means,
“the promotion of a particular product or company by means of advertising and distinctive design“
When you consider branding for authors, you are first & foremost turning yourself into a brand. Your work is your product – your name & voice are your brand. You need to take time to consider what your voice is. Your voice needs to be distinct, personal & provide value in some way to your audience. Your audience will be drawn to what you offer, if they then decide they like you, they’ll take a look at your products & consider buying them. The best way to put it: if people don’t like you, they won’t even consider buying your work. You sell yourself first, your work second. I highly recommend Jenna Moreci’s skillshare course on building an author platform to go into the details on finding & establishing your voice.
Once you’ve established your voice you’ve got to put an image to that voice. It’s best to use an author photo for profile pictures on your Instagram, Facebook, Twitter pages etc. as people like to put a face to the name. But there are other ways to brand yourself. Carrie Green’s She Means Business discusses the importance of set colours, fonts, styles etc. within your brand. Authors need websites – it demonstrates professionalism, & links all your platforms in one place. The best way to visually show your brand is to work these out. Decide which colours best match your brand – are you feminine with cosy romances? Pink is probably your best choice. I write dark fantasy & horror. I already had a wonderful image that matches my brand – a dark blue background with a book & crown. That sorted my colours for me – a dark blue, & a yellow-y gold to match the crown.
With fonts the same applies: are you writing children’s books? Then a fun curvy font would suit your brand well, along with bright vibrant colours to appeal to your audience. I use a font that’s rather formal but also a little bumpy – it has strong fantasy vibes, which helps appeal to the audience I want to attract, as shown below.
These are obviously just the very basics of branding yourself but it’s a starting point that helps to establish your growing platform. It’s important to keep these things consistent as not only do people begin to recognise the style of your brand but it helps to create an air of professionalism. Of course you CAN use different fonts & images for every post you make, BUT it would be easy for people to copy or pinch these for their own. Not only that but it doesn’t separate you from the pack. Designing a brand image can help your audience connect with you, & bring in a new audience. People will begin to take notice if your chapter sneak peeks, little fun facts & messages to your followers are consistent. If a branded image appears on their feed & they like what they see, next time they see that brand style they’ll automatically take an interest in it. As you can see I make sure to keep it as consistent as possible. Sometimes the main font I use is not conducive to large amounts of text so I have a secondary font for things like writing snippets.
This may sound overwhelming especially if you’ve never done anything like this before, but it’s actually very easy to maintain. I keep a separate work notebook for the business side of the industry where I study, take notes of things I see, & just in general develop my business as an author. At the front of that book, I made a note of the colour codes used for my specific colours, the fonts used etc. If you use a platform like Canva to create your marketing images it makes it all very simple. They have templates, they have a variety of types of media you can create & if you don’t feel confident recreating all these then you have to option to simply make another copy of the first image you created, that you can then edit with the relevant info. Marketing doesn’t have to cost an arm & a leg if you know where to look. I don’t even pay for Canva, simply using the free version is enough for building my branded marketing images. The tools in this post are not affiliated links, I just genuinely believe that they are very useful tools, especially for beginners.
I think that’s probably enough information to get you all started. Like I mentioned above this is going to be a series of marketing posts focused on authors so make sure to follow & or subscribe to keep up to date on future posts. I hope you find this information useful, please if you use any of these tips – let me know how you found it in the comments! I want to make sure that the content created here is of the most use to you all.