I hear this word a lot--branding--and it causes writers to panic. I'm going to make this simple for you. When it comes to creating your author brand, think about the image you want to create and have fun with it.
That's right. I said the F word.
Have fun with it. In the age of Instagram, Facebook Author Pages, Blogs, Tumbler, Twitter, and others, there are endless opportunities to allow your personality to shine through. Authors sometimes become uncomfortable thinking of branding themselves because they simply want to write and have their books magically sell themselves.
Believe me, I sympathize with you. I get it.
What I'm suggesting is that you stop looking at it as work and begin seeing it as play. Your fans want to know you. In this digital world, they want to feel like you're more than a name plastered on the front of a book they liked. What are your favorite foods or rock bands? What are your hobbies? What do you want your readers to see? Branding yourself doesn't mean you need to expose your inner most soul to the world. You are in complete control of this, but you do need to think "relationship."
As a romance author, at first thought I needed to just plaster pictures of hot men everywhere all the time, but that's not the case. Sure, it's fun to throw some of that into the mix, but your readers aren't shallow one-dimensional beings. They want to laugh--what's your sense of humor like? What makes you laugh? They want to be engaged--do you have a pet who likes destroying things? Post a photo, let the world see the mess. They'll love you for it. Whatever you post as an author, though, think to yourself "is this enhancing or distorting my public image?"
You see, even though you may be posting about your dog or the hikes you enjoy, you as a professional always need to be conscious that you're projecting an image of yourself to your readers. No, you don't always need to think about what is genre appropriate unless you are a children's author perhaps. You do, however, need to know your audience.
My romance readers love inspiration, humor, hot men, my pets, my hikes, pictures of dream homes, and things of that nature. I don't want to always have a new release that I'm pitching to them, but I do want to keep them engaged with me in between book launches. That's what a brand does.
I've heard some writers on cross-promotional teams say they can't support so-and-so because of their 'brand'. I disagree with this to a point. I feel it is being too narrow and is underestimating their audience to dismiss other genres. When I promote a nonfiction book from an author friend, I see it as respecting my audience for being well-rounded individuals. However, I also know I will alienate my audience if I start ranting about politics or religion--as will most in the public eye unless you're a mega star.
So think of who you want to be as an author--the image of yourself that you're comfortable presenting to the world. Consider what will build a relationship with your audience--the type of relationship that will motivate them to attend a book signing when you're in town and feel excited to interact with you one-on-one. What will the small talk be about? What makes them care about you enough to subscribe to your mailing list and like your fan pages? What makes them so invested in you that they're the first to sign up for all your pre-orders? I hate to tell you this, but it takes more than producing a good book a few times a year. By creating a brand and having fun with it, you're allowing them to be a part of your world and that has value.
Amber Lea Easton
Editor, Author, Graphic Artist, Lover of Life
Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of nonfiction, thrillers, and romantic suspense. A professional editor and freelance journalist for nearly two decades, she created Mountain Moxie Publishing Services to assist authors in mastering the writing craft. Her memoir, Free Fall, is dedicated to spreading suicide awareness, has topped international best selling charts, and has been named by Dr. Prem as fourth on the "Ten Most Inspiring True Stories Everyone Must Read" list. Easton is also a speaker regarding parenting through trauma and suicide awareness. To discover more about Mountain Moxie Publishing Services, please go to http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com. For a list of all of Easton's books, articles and interviews, go to http://www.amberleaeaston.com.