Session: How to Build a Power Author Brand That Increases Book Sales
In today’s challenging book market, you either are a power author brand or a commodity. Marketing your books without having an author brand is like building a house without a solid foundation. Investing your time, energy, and resources into building your author brand will make you stand out in the crowd and ensure your success as an author.
In this workshop, you will learn how to:
- Build your author brand from scratch
- Use your author brand to grow your reputation and turn readers into loyal fans,
- Use your author brand to get more exposure and increase your book sales
- Keep your author brand fresh and captivating
Audience: All Levels
This post is part of London Book Fair Self-Publishing Advice Conference (#SelfPubCon2019), an online author conference that showcases the best self-publishing advice and education for authors across the world — harnessing the global reach of the Alliance of Independent Authors’ network. Our self-publishing conference features well-known indie authors and advisors, for 24 sessions over 24-hours, in a one-day extravaganza of self-publishing expertise straight to your email inbox. We hope you enjoy this session. Let us know if you have any questions or input on this self-publishing topic. Visit our Facebook Group and join in the conversation there, or leave your questions and feedback in the comments section below.
Hello and welcome to a new session of the Self Publishing Advice Conference. My name is A.G. Billig. I am a bestselling published author of fiction and nonfiction books. I am a self publishing coach for authors, a book marketing expert and also founder of the award winning platform, Self Publishing Mastery. Today I’m going to talk to you about how to build a power author brand and increase your book sales. And if you think about it, brand could be an acronym for B as in business because if you want to make a good life, a good living as an author, if you want to become a professional author and take the self publishing route, then you need to put your business person hat on and treat your career as a business. Because at the end of the day, the moment you put your book on Amazon for sale, that book, although it’s still a piece of art, it becomes a product. R, the R would stand for recognition because if you think of all the people in the world who are famous right now, who are successful, who sell millions of books or records, or give these presentation where they get as of thousands of people.
And I’m thinking of Tony Robbins, then, you will realize that they will have one thing in common. They have recognition. So if you want to be successful as an author you need recognition too, and the A stands for authenticity because all these people who are successful, they’re also authentic. They don’t copy each other. They don’t follow other people. They just express their authenticity. And that’s what you’re supposed to do do. Because it is your authenticity, your personality that’s going to bring the N in the brand. And it’s going to make people want to know you better and read your books. And this is newness, freshness. So by being authentic, you are different than other people and you bring something new. You enrich people’s lives by being authentic. And the D stands for design in the brand because the brand is not something that’s going to happen by itself, it’s not necessarily something that happens out of the blue organically.
It’s something that you need to build. It’s something that you need to design. So you need to design your brand, and the introduction being made. And since we don’t have very much time today to talk about how to build your author brand, let’s get straight to the point. And I’m going to show you actually what are the steps you need to take to build your brand, to design, your brand, and also what are the benefits of having a power author brand. So, what is an author brand and what your author brand will be? It will be a statement of your personality. So as human beings, we all have a personality, right? Some of us are outgoing, outspoken, are extroverts. Other people are introverts. They are more shy. They keep to themselves. Some people are very gifted with arts.
Some people are very gifted with a crafts. Some people are born nature communicators. Some people live their lives from their hearts. Others are more in their mind. So you see all these different aspects, they make our personality. And so I think the author brand is actually the personality of your public person that’s going to be out there. And, that’s something you need to design and you need to control to get the desired outcome. So it’s going to be a statement of personality of who you are as an author, as a public person, because since you’re going to sell your book, since you’re going to have an author platform, with your website and your social media channels, since you’re going to have book signings. So, you’re not going to be a private person anymore.
And nowadays with social media, I think nobody’s a private person anymore. We are in a way all public persons. So statement of personality. And as I said earlier, what makes you unique? The author brand is also an implied promise of what you will constantly deliver because when you put the time and energy into building these author brands, this personality, you also convey this message that you’re in for the long run and that that’s you’re going to deliver entertainment or food for thought or food for thought, food for soul to your readers on a permanent basis. Also an author brand is a word or attribute that you will hold the inside your reader’s mind. So think of, JK Rowling, right, Harry Potter. That’s her, that’s her attribute. And then think of all the other, great writers. You will see that they stand for something.
They say they stand for, let’s say, a great love story or great romance, thriller, mystery. So each of them is associated with something. And when people are looking fo a particular genre or a particular character or theme, feeling they want to get out of the books they read, they will go to you because you will make it clear through your author brand and through the way you communicate your author brand, that’s what you’re going to give them. You’re going to give them exactly what they are looking for. And an author brand is a name that has the power to drive sales. If you’re going to think of all these brands all there consumer brands, you’re going to, you’re going to realize that all these products, they have names that send out that you can easily remember.
And you know, when you, when you were thinking, and I want, I don’t want to name any, any product names right now, but, think of a time in your life when you want to buy a new pair of sports sneakers or when you want to buy a car. I’m sure that in your mind, the best car you could buy or the best pair of sneakers is associated with one word. And that word represents a brand. So that’s what you’re going to do with your author brand. You know, you’re going to turn it into a powerhouse that will actually help you get more sales.
So, what makes an author brand a strong one? Because there are millions and millions of brands out there. There are millions and millions of authors nowadays, but only a small percentage of them stand out. And one of the reasons they do is because they have a strong author brand. So a strong author brand will help you develop your writer platform and build an audience. And I explained why a little bit earlier also, in these, vast oceans of products and information and social media content in the artistic products. Everybody looks for quality. I mean, you know, we have so much to do in one day that we actually don’t have time to waste on something that’s of poor quality. So a strong author brand, will add a quality seal, to your work, to your name. And by that you will get more authority, more influence.
And guess what, once you have a strong author brand and you are recognized for the quality of your work, then you will be able to charge a premium price. I know that, people say that the soft spot or actually the sweet spot for pricing when it comes to self published books, fiction books is somewhere within $2.99 and $5.99. But what if you could charge more? Think about that. And a strong water brand will also help you create an emotional connection with the readers. And that’s what you want because you don’t want somebody who will buy your book and then, you know, never come back and read your other books. And I think it’s the same as in our day to day interaction. We like to be with people with whom we have a strong emotional connection, we will work for those people. We support those people. So you need the same from your readers. And you also want to build loyalty and trust. And that’s what your author brand, If you do it properly, if you design it properly, will do for you.
Then there’s more to it. Like a strong author brand will create a positive emotional experience because it’s not just the book, it’s the world you build around your book. It’s your website, it’s your public appearances. It’s the way you communicate through traditional media, through social media. But to be able to do this, you know, in the right way, you need to focus, you don’t need to go all over the place. I remember I worked with an author at some point and I asked, what’s your target audience? And this is something you need to define very clearly from the very beginning and narrow down as much as you can. And that person said, “Oh, everybody,” well, you know, it is impossible to target everybody. So you need to narrow down. And so to narrow down, you need to have a limited focus and also a focus on one genre.
You also need to have a high concept that resonates with your audience. That’s why it is important to know your target audience, create your target avatar. Know who the, let’s say the average reader would be, their demographics, their profile, you know, age, hobbies, where they hang out online, what kind of traditional media they like to follow. And a strong author brand will help you in another way. You know, we can put all this effort into creating great social media content and communicating through traditional media but every now and then something happens and one book that you know, that’s totally new from a brand new author, an author who even doesn’t have such a large following online, well that book makes an impact and it starts selling and selling and selling. And that’s because it has, it has this potential that because somebody will like that product, will like that book, will like that author and you know, we’ll start talk about it and then other people will talk about it and you know, it will be like a snowball that rolls down the hill and gets bigger and bigger and bigger.
So, further on, here are the brand building factors that can help you design your author brand. So when you start considering designing your author brand, you need to take into consideration these factors. So if you’re just starting out, and if you’re still writing your first book, this is the moment to consider when you take a break from writing. Just consider starting building your author brand. If you are already published, self published, and you don’t have an author brand just yet, that’s not such a big issue, it’s never too late to start building yours, but it is better to have it from the very beginning. So, here are the factors you need to weigh in when you start designing your author brand. First of all, the genre you’re writing in.
So, the brand, the author brand of an author who writes romance is going to be totally different, it’ll have a different tone of voice. It will use different colors on the website, and I could go on and on about it. Then the author brand of an author who writes thriller and mystery, you know, then another important factor are the themes that you cover in your books. Is it love? Is it revenge? What’s there in your book that is part of your author brand and that’s part of the message you want to convey. Also your personality. Nowadays, authors, as I think you are well aware by now, they cannot hide behind the world or in their room and just write and never show up in public.
So unless you know, you will create an avatar for yourself, like some bands in the music industry, there is this group called Gorillaz I think. And you never see their faces. They always use cartoons in their video clips. So unless you’re going to do that, then you’re going to show up, you’re going to show up for book signings, you’re going to show up at authors events, writer’s conferences, so you will be out there visible. So your personality is part of your author brand. And just remember please, authenticity is a must. Don’t fake it. It is very, not very hard, but it is very energy consuming to fake anything. So just be you and I’m telling you, I promise you that you will find people who will love you just as you are and who will resonate with who you are and who will actually appreciate your courage of being authentic.
Another factor to weigh in is your readers profile, needs and expectations because you know, you can build an amazing author brand with every element in place, like great headshots, great website. But you know, if this is not going to match your readers profile and expectations, then you will not get any feedback and you will waste your time and your money. And last but not least, your desired perceived public image. So how do you want people to see you? They want to see, you want to see, they want, you want them to see you as an open person, as an author that has nothing to hide, that that’s very interactive, outgoing or you’d like to project some mystery to leave some things to their imagination.
So, you want to project an image of an author who wants to mentor younger authors. So yeah, it depends on how you see yourself. And, excuse me, how do you want other people to see you. Now, let’s get down to the author brand itself. Because we talked about what it can do for you and what you need to consider when you start designing it. But what our actual, what are the elements of the author brand? Well, there are two very important components and both of them need your attention because you can have one without the other. The first one is the brand identity. So once you have this clear idea in your head about who, who you want to be as an author, what do you want to project in the outside world?
Then it is time for you to transform your vision into something that’s tangible and to that that, you will have to use some abstract elements, some visual elements, written elements and in person elements. So that would in person elements, in person means that that’s you, when you go out in public or even if you are invited to do a webinar, you know, or, or an online presentation, people, they are still going to see you or listen to your voice. And the second component is the brand awareness because, you can have all the brand identity in place, but then it is the same as with a book that up for sale on Amazon. It can be up there for sale, but if nobody knows the book is for sale, then you know, nobody will buy it. So it is the same with your author brand.
So once you create it, once you design it, then you need to create the brand awareness for it. So first you build your brand identity and then you start communicating to your audience. So let’s get into the brand identity. The abstract elements. I was mentioning earlier, vision. So everything in this world starts with an idea, and with a vision. So the vision is your soil where you put the seeds for your author brand. So, ask yourself, what is your vision for yourself as an author, for your writing career? What do you want to accomplish? What are your objectives? What’s your purpose? What’s your tone of voice? What’s the tone of voice of your writing? What’s the tone of voice of your life and of your personality? What are your values, your core values, you know, as a person because, you’re writing is an expression of who you are and of your values too. What is the value that you provide to the readers?
As I said earlier, do you want to just entertain them? Do you want to give them food for their soul or for their minds? So what do you want? How do you want to change their lives? Or what impact do you want to have on their lives? And also what is your promise to the readers and this has to do, is linked to the value that you’re going to provide to the readers. So once you have this, everything nailed down, then you can actually start translating it into your author platform. Using, let’s start with visual elements. So, all big brands out there, and I’m going back to the consumer goods industry because I was a PR consultant with an advertising agency and I worked for famous international brands. So if you look at all these goods, something stands out from the very beginning and that will be their logo, right?
You can recognize certain brands by their logo. You don’t even need to read their names, you know what they are. So you can create an author logo for yourself. I mean, you can, you know, use certain fonts or certain style for your author name, but you can also, you know, add a symbol. So, for example, my symbol for my nonfiction author brand consists of two interlaced hearts to convey the message of love and of oneness. Then the brand colors. So it is great if you can pick two or three three colors that you’re going to use to create your author brand and you’re going to use these colors in everything that’s visual, your author websites, your social media channels, this kind of stuff, professional author pictures. They are part of your brand identity and they really need to be beautiful and professional and you need a headshot and maybe a full body picture.
Your website. It has written information, right? But it’s also visual. Then your email template, maybe you will create an email template for the newsletter you’re going to send to your subscribers, right? Your electronic signature. That’s part of your brand identity and then again, are there visual elements you need to consider the graphics and image templates for your social media channels, business cards, bookmarks, book covers, any other photography, book, artwork and video. Everything needs to be consistent and needs to reflect your brand identity. The written elements. So yes, you are conveying your author brand whether you decide to design it or not through different elements. So we talked about the vision ones, but how about the written elements? Well, everything matters and I can assure you, readers will notice everything starting with your author pen name. Maybe you want to use your real name, but maybe you know, you come up with a really fascinating author pen name or you know, if you write in different genres, a good idea is to have a separate brand for separate genres, especially if those genres have nothing in common.
Author Bio. Your author bio, needs to be a story, a compelling story. You don’t have to write in there what year did you finish high school or your studies? Just write a story about what drives you to write. How did you become a writer? A story that will be as entertaining to read as your book. Don’t make it up, tell the truth, but tell those aspects of your life that will be, that will make a captivating, catchy story for your readers. So you will use your author bio on your website. You will use it on Amazon, you will use it in your books. You will use it in the press kit. So it’s great. Or have an author bio ready to go, like a longer version and a shorter version. Maybe one paragraph, you can, you can the think as well of a tagline, a concise mission statement. Just express your mission as an author or your benefits, your benefit for the reader in just one sentence, short sentence. That would be the tagline. The about section on all social media channels and the Amazon author page, they are part of your brand identity and also everything you write, whether it’s a blog post or a social media post or whatever you’re writing, every article that’s part of your brand identity.
My favorite one, the in-person elements. So this is you, you as a person, you, when you are not behind your computer, you, when you interact with other people, as I said, whether in real life or in the virtual world to webinars, seminars, video interviews, podcast interviews, any other form where which allows your readers to see you or hear you. So when you are doing that be careful about your appearance, because people will look at you and will, you know, sometimes judge you, and it is better to always look professional, always look prepared, even, you know, if it’s just a podcast, a small podcast is having a video version on Youtube. Don’t look as if you just got out of your shower or got out of bed or you know, look professional and choose your setting carefully.
Make sure you have good lighting, and that your voice sounds well. Also pay attention to your body language, your posture, your gestures. You know, people, they pick up on body language very quickly. So it is important that you always look confident, you look open, optimistic and create this trust with people, not distrust but create trust with them and help them relate to you and create a bond with you. Your voice is also important. The tone and pace, especially when you’re doing a book signing or when you are invited to speak or when you are invited to read. Be very careful. So the tone and pace of your voice because some people they write great books but they’re terrible narrators. So you might want to rehearse any public appearances before you actually do it. Also be careful about the type of events attending. You don’t want to be everywhere anytime, you just pick those events that will benefit your writing career and your author brand. Also be careful of the language you are using in your human interactions with your friends, other people in the industry, speeches and lectures because also, language tells a ton about who you are. Right.
Okay. So the next component of your brand is the brand awareness, right? So you have all the elements of your brand identity in place. You know how to show up at public events. You have a great author platform that includes your website and your social media channels. You’ve got an amazing book with amazing reviews. Everything looks professional, everything looks neat. Now it’s time to actually let people know who you are and what you can give them. And it’s time for brand awareness. And I think the best possible way to get brand awareness is word of mouth. But this is not so easy to get word of mouth basically means that, you know, people at some point will start talking about you without you doing anything. and this is the most powerful way of brand awareness because when the friend comes to you and tells you, “Hey, I’m reading this amazing book and I love it and you know, I can’t put it down,” you will say, “Oh, I want to read it. What’s the name?”
So, you know, there is this trust and there is this eagerness from other people. And that’s all you need. That’s the most powerful form of advertising. So you don’t have much control over it, but you can always start it or do something about it. And one way is to build a street team. Get a team of people who are actually really excited about your work and have them talk about your books, on their social media channels and to their friends. And hopefully this will be a snowball rolling and getting bigger and bigger and bigger, and to thank them and incentivize them to be your brand ambassadors. You can create extra perks and benefits for them, right?
The next avenue for brand awareness is publicity. Traditional media, NPR, they are not bad. They can work for self published authors, even for those who are just starting out. You just need to have a communication strategy in place and be very specific about your core messages about who your target audience is and what are the best communication channel is for you. So if you’re just starting out as small author, you will not go to ABC’s morning show’s producer from the very beginning. You will start with your local media, small media outlets. And chances are that once you grow your career, you know, and you build a media portfolio, you know, somebody from a bigger media channel will at some point notice you and say, “Hey, come over. We think you are interesting and we’d love to interview you.”
Go to author industry events and any other events related to your core values and mission. For example, I went to the Conscious Life Expo this February in LA because one of my book’s title is I Choose Love: A Journey From Fear to Love. So I’m interested in spirituality and I’m interested in connecting with people from this field. And you know, you never know who you’re going to meet. And these events are an opportunity for publicity and they work within yearly plan. It’s good to know when you’re going to release a book. It’s good to know when you’re going to maybe, you know, have an important speaking engagement and then build your publicity plan around the big events in your author life in a year. Brand awareness is also about advertising. And remember at the beginning of this presentation I mentioned that actually self publishing is a business and like any other business, you need to make an initial investment of commitment and energy, time and money.
So, even if you don’t have a big budget you can still use advertising to grow awareness for your brand and sell more books. So you can use paid promotion services. There are a couple of websites up there. You already know Bookbub. I don’t need to tell you much about it, but to be featured on Bookbub, you need to do a lot of work before. You need a certain amount of reviews, great reviews, and that’s where your author brand can help you. You can also advertise on Facebook, on Twitter, on goodreads, on Amazon. And growing advertising on Facebook nowadays is not, it doesn’t pay off very much, but Amazon is worth considering and also work with any early plans. So you can, you know, like, plan your budget. You can put some money into advertising when you release a new book or when you’re doing, let’s say, a sales promotion.
Then you can also advertise on Amazon or goodreads. Networking. You can use networking for brand awareness in the real and virtual world. So in the real world, you can go to book fairs and other self publishing related events, or even traditional publishing related events because as you know, nowadays, traditionally published authors, they need to take care of their book marketing and promotion as well. And traditional publishers look at an author’s platform and their brand to see if they are really professional and really dedicated to building a career as an author. So join other author events. You can go to writing conferences. You may be, you know, maybe you are a good, a good match for a for Ted Talks, charity events, cultural events is good to go and meet artists from other walks of life, you know, because you will learn from each other and maybe you can create events together and then get more awareness and more exposure.
And in the virtual world there are these book blog tours. You can do guest blogging, you can be on virtual self publishing summit or you know, even host one yourself depending on your desired goals. You can be on virtual writing events and, be a member of Facebook author groups. There are a ton out there and some of them are really, really good. So here are the small recap of brand building and the essential ingredients that will get you the victory, right? So have a clear vision of the experience you will offer, be an inspiration, with a takeaway that you’re giving to your readers.Use communication wisely, publicity, advertising, word of mouth, networking to make known your brand.Don’t give up. Don’t think that it’s going to happen in one day.
So tenacity is something that you need because it takes time and persistence to build an author brand. Be very clear about your brand identity and your brand awareness actions and activities. So you need an outline. Keep in mind that what you want is recognition so people will recognize you from a distance. And for that you need to express your uniqueness in a specific way your readers will easily identify. And the yummy factor, the yummy factor means that your brand will be so desirable, so special that it will go viral. Thank you so much for watching and listening. I hope this presentation will help you build a strong author brand that will help you increase your book sales and if you want to know more about it, please feel free to connect with me. You can find me on Facebook, you can find me on Twitter, you can find me on Instagram. You can always drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org especially if you need help with your self publishing and with marketing your books and you can visit my author website at www.AGbillig.com and if you want more resources, free resources on how to build your author brand and how to market your books, please visit my award-winning platform, selfpublishingmastery.com. So thank you again.
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