From the ancient Egyptians, Romans, and cattle ranchers who used branding irons to mark their cattle as a way to identify their ownership, the idea of a brand has been a part of our history for thousands of years. Today, the concept of branding lives on stronger than ever before in the form of company logos so consumers know who made the product they purchased.
What sets you apart from other authors?
There are many theories to branding, but the main thing you need to know as an author is this: You have a brand. If you have shared your writing with anyone other than your personal journal, you have a brand. The people you share your writing with have a formed opinion of you and your message. They know you as a “children’s author,” “social media expert,” or “church leader.”
Now, it’s time for you to proactively develop your author brand to help form the opinion your readers have of you. This may sound inconsequential or like a marketing ploy, but it’s not. Developing your author brand will help you focus your writing, develop a publishing plan, and best connect with the people who will most benefit from your work.
Here are four questions you must ask to identify your author brand.
1. What type of writer are you and how do you want to be known?
This is where you start to get into the finer details of your author brand. Think about it this way: Stephen King, James Patterson, or Donald Miller write certain kinds of books. They’re known for a specific genre and their fan base would be thrown off if they veered from their genre, voice, and tone. The same holds true for you.
You’re a certain type of author. How do you want to be known? What subjects do you like to write about? Is there a particular type of story you want to tell? What type of voice do you want to craft?
Set aside time to think through your values, passions, and the topics you most resonate with.
2. What makes your message unique?
Now that you have identified the genre of book you want to write, it’s time to think through what makes your message unique from other books in your genre. Let’s consider books on parenting as an example.
There are a tremendous number of books published on parenting every year. And for good reason. As a parent, I can attest that I didn't receive an instructional guide upon the birth of any of our children. So, as a parent, I know I need help. And I also know this sentiment is shared by numerous parents around the country.
Now, if you want to write a book on parenting, the best thing for you to do is see what books in circulation are similar to yours and how you can best differentiate your book with new or different information. This review also includes studying style and tone and will help you best position your book in an already crowded marketplace.
So, what makes your message about your topic unique? Are you presenting new or different information? Is there a new angle you’re taking on the conversation? Take a moment to identify your unique voice.
3. Who do you want to reach with your message?
This is a difficult lesson for every author to learn, but your book will not be read by every person in the world. This is true even of the Bible. The Bible is the most printed, sold, and distributed book in history; however, it has not reached everyone in the world.
Once you realize this, you can start thinking about whom you want to reach with your message. Think through whom you specifically want to encourage, inspire, or influence. This will help you best connect with the people you are trying to reach.
Here is a list of questions to help you identify your target audience:
• What is their gender?
• How old are they?
• What is their profession? Are they currently employed?
• What is their level of education?
• Are they single, married, divorced, or remarried?
• Do you know their dreams, passions, and interests?
• Who influences their opinion?
• Where do they spend time online?
These questions will help you crystallize whom you want to reach with your message.
4. How do you want to help the people you want to reach?
You have a unique message you want to reach people with; now you need to think through how you want to help these people with your message.
You see, one of the primary reasons people buy books is to learn something. From parenting tips or learning how to build a website, to cooking healthful meals, readers are seeking answers to all types of questions.
As an author, you want to answer the questions your audience is asking. An important question you need to ask and answer yourself is this, “How will my book provide value for readers?\”
What’s Your Author Brand?
The answer to the above questions will help you create a crystal-clear author brand.
Once you have more clarity for yourself, it’s time to think through what your current readers think of you. To do this, answer these three last questions:
1. Are you satisfied with the perceptions of your readers?
2. Do you need to adapt the opinions of your audience?
3. Is it time to start new and rebrand you and your work?
The answers to these questions will help you better understand whether or not you need to make any changes in the way you present yourself to the world. You may not be able to control what people think of you. But you can help form their opinion.