By: Zetta Brown
Stephen King, Anne Rice, Nora Roberts, and Tom Clancy. Even if you’ve never read their work, you know that King writes horror, Rice writes paranormal (vampires), Roberts writes romance, and Clancy writes espionage thrillers.
Despite the different genres, these authors all have something in common. They are brands—personal brands—and their names are synonymous with what they write. You can (and should) do the same thing.
For authors starting out, it is never too soon to think about your brand. Why? Go to any writing conference and they will talk about marketing. Branding in an important part of marketing and equates with recognition. Having a brand will help your marketing efforts. So, what do you need to do?
1. Be Authentic
Whether you write under your real name or a pen name, don’t pretend to be someone you are not. You lose all credibility if a reader or fan catches you in a lie. Your author brand is your name, and your name is your reputation. Be yourself. If people like you, then they like your brand.
2. Play to Your Strengths
Young Adult may be a hot, popular fiction genre, but if it holds no interest to you, don’t waste time on it. You won’t enjoy it and fans of the genre will call out your writing as unauthentic. Write what you like to write and keep learning and improving your craft. Only fools believe they know everything.
3. Find What Makes You Unique
Everyone has similarities, but we also have characteristics that make us individuals. What is it about you and/or your writing that makes you different from the rest? While it may be impossible to find a single unique trait, but a unique combination of two or three traits is very possible. To put it in writing terms, if a genre is a general label, then the subgenre is a more specific label that is more focused and unique.
A good example of an unique author brand is Ellis Peters who wrote the Brother Cadfael mysteries. Her mysteries are historical and set during the Middle Ages; therefore, her unique combination is: mystery, historical mystery, medieval period.
What unique combination does your writing have? Don’t have one? Think harder. You are not limited to genres and subgenres, either. Perhaps your writing is known for its Kung Fu fight scenes or its well-researched exotic settings. Perhaps you’ve written a crime series with a mortician as the protagonist. Find what it is that makes your writing and your name—your brand—stand out.
4. Have a Purpose
Create a mission statement with regard to what you want to achieve with your personal brand as a writer. If that sounds too formal or intimidating, think of it this way: your purpose is what drives you to write. Maybe you have a specific message you want to share or promote with your writing. Maybe you want to be published because you love to tell stories and want to share them with as many people as possible.
Achieving fame and fortune can be the result you seek, but they are not (or should not be) the purpose behind your personal brand. If it is, people will come to see you as greedy and/or selfish and will avoid you.
Finding your purpose might not happen overnight. Don’t worry because over time, when you take time to look back over your life or your body of work, you may see a recurring theme.
5. Be Consistent
Being consistent with what makes your writing a success will grow your fan base. If you do decide to change things up a bit, make it a lateral move and not too drastic. For example, if you write in a certain genre, pick a subgenre of that genre and not a totally new genre. Die-hard fans may follow an author no matter what they write—but don’t count on it.
Consistency can also be reflected in your cover art and your “signature font.” Using the same font for your name on your covers—or even your titles—will be seen as a component of your brand that people will recognize.
In the end, when it comes to developing your author brand, dream big. One day, you could become a household name like the authors mentioned above.
Zetta Brown is a professional editor and published author. She provides editing and writing tips on her blog “Zetta’s Desk”(http://zettasdesk.com) and has a featured blog at SheWrites.com called [REALITY CHECK] (http://bit.ly/1FDnhwh) that highlights the realities of getting and being a published author.