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Crafting an Author Brand Strategy for Your Writing Career

Updated: Oct 24, 2023

Defining your unique author persona is the start of building a successful author platform. Learn practical tips for how to create a strategic blueprint for your author brand that increases visibility and chances of publishing success.
tips for author brand strategy

As an author, creating a brand strategy is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure your success. Your author brand is an extension of who you are as a writer and needs to resonate with your readers.

But to build your brand lighthouse, you need a strategy. A plan to effectively use all aspects of your brand (tangible and intangible) to attract and engage with your desired readership demographic.

This blog will guide you through the steps needed to create an author brand strategy tailored to your unique voice and style. Our goal is to help you build a brand that resonates with authenticity and purpose and establishes and grows your author career.

Table of Content
 

Why You Need to Be Strategic With Your Approach

Crafting an authentic author brand is a journey, not a sprint. Every step along the way holds a vital key, guiding you to reveal the essence of your unique brand.

It’s a common pitfall – rushing into the design phase without first carefully defining what your visuals should convey. Skipping these crucial early steps often results in starting over, as the misalignment between your message, audience, and visuals becomes painfully clear.

To save yourself time and effort, embrace a deliberate two-stage process.

I. Create your brand strategy: outline the intangible elements that contribute to your brand’s success. Take a look at how your target audience, brand story, purpose and mission, unique selling point, and other factors intertwine with one another.

II. Design your brand identity: design visuals and tangible elements that illustrate and build on your intangible elements (logo, color palette, branded imagery, etc.)

This holistic approach will help you create a cohesive and effective branding strategy.

 

Fundamentals of an Author Brand Strategy

Your author brand encompasses everything from your writing style to how you interact with your readers. Developing a solid author brand strategy is crucial to your success and consists of several fundamental elements.

Fundamental Elements

Description

Author Voice + Style​

​Every author has a distinct style and voice. They are the core of your author identity and the very essence of who you are as a writer.

​Target Audience/Readership

​These are the readers you want to connect with and who want to communicate with you. Know them inside and out.

​Brand Message

​Your brand message reflects your values and the themes that permeate your work. It’s the narrative that ties your books together and speaks to your audience’s emotions.

​Visual Identity

​Consistency in design elements across your visuals creates a cohesive visual identity that sticks in readers’ minds.

​Consistency

​Consistency is the glue that holds your brand together and makes your strategy execution successful for a unified and memorable brand.

Authenticity

​Authenticity attracts loyal readers. Stay true to your unique voice and values, and your brand will resonate with those who appreciate your genuine approach.

Adaptability

​Your brand should be flexible enough to adapt to changes in the market and your personal growth as a writer. Embrace change and stay relevant.

The first step is understanding the fundamental elements that compose a robust author brand strategy. Next, it’sreaders’audience’sIt’s putting them together to create your author brand strategy.

If your Three Bs (brand, branding, brand identity) represent the foundation of your author platform, then your strategy is your blueprint. It’s where you outline the direction of your messaging and your visuals.

author brand strategy
 

How To Create an Author Brand Strategy

Step #1: Define and Visualize Your ‘Why’

There will come a time when you’ll ask yourself these questions: why did I start writing? Why was becoming an author the best career choice?

We often ask these questions when our success doesn’t match our expectations or we hit a snag and lose our way. Knowing your reason for becoming an author will help you:

  • stay on track

  • reignite your passion

  • and realign your purpose and focus

Consider printing out your why and sticking it over your desk, somewhere in your planner, or create a wallpaper for your phone and other devices. Anywhere you can see it often as a constant reminder.

Vision boards are a fun option for visualizing your why. Creating one with images and quotes about the life you want and the mindset you need to achieve it is another way of keeping your why at the forefront of your mind.


Step #2: Identify Your Target Audience and Their Needs

After your self-reflection, widen your scope to your ideal readership.

Understanding your target audience is vital for crafting a compelling author platform. Identifying your ideal readers will guide your branding decisions and enable you to tailor your content to their needs and preferences.

You’re not everyone’s cup of tea.

Identifying your niche audience means finding the intersection between your interests, personality, and readers who naturally connect with both.

Neither you nor your books will appeal to everyone. One of the top mistakes many authors make is trying to be everything to everyone. The driving theory is that the wider the pool, the higher the chance of success. Becoming a “catchall” will hurt your chances of reaching the right people.

Readers know where they fit and what works for them.

They are searching for their literary happy place—the author who understands them and what they want to read. The worlds and themes they want to explore. They are searching for an experience, and you can’t provide it for everyone.

So, how do you find your tribe?

Start by researching and creating buyer personas for your target audience. Consider factors such as demographics, interests, reading habits, and the problems they seek solutions for in their reading choices. This knowledge will help you create content and messaging that resonates with them, building a loyal and engaged readership.

Create a composite character sketch of your ideal audience by focusing on a single person.

For this exercise, let’s say your ideal reader’s name is Pearl.

  • Who is Pearl? What’s her background?

  • What are her defining qualities and characteristics?

  • What kind of books does she already have on her shelf?

  • What does she look for in the books she reads?

  • What emotions or experiences do they seek?

  • What are her interests?

  • Where does she hang out online?

  • What do you have in common that could create a deeper connection?

By addressing these needs through your brand and writing, you can connect with Pearl and others like her on a deeper level. And as a bonus, this information will also supercharge your marketing campaigns. When you understand who you’re speaking to, you can craft the best message to reach them.

Your author brand should cater to your target audience while authentically representing who you are as a writer. Strive to balance meeting their expectations and staying true to your unique voice and style.

Constantly Evaluate

As you grow and change as a writer, your interests may shift. These changes will affect your target audience as you may lose your emotional connection with some of your readership.

It happens all the time.

Don’t be afraid of the change. Revise your strategy and rebrand your author platform.


Step #3: Identify Your Unique Strengths and Selling Proposition

You’ve identified your target readership, but why should they buy your books and engage with you and your content? What reason do they have to invest in you? What are you offering to them?

To answer this ‘why,’ you must figure out your unique selling point (USP). That one thing that makes you stand out or different from your competition.

A strong author brand requires distinction.

If you’re an Urban Fantasy author, do you approach the standard conventions with a twist? Do you offer unique perspectives on fan-loved troupes? Are your books fantastical reimaginings of fan-loved contemporary stories?

Ask yourself: What do you want to be known for? What is your author superpower?

Finding your USP or superpower (strengths) isn’t always easy. Sometimes, it takes experimenting until you find something that clicks.

Examples of unique selling points:

  • Twists on troupes, clichés, and genre conventions;

  • Quality of your writing;

  • The genius of your character development and creating swoon-worthy characters;

  • Quirky writing style or voice;

  • High-intensity pacing.

Use your experiences as a reader.

Evaluate fellow authors you love and ask yourself why. Why are their books on your shelf? Do you share similar traits with them? Do you do anything distinctively different?

Pinpoint 2-3 unique selling points for yourself as an author. Too broad a focus will lessen the effects of your branding and marketing campaigns.

The book publishing business is highly competitive. The most successful author brands stand out because they fit a space that no one else or few others occupy. They’re memorable and stand out in the minds of their readership.

If you’re a published author, check what readers say in the comments and compare notes. Listening to your audience is one of the best ways to evaluate if your strategy yields the results you planned. You may be surprised to find that you have more than one superpower.

Embrace what sets you apart and let it shine through your writing.


Step #4: Know What You’re Branding

You know your audience and what you’re using to lure them into your writer’s web—now to start putting your master strategy together by answering the question: what are you branding?

Hint: You are your brand, not your books.

Your writing and cover design tie back to your branding but are not the key focus. Your readers are interested in you. You’ll create an emotional connection and foster reader loyalty by showing them the personality behind the books.

Choosing a Compelling Writer Persona

Your writer persona represents the image you want to project to your audience. It helps shape how readers perceive you and your work and provides an opportunity to showcase your unique strengths and differentiate yourself from other writers in your genre.

To choose a writer persona, consider your genre, writing style, and target audience. Are you a mysterious thriller writer, a witty and relatable humorist, or a thought-provoking literary author? Think about the qualities and characteristics you want to embody as a writer and how they align with your target audience’s preferences.

List adjectives you’d want readers to associate with your brand personality. If you’ve started building your platform, check what readers are saying. You’ll need this list of adjectives later to work on your brand/mission statement.

Naming Your Brand

Many self-published and traditional authors use pen names for their author personas. Some choose this option for personal reasons like privacy. Others have multiple ventures, so having more than one pen name simplifies their branding and marketing.

  • Writing in multiple genres. Your ideal audiences won’t be the same if you write young adult contemporary and adult horror. Writing under two pen names will separate the two brands and eliminate confusion for your audience.

  • Writers versus Readers. If you offer services for authors and readers, use two names—one for your author’s website and another for your business. Catchall branding can become clunky and unfocused after a while.

Creating a Memorable Writer Tagline or Slogan

A memorable writer tagline or slogan can significantly enhance your brand identity and leave a lasting impression on readers. It serves as a concise and powerful statement that captures the essence of your writing and brand.

Consider your writing goals, genre, and target audience when creating your tagline. Craft a brief and impactful phrase that encapsulates the core of your writing and what makes it unique. For example, if you’re a romance writer, your tagline could be “Where Love Stories Come to Life” or “Unforgettable Tales of Passion and Desire.”

Keep your tagline simple, memorable, and aligned with your brand persona. It should evoke the emotions and expectations that your readers associate with your writing.


Step #5: Define Your Vision for Your Writing Career

With a clearer understanding of why you’ve embarked on this journey, who you hope to connect with, and how you want readers to see you, it’s time to summarize it all. It’s the dreaded “synopsis” section of your brand strategy when you start to bring it all together on one page.

Outlining your vision for your author business ties the above steps with what you hope to accomplish personally and for your writing career.

Write out your brand or mission statement. Note your brand, its purpose and objectives, the target audience, and the adjectives that describe your brand.

Here is an example:

Writerly Owl Designs [brand] is a collaborative, educational, and author-centric design service[adjectives] focused on providing customized design solutions along with practical tips and guidance about branding, marketing, and design strategies [purpose] tailored exclusively for authors [the audience] so they can connect with their readers, build their brands, and achieve publishing success.

Your brand/vision statement is your guidepost. It’s the core identity of your brand summarized, and everything you do from here—setting goals, marketing, promotion, and brand design—stems from your vision for your author platform.

author business plan
 

Setting Goals as Part of Your Author Brand Strategy

Begin by setting clear and specific goals to establish a solid brand identity for your writing career. Ask yourself what your aspirations are as a writer. Do you aim to become a best-selling author, develop a loyal following, or establish yourself as an expert within a specific niche?

By defining your goals, you can chart a path toward success and effectively guide your brand-building efforts. When setting your goals, ensure they are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

For example, instead of saying, “I want to increase book sales in Q1,” a SMART goal would be, “I want to revamp my marketing materials and promote old and new books to increase book sales in Q1 to earn $100/500/1000.

 

Create a System to Track Your Progress

Create a system for planning and organizing your goals, projects, and action steps. Keeping track of all this information, whether in a physical planner or digitally, will help you monitor your progress toward your desired outcomes.

Referencing the example above, at the end of Q1, you can analyze your projects and action steps when reviewing your goals and achievements. From this evaluation, you’ll learn what worked in achieving your desired results and what strategies require revisions.

 

Failing to Plan Decreases Your Chances of Success

"Failure to craft a strong author brand strategy is like writing in the dark – your brilliance remains unseen.”

Crafting a strategic brand identity is vital in establishing a successful writing career. The brands that last and thrive don’t happen by chance. Meticulous crafting and consistent application are the foundation.

↬ Define and Visualize Your ‘Why: Remind yourself why you started writing to stay motivated, reignite your passion, and maintain your focus amid challenges.

↬ Identify Your Target Audience and Their Needs: Understand your ideal readers to shape your author brand. Avoid trying to please everyone; focus on your niche to deepen connections and enhance your marketing. Adapt your strategy as you evolve.

↬ Identify Your Unique Strengths and Selling Proposition: Discover your unique selling point (USP) to define your author brand. Embrace what makes you distinct and valuable to readers.

↬ Know What You’re Branding: Your author brand centers around you, not just your books. Establish a compelling writer persona aligned with your genre and audience. Consider pen names for multi-genre writing. Craft a memorable tagline capturing your unique essence and reader expectations.

↬ Define Your Vision for Your Writing Career: Compose a brand or mission statement that encapsulates your purpose, objectives, target audience, and brand adjectives. This statement will guide your author platform’s identity, goals, marketing, and design.

 
↬ If you found this blog helpful and insightful, consider sharing it with other authors who might benefit from practical tips and guidance on building a thriving author career with branding and marketing strategies that create an immersive experience for your readership.

Unlock the power of professional visuals for your author brand! Let Writerly Owl Designs bring your vision to life, elevate your online presence, and captivate readers with stunning visuals. Get started today and focus on what you do best—writing!


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