Build a writing brand

Indie authors often want to know how to build a writing brand. There are actually two sides of being a successful author: the writing side and the business side.

The writing side is self-evident, but many authors are surprised to learn that there is also a distinct business side to writing. Much like in any form of business, every author needs to cultivate relationships, build trust, and invest in his or her writing to achieve sales.

With this mindset, let’s define the word “brand.”  A brand is basically your identity in a business sense. I like how entrepreneur.com put it. “Branding is the process of creating a name, logo, symbol, and personality to represent your product or service (“Branding Definition – Entrepreneur Small Business Encyclopedia”, 2019).” This definition is useful because it clearly lays out what’s needed to create an effective brand. The three elements every author will need to integrate into the brand-creation process are:

  1. An identity
  2. A personality
  3. A product or service

To create an effective brand you need to establish an identity, a personality, and a memorable product—which in your case is a great book. This article will provide three steps to establish the first element: an identity.

Define your skillsets

The first step in establishing a writer’s identity is to reflect on who you are and what you want readers to associate with your name. It’s important to remember that, as an author, your brand is typically your name. You are a business of one. Over time, your audience will associate your style of writing, your genres and subtopics, with your name (your brand). Reflect on the personal aspects to your life that helped you form your writing niche.

If possible, you want to build your brand around something that you’re already good at or something for which you’re already known. If people already associate your name with a particular skill, experience or topic, the foundation of your brand is already laid. Regardless of your audience size, you want to use that core group to help promote your message. For example, if you’re a cancer survivor and are writing about your experience, you may want to start carving out a niche that focuses on holistic wellness or the importance of positive thinking in adverse circumstances.

You want to be consistent with the products (or books) that are associated with your brand, because each one is going to reinforce what you’ve already written. While you can delve into multiple genres, be sure that your work has a common focal point that readers have come to expect.

But what if you aren’t known for a particular skill or are now starting out? That’s fine. Just make sure that at first you write in a particular genre or writing style so readers can associate your brand with a particular topic.  

Create a logo

Once you’ve begun to establish your identity, it is helpful to create a logo. We all associate the visual symbols with corporate identities. While authors have not traditionally recognized the need for a logo, without one they miss a low-cost, potentially high-yield opportunity to make people easily recognize and remember your brand. Writing is business and every author is dealing with readers who are already used to associating symbols with products.   

Craft a logo that incorporates your name, your “writing identity,” or a literary accomplishment. I was recently in contact with a Christy award-winning author who used a theme from one of her bestselling books as her logo. Why? It was easily recognizable and paid tribute to her accomplishment while subtly marketing her book.

But your logo doesn’t have to hark back to an accomplishment. In most cases, your name, written or designed in a visually-appealing way, works best.

Keep the following tips in mind as you take this important step in defining your brand identity:

  1. A logo should be simple and easy to recognize.
  2. The colors, as well as the shape, should be easy to associate with your work. Try to work the theme colors into your website or blog design for more visual impact.
  3. Be creative and make sure your logo stands out.

If you’re self-publishing your books, you can integrate your logo with your book cover to give it a more polished feel. If you’re traditionally published, consult with your publisher’s marketing team to see if/how they’d like you to incorporate your logo on the final product.

Put your logo everywhere you can while including your website address, so viewers will be more likely to connect your site with your brand.

Be unique

Finally, be sure that your writing and your logo reflects your creative personality. It is critical to learn from other authors while avoiding becoming other authors.

From a legal as well as professional standpoint, your work will be most effective when it reflects your nature, your life experiences and yourskills. Keep an eye out for my next article on building a brand: Powering up your Personality.

In my book, Write Business, I go into specifics on how to write your book with a specific audience in mind as well as how to effectively present your product to that segment of readers. If you need help building a branding model, I am happy to partner with you on your road to success.

JP Robinson