A perfect, real-world example of the power of author brand comes from looking at the sales of a book called The Cuckoo’s Calling by John Galbraith. According to Peter Hildick-Smith, founder of the Codex-Group, when first released in April 2013, the book sold 449 copies. A few months later, after it was revealed that Galbraith was a pen name for world-famous author J. K. Rowling, sales jumped to 228,116 copies. That’s the kind of muscle an author brand can bring to book sales.
Hildick-Smith studies where, why, and how readers buy books. His research clearly indicates that building a strong author brand is central to success in today’s crowded marketplace.
When Hildick-Smith asked readers what influenced buying decisions, 29 percent said the fact that a book was written by a favorite author (or part of a series) most affected them. Forty-three percent of genre fiction readers, and 32 percent of literary fiction readers similarly said that a favorite author influenced their decision to buy. According to Hildick-Smith, “Author brand equity is a book sales multiplier!”
That’s why an author brand is important. Now, let’s take a look at how to build a dynamic author brand. Your first job as an author, of course, is to create great books for your readers. That’s the foundation of any author brand. Beyond that, however, it’s worthwhile to do some thinking about what your author brand is and how you’re going to get the word out.
Discover Your Brand. Be introspective. Reflect on your personal values and determine what really matters to you. Identify your passions and what motivates you as a writer. Explore why you write and learn to articulate that. An honest self-assessment creates authenticity and can help you uncover your genuine author brand.
Ask Difficult Questions. Determine what makes you and your writing unique and memorable. What do readers perceive to be your distinctive qualities? Is that perception aligned with the perception you desire? Do the books you create and the way you market them help you cultivate your personal author brand and achieve your goals? How do you add value to your community of fans?
Research Your Readers. Who reads the types of books that you write? Know everything you can about this group. What do they read? What are their interests? How old are they? How many books do they read each year? How much money do they typically spend on a book? Who influences them? Once you know the interests of your target audience, you’ll be able to speak to their interests and needs more specifically.
Increase Visibility. Look for opportunities to connect with your readers. Interact with them through Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets. Ask them questions frequently, and build your presence as a thought-leader by writing blogs and articles. If you’ve identified blogs or journals that influence your audience, offer to guest blog or contribute content there. Participate in conferences and communities that your readers frequent.
Develop a Game Plan. Write a long-term plan that includes your professional and literary goals. Be sure to include the types of books you will write and when you will release them. Also plan the way you will share your books with the world, and the types of actions you will take on a regular basis to demonstrate the qualities and values for which you wish to be known.
Determine Key Messages. Craft consistent messaging that you can repeat whenever you talk about your book(s). This message should let people know who you are and your unique value proposition as writer. This process ensures that your readers can easily identify, remember, and effectively share you and your work.
Communicate Consistently. Connect with your audience on a regular basis. Embrace available tools to share excerpts of your work along with your brand message. Social media and other existing platforms can quickly and easily tie everything together and help you communicate efficiently and effectively with your audience.
Remain Committed. Author brand building is a long-term strategy. Don’t expect to see results quickly. It takes time and requires commitment. If you do your homework and lay the foundation necessary to build a strong author brand, you will set yourself up for professional success.
Ultimately, developing an author brand helps readers minimize the amount of time and effort needed to make purchasing decisions. So take the time now to build the foundations of a dynamic, memorable author brand and enjoy its benefits as book sales multiply down the road.
Kathy Meis is a professional writer, editor, ghostwriter and editorial manager with more than twenty years of experience in the media and publishing industries. She is also the founder of Bublish—a publishing technology company that offers cloud-based tools, metrics and resources to equip today’s business-savvy authors for success. Kathy and her team developed Bublish to empower “authorpreneurs” by providing a complete social marketing and digital publishing solution. Thousands of authors around the world now use Bublish to promote work and build brands. www.bublish.com Follow us: @BublishMe, Facebook and Google+.