Believe it or not, as an indie author you need to also be a brand.
If you want to sell books in a publishing climate that’s pumping out 4500+ new titles a day, your author brand is the only thing you can guarantee will separate you from everyone else.
But it doesn’t have to be the big scary overhaul or management commitment you think of when brands like Coca Cola, Nike or even J.K. Rowling come to mind.
You can establish and maintain an indie author brand that helps you sell books by making some smart improvements. Then all you need to do is simply maintain them as part of your current author marketing plan.
Know who your buyer market is
You can’t just wake up one day and develop a brand on gut feeling alone.
Your indie author brand needs to be driven by what attracts your target buyer market. So think about what draws people to your genre. Then put their needs before your love of a particular color or “look”.
I’ve written about this before, so check out this other piece if you haven’t defined your audience in detail, or haven’t done it in awhile, it’s best to start there – it will guide all your other choices.
Figure out your unique selling point (USP)
How are you different from your competition? You can’t just say, “My stories are better.” Because to be honest, as an indie author, you still have a lot to prove, whether that’s fair or not. So simply saying you’re better isn’t good enough to sell books.
What makes you better? If you need some inspiration check out your reviews! Maybe a lot of readers comment on your character development. Or maybe you really excel at unexpected plot twists. If you write non-fiction maybe your reviews consistently state that your methods really do work – believe it or not that’s a USP in today’s market!
Establish clear expectations
Your brand should communicate your genre, the type of writing you do, the type of writing schedule you stick to, and anything else your readers can and should expect from you.
Remember, branding isn’t just images, it’s also content and slogans, tag lines and promises.
As an indie author you have a lot of creative flexibility, but don’t use that as an excuse to be unstructured.
For example, fans want to keep reading your books. So don’t mess around with deadlines, keep the books coming, and make your consistency a part of your brand.
Expectations breed trust, and trust breeds long-term return buyers.
Define your indie author look
This is the fun part! But I’ll reiterate, this can’t just be about using your favorite color or themes.
There are definitely expected “looks” for particular genres. And while you want to stand out, you don’t want to be so unique you lose people.
Instant psychological connections are priceless, and can turn a shopper into a buyer. If you’re an indie author that writes thrillers, your website shouldn’t have images of tulip fields or a big picture of your face plastered on the home page. You need to set the mood.
If you need some inspiration, check out some bestselling indie authors that really excel in your genre and what they’ve done with their look. I bet you money you’ll see consistent themes used in unique ways.
Be consistent across the board
Consistency is key! Since your website is your home base, focus on establishing your indie author brand and your look there through content and imagery that is known to appeal to your genre and buyer market.
Then once your website is good to go, let that flow out into your social media. Make sure your banner images compliment your website look. The filters and treatments you put on any social media images should also do their part.
You’ll also want your brand represented on any swag or collateral you create. Collateral is a broad term for any physical marketing pieces you use to represent your indie author brand, so flyers, business cards, posters for events, anything else you use to sell books.
I assure you once you get your brand nailed down, you’re going to feel like a rockstar!
There’s something very organized and professional feeling about an established brand, and I can tell you from personal experience that that confidence affects the way you engage with your fans and potential buyers, how you handle yourself on podcast interviews – the benefits are really amazing. Get to work!
Have you nailed down your indie author brand but want some coaching on how to sell books? I’d love to help!
Have a particular strategy for brand-building you’d like to share? Please include in the comments below!