There seems to be a misunderstanding amongst today’s massive sea of Indie and self-publishing authors. They are more apt to ride the coat tails of a single title or series rather than focusing on building themselves as a brand.
Whether we like it or not, we as authors will most likely not be remembered for a single title. It is imperative we learn this if we wish to be recognized in the industry.
One of the leading gurus I know on this subject is Rachel Thompson. She has some very good points on why authors need to focus on building their brand and not their book titles. I would recommend her blog to anyone struggling to build their platforms.
I’m Not a Brand; I’m An Author
And Apple is just an iPhone. Starbucks is just coffee. Pixar is just known for Frozen and Frozen II. Wait, no they aren’t.
How many times have you seen a well-known author walk around calling themselves by the title of their books? Probably never. For example, we don’t walk up to JK Rowling and say, “Oh you’re the author of Harry Potter!” If you meet her (which if you do, please get an autograph for me too!), you probably greet her by Ms. Rowling and have her sign her book. Why? Because she builds her brand, not her books. Going further, did you ever wonder why Ms. Rowling went under the name of Robert Galbraith before her secret was leaked?
It’s because she wanted to see if people were loyal to her as an author rather than being loyal to her only for Harry Potter.
Stephen King doesn’t tweet about his books or identify himself by a single book but rather tweets about what he’s passionate about and brands his name. More on this later.
If that doesn’t prove a point, I don’t know what will.
Titles Come and Go
Yet another reason why an author should avoid promoting a single title: They come and go as do series. I learned this when promoting Blessing of Luna. I focused so much on making banners, bookmarks, cards, social profiles, you name it on a single title. It wound up being a huge waste of time and resources. When FyreSyde — and now with the opening of Greenwood Grove Booksellers — came I had to repurchase everything I spent hundreds to obtain. Truthfully, I should’ve held the release until I had at least two more titles and knew for sure what my business plan was.
Titles come and titles go but you as the author will remain constant in your personality and approachability. Focus on relating to people as your brand name; it is what readers will bond to and potential readers will buy for.
You’re More Than Your Book
An author platform doesn’t only focus on you as an author. Too often “writers” think all we can do is write about writing. This is not the case. For me, I took Rachel’s advice and focused on five keywords I’m passionate about that don’t focus solely on writing. This offers people a bigger picture of me and less of that of a salesman at their door wanting them to buy buy buy.
Look at the themes of your book. What do you find yourself trying to bring attention to? Are you a mental health advocate? Do you have a deep backstory you want to share or are sympathetic to? Are you trying to bring attention to the effects humanity has on nature? Use those passions to bond with each of those niches. These are all potential readers who will attach to you for being a human being.
To make this personal, I’ve decided to share mine: Gardening, Sustainability, Books, True Crime (yes, I like to study serial killers), and Marketing (there are more but these are the main ones). These keywords take up large amounts of my blog posts and social media posts for those who follow and know me.
You’ve heard this a million times: One of the most powerful tools in building an author platform is to have a blog. It builds credibility and leaves valuable “digital bread crumbs” that can lead people back to your book.
I cannot tell you how many people I’ve coached to start a blog, telling them they will find more people are locating them than if they just blabbed on social media about their books.
Tip: Knowing your passion keywords will alleviate the stress of not knowing what to blog about or to post on social media.
Pro — Tip: Avoid Branding Dilution
In this article, Rachel Thompson (Rachel Thompson) makes a strong argument as to why focusing on promoting a single title is potentially dangerous. New authors become so excited about their book, they create social media profiles based around it. To paraphrase her:
What happens when book two or book three come around? — Rachel Thompson
You might feel like you have to make different profiles for each title or series. To once again draw from Rachel’s article, this is called “brand dilution.” Meaning, readers who found you for book one (or series one) will either have to follow the other profiles or become so flustered they stop reading altogether. I’m no expert but the latter doesn’t seem too great.
Getting stuck managing multiple profiles for the same series can cause horrendous stress and thus “dead” profiles and abandoned accounts.
If you find you are struggling with branding, I highly recommend any of Rachel’s books. They have been lifesavers on many occasions and her poetry is absolutely beautiful.