There’s no way around it: it’s important, as an indie author, to have a recognizable author brand. Your brand is connected to your work, and who you are as a writer, and sometimes, it can even be intimately connected to who you are as a person, too. Securing an author brand that incorporates the following is incredibly important. Your brand should be…
- True to you
- Recognizable in your genre
- Reflective of your work
We’re going to break down these three concepts a little further.
True to you – ultimately, matching your brand to who you are as an author – even if you write under a pen name – is going to make for the most sustainable branding.
If you are just starting out, or are looking to update your brand or even rebrand, do this first: write a list of everything that appeals to you. Favourite colours, textures, types of images, even smells! All of this will help you determine what direction you can go in with your branding, if it isn’t already obvious.
Most likely, you are writing what you write because you like reading it, too. And, as with any genre, there are certain visual and audible connections to said genre. Very often, you will find that your personal taste is already reflective in your genre’s conventions.
However, that might not always be the case. Thankfully, since you are creating your own brand look and appeal, you can integrate your own personal taste into your author brand as much or as little as you want.
Ultimately, though, the decision is yours! And that’s what being true to you is all about when developing your brand.
Recognizable in your genre – authors who write under a particular genre or genres are probably familiar with the visual elements of said genre due to cover conventions. Attractive couples on contemporary romance covers; beautiful, period-accurate dresses and flowing fonts for historical romance; eerie photos and shadowy angles for mystery and thriller, paired with bold lettering; illustrated covers for rom com; gilded, text-heavy covers with an attractive font for a new fantasy series… I could go on.
Matching your brand to your genre conventions while still stay original can be challenging. But, the balance must be achieved – it’s important that you stick to some genre conventions, at least on the visual side of things, to make your book recognizable in said genre space.
Many authors commission cover designs, but you can commission more than that – logos, character art, even advertisements! If you are not adept at graphic design or visual art, or you want some help or guidance, allocate part of your marketing and publicity budget to commissioning such works. Getting enough material to work with, visually, can really go far in helping you create a cohesive and memorable brand.
Things to think about include:
- Colour palette
- Logo design
- Fonts used – both title and body fonts
- Book covers
- Interior book covers
- Character art
- Maps of your fictional worlds
- Other ephemera from your works, depicted visually, such as fictional locations
- Playlists for novels or characters or both
Reflective of your work – despite needing to abide by some genre conventions, you can make your brand your own – and you should. Draw first from your personal taste before looking at market trends. Copy and pasting what you see other authors do is, at best, unoriginal, and at worst, at the risk of plagiarism. Always focus on what you want to see first – there, you will find the heart of your author brand.
Make a list of what you like, visually, from your genre, and what you dislike. Then, make a list of recurring imagery in your titles. Lots of beach settings? Heroes facing off against a bunch of bat or bird-like creatures? Do your main characters tend to be lawyers? Are there plenty of mentions of baked goods? Taking note of what occurs over and over again in your books can be of great help when developing your brand’s look.
Having a cohesive look across your website, social media, and even your book covers and interiors will help your readers recognize your books in a crowd. And, keeping to some genre conventions will make your books immediately recognizable in terms of their content – but don’t be afraid to experiment! There is nothing wrong with trying something new and looking to work outside of the norm. If you are satisfied with the overall look of your brand as an author, that’s a success.
And, of course, don’t be afraid to rebrand. Refreshing your aesthetics as an author every few years, or upon switching or adding a new genre to your line-up, or even just because you feel it’s time to change things up to maintain your own evolving taste is a valid route to take. Many authors even maintain multiple distinct brands for their various series! There are so many myriad ways to represent yourself as an author.
Helpful tools and services like Book Brush, Canva and Damonza are great if you don’t have experience with Photoshop and aren’t an artist yourself. You can put together an attractive advertisement or post for your social media with minimal technical knowledge.
Doing research on how to develop your author brand is a great idea, too. It always helps to be prepared. Listen to these KWL podcast episodes all about branding:
- A New Approach to Author Branding with Vanessa Vale
- Establishing Your Author Brand with Dana Kaye
- Book Reviews and Author Branding with Melissa Dalton Martinez
Again, whether you are a new author beginning to develop your brand or an established creative who is looking to rebrand, considering the three important aspects of branding as outlined here is a great way to start. Don’t forget, of course, to have fun with it! And, as always, happy writing (or should we say branding) from us on the KWL team.