Okay, so you’ve settled on a brand look – you write fantasy, so there’s a lot of silvers and golds, dragon scales, and velvety textures. Or you’re a romance writer who tends to gravitate towards the friends-to-lovers trope for your rom coms; there’s a lot of bright colours, illustrated covers, and bold fonts. All this might sound familiar to you; maybe you’re even an expert! But here is a good reminder for those of you thinking about your brand as an author:
If you want some more advice, read on!
Here are our suggestions for how to sustain and otherwise improve your branding and its visual appeal:
Look to highly visual sites for inspiration – like Pinterest and Instagram, or even YouTube; viewing or watching things you enjoy will help you determine how you want your online presence to look. Create inspiration boards on Pinterest, save images on Instagram, and so on – all of this can lead to a better understanding of your own “aesthetic” that you can then apply to your website and social media. Make note of what people tag or call certain looks – usually these labels end in “-core” and are immensely useful when searching for more of the same aesthetic substance. Cottagecore, dark academia, aliencore, cozy fantasy vibes… these are just a few of the terms you might see thrown around!
Take your own photos – this one is important: take and use your own photos. Stock images can be helpful when creating book covers or advertisements but try and avoid using them when it comes to your website and social media. You don’t need to be an expert photographer to take nice pictures – simply use your phone, some good, natural lighting, and play around with your camera. There are also dozens of apps available for free or minimal fees that can be of great help in editing and applying filters to your photos. Search around for a few “best of” lists or ask some of your more photo-savvy friends if you need a bit of help.
Use free photo sites – that said, there is nothing inherently wrong with utilizing stock images. These can be great to help build out your posts and create a more cohesive look. Use ones that speak to you and attribute properly when necessary. Stock photos are especially helpful when making posts about your characters, setting, or other elements of the book’s content that might not exist IRL!
Commission character or place art and maps – most indie authors are familiar with commissioning art for covers or paying for cover design, but don’t shy away from commissioning character art. It can be a fun and exciting way to share more information about your book, and to get people interested in your characters. Reach out to artists you like who are open for commissions and see what they can do for you!
A trend in book-related illustration (especially on BookTok) is replacing publisher’s original dust jackets for DIY ones, either made by you yourself or purchased from an artist. These custom dust jackets feature character or location art from the book, or simply have a redesigned cover that fits the “aesthetic” of the person who purchased it. This practice actually goes back to the very beginnings of custom bookbinding!
So: why not commission some amazing work of your characters and settings to feature on your website or social media? Or, offer alternate covers and/or interiors in a different edition of your book. And, if you are an artist yourself, great! You’ve probably already drawn your characters – now post that art!
Feature fanart – with permission – has an artist drawn fanart of your book? That’s amazing! You’ve probably already squirrelled it away to look at later, as it is sure to bring a smile to your face. Why not ask if you can feature that fanart on your site or social media? Reach out to the artist and ask for their permission to repost it. It is sure to catch your readers’ eyes.
Focus on yourself rather than your books – lastly, never be ashamed to post about yourself. This helps keep your author “aesthetic” consistent, too. Make a post about what you have read recently, write a blog about a writing roadblock you experienced, create a video hyping up another author – whatever! You can even take the time to simply share something you found funny or ask for recommendations from your readers. People like your books, yes, but they almost certainly will enjoy some of your presence, too – after all, you’re the one who wrote them!
More advice on sustaining your brand as an author:
It can sometimes be tiring to keep up with your own online presence, so remember to take a break from time to time or try something new. Thankfully, there are an endless number of ways to share your ideas, thoughts, and feelings related to your writing career and reading interests.
Consider spending time brainstorming post ideas, including the assets you will need to create them, like photos, fonts, illustrations, and so on, to sustain your schedule for months to come. Sometimes something as simple as reposting a cover of your book is enough. Keeping a list of ideas to access when you feel stuck will be helpful.
You can also look to other authors for inspiration and assistance. Ask them how they developed their brands and maintain their aesthetic or visual presence. Inquire about what worked for them and what didn’t. If you are a part of a group of authors who frequently collaborate, even better! There is plenty of opportunity there to share tips and tricks regarding branding.
Lastly, you can also seek the guidance of professionals. There is a myriad of freelance brand experts out there who can help you, as an author, develop your look. Remember – if your goal is to be a career author, you are, in many ways, starting a small business. Investing wisely in your brand is incredibly important!
Take the time to consider how you want to curate your online presence, its aesthetic, and your author brand. You will thank yourself in the long run for tackling this now rather than waiting until later in your author career.