Branding yourself as a particular type of writer, one who readers know will deliver a specific level of quality or style of writing, goes beyond your website. Branding involves everything from your short stories, articles, and interviews to your books. It includes your social media presence and, of course, your website.
While there are many aspects to branding that you should be aware of, developing your author brand on your website is actually one of the easiest types of branding. Why? Because your website is where you have the most control. You get to choose the color, the font, the style, the images, the content. This allows you to be very specific about creating the public image you want to maintain.
However, before you start picking styles, you need to take the time to really define your brand. These three aspects of author branding will not only guide your website development, but allow you to recognize the aspects of your brand that need to remain consistent across all of your brand platforms.
Your Author Voice
Developing your author voice is something you need to do as a writer, whether you have a website or are a hermit with a secret identity. Unfortunately, many beginning writers may not know the extent of their voice. Take me as an example.
I commit the biggest taboo of all when it comes to beginning writers. I am an age-category jumper. My first completed manuscript was a middle grade contemporary fantasy, followed by a young adult contemporary suspense. Now I am working on an adult light science fiction. How on earth am I supposed to find the common brand between those and anticipate what I might want to write in the future, knowing how diverse my writing tastes are?
Well, I could take the advice of many industry professionals out there and fully establish myself in one category and genre before breaking out to the other. It’s good advice, but not for me. Instead, I decided to complete some exercises that would help me really nail down my voice.
I started with the exercises offered by Rayne Hall in her short guide, “Grow Your Author Voice.” (You can get it for free by signing up to her email list on her website.) These exercises helped me start identifying the common themes that ran through all of my books, despite their apparent differences.
Your voice is more than your category or genre. It is the unique style you bring to your writing, which is recognizable across your entire body of work. This is what you want to capture on your website, through your social media, and in the rest of your marketing.
Your Ideal Reader
Writing a book may feel like a solitary practice most of the time. But in reality, books are conversations. They are ways for us to affect our readers. But in order to reach the readers who will be sufficiently moved by our writing, we need to identify our ideal readers.
For instance, I usually write with mental health issues in mind. My ideal reader has some experience with mental health issues, especially depression. While people who have not suffered from depression may enjoy my work, my books are mainly intended to resonate with those who have a common experience. Additionally, I write for females. Again, men can read my books, sure. But my books usually highlight feminist issues and the general role of women in society.
Knowing who I am trying to target will help me nail down my branding from style to content. For example, once you know who your readers are you can look up color psychology and style choices that will appeal to their specific demographic. Additionally, you can target your content towards them.
Your Unique Selling Point
There are hundreds if not thousands of authors out there writing stories similar to yours. What makes yours unique? This is beyond your genre, even if you happen to write in a very specific genre. Although it may be tied to your voice, it should go beyond your voice. What aspect (or combination of aspects) is unique to you?
For example, your voice might be witty and irreverent with sharp verbs. I just described you and a hundred other authors. But you take your wit and irreverence to the seaside in every single book? There’s your USP. For some authors, the USP is not something found in the book. It can be their openness and connection with their audience through social media. It can be that they take their readers’ suggestions into account when plotting their novels. What is the thing that makes you unique? You want to integrate that into your brand from day one.
Once you’ve identified your voice, reader, and USP, you will be able to define your brand. That is, you will be able to state clearly and confidently what value or experience you provide to your readers. Once you have that statement, the visual side of branding comes from the basic psychology of design.