How to Establish Your Author Brand
If you’re a writer, whether you’re published, agented or not yet either, and you want to reach readers then you need to establish an author brand. There are many ways to do this, but today I thought I would share my top tips for getting started.
How to Establish Your Author Brand
Limit your number of social platforms
This may be an odd recommendation to start with, limit your presence on social media, but it will help you in the long run! I see so many authors creating TikTok, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts, only to get burn-out and confused over what to post and the lack of engagement. Pick one, or a maximum of two, and focus on them. You’ll limit the repetition of sharing the same content over and over again, and you’ll have time to experiment, engage and focus your energies on your chosen platforms.
Think about your audience
If you’re writing young adult fiction, it’s unlikely that your readership will be found on Facebook or Twitter. That’s not to say you should completely ignore both platforms if that’s where you’ve previously felt most comfortable, but it would probably be better to try opening an Instagram or TikTok account instead, in order to reach the younger demographic.
If you’re not sure where your audience is, my top tip is to find authors who you think your book sits alongside i.e. if you write Greek mythology retellings then look at Jennifer Saint, Madeline Miller, and Natalie Haynes and see where their platforms are. You’ll usually get a good hint.
Post regularly, all year round
The mistake I see a lot of authors make is only posting when a book is available to pre-order or out now. Your readers don’t want to be sold by you, they want to get to know you. Don’t think of them only as customers, think of them as supporters. Every now and then they want to ‘grab a coffee and catch up’ so fill them in with what you’ve been up to when a book campaign is over, or not yet started.
I recommend things like behind-the-scenes videos and photos, and updates on writing from word counts to what you’re listening to when you write. Sometimes everyday life – pet pictures, book reviews or a really great meal you had out last week – will be the kind of content they engage with. Make sure you post regularly so that readers trust that when they follow you, they’ll get regular – once-a-week minimum – content they’ll enjoy and can engage with you on.
Engage with others
Another mistake I often see is authors expecting readers to come to them. It works both ways, engage with others! Comment on Instagram posts of reviews of other people’s books, congratulate another author on their success and recommend a good book when someone asks for advice. I recommend setting aside time every week just to comment, like and reshare other people’s content. Join or start a conversation, it’s another way people will trust that they will enjoy and get something back from following you and your books.
Build a mailing list
Email marketing fell out of favour a few years ago, but since the pandemic, I think it’s come back flying! Start a mailing list or a newsletter – Mailchimp is a great platform to create a newsletter when you’re starting out – it will take time, but it’s worth having in the long run. Don’t spam your readers, but keep them updated regularly with behind-the-scenes updates, extracts, exclusive news or competitions.
Think about what your readers get from signing up for a mailing list as opposed to just following you on Instagram. Keep it exclusive, so you’re not sharing content everywhere, but also inclusive so that others actively want to join. These readers typically are your most engaged when it comes time to share the news that your book is available to pre-order or buy now.
Promote, promote, promote
And finally, you have to keep promoting yourself. It’s hard – I personally hate it! – but if you want to be an author you do have to share the odd ‘my book is only 99p’ post or ‘read an extract of my latest draft’ online. It may feel odd, awkward and even uncomfortable, but it needs to be done. Just try to find a way that makes it work for you.
I wish you the best of luck in establishing your author brand, just remember it doesn’t happen overnight. The biggest brand authors usually have been working on their socials, mailing lists or awareness of their brand for 5+ years. And usually with the help of professionals behind them. Get started yourself and keep at it, and eventually, you’ll see the growth.
For further advice, see my post on the Women’s Prize for Fiction website.