In episode 3, Melissa and Jeni talk to Dianna Gunn about branding for authors.
Listen to the audio podcast here: EPISODE 3 - Author Branding
Welcome to the new season of the Indie Chicks show! I’m Melissa Koberlein, an author and professor of publishing and she’s Jeni Chappelle, a freelance novel editor.
Indie Chicks celebrates and supports independent women in publishing. We’re a place for writers at all stages of the publishing process. So, whether you’re on the traditional route to publication or self-publishing, you’ve come to the right place for advice.
On this episode:
We’re talking about author branding
End with an author tip of the week
This week we’re joined by Dianna Gunn , a freelance writer by day and a fantasy (and occasional science fiction) author by night. Her fantasy novel, Moonshadow's Guardian, was released in November 2018. When she's not writing, Gunn can be found working to develop the indie author community. She hosts the #weeknightwriters Twitter chat at 7PM EST and runs businessforauthors.com, where she offers the Business for Authors newsletter alongside a variety of author services. She plans to launch online courses on branding, Search Engine Optimization, and digital marketing for authors in 2020
Here's the Q&A
What is branding?
Branding is the promise you make to customers with your distinctive design choices and your marketing copy. For authors, this brand can be found at the intersection of your identity, the types of stories you tell - not just the genre but the types of tropes and character archetypes you include - and the experience you intend for your audience to have.
Why is it important for authors?
Readers are incredibly loyal to authors who can provide them with a consistent type of reading experience. I myself have a goal to someday own every Terry Pratchett book - there are around 50 of them - because I know I can always count on a Pratchett book to make me smile. His brand is his very distinctive sense of humour, and it keeps readers coming back for more. If you can cultivate this kind of relationship with your readers, you will develop a devoted audience who buy everything you write.
What are the steps to build a brand?
The first thing you want to do is think about the types of stories you tell. Not just what genre, but the tropes you include, the emotions your readers can expect to experience as they read your story. A lot of people are looking for a highly specific type of reading experience. Romance readers in particular tend to only read books centered around a specific type of relationship, such as an enemies-to-lovers romance. If you’re not sure what the tropes are in your stories, take a look at TV Tropes (be careful though, this is a great way to lose an afternoon).
In the end, all of this boils down to two questions: what type of experience can your readers expect to get from your stories? What emotions do you want them to associate with your books? In other words, you’re looking for the through-line between all of your books. What is the one thing readers can consistently expect from you, even if you’re working on a different series or in a slightly different genre?
Once you’ve figured that out, you can choose brand colours and images and write marketing copy with the specific goal of getting readers into those experiences and emotions. For example, to create the About page of your website, you might ask what the through-line is between your own personal experiences and the stories you tell. In my case, my stories are about strong women overcoming trauma, so I share some of my own personal trauma experience in my bios and on social media. This allows the people who need healing stories to find my work.
Of course, this last piece of advice won’t work for everyone. Trauma is hard to share, and you are never obligated to do so. You are also free to protect your privacy in any way you feel necessary, even if that means completely divorcing your author persona from your lived experience.
What advice do you have for new authors?
Establish your author brand early and use it to guide all of your marketing decisions. For more resources on how to do this, follow my Business for Authors newsletter at www.businessforauthors.com. You’ll also receive a free Author Career Planning Workbook and be the first to know when Branding for Fiction Authors: A Workbook for Authors with No Business Experience launches.
Tip of the week: Reach out to another writer. Make a connection. Many of us are introverts. But, that doesn’t mean that we aren’t good with people. We are. It’s just more draining for us. Don’t use it as an excuse or crutch. Publishing is a people-oriented business. If you’re in it for the long haul, you need to connect.
On our next podcast, Jeni and Melissa are talking with literary agent, Kaitlyn Johnson. We will also have another Tip of the Week.
And don’t forget where to find us! Find our podcast at indiechicks.net or follow us on Spotify or subscribe to Indie Chicks on Apple Podcasts. We also have the Indie Chicks channel on YouTube where you can subscribe. You can follow us on Twitter @Indie_Chicks or Facebook.com/TheIndieChicks.
So, remember, we’re all part of a publishing community, be kind and review your fellow authors’ books! Thanks for joining us!
Indie Chicks out.