After spending months or years working on your book, finding a publisher willing to back it, meeting deadlines for editing and revisions, and finally getting published, most authors would think they can just sit back and relax. However, nothing could be further from the truth. While the responsibilities of advertising, promoting, distributing, and making the book available to the public is given to the publisher, the author ultimately plays the biggest role in the success or failure of his or her book.
This article is about how to build your brand as an author – yes, you have a brand, whether you’re aware of it or not. The success of your book is directly influenced by the power of your brand. In fact, authors with existing brands have a better chance of getting signed with bigger publishing houses, selling more books and ultimately, achieving their biggest publishing goals. Your brand is what sets you apart from your competitors (and yes, you have competitors). It is influenced by your niche, art, writing style and the quality of your work. Your brand is everything.
In this article, we will review some of the basic steps an author must take before or after he/she signs with a publishing house. These tips apply whether you’re signed with Random House, a small press in your hometown, or if you’re publishing the book yourself.
“Authors are not business people, that’s why they need publishers” – this was the case when book publishing was something that only business people with plenty of capital had access to, when the only way to reach consumers was through expensive TV and radio campaigns, flyers and big street signs. At that time, going to press was a very expensive project and the internet wasn’t around to connect us with one another. Luckily for many, this is no longer the case. Today, every person living in the modern world has access to the internet. Most of us have iPads, iPhones, Kindles and Androids, and we can access information with the tap of a finger. For that reason, it’s easier than ever to be a brand these days. The truth is, authors are as much business people as anyone else who’s creating and marketing a product for a living. Those who are unwilling to adapt to the ever-changing world of publishing will sadly be left behind, regardless of how well-received their book might be.
Authors should be in the business of creating and marketing themselves in order to give publishers the opportunity to better market and promote their books. Unknown authors are more unlikely to score a publishing deal than well-known authors or other authors who have their own personal brand. Building an author brand is not that complicated, the process requires that you “put yourself out there” on a daily basis, connecting with others who share the same interest and build a fan base.
Here are four basic steps you must take if you’re serious about writing and publishing books for a living:
1) Create & Release Free Quality Content, Constantly
The fastest and most effective way to introduce one’s self to the public nowadays is by building a website. Aside from completing the website with personal information, credentials, achievements and speaking profile, an author should also start and run a personal blog or YouTube Channel. Both the website and the blog are a means of producing content, information, text, videos, audio and more. The content you produce (articles, YouTube clips, informative blogs, etc.) will become your signature. Just like a new filmmaker will produce a short film to introduce his or her visual style, an author should produce content to present his own artistic style. A self-help author will write blogs or produce YouTube videos about the subject of his expertise. This is the fastest way to create a name for yourself online.
A good blog (whether via text, video or audio) can help open up a communication channel with your potential readers and can also be used for SEO purposes to draw in more traffic. It is the most effective way to deliver information to potential readers, folks who will ultimately become the people who consume your product, your book.
2) Join the Social Media Circus
Every day, billions of people log in to their favorite social media account and search for interesting content, which is why authors should never underestimate the influence of a good Facebook page. You can start your own page on several social media sites and use these channels to build your brand by posting tips, articles, links to your blogs and more. If websites and blogs are a way for you to produce and deliver content to consumers, social media is definitely the distribution channel through which consumers will get to know you. Your social media account will also help you understand your fan-base, information that could prove crucial to your publisher later on as they plan their marketing strategies. Most book publishers will not manage your social network or your blogs for you, this should be on the top of your priority list.
3. Get Interviewed
Book publishers can schedule your interviews on national radio, but this job will be made much easier if you have already contacted your local media yourself. Local media in small towns and cities love promoting local authors, particularly published authors. Use your “published” status to schedule interviews with your local radio stations, send copies of your book to local magazines & newspapers for reviews or hire a personal publicist to synergize with the Publisher’s PR division, together, they can work miracles for your brand. Use these interviews to leverage your name and score meetings with bigger publishers, or post them on your website to create credibility.
4) Become an Expert Speaker
The best way to create and market your brand while earning money is via public speaking. Most authors are experts in their fields, and getting your work published is a great way to promote yourself with agencies. Create a professional Speaker Kit and send it out to speaking agencies, corporations, and other organizations that can use your expertise. Doing this will not only enhance your authority on the subject matter, but it will give you an excellent opportunity to sell books, build your brand and create credibility. This can easily be a full-time career for you, if you take it seriously enough.
Brand-building is not exclusive to large corporations and organizations and you don’t need a fancy marketing plan to create a powerful brand. All you need is presence (personal website and social media presence), content (free online content such as blogs and YouTube videos), product (your book) and your continuous commitment to get your name associated with your field of expertise. Become an expert in your field and market yourself every day, build a website, create social media presence, hire a publicist or publicize yourself and capitalize on your connection with your publisher to enhance your marketing activities and make the most out of your book writing career.
As you can see, getting published is just a piece of the puzzle. In fact, completing the four steps above will increase your chances of being picked up by a bigger publishing house. Every publishing house will pick a self-promoting author over a lazy author anytime.