Why You Need to Brand Yourself as an Author
As writers embark on their storytelling career, they eventually reach a point where they need to start marketing themselves, be it because the publishing company they are working with won’t do it for them or because they are self-publishing.
Either way, around this time, most authors begin to treat their writing as a business and begin to try to market their latest novel. While this is a smart move, doing so just as you’re getting ready to publish is far too late in the process and creates a lot of backtracking on your end.
Instead, it’s much better to establish a brand now – before you’re an established author and maybe even before you have a website – for your entire authorship.
Coming from experience, this will not only make marketing yourself easier, later on, it will also root everything you do in your author brand you’ve established.
So, with that in mind – what exactly does it mean to brand yourself as an author?
What is Branding as an Author?
When you hear branding as an author, you might feel a bit confused. After all, you are trying to tell a new skincare line or begin a new yoga studio, so why is branding important to you and what the heck does it mean?
But branding as an author is a lot more like branding a business than you might think. This is because as an author, your writing is your business, meaning if you wish to take this pursuit seriously, you need to brand your name the way any other company would.
For you, this is going to mean getting a stand-out logo of your name – whether it’s your real name or your pen name – that you can place on business cards to stand out, place on your website, and even use on books!
But it also means establishing a color palette, fonts, and overall look and feel for your business – remember, that business is your name as an author – so that whether people follow you on Instagram, Twitter, or get your latest email updating them on your new book, they know exactly who it is from just by looking at it!
Why You Need to Brand Yourself
Now that you understand why you should start branding yourself as an author – as soon as possible – let’s take a deeper look at all the different benefits you’ll get from doing this early on in the process instead of when you are looking to sell your first book.
1 | It will help you establish yourself early on
As indicated, one the of the key benefits of branding yourself as an author comes from the early establishment you’ve created of your authorial name. And given the difficulties many writers face when trying to publish these days, either traditionally or self-publishing, the sooner you can establish yourself as an author, the better.
But branding yourself an author doesn’t mean that you can only tell certain stories or only write in certain genres. Instead, it means defining who you are as a writer and what your own themes and aspirations are.
If you aren’t sure what that means for you or how it will help you establish yourself as a writer early on – before you’re even close to publishing – think about how you would approach writing a novel.
Whether you outline ahead of time or not makes no difference. You probably are writing this new novel to say something and you’ve probably got some idea about what you want to say before you even begin writing.
As a result, the better grasp of that the theme or expression you have at the beginning of your novel writing process, the easier it is to implement that message in every single sentence, paragraph, and chapter!
The same goes for branding – the sooner you establish who you are as a writer, the easier it will be for people to immediately recognize your website or business card, but also even your voice and style!
(Yes! Seriously! Your writer’s voice is a BIG part of your “brand” as an author.)
2 | Readers will recognize your books right away
Another key benefit to branding yourself before you even have a novel written is that your books become easy to recognize right away because you’ll have a theme or style you wish to convey from the get-go that speaks to you and your style as an author.
Though you may not be the one to actually determine what your book covers look like, should you have a say in the process – especially if you plan to self-publish – this means that when your book is on a shelf or on a website for sale, readers and fans of your work will look at your book cover and know it’s your story right away, long before they see your name on the cover.
This doesn’t mean you can’t mix up which genre you write in and therefore have various styles of covers, but more so that in branding yourself as an author, you give book cover designers a sense of direction from the start that is always speaking to your core self as a writer.
It may seem like a long term, big picture goal, but think about authors like Neil Gaiman, Kurt Vonnegut, and Toni Morrison, all of whom write in various genres, but all of whom’s stories can easily be distinguished by the branding style of their book covers.
Grab your copy of my Branding Cheatsheat for Authors!
3 | It will make your website look professional
One of the main reasons I created this website over a year ago was to create a professional website for myself as an author and storyteller.
I knew I didn’t have any stories to sell yet, but I knew that I needed to create a hub for my work and for future publishing companies to see that I take my work seriously. As a result, I created this blog so that I could get my name out there as a storyteller and start being treated like a professional, but also so I could help fellow readers like yourself.
For the longest time though, I assumed my name as an author was my brand and that the stories I told would do the rest of the work. Knowing that, I made a point to use a pen name to keep my personal life and my writing life separate, but I thought that was enough. “Branding” was for people who sold products or services, not storytellers! So, when I created emwelsh.com, I skipped over branding completely.
Now, this is my number one regret as a storyteller with a website, because it was so much more work to backtrack and create my brand as an author a year later than it would have been if I had spent the time beforehand.
For that reason, even if you don’t have a website yet, branding yourself as an author ahead of time will make it much easier for you to create a website that is consistent with the look and feel of your work.
4 | It will help you treat your writing life like a business
The number one thing many writers trying to publish their work struggle with is marketing themselves. Though there are so many different reasons for this, a big factor is that our work is so deeply personal to us, that it often feels like we are selling ourselves out when we market our writing.
However, when you decide to brand yourself as an author, you immediately perceive your writing life as a business.
Developing this perception is a difficult thing to do, but very necessary to your survival as a writer. Just like any other creative industry, you still are in a place where you are trying to sell your work.
Because of this, as soon as you brand yourself as an author, you are doing what any other business owner would do, making it very easy to perceive your writing as a business as well. You have a logo for your name, a color scheme that represents the stories you want to tell, and overall look and feel that attracts the right audience – aka, readers – to your website and name as an author, long before you actually have any books out!
5 | It will help you define yourself as a writer
Thinking about your brand as an author will also help you do something unique – it will force you to think about your work and the stories you want to tell in a really abstract manner.
Often as writers, we can get caught up in small details like chapters and outlines, but also even just one individual book in the grand scheme of our storytelling career, when we have so many other stories within us.
By taking some time to brand yourself as an author, you are first of all pledging to yourself that this is a serious craft. But you are also asking to define yourself in things besides words, like colors, icons, and other features that make you think in a new, creative way about who you are.
This exercise is something you likely don’t spend a lot of time doing – you’re busy telling stories, after all – but is worth your time because it will help you define your writer’s voice even further, as mentioned earlier, and understand what makes you unique as a writer!
Now that you understand why you should brand yourself as an author, you might be wondering how to get started. After all, it’s very possible you aren’t a graphic designer, but since you’re an author, you likely don’t have a ton of spare cash to spend on your branding.
Luckily, you have a few options. First, I am offering $100 off the Abstract Package at Girl Crushed Designs for all readers of emwelsh.com. To get this discount as a loyal reader, simply answer “emwelsh.com” to the question “How did you hear about Girl Crushed Designs?” when you fill out the form.
However, if spending money isn’t an option for you, be sure to check out my branding guide below for a DIY-approach to make your website look more professional!