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author brand cheat sheet

Author Brand Cheat Sheet

While others specialise in marketing books, I prefer to focus on helping new authors market themselves first. I believe this focus puts the person in the best place to then sell books, with simple tactics like emails to their list or a series of content posts. If you’re lagging in social media followers and personal brand style, then you’ll want to read these cheat sheet tips for author brand strategy.

The trouble I had with launching earlier books was I had no platform. First steps was a simple blog site and a Twitter account (this was in 2009).


Author Branding First Steps—Shoot First!

As a relatively high-quality image of your good self will give you instant credibility, it’s wise to put aside modesty and get pro photos taken. There are many uses for these.

  • Head Shot – studio
  • ‘Doing’ shot – e.g. working, presenting to a room, out and about
  • With book shot, if it’s in print form

Local Photographers

  • Leoni Bolt, the branding expert, studio head shots. Brendale. 0418 218 161
  • Angelico Jarvis, 5*, can get various angles. Redcliffe. 0406 549 544

“Cookie cutters are for baking, not branding.”

― David Brier, The Lucky Brand

Brand Identity

Next, it’s brand identity time.

You sit down and think about what Brand Values your authorship will have. This also relates to the mood created with various designs (not only book covers).

You look at what different colours mean and think about choosing two colours (plus black/grey/white). (See a graphic designer for advice).

Consider weaving your name, your colours and a certain ‘mood’ into an author banner. Your logo is more a square or rectangle but the banner (for website) is extra wide and only 150 – 200 px high. These are not the same file!

A banner has a background which works in with the name and does not overshadow it. Illustrator designers can do cool fades of your photo into the background.

Decide your Passion and Angle

Some of us try to be too broad, trying to appeal across multiple markets with our first books. Big mistake! The most followed authors have a unique take and embrace an angle. One old example, Paul Smight (wrote Twitchiker) used Twitter to travel without money. Good thing was, Twitter is also easy to secure media attention if you have a decent size following (which he did). The angle worked with the topic AND the social media channel—a rare coup indeed!

A local example is Valerie Khoo, a believer in story, bold colours and artistic creation. She melded her love of story (as Sydney Writer’s Centre leader) with bold creativity in her brand for Power Stories (2012).  A few magazine articles she put out at the time and a cover shot of her at Switched On Leadership, signifying her work in publicity during the book launch.

I’ve noticed most authors build their social media followings by being influential in the world of business, consulting or coaching. Few have ‘instant luck’, pronouncing they are going on some sort of mission and get the media limelight.


What Work does an Author Brand involve?

Creating an author brand necessitates:

  • Staying consistent with your mission and personal values
  • Staying consistent with your colours and fonts (after a settling in period)
  • Consistently trying to reach your target market in NEW ways, e.g. podcast guesting, reviewing influential books and writing to them, being the expert on the topic in industry chats and local business groups, creating new mockups for Instagram stories/posts, doing reels, etc.   
  • Ensuring your explainer pitch clearly articulates what your information does for a select group of people.
  • Being outrageous, controversial or at least talking about issues running contrary to popular beliefs.

What Doesn’t Work – Author Branding Strategies

Many authors find it tough to get enough target market attention… because their social media and graphic skills and their modesty hold them back. This is a conflict of core beliefs (about themselves) with what is simply a strategy for successful marketing. We often get caught up in ‘what others think’ or in trying ‘what worked yesterday’… rather than finding creative ways to put across our author brand. We need to make it SHINE in front of the people who resonate with it.

Choose your message, get the help of a designer, and shine on

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