11 Reasons to build your author brand

Author Tony Riches tweeted a link to Nat Schooler’s post – 11 Reasons Why To Build Your Personal Brand and it got me thinking: there must be a similar set of reasons for authors to build their personal brand.


But first – what is a brand? Jerry McLaughlin writing in Forbes magazine offers this perspective:

Marketers realized that they could create a specific perception in customers’ minds concerning the qualities and attributes of each non-generic product or service.  They took to calling this perception “the brand.”

Put simply, your “brand” is what your prospect thinks of when he or she hears your brand name.  It’s everything the public thinks it knows about your name brand offering—both factual (e.g. It comes in a robin’s-egg-blue box), and emotional (e.g. It’s romantic).  Your brand name exists objectively; people can see it.  It’s fixed.  But your brand exists only in someone’s mind.

And here are some of the activities you undertake to build and reinforce your brand: write books, blog, speak in public, write articles and guest posts, do interviews, contribute to workshops or conferences, appear at book clubs. Building a brand requires more than writing good books or blogging every week and here are some of the reasons for making it a priority.

  1. To practise your writing – authors write almost every day, however, exercising your writing muscles by tackling different topics and venues will add variety and stretch your skills.
  2. To build your network of contacts with both readers and writers – connecting with other writers can inspire your own writing. The writing community can also offer advice, point you in the right direction, save time and effort, and offer solace when things are difficult. When you connect with readers, you can ask about their preferences, seek feedback, and gain valuable insights for your next book. You might even find a reader who will offer to test out your next manuscript before you publish.
  3. Activities involved in building your brand (speaking, writing, volunteering, teaching) enable agents and editors to check you out. A robust blog and a significant profile on other social media and public forums is critical these days. Blogs can help you meet the people who may take your career to the next level – publishers, agents, writers, writing partners.
  4. Blogs and other writing enable readers to check you out. Many authors post sample chapters on their blog, character interviews, photos that inspired your book(s) and so on. These add depth to the reader experience.
  5. Blogs also allow you to store information related to your writing for public consumption. Readers are often interested in the ‘story behind the book’ including photos, research material, writing tips and so on.
  6. To build a body of knowledge which in turn attracts interest. Perhaps you write mysteries. You might want to dedicate your speaking and non-book writing activities to investigative techniques including their history. Perhaps you write historical fiction, in which case you might focus on the particular era and settings for your novels. In my case, I conduct reader surveys which have proven to be of interest to many writers and readers.
  7. To share information about the books you read and books that have inspired your writing. Such details can make your personality come alive and create a bond with readers beyond the books you write.
  8. To share information about yourself. Readers want to know about the background and upbringing of the authors they enjoy.
  9. To publicize your books. Every activity associated with building and maintaining your brand is an opportunity to mention your books.
  10. To differentiate yourself from other writers. A strong brand and vibrant platform will help set you apart.
  11. Blogging and other public activities get your name into search engines – the other day, I Googled M.K. Tod and came up with twelve pages of entries related to me before I began to run into junk.

Eleven reasons to build your brand. Would love to hear your suggestions and feedback.

FOR MORE ON READING & WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION follow A WRITER OF HISTORY (using the widget on the left sidebar)

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her latest novel, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE is set in WWI France and is available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. Her debut novel, UNRAVELLED: Two wars. Two affairs. One marriage. is also available from these retailers.

Mary can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.



Top Historical Fiction Authors Talk about Branding

As James Patterson said in a quote I used several days ago: “Brands are nothing more than trust.”

I asked each of the top historical fiction authors I interviewed what brand they are trying to create for themselves and I thought it might be interesting to look at their responses collectively.

Do not think of myself as having a brand – Sharon Kay Penman and Hilary Mantel

Personal brand – Helen Hollick, CW Gortner and Deanna Raybourn

Series brand – Helen Hollick

Well-researched historical fiction from a less travelled point of view – Susan Higginbotham

Writer of famous women whose names have been obscured by history – Michelle Moran

Historical accuracy married to vivid story-telling that puts the reader there in the moment – Elizabeth Chadwick

Biographicals – Margaret George (something that evolved rather than a planned brand)

Bringing to life misunderstood or maligned characters or eras – CW Gortner refers to this as a possible future brand

Other than Chadwick, none of the authors mentioned great stories as part of their brand, however, since they are all recognized as great storytellers, I’m going to assume that they each would have added that to their brand statement.

Returning to the notion of trust, when we pick up a Margaret George book we know we’re in for a great fictionalized biography of people like Mary Magdalene or Helen of Troy; Susan Higginbotham will bring us lesser know figures from history like Kate Woodville, sister to Elizabeth or Bess de Montacute who marries Hugh le Despenser;  Michelle Moran gives us stories of Cleopatra’s Daughter and Nefertiti; and, Helen Hollick delivers another exciting story about her pirate, Jesemiah Acorne or another instalment in one of her series about King Arthur or King Harold. We trust them. After all, they’re our favourite authors.

So let’s switch to another favourite author, JK Rowling and her just released adult book, The Casual Vacancy. The Huffington Post offers a round-up of reviews with eight relatively negative and only two positive. Reading them, one has the impression that if Rowling was not already famous, she might not have made it past the agent stage.

And what’s my point? JK Rowling has a brand, a wonderful brand that has served her and her readers well for many years. She has abandoned that brand and broken trust with her readers. The jury is out on whether she will be able to establish a new brand.