Thursday, September 06, 2018

Do You Know Who You Are? Building and Sharing Your Author Brand

By Kris Bock, @Kris_Bock

Part of the Indie Author Series

Developing your brand helps readers find you.

Walk through a grocery store. Chances are you can spot your favorite products from the colors and style of the packaging. Drive down the highway. Does your stomach rumble when you see a familiar chain restaurant sign?

That’s successful branding.

Branding authors seems like more of a challenge, but the basic principle is the same. You want readers to have an instant reaction to your name and cover style. Authors can also take advantage of genre branding by matching the kinds of titles and covers a genre typically uses. For example, a muscular, bare-chested guy with a gun says “romantic suspense,” while a woman in a old-fashioned gown with a big skirt says “historical romance.”

Developing your brand helps readers find you. It lets readers know what to expect when they pick up your books. Study other authors in your genre. Look at the colors, imagery, language, and fonts on their social media sites and publicity materials. What impression do you get? Can you identify the genre and target audience? Does it fit the work?

Studying other authors’ sites should give you ideas for your own branding. Then it’s simply a matter of being honest about yourself and your work. If your books are humorous, your social media presence should be playful. If your work is lyrical and poetic, make sure your Facebook posts and tweets have the same feel. If you write nonfiction, use keywords that people will search for if they want to find something like your work. For fiction, come up with a good tagline to give people an impression of your books.

Tip: If you are newly published, don’t tie your brand too closely to your first work. Think about the elements that are likely to reappear throughout your career.

But I Have Too Many Personalities!

If you write in a variety of genres, or for a variety of ages, look for common themes. Do you always have strong female characters? Do you bring humor to everything you write? Do you explore history in fiction and nonfiction? You could build your brand around these ideas. My brand could be “worldwide adventures.” That would fit my historical children’s novels set in ancient Egypt and Mayan times, my middle grade ghost stories, and my adult romantic suspense novels with outdoor adventures in the Southwest.

You may also want to focus your brand on only some of your work. I do a lot of educational nonfiction, but since these don’t pay royalties, I don’t promote this work. I also teach writing workshops and offer critiques. One tab of one of my websites focuses on that, but the rest of my branding focuses on my fiction.

In some cases, you might be better off creating more than one brand. I write romantic suspense novels for adults as Kris Bock, and children’s books as Chris Eboch. While maintaining two websites and two Facebook pages is a hassle, I didn’t want young readers accidentally getting my sexier adult books.

Kris Bock author photo
The separation also allows me to brand each persona differently. For my Chris Eboch children’s book website, the background is simple and clean, making it easy to find material. Meanwhile, my Kris Bock website’s background is a photo of a full moon rising over desert mountains. This mysterious image suggests adventure. My tagline “Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Adventures” hints at my characters and plots.

Questions to help you develop your brand:
  • Who is your ideal audience?
  • What is your message? What themes do you address?
  • What is your attitude?
  • How do you want to be known?
  • What words and phrases would you like people to associate with you?
  • What colors and images suit those elements?
  • Where do you hope to be in five years? Ten years? How will that affect your branding?
  • How do authors with a similar genre/audience express their brand?

Promoting Your Brand

Chris Eboch author photo

This may sound like a lot of work, and it is, at the beginning. But once you have figured out your brand, you can use those elements across social media.

Author Photo: In general, you should get an appropriate, professional-looking headshot and use it everywhere. However, I haven’t followed my own advice here – as children’s book writer Chris Eboch, I use a casual photo of me next to a statue of The Cat in the Hat. As romantic suspense author Kris Bock, I often use hiking photos. I feel these have more personality than a formal portrait. What you don’t want to do is take an awkward selfie or use a poorly lit photo from your last family event. Be professional, or show real personality, but take the time to do it right.

Sized for Twitter
Book Promo: You can make your own ads and promo pieces for Twitter, Facebook, etc. You’ll find several free online graphic design tools to do this, many with a paid option if you need more advanced techniques or more than a limited number (such as 10) images per month. Of the few I’ve tried, I prefer Canva as being more user-friendly, in my opinion. Combine appropriate background photos and texts with your book covers for some catchy, professional looking promo. You can use this to make a cover banner for your Facebook page, for example, or images sized for Twitter.

Use the same color scheme, tagline, and keywords for business cards, post cards, bookmarks, social media networks, your blog, and even your e-mail signature. Collect all the material in a convenient place. Then you can quickly build ad images or create an author page on whatever new media site comes along.

But Where Do I Promote?

Kris Bock's blog,
The Southwest Armchair Traveler,
shares recipes and more.
Authors have more opportunities to connect than ever. Amazon allows authors to build an author page with information about your books, a bio, photos, events, and a blog. (Learn how here; see my Chris Eboch or Kris Bock pages as examples.) Facebook allows us to connect with distant relatives and long-lost friends. Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, listserves and Facebook groups – the possibilities seem endless (although they change frequently).

Some social networks have strict regulations on self-promotion, either limiting promotional posts to certain threads, requiring them to be identified as self-promotion, or even prohibiting them altogether. Learning and following the guidelines is the first step to properly sharing your work. Make use of profiles and short signature lines, when applicable, to let people learn more about you at their

But don’t simply share book promo. Instead look for elements that people will enjoy or find useful. If you write cozy mysteries about a caterer, share recipes. If your children’s books are suited for classroom use, provide free materials for teachers. If you write inspirational romances, share inspiring and romantic news stories. Give people a reason to visit, rather than focusing on “buy my book.”

Then to get the most from your online time, cross-link wherever appropriate. When you post new information on your website or blog, make sure you post a link on relevant sites and listserves where you’re active. Triberr is a good way to extend your reach as well. You join tribes of authors and share each other’s posts via Twitter. It’s quick and easy to schedule the post you’re going to share. Learn more about using Triberr here.

Join the Party

To build your author brand online, take an interest in people and join in conversations. If fellow users like your comments and writing style, they may investigate your books. It’s the difference between using a party to give everyone there your pitch versus enjoying that party to catch up with friends and maybe meet a few new people.

The good news is that people really do try books based on connections they make through social networks. But successful social networking takes time. That’s just like real-life socializing, so join the party.

Kris Bock writes novels of suspense and romance with outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. Fans of Mary Stewart, Barbara Michaels, and Terry Odell will want to check out Kris’s romantic adventures. Read excerpts at or visit her Amazon page. Sign up for the Kris Bock newsletter for announcements of new books, sales, and more.

Kris writes for children under the name Chris Eboch. Her novels for ages nine and up include The Eyes of Pharaoh, a mystery that brings ancient Egypt to life and The Well of Sacrifice, an action-packed drama set in ninth-century Mayan Guatemala. Her book Advanced Plotting helps writers fine-tune their plots, while You Can Write for Children: How to Write Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers offers great insight to beginning and intermediate writers.

Learn more at or her Amazon page, or check out her writing tips at her Write Like a Pro! blog.

1 comment:

  1. This is very helpful, Kris. Will save it for when I'm marketing--but I'll start thinking about it now!!