Tag Archives: Author Brand

What’s Your Writing Brand?

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What’s Your Writing Brand?

People will tell you that in order to market your creative work, you need a brand. So, what’s a brand[1]?

  • According to the American Marketing Association, a brand is a “feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.”
  • Donna Antonucci says, “Brand is a known identity of a company in terms of what product and services they offer but also the essence of what the company stands for in terms of service and other emotional, nontangible consumer concerns.”
  • Jay Baer says, “Branding is the art of aligning what you want people to think about your company with what people actually do think about your company. And vice-versa.”
  • Paul Biedermann says, “A brand is the essence of one’s own unique story.”
  • Lisa Buyer says, “A brand is created and influenced by people, visuals, culture, style, perception, words, messages, PR, opinions, news media and especially social media. Like when a child is born and given a name, a brand needs nurturing, support, development and continuous care in order to thrive and grow.”
  • Margie Clayman says, “Branding is the encapsulation of a company’s mission statement, objectives, and corporate soul.”
  • Heidi Cohen says, “A brand creates perceived value for consumers through its personality in a way that makes it stand out from other similar products.”
  • Gini Dietrich says, “Branding is the identity of a product or service. It’s the name, the logo, the design, or a combination of those that people use to identify, and differentiate, what they’re about to buy. A good brand should deliver a clear message, provide credibility, connect with customers emotionally, motivate the buyer, and create user loyalty.”
  • Ashley Friedlein says, “Brand is the sum total of how someone perceives a particular organization.”
  • Seth Godin defines brand as “the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”

Oh joy. Easy peasy. Coming up with an author brand should be a snap.

A lot of the time, an author’s brand is connected to their genre. You think of Stephen King, you think horror. Nora Roberts, romance. George R.R. Martin, fantasy.

But what if you write in more than one genre? That’s trickier. You need a focus that spans genre.

Think of the projects you’re working on. Who are the people who will want to read your books?

I love books that have an art tie-in, like Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier. The artwork pulls me in.

My still-unfinished mystical fantasy, The Unicornologist, has a tie-in to the Unicorn Tapestries in The Met Cloisters in New York City. They captured my imagination when I was in high school and haven’t let go. I was born to write a unicorn book; it will be my magnum opus.

Not everything I’m working on has an obvious art tie-in, but the main character in my mystery is a piano teacher. It wouldn’t be hard to weave a little bit of creativity and art into any storyline.

When I started my blog, I wanted it to reflect my brand. That’s why ARHtistic License focuses on the arts and the creative process. Also, I knew I’d be able to generate content along those lines, since art and music and crafts and creativity are my greatest interests. I want to build a following among all kinds of art lovers—musicians, puppeteers, dancers, doodlers, quilters, crocheters, freelance writers. They’re my peeps. My blog is a tool to help me connect with other people like me.

By the way, did you ever wonder about the weird spelling of my blog name? Do you think I did that by accident?

When I applied for my domain, artisticlicence.com was already taken. I was heartbroken. I loved that name. Then I thought about how I could modify it, make it mine with a minor tweak. My maiden name is Rannertshauser, and I use R as my middle initial. Sometimes I write my name as ARHuelsenbeck, especially when I’m submitting a piece of writing. So I came up with ARHtistic License as the name for my blog. (I could have used ARHuelsenbeck, Author, but I don’t have a book in print yet, so it felt like cheating.)

Now it’s your turn. Do you have a writing brand (or a brand for your artwork or your music or creative endeavor)? What is it, and how are you building it? Share in the comments below.


[1] Thank you to Heidi Cohen for collecting these and many more definitions of brand.

Guest Post: 3 Marketing Strategies Literary Agents and Editors Love to See; by Web Design Relief

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This article has been reprinted with the permission of Web Design Relief.  Whether you’re just starting out or a best-selling author, Web Design Relief will improve your existing website or build you an affordable, custom author website to support your author platform, boost your online presence, and act as a hub for your social media outreach. Web Design Relief is a division of Writer’s Relief, a highly recommended author’s submission service. Sign up for their free e-publication for writers, Submit Write Now! Visit the site today to learn more.

There’s only one thing literary agents and editors enjoy more than discovering great unpublished writing: discovering great unpublished writing that’s backed by an author who is an enthusiastic self-starter.

But what exactly do literary agents love to see in a new client? How can a writer do more than merely promise enthusiasm for book marketing?

Believe it or not, there are three simple marketing strategies that can make a huge difference for writers even before they get a book published.

Lay the foundation for your future as a successful author right now, even before you start seeking publication.

Here’s how.

Writers: Three Marketing Tactics To Implement Before You Seek Book Publication

First: Define Your Author Brand

A writer with a well-defined, recognizable brand is a writer who can expect to build an audience that will buy book after book for years to come. But how can writers build their brands even before getting published?

Simple. Learn the core concepts of author brand development and how this strategy can work for you.

A strong writer brand starts with the author’s online personality and builds a focused outreach campaign based on the author’s select literary interests.

In other words, who you are as a writer—and what you love to write—makes up the spine of your author brand. With focused effort, a writer with strong, specific branding will develop a unique voice and style that pervade book after book, delivering on the “promise” of the brand with each new title so that readers can expect stories of a consistent quality. A writer’s social media posts, marketing materials, and writing all reflect the core tenets of the author’s brand.

But a word of caution: Writers may have a natural tendency to love many sorts of books written in many different styles, but a strong writer brand is usually only big enough for focusing on a single selected genre. Writers who hop around among genres tend to take on different pen names for each style of book—but that means marketing each pen name with “new author” status and building a readership from the ground up for each new book.

How will agents and editors know you have a well-planned author brand? You can certainly bring up the details of your plans and strategies in conversation. But you can also hint at them in your query letter.

Second: Have A Fabulous Author Website

New writers often wonder: What is the point of having an author website if there are no books to sell, no publishing credits to brag about, and—generally speaking—nothing to offer potential fans?

Friends, let our years of publishing experience AND web design smarts reassure you: New writers are as much in need of great websites as established veterans. Here’s why creating a website before publication can be a benefit to literary agents, editors, readers—and, of course, to you.

  • A well-designed author website shows that you’re actively paving the way for the future—a future that you’re willing to invest in. And if a writer is meaningfully investing, agents may find it easier to follow suit. After all, an author website shows that the writer has a strong expectation of publishing success—as opposed to a vague hope that someday, something good will happen. I’m going to be great at this, the subtext screams. So why not start now?
  • An author website with integrated social media feeds, a sign-up form for email subscribers, and freebies that encourage connections with fans makes it clear that you are READY to build your readership. Plus, having fan-building functionality on your author website may surprise you: You might find more people than you ever imagined are signing up to learn about your writing. But you won’t know who might become a fan until you give them the opportunity.
  • An author website lets you tell your personal story—which is HUGE for personal marketing and branding. If you’re a new writer, your author’s bio page gives you the ability to show industry pros that you’re dedicating real effort to the craft of writing by taking classes, attending conferences, and soaking up knowledge like a bookish sponge. Even if a writer has no publication credits yet, an author website is a chance to show that it’s only a matter of time.
  • Creating an author website makes you googleable—when literary agents and editors type your name into a search engine, something will actually come up. Read more: How Writers Can Be More Googleable (So People Can Find Your Writing Online) | Web Design Relief.
  • Not having a website seems shortsighted and passive. Literary agents and editors expect their writers will be active promotional partners. In fact, having an author website is as de rigueur as having a business card. Writers who don’t have author websites imply that they are simply not interested in promotion.

If you don’t have a website yet, be sure to hire a company that truly understands your goals as a creative writer and how those goals matter within the larger publishing industry. Start by checking out Web Design Relief.

Read more:

Unpublished Writers: Strategies For Creating An Impressive Author Website | Web Design Relief

How To Help Your Author Website Designer “Get You” And What You Want | Web Design Relief

In your query letter, be sure to tell literary agents to visit your author website so they can get to know you as a writer. Instead of including a basic URL address, try: If you’d like to learn more about me, see pictures from my research and travels, or check out my popular blog posts, visit my website: URL here.

Third: Create A Foundation For Social Media Success

If you enjoy posting new pictures and thoughts on social media, count yourself lucky. You’ve got a natural advantage when it comes to marketing and promotion. You’re probably already out there sharing the ups and downs of your publishing journey and inviting potential fans into your life—and that’s exactly what literary agents and editors love to see from writers.

And here’s a secret about social media for writers: It doesn’t matter whether you have fifty Facebook friends or five hundred.

What matters is your attitude: invigorated, enthusiastic, and active. You’re already laying the foundation for a thriving community of fans, friends, and followers. And this counts big when literary agents are assessing your potential success as an online personality who can command a large fan base of readers.

But if you’re the type of writer who would rather be writing books than social media posts—who breaks out in hives just thinking about sharing any information on social media—take heart in knowing that you’re not alone.

Let’s address some common insecurities (and a few straight-up excuses) that tend to hold people back from developing a strong online social media platform.

Excuse: There’s no point in trying to gather ANY fans since it’s so difficult to gather LOTS of them.

The truth: Literary agents prize the quality of your social interactions more than they care about the quantity. A writer with 5,000 friends who rarely interact doesn’t have more marketing power than a writer with only fifty friends who actively engage regularly.

Excuse: Social media is only for young people who care about frivolous things.

The truth: Though social media is certainly popular among students, older generations of adults are also active online. In fact, the majority of people who use the Internet are using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and similar platforms. And though cat videos are perennial favorites, posts that have more poignancy or substance are welcome too. Writers can choose how to make social media their own. Learn more: Tips For Targeting Older Demographics On Social Media.

Excuse: I’m worried about posting anything personal online—it’s not safe.

The truth: It’s possible to post information that isn’t personally revealing but is still engaging and interesting. All it takes is a little creativity and an eye for intriguing, sharable content. Read more: Safety Tips For Social Networking: A Writer’s Guide To Staying Safe Online.

Even if you don’t have a huge following yet as a writer, working with what you already have puts you in a great place to expand and grow.

In your query letter, you can brag to literary agents about big numbers of fans and followers if you have them. But equally as powerful is this simple statement: I’ve been active on social media and am looking forward to continuing to grow my following.

Build An Author Platform That Will Give Your Book Every Advantage

You only get one chance to make a first impression. Take the time to build a marketing infrastructure now, and you might see a bigger payoff when you do finally submit your book for publication.

And remember, we’re here to help!

Question for writers: Which of these marketing strategies seems simplest to implement? Which seem hardest?

Guest Post: How to Revamp your Author Persona and Grow your Fanbase, by Web Design Relief

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This article has been reprinted with the permission of Web Design Relief.  Whether you’re just starting out or a best-selling author, Web Design Relief will improve your existing website or build you an affordable, custom author website to support your author platform, boost your online presence, and act as a hub for your social media outreach. Web Design Relief is a division of Writer’s Relief, a highly recommended author’s submission service. Sign up for their free e-publication for writers, Submit Write Now! Visit the site today to learn more.

It’s the start of a new year! What better time to give your brand identity a facelift? The experts at Web Design Relief know that a fresh approach to your online author persona can help you achieve your goals as a writer, increase the size of your fan base, and find the right voice for your author website and social networks.

5 Ways To Revitalize Your Author Website And Online Presence

Make A List: Check out your favorite authors and how they portray their personas online; then create a list of the qualities you want to exemplify through your online activity. You’ll be able to use it as a reference every time you make a website update or put up a new post. This will help you maintain consistency and develop your author brand.

Watch Your Words: Because almost all of our online communication is through text on websites and social media, your words and phrasing are incredibly important. Whether you are trying to appear friendlier, more approachable, or dark and mysterious—adjust your word choice to uniformly reflect this and stay on brand. Your blog updates and social media posts should all sound like they were made by the same person. Here’s what Neil Gaiman has to say about writing in your own voice.

Change Your Imagery: The images you use to engage with your fans online are also key elements of your author persona. Consider Instagram: Successful Instagram accounts tend to focus on a theme. Your theme should relate to your books or the genre in which you write. Make sure your images embrace your overall author brand, are high quality, and are tasteful!

Engage, Engage, Engage: Any author who’s been reaping the benefits of online success is one who actively engages with fans, friends, and followers. Be sure to answer questions, respond to messages, and acknowledge comments so that your visitors and supporters feel heard. Keep all of your responses kind, courteous, and as interesting as possible. Remember to interact in the same way you’d want your favorite author to respond to you! An active social presence will keep fans and followers returning to your accounts.

And if you end up with a few trolls to deal with (it’s an unfortunate reality of the Internet today), here’s how to keep your cool and protect your online reputation.

Keep It Real: It’s vital to keep your online persona sociable and interesting, but that doesn’t mean you should over-embellish. Your fans will be able to tell if you are being inauthentic. Also, if you put on a performance or establish yourself as an incredible character, your marketing attempts might actually backfire and turn off your target audience. Instead, be the best version of yourself. By being genuine and thoughtful in what you share and write, you’ll create a realistic persona that can enhance your author brand.

Once you decide to revamp your online persona, be careful that you don’t overwhelm your followers with too many changes all at once. Gradually incorporate any new elements and strategies to your online usage, and success will follow.

Question: What is the most important element to update on an author website?