What Is an Author Brand?
What Is an Author Brand?
14 September 2021
An author brand is a powerful way to build a relationship between book and reader - and reader and author.
Here’s a quick example. When picking up a book by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the reader will likely have an idea of what the book will be like without reading the summary on the back.
If the reader knows F. Scott Fitzgerald, they understand the book will involve American excess of the Jazz Age. If they don’t know him as a writer, they likely recognize the name enough to know it is a classic.
Either way, the reader will either purchase that book with the understanding they hold or put the book back because of it. The reader could also buy the book knowing they will probably not like it but want to read something outside their usual comfort zone. Each of these scenarios clearly indicates one thing – F. Scott Fitzgerald has a recognizable author brand.
What Is a Brand?
Let’s take the 10,000-foot view approach by exploring what a brand is. A brand is the “Why.” It is the essence of a product, service, person, or company. A brand is a look, vibe, experience, connection, and/or desire behind the “Why” which causes a person to engage with the product, service, person, or company.
Yes, this explanation is abstract, but the essence of a brand often is very abstract. One of my favorite questions to ask people is, “What is one brand that you are a life-long lover of – and why?” If you walk into a gas station looking for a drink, and you see a line of five different caramel-colored sodas, which one would you pick up? And again, the follow-up question is – why that one?
People engage with brands every day without genuinely noticing it. We make subconscious, biased choices in everyday decisions. Be honest now, is that morning drive to fetch your favorite coffee simply out of habit? Is it just because of the way the coffee tastes? Or is part of it the quaint corner the building stands on? Or perhaps you also enjoy the familiarity of the people who greet you. What would your reaction be if the company that sells your favorite pair of jeans decided to discontinue them? I would grieve.
A brand is more than a logo, and it is more than the tagline or colors used on a website. A brand is a story that hits every one of your senses in some capacity. It’s an experience.
How Do I Find My Author Brand?
If you aren’t sure what your author brand is or if it’s even a thing you could have, I promise that you already have the making of one without even knowing it. Bold statement? No. Seriously, I promise that you have an author brand. We might have to dig a bit to bring it out, but it’s certainly there. So here are some fun questions to help stir that pot.
- Do you gravitate to a single genre when writing? Yes? Awesome, we’re already laying a foundation on branding! No? Also awesome, we’re already laying a foundation on branding! (Tricky, I know – bear with me!)
- Is there a particular place you like to write?
- What’s your favorite season of the year?
- Do you listen to music as you write? What kind? Or do you listen to something else? Or nothing?
- What inspired your desire to write and become an author? Even if there are 10,000 writers whose grandmothers inspired them to become writers, each of those 10,000 writers had a grandmother with her own particular home and memorable meal. And therefore, those 10,000 writers still have unique author brands even with the “same” inspiration.
- What does your favorite room in your home look like?
I could ask questions like these all day long, but a brand usually starts to formulate pretty early on when asking these kinds of questions. So let’s start here and see if we can put some meat on these bones.
Here are some of my answers:
- Do you gravitate to a single genre when writing? Historical fiction. It’s where my mind lives.
- Is there a particular place you like to write? Somewhere tidy and comfy.
- What’s your favorite season of the year? Autumn. Sweaters. Hot drinks. The smell of the leaves changing and the feeling of that crispness in the air. And I know that peace, rest, and quiet are on their way.
- Do you listen to music as you write? I listen to calm music from movie soundtracks when I work. I usually don’t listen to anything when creative writing unless I need inspiration for an action scene – then hit me with the dramatic soundtracks!
- What inspired your desire to write and become an author? I’ve admired all the adventures books have provided me since I was a young child. Perhaps, as a result, my mind is in a perpetual daydream. And I aspire to return the favor by offering adventures of my own for someone else to one day enjoy. Reading is the most wonderful tradition that I could ever fathom existing. I find the irony tickling that it is a silent task and yet ironically full of words. And I simply want to be a part of it.
- What does your favorite room in your home look like? My living room. It has shelves and shelves of books. There are paintings on the wall that are filled with scenes of the places I’ve traveled. The décor is eclectic and full of odds and ends that I’ve picked up over the years. Treasures from around the world. A rug from the middle east. A German Bible from the 1800s. A wooden chest built by my great-uncle. My coffee table is a bamboo box that opens to reveal a collection of fluffy, comfy blankets. And the seating is not at all centered around the tv.
Now, consider these answers as you scroll up and look at the Wild Lark Books logo. Does it fit? I really hope so!
The best part about branding is that you don’t have to think about it if it’s done well. It’s already a part of you; we just get to put some definition to it.
What Is the Benefit of an Author Brand?
Just like with F. Scott Fitzgerald, an author brand builds an immediate connection between you and your audience. It’s something that audiences can come back to repeatedly knowing what to expect and because they crave the interaction you provide.
Author brands do not require writers to pigeonhole themselves into a particular style of writing or even genre. But how odd would it be to pick up a romance novel by Stephen King? Actually, I absolutely would simply out of curiosity. But again, it builds a level of comfort with your readers. So then, you move from world-building in a book to world-building in a digital format. Fonts and color schemes lead to layouts and graphics until a brand is built that reflects the author and creates a world around you – the artist. After all, you are the living, breathing brand.
Would it come as a surprise if I said that there are zero pieces of clothing with bright colors in my closet? Exactly. It wouldn’t be very “on brand.”
Brands are still rather abstract and can be hard to see when you are at the center of them. Your presence as an author should be just as enticing as the words you put onto paper, which is why Wild Lark Books helps define our writers’ author brand. Books allow people to communicate in profound, fascinating ways. Still, you deserve to be celebrated as the one who wrote it.