I’ve been thinking a lot about creating author brands lately and how lost I felt a couple of years ago when I didn’t have one. I believe an author brand is important for writers to communicate to readers who you are, what you value, and what your books or writings are about.
It’s an unfortunate word because it implies we authors are commercial businesses rather than people, but then again, we do want to sell books, don’t we? So yes, we are people rather than businesses but in order to share our books with the world, we need to show potential readers quickly what they’ll get if they journey with us via buying and reading our books. And because we can’t meet each reader and have a two-hour long chat, we need to show them quickly through a few brief sentences, colors, symbols, images, etc., in short, all the things that make up a brand.
Where to Start
But what is your brand? Do you have any idea? I didn’t. I knew I’d always done two things over the course of my life again and again: wrote and gardened. But that didn’t translate into a look, a feel, revealing info about me or my life. They were simply two interests.
I’ve talked on this blog before about an incredibly useful book I found called Brand Yourself Royally in 8 Simple Steps by Nancy Blanton. I truly discovered my brand with this book. It has excellent questions and exercises for authors struggling to figure out why they write and why they write the kinds of books they do. It’s simple and short. I recommend it highly.
Pinterest Magically Knows
Another tool I used after reading Blanton’s book was Pinterest. Why? Because I needed to nail down in even more detail what I was about. The visual representations in particular. The great thing about Pinterest is as you use it, you don’t even realize you’re figuring out yourself. Their algorithms for one’s personal taste are crazy, even diabolically, sophisticated.
So I set up an account and started surfing. Because I’ve always written and always gardened, I started by creating a Gardening board. This led to a feed of pretty gardens and as you can guess, I clicked on the ones that drew me in. That led to ancillary photos of gates, birdbaths, etc. As I clicked through those, I learned I was interested only in antique iron gates that had ornate patterns, birdbaths that were traditional, and gardens with flowers of purple, blue, magenta, and orange. Colors that mostly blended harmoniously together. I was a more romantic gardener. Though I always knew that, I now saw what exact images reflected that taste and discovered words that I could attach to me: antique, traditional, romantic, harmonious.
Brand Colors and Fonts Discovery
Because I clicked on flowers, Pinterest fed me bouquets. I was drawn to bouquets that looked like old paintings of still lifes. Because I saved those, Pinterest slotted more into my feed and I discovered I loved how the flowers’ bright colors and green stems popped against dark, even black, backgrounds. And so, on my website, you can see I chose the brand colors of black, green, and assorted purples and magentas. (What’s so cool too is Dionne, our Magnolia Press designer, included all of those in my book cover.)
In addition to gardening and flowers, photos of home interiors featuring flowers started appearing. I clicked on rooms that featured old furniture, bookcases, cut flowers, and antiques — similar to the things in my real life home. But as I clicked on more of those photos, I realized I loved the old and romantic but also the clean and tidy. I liked the modern feel of a sparse room but the warmth of an antique lamp or velvety sofa. So two new words entered into my brand vocabulary: clean, modern. And believe it or not, through this work I found the fonts for my website: Cinzel, Lustria and Montserrat, a combo of traditional and modern lettering.
Not a Web Designer, Just an Author
Now, a trained, educated marketing person will think this is pretty basic stuff. In fact, it may seem amateurish, but it’s what I found that works for me. I don’t have time or money to get a thorough marketing education, but I have read some good marketing books. And I learned that if an author doesn’t know where to start in building a website, Pinterest can easily help you discover the distinct tastes that make you you. Plus, you’ll have a fun time doing it!
To see more of my Pinterest boards, including Paris, my Seattle garden, favorite book covers, dark forests, and other things I dream about, click here.