#1 Marketing Yourself: Author Branding… Huh?

I’ve lived long enough to have cycled through a few fads and buzzwords. The current use of the term “branding” has been around for nearly a decade. It used to mean burning your stamp into the hide of your livestock; now it’s burning your stamp into the minds of your consumers.

So – why, as authors, should we care?

Because if a reader likes a book you’ve written, they’ll buy another one regardless of the plot because they expect it to be similar in key points: your voice, your characterization, your plot components and resolution, etc. And if you deliver, they are happy. And then they’ll buy another. Most genre fiction books are purchased because they belong to a “brand.”

Before the concept of author branding, brands were thought of as simply genre fiction categories: Regency or Scottish romance, gothic mysteries, hard-boiled detectives, etc. Then came character loyalties: Nancy Drew, Star Trek, Sherlock Holmes. And author loyalties: Stephen King, Danielle Steel, Michael Crichton.

Then things began to evolve.

Nora Roberts wanted to switch genres (gasp!) so she had to write under a pseudonym: J.D. Robb. Of course, had she simply written as J.D. no one might have noticed. So her publisher lists her as “Nora Roberts writing as J.D. Robb.”


Because now, she’s a BRAND. When someone picks up one of her books in either genre they know – for better or worse – exactly what they’re getting. And because established brands sell, she gets a bookcase of her own in the increasingly small bookstore real estate. And only her photo is on the back – no story blurb. Because it’s Nora that sells.

Now let’s define what a brand is. Simply stated, it’s:

1. An author image that creates a connection with your readers.

2. A promise of consistent quality in your product.

3. An extra component that you offer, that one no one else does.

During the next few weeks, I am going to research the rather ephemeral concept of author branding as part of my new series on marketing, and I’ll share what I learn with you. I’m not being merely altruistic – I’m a new author “branding” myself! Have I mentioned here that “Norway is the new Scotland”?

And in publishing today, creating a recognizable brand will be critical to our future success. Publishers are in a panic, readers grow more savvy by the minute, and genre niches are both expanding and becoming more defined. We need to figure ourselves out and offer a consistent product linked to our AUTHOR name.

Come along for the ride! I promise it will be interesting.

2 Responses to “#1 Marketing Yourself: Author Branding… Huh?”

  1. 1 Tammy Gallant 03/05/2010 at 1:57 AM

    Looking forward to learning with you.

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