As an author in a very competitive and ever-changing industry it is vital to have cohesive and creative branding across the board and to consider rebranding if needed. Everything from your website to your promotional materials should tell your story and remind your readers of your work. We’re here to walk you through every aspect of your platform that should be considered while you are strategizing your “brand” for 2016 and beyond.
The popular idiom is “don’t judge a book by its cover,” but despite how true it might be idealistically, the reality of the book industry is that the majority of readers do use the book cover as a deciding factor when choosing whether or not they will buy and enjoy the book. The cover is not only a billboard for the book but is also, in a way, the first page of the story. It depicts the style and mood of the overall book and engages readers from afar. Be vocal as an author when it comes to your book cover to make sure your designer and publisher understand you and your story, because we’ve seen a book cover make or break a book launch.
Check out these 7 successful elements of a book cover and few of the book covers we are loving right now:
The truth is, every author needs a great headshot. The quality of your headshot may seem insignificant, but we can assure you that the face you put alongside your work matters. Your headshot gives readers a visual to attach to your book, so an unfocused and unprofessional photo might imply that the work inside was also left unpolished.
Be sure to take the following into consideration when taking your author head shots:
- Hire a professional
- Think about wardrobe
- Consider the genre of your work
- Don’t be afraid to break the rules
- Make your surroundings seasonal
- Have several photos to choose from
Website & Blog Branding
Your website and blog should be a direct reflection of who you are, who your audience is and should portray your voice. Everything from your header to your site design should be created with your book cover, themes, and overall voice and brand in mind.
A few trends to keep in mind while you are diving into your blog content strategy which will also help your brand and discoverability:
The sky is the limit: First there was blogging, then micro-blogging, then just tweeting. Things kept getting shorter! But, experts agree: say goodbye to 140 character limits. There is a ton of opportunity for long-form content on social media and content platforms. Keep this in mind while you are writing your weekly blog posts.
SEO is all the rage: It is important to consider SEO from the very beginning. Before you are writing your content, be sure that you are doing keyword research. It is important to strategize everything from your blog title to your URL when you are publishing content.
Your website isn’t going to do anything for you unless you are committed: It is important to keep your site and blog up to date seasonally with fresh new content and new headers. Authors must stay committed to refreshing their homepage with new sliders, event updates, contests, while also keeping in mind that the blog should be updated at least a few times per month.
Newsletters are a vital piece in the author branding and platform puzzle for several reasons like communicating upcoming events, projects, and book promotions and doing so by a friendly in-box reminder that is branded, eye-catching and has a call-to-action to head over to your website for more. Book bloggers and loyal readers enjoy receiving your updates in their inbox every month so it’s your job to create aesthetically pleasing and creative newsletters that will catch their attention in a clear and simple way. Again, voice and brand are so important!
Social Media Presence: Personal Profile vs Fan Page
Confused on whether you should promote your book on your personal Facebook profile vs. an author page? Here are three reasons why every author must have an author page.
- A Facebook page allows you to keep track of your insights and analytics. You can track where your audience is, who they are, and how frequently they engage with your posts. This is a great way to build strategy and know when and where to connect with your readers.
- Keep your fan base in one place. Although you might have fans all around the world, it is rewarding to be able to communicate to all of them at the same time. This is a great place to share teasers to future projects, book excerpts, book contests, and your writing experience. Create a plan for what your audience enjoys most, and watch your engagement numbers and page likes shoot through the roof.
- Stay accessible to everyone. Author fan pages are accessible to everyone on the web, regardless if they have Facebook accounts or not. This is an awesome way to post special content or links. Create custom content that your audience can like, share, and enjoy with their friends without it being overly promotional.
It is key that everything from the graphics you post on your page to your cover photo is cohesive with your overall brand. Your cover photo should reflect your available book(s) or future projects to increase excitement and recognition of your brand.
Here are a few Facebook Author Page Covers we’ve created that we are head over heels for:
Promotional memes are just as important as cover photos. Keep in mind that these graphics can be shared and boosted to people that don’t already follow you or know about your book/brand. This means it’s extra important to be sure to keep the copy quick and snappy and the design should reflect the look and feel of the book you’re promoting.
3 Key tips for creating promotional memes:
- Keep it short and sweet: Facebook advertising only allows 20% of the image to contain copy. Keep the blurb or callout very short and sweet and to the point.
- Include a call to action: It is important that the Facebook user receiving this post knows exactly what to do when viewing the post. Should they preorder, buy, or share?
- Include the book cover: This is what the reader will remember most about your promotion. Be sure to make the book cover front and center to make it easy for the reader to find it during their next trip to Barnes & Noble.
While planning a book tour or book event it is crucial to have a theme and design that will encourage readers and fans to join you for a reading and signing. Creating an event page on your website or Facebook page can be a great way to promote invitation graphics, share photos from each event, and provide a shareable link for fans to promote your event.
Bookmarks & Postcards
Now that you’ve planned your book event it’s important to bring something that your readers can keep and remember forever. The most effective promotional materials are the ones that serve a purpose. Bookmarks and Postcards are important to have for readers and fans to take home a piece of you and your book — it’s rare for readers to get to meet the authors that they love, and branding materials are a keepsake from that author-to-reader experience.
Share what you aspire to do with your brand in 2016 with us in the comments below!
Janay Lampkin is our Social Media Manager and lives for traveling and spending time with her close friends and family. Her free time is spent staying updated with all things related to social media, digital marketing, fashion, taking a yoga class, vintage shopping, searching for new shows on Netflix, or cheering on her favorite sports teams.