How to build your author brand

Abidemi Sanusi
Feb 29, 2016 · 7 min read
Abidemi Sanusi abidemitv square logo
Abidemi Sanusi abidemitv square logo author brand logo

Your author brand is essentially what makes you, you. It is your writing style, your voice. It’s what makes your readers say out loud when they’re reading your work: ‘That’s classic (insert your name).’

Some writers struggle with the term author branding, because they think it means that they’re being typecast, or even worse, being made to fit into a creative box, which they do not want. They think that it is limiting; but that’s not necessarily true.

Why authors should be more like Adele

When people buy an Adele album, they expect ballads. They expect songs that thrill and move the soul in equal measure. In short; they expect a soulful, emotionally uplifting experience.

That’s Adele’s musical brand. Her voice, songs and lyrics are a part of that brand.

In Britain, she has officially crossed the line from global superstar to ‘national treasure’. This is because of her personality. In her interviews and social media updates, she comes across as the girl next door. Someone you can sit down and have a cup of tea with; ‘a nice proper chat’, to use the British parlance. Her fans and even, detractors, admit that her public and personal persona are one and the same; the same Adele you see cussing and laughing on chat shows and social media is the same one you’ll encounter in her private moments (yes, I’m HUGE a fan).

All these aspects of Adele (the voice, personality and albums — her work) are what make her Adele; that’s her personal brand. She is authentic and people love that. It is also this authenticity that makes people feel connected to her.

Learn about personal branding from your creative counterparts — musicians

In reality, there’s little difference between an author’s personal branding and their musical counterpart. I would go as far as to say that authors have a lot to learn from musicians.

When people buy an album, they have an expectation from the musician. That expectation is the musician’s promise to the fan, that they should expect a thrilling musical experience. In physical and commercial terms, the musician’s persona (their brand) also consists of their logo, merchandise, album covers and many more. Their logo is the embodiment of their brand and what sets them apart from other musicians. It is also displayed on their products and on all their platforms.

All these things are part of the musician’s personal brand, and part of their offering to the public.

The same goes for authors. When people buy your books, they are buying into your offering (your personal brand), which is your promise to them.

Abidemi Sanusi abidemitv square logo
Abidemi Sanusi abidemitv square logo square logo

What’s the point of author branding?

I just want to write my books and not be bothered by all this marketing twaddle.

That’s fair enough, but if you want to sell books, establish your expertise in non-fiction, or even, have a freelance writing career, then develop a personal brand you must, because you will need it to build your author platform (more on that later).

So, how do I develop my author brand?

Author branding does not happen overnight. As an author, it took me a while to develop my writing style (my voice), and even longer to develop Abidemi.TV, my online platform, all of which form part of my personal, and ultimately, author brand. However, there are some things that you can do to help you develop your author brand and build your author platform, right now.

Five ways to develop your author brand

If you are a traditionally published author you probably have a unique identity, which can be seen from your book covers, which also, incidentally is what makes you stand out from the marketplace.

  • Have a consistent style on your book covers

Take a look at these authors; you can see a certain uniformity and consistency in their book titles, logos and cover styles. In their own way, they tell you a lot about the authors and their genres, which are all part of their author branding.

Monica Lewycka

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, by Monica Lewycka
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, by Monica Lewycka
Two Caravans Marina Lewycka
Two Caravans Marina Lewycka
Various Pets Marina Lewycka
Various Pets Marina Lewycka

Gillian Flynn

Gillian Flynn, Sharp Objects
Gillian Flynn, Sharp Objects
Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl
Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl
Gillian Flynn, Dark Places
Gillian Flynn, Dark Places

Anthony Capella

Various Flavours of Coffee, Anthony Capella
Various Flavours of Coffee, Anthony Capella
Anthony Capella, The Wedding Officer
Anthony Capella, The Wedding Officer
Anthony Capella, The Food of Love
Anthony Capella, The Food of Love

If you are thinking of going down the self-publishing route, you can take inspiration from these authors and develop your own unique branding for your books. Try not to skimp on this; about 80% of book purchasing decisions are made by virtue of the book covers alone. So spend as much time as possible with your designer, discussing covers, logo and everything to go with your book.

Your discussions with your designer should centre on what you want to communicate to your readers about yourself and your book.

  • Create a logo

One aspect of developing your author brand is creating your logo. Again, think long and hard about what you want the logo to communicate to your audience about your brand. The following prompts should help you create your own logo, whether you’re launching a freelance career or establishing yourself as a subject matter expert (SME).

  • What are your values?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What are your competitors (or fellow authors’) branding like?
  • How will your logo help you attract new clients?
  • What is your tagline?
  • You’ll need a tagline

Your tagline is part of your personal brand and your business proposition. It demonstrates your expertise and also lets your audience know what to expect from you. For example, my old tagline was: ‘Writing | Photography | Food | Film’. It forms part of my logo and gives visitors a quick insight into what to expect from me/this website:


My new one is: Write better. Make more. Grow as a writer and as a business. I also updated the logo, because I wanted a strong, clean logo that inspired confidence in my target audience, without the distraction of the lines of the previous logo.

abidemitvwordpress1V1final-3 light
abidemitvwordpress1V1final-3 light

As a freelancer or SME, your tagline might be:

  1. Writing that converts
  2. I turn content into cash
  3. I ghostwrite books for leaders in finance and technology
  4. I help authors make money

These are just a few ideas. Beware: your tagline might take some time to take ‘root’. I messed around with quite a few, before finally settling down on ‘Writing | Photography | Food | Film’. The process took about a year and I’ve had to update it in keeping with the new focus of this website.

  • Start building your author platform with your author brand

This is not as hard as it sounds. Now that you have your logo, tagline and definite ideas about what your author brand is, it is time to start building your author platform; that is, your public stage.

You can start by doing the following:

  • Ensuring your logo is the same across your digital platforms (social media and website) and marketing materials:
  • Developing your messaging: this is what you want to communicate to your audience about you (your brand), and is usually done via your content (blog, social media updates and newsletters)
  • Be authentic

The most important thing about your author brand is that it should be authentic and should speak to the people you want to connect with. Don’t be pretentious; people don’t like that. I’ve spent quite some time with budding authors (and yes, they’re usually budding authors) who feel they have to be something other than what they are. This is usually reflected in:

  • Their writing, which can be pompous (they want to demonstrate their ‘intellectualism’)
  • Their faux personality: ‘arty’ clothes, ultra sensitivity to constructive criticism and refusal to ‘conform’ (‘I’m an artist; I can only write when the imagination takes me, so I’m allergic to deadlines’).

To sum up

Your author brand is not just some ‘marketing twaddle’. Done right, it can help you build your author platform and ultimately, help you meet your objectives; whether it’s selling more books, solidifying your credibility as a subject matter expect, or getting more clients as a freelancer.

Originally published at .

Abidemi Sanusi

Written by

Author. Nominated for Commonwealth Writers' Prize. Helps writers write better & make more. Write your first book:

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