Build Your Brand

Writing a book is hard. Selling it is bloody harder.

Most of the authors we connect with do a wonderful job with regard to the above. But like most creators, they fail to realize that, that is just the first half of the journey. Once you have identified a publisher, and the book is set to release, the second half of the journey begins. This is, in fact, the real journey for this where you find your readers. Without a reader, there is no book. Believe us, this requires more patience, ideation and focus than actually writing the book! At least, that is what authors feel once they are in the grind. We believe, in current times, it is not about marketing a book but about building a brand. Almost all successful Indian authors you can think of have invested time, energy, creativity and their own hard-earned money into building their brands.

Over the years, guiding hundreds of all kinds of authors, we have realized that a systematic approach towards building your own brand is more rewarding.

Before you embark on this journey of building your brand as an author, you have to understand that this is not about selling your book, nor is it about promoting your book. This article is categorical in terms of its goal, it wants you to stop being a salesman of your book, it wants you to be a brand in yourself; a brand that goes beyond this book or that book. It marks a lifelong journey that will make your fans, readers and critics pine for you. Believe us when we say this, you cannot do without it.

Step 1:

From a thinker to a Brand CEO:

The first step is an introspective exercise. This looks trivial, but a thorough self-analysis will reveal that you haven’t actually made up your mind when it comes to building your brand. You are still focused on selling your book. You want to see sales figures! Wait. Rather, stop! Sit back and think. From the research we conduct at Pirates, at stores or through customer feedbacks, we have realized that an author's brand value is a more influential decision maker than the subject of the book. This is not so intuitive, but a repeated book by a known author does better than a catchier subject.

So, where does this take us? Once your book is with Quignog or Pirates, you need to start focusing on building yourself as a brand. Once you are willing to take focused steps in doing so, you have overcome a big threshold. And that is your step 1. Now you are the CEO of the company called 'yourself' and each book that you have written or will write in the future, each communication you do through media, blog, videos, audio, graphic, etc shall be stamped by your impression. Your company needs to be communicative and well promoted.

Step 2:

About you:

Every company has an about-us, vision statement and USPs (unique selling points).
  • The author Bio (About me) is your most important pitch. It will be there everywhere; on your book, on your blog, on your website, on all platforms you reach out at. Most authors either write only snippets of facts, or treat it as a resume, or sometimes make it too vague and generic. They don’t realize the power of this small paragraph, and how much it can communicate about the Brand-You. Write a short and a long author bio. The short one should be around 50 words and the long one around 200 words. It should be crisp, innovative and exhibit a distinct personality trait. It should mention your biggest strength or achievement which defines you and your work. This bio should be consistent and regularly updated. The point we are making here is that you need to make sure you invest a significant time, energy and effort in coming up with your profile.
  • Web Presence (blog, goodreads, facebook, amazon author pages, twitter andinstagram accounts): Take your brand everywhere. Once you are clear about your brand message, take it to every platform. Selected photographs of yours, all your media articles, your views on writing, on your stories –your style should be expressed in the words and images. Keep it simple but talk to your audience. Be accessible and communicate comfortably. Provide interesting content, photos, and humor in your posts on your social media sites. If all you do is promote your book you will not be able to maintain interest in the long run. All your social media accounts should be active and you need to engage regularly. Join readers groups, writers groups, and book clubs in social media and interact with other authors and readers. Everything you share and express should be consistent and work towards highlighting your brand communication. Your website, whether an independent oneor one on your publisher's page, should have details of all your promotional activities, your social media links and a lot of relevant photographs. Websites act as media centre for you, as your press-release platform and as your social media center too. Keep it dynamic and active. Forums are another very important focus area. Spend good amount of time on the web to seek forums which are relevant to the book you have written or the subjects that connect to you. Every field has at least one or two forums that people interested in your subject know and read. Find and join these forums. Contribute to them freely. Give advice and reach out. Offer to help others. Put a link to your blog or website in your signature line. Never overdo sharing your point-of-sale links anywhere. All the positive engagement that you have built would look like a sale gimmick. Be a genuine brand ambassador to your book, and not a salesman.
  • Good Photos: Your photos, your books' photos and of various events that you participate at, should be on your website.

Step 3:

Reach Out:

Do you think that’s too much for a traditional, no-fuss author like you? Think about the famous authors around you. They haven’t become what they are by staying in their own worlds. Reach out! Authors find this to be the most difficult thing according to our experience. And the easiest if you get on to it. Follow our advice and you will be able to bridge the most crucial gap that exists between a successful author and an author lost in the crowd. Design a beautiful letterhead which mentions your website and your book's name, your contact details and all your social media links. Write to as many influencers as you can. This can be done online and offline. Try and meet these influencers in person. Meeting in person is still the most powerful way to take a relationship ahead. Reach out, exchange emails and then follow up with a meeting. Follow it up further by sending postal mails, appreciating the mutual interaction and, if possible, with a personalized signed copy of your book. You will build relations for lifetime and they will always be mutually rewarding. List of influencers includes media houses, journalists, bloggers, social media influencers, book clubs, book reading groups, other members of the publishing community, celebrities of all sorts, politicians, etc. This is a wide board to work on, and more the hard work you put in, the better it is. Do this exercise systematically. Make a list of people you know who qualify as influencers. Keep a record of the engagement you have been having with them. Keep widening the list. Keep deepening the engagement. Don’t forget, be genuine.

Step 4:

Promote Yourself:

Every promotional exercise you do, whether paid or unpaid, has two key objectives. One is to promote the product you are selling like your book. The other is to display the Brand You. As we have repeatedly said above, you need to make sure that your brand is the key to most other objectives. So never give it second priority. Run ads linking your website instead of the amazon page of your book. Boost on facebook not just links of your book but articles that showcase you. Attend events that value you as a celebrity. If you hire a PR agent, which you will in time to come, that is your brief.

Step 5:

Multiply your mileage:

This is again an often neglected field. We have often seen people falling short at this vital last leg of the journey. Whenever you get visibility on the web or in the media, you need to make sure that you take that visibility to as many people as possible. That multiplicative effect will bring rewards to the initial visibility you got. Use the media mention on all your social pages. Put it on your website. Share that with the set of influencers who could value that.

Summarily put, you build your brand. Then you design a story around yourself or participate in an existing story. Then you take this brand and the stories to influencers. After that the influencers will talk about you. Once they do, you talk about their talking about you. This talking will create ripples. Which will add up to a viral wave.