Things to think about when developing your Indie Author Brand

So you’re an indie writer, which probably means that you want to have independence and full ownership of your creative endevors.  For me, I also recognize that my fiction will appeal to a very small niche, so I doubt that the traditional publishing houses would want to invest in my work which I’m totally okay with.  Because I’m an indie writer, I have to do my marketing and sales as well.  If you do an internet search of marketing and sales, you’ll come across the ubiquitous term: BRANDING.  You may have heard people say, that’s off-brand.  What exactly is branding?  

Let’s back up for a second.  You may have gathered from the “About Me” or maybe my other posts that I hold a doctorate in psychology.  (No.  I’m not judging you.  I’m not trained in the judging-of-others psychology.  LOL.)  I bring this up because we are going to talk a little tiny, tiny bit about psychology here.  Nothing too technical or anything.  But just enough to have a building block to work with.  We are going to talk about identity for a second.  What is identity?  It is how you view yourself.  It is how others view you.  When we are talking about others, part of the reason people like to know your identity is so that they have a pretty good idea of what to expect from you.  If you promise something, will you most likely keep it?  If you go to the movies with someone, will you be on time?  Your identity would be decribed with words like reliable or honest.  When you’re talking about branding, you are also talking about an identity.  But this identity is not of a person but a product or source of products.  

In the case of an author, your brand is your promise to your readers to provide a particular kind of reading material.  Maybe you’re funny.  Maybe you write fantasy.  Maybe you write in different genres, but they are all insightful, funny, or whatever.  You can be many layered too.  You don’t have to be just funny or thrilling in your writing, but then that becomes your brand.  Your identity.  So the first  thing you should think about is “who are you?”  What genre are you (currently) writing in?

For me, I’m writing slice-of-life short reads.  I plan on writing fantasy at some point, but right now it’s slice-of-life short reads.  Why is this important?  Well, to establish my brand, I need to let potential readers know what to expect in my writing.  You can expect to feel the feels, to see main characters grow emotionally.  This type of story is often found in the so-called chick-lit genre.  Okay, so how do I let the readers know that they should expect something in the chick-lit genre at a glance?  Colors and typography.

If you do a search of (for example) chick-lit, you’ll find that there are certain fonts used and there are similar color palattes (collections of colors used on the cover) and even a certain ‘look.’  A look is the typography (fonts), colors, layout, images use (photos, drawings, no image?).  You can judge by the cover that it’s likely to be a chick-lit story.  (They say you shouldn’t, but we all do!)  These are called the coventions of the genre.  The conventions are the general prototype of how the book cover will look, much in the same way that there are conventions within a genre — a loosely agreed upon set of rules on how a story will function and things that you don’t need to explain.  (Like the existence of magic in fantasy.  You don’t have to write a treatise on the existence of magic and that magic can have real consequences in your story.  You just have to say, she used magic.)  So there are conventions that are used to visually communicate what the reader should expect from your story.

This goes for your promotion too.  When you are trying to get your name out there, you’re going to want to find your audience.  That’s really what promotion is.  Sending out an invitation to the world, hey, if you’re into … chick-lit (or whatever) … check out my story.  It’s a calling card, if you will.  So when you do social media, you will want to use the colors and fonts associated with your genre.  As one a way to announce what your genre is so that you can catch the attention of those who like it, and two, as a way to be associated with that genre.  So if a reader is in the mood for a story that gives you the feels (like what I’m aiming for), they may think… hey … that Michelle Raab writes the feels slice-of-life stories.  Maybe I should get one of hers.  You use what has already been established as this is a (fill-in-the-blank) type of story and use it as a way to communicate to say I am also writing that type of story.

So what are some things that you should think about:

  1. What is your genre?  What type of story are you promising?
  2. The visual communicates as much as words do.
  3. What are the colors and fonts associated with that genre?
  4. Use the same or similar fonts and colors for your book covers and social media images.  

Was this helpful?  Do you agree? Disagree?  What are your thoughts on branding?  If you have any questions about this, let me know in the comments or send me an email!

Happy creating!

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3 thoughts on “Things to think about when developing your Indie Author Brand

  1. I completely agree with you on all of this! When publishing The Inner Corner, I made sure to keep in mind what other authors have done with all of their work that are all in my relative genre. I definitely think that the hardest part about it is to try to stay unique and not look like a ripoff and still stay on brand.

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