Posts Tagged ‘Author Platform’

Author Branding – How Are You Different?

Part 1

By Jennifer Lovett Herbranson

It seems like everybody is talking about “author brand” these days. Do you remember when all we talked about was “author platform”? It’s the same thing but I think it’s much easier to understand and develop a brand than a platform, especially for a fiction author.

What makes you distinct from other writers?

Do you Stand Out?

While branding does include logos and slogans, the bulk of it is what you offer the reader. It’s how you are different and stand out. What makes you distinct from other writers in your genre? Why should anyone want to read your work as opposed to anyone else’s?

Agents and editors ask writers this question all the time. They are looking for something different and unique. But it’s difficult sometimes to figure that out for ourselves.

I recently attended a branding seminar by a consultant firm that had nothing to do with writing, and it finally all clicked.

This firm used Marty Neumeier’s book Zag to help explain one aspect of brand, and I think it gets to the heart of everything writers need to develop the answer to their “uniqueness.” I’ve tweaked it to be specifically for writers and it starts with five questions.

5 Questions to Branding

1 – What do you offer?

This is your genre. Be clear and specific about which genre you write in. Romance isn’t enough. If it’s romantic suspense or romantic sci-fi, then say so. If you write thrillers, determine exactly what kind – spy thrillers, international thrillers, domestic thrillers, etc..

2- How is it different?

This is the twist on your take of the genre. Again, be specific. How is your romantic suspense unique? How is your international spy thriller different? This is the element of your brand that is unique to itself.

3- Where is it set?

Location can really help you set yourself apart. If everyone is writing about LA, and you write about Chicago, that’s great news. Location also gives you lots of color and character for your brand.

4- Who is it for?

Be very specific about your audience. Who is your reader? Have you done a reader sketch yet? Time to get on that.

5- What is the current trend?

Understanding and articulating the current trend is the foundation for how you explain the way you stand out.
What is everyone else writing right now? Vampires? Great then you write werewolves.
Thrillers in the Soviet Union? Awesome, because you’re writing about them in China.

“Only” Statements

Now that you’ve answered all these questions. Put it together in your “only” statement. Here are a couple of examples to help you:

Example #1:

Dan Brown is the only thriller author writing Catholic-themed adventure stories set in Rome for action readers in an era when the market is saturated with Middle Easter terrorists’ thrillers.

Example #2:

Stephenie Meyer is the only young adult shifter romance author writing vampires and werewolves set in Washington State for teenagers in an era when the market is saturated with vampire-only romances.

Example #3: (ok, this is my group, but had to make a quick plug!)

Writer Nation is the only book marketing group for authors that espouses a marketing strategy where authors get to be writers first and marketers second in an era when the publishing industry is expecting them to do the bulk of their own marketing.

Once you’ve figured out your “only” statement. You have the foundation to build every other aspect of your author brand. More on those other aspects in Part 2, next week.


Jennifer Lovett Herbranson

Jennifer Lovett is the founder of Writer Nation, a podcast and Facebook group dedicated to helping writers market their work. With 19 years communications experience, she regularly writes on social media, internet marketing and face-to-face publicity.
She currently lives in South Korea and travels around Asia for fun.
You can find her on her WebsiteTwitter, and Instagram: @writernationjen

6 Lies You’ve Been Told About Your “Author Platform”

Jennifer Lovett Herbranson

Number, 1, One, Digit, Background, Scrapbooking

An Author Platform is Only for Nonfiction Authors

Get outta here! Platform is for everyone!

Ok, so it’s definitely easier for a nonfiction author because they already know what question they are trying to answer for their audience. All the information they’ve spent years learning through doing or academic rigor can be shared in droves. Nonfiction authors really need to organize and dose out their information strategically to keep the platform alive.

For fiction writers, however, a platform is simply what you offer your readers. What experience are you providing they can’t get elsewhere. Don’t say nothing because otherwise, why are you writing? Figure out what you offer your reader. Create a world around that online. That’s your platform. It isn’t a place. It’s your public persona and what you offer. You do this because people buy books from people they know or think they know. Let them get to know you.

Number, 2, Two, Digit, Background, Scrapbooking

You Have to Tell Readers Everything About You or They Won’t Like You

Why yes, you are amazing. But you have to tell them everything because information goes on the interwebs??? Uh, okay “eye roll.”

Your platform is about your reader and what you offer that reader. That’s it. It’s what YOU decide you want your readers to know, and they don’t need to know everything about your private life. Unless of course you become an overnight New York Times bestseller and all the media come banging on your door, digging through your trash and talking to your middle school Spanish teacher. Well, hey, every job has its downsides!

Seriously, figure out what you want your Public Persona to be. What do you want to offer the reader? I encourage authors to think of three things about themselves they are comfortable sharing with the world. I talk about Alabama football, world traveling and anything that has to do with the Karate Kid. Does this appeal to everyone? Nope. Does it have anything to do with my books? Again, nope. But it does allow potential readers to get to know part of me. Even better is these things are innocuous and don’t intrude on my private life.

Number, 3, Three, Digit, Background, Scrapbooking

You Can Build a Platform Without a Website

No you can’t.

You can build a platform without a blog but you can’t build a platform without a website. Sorry, but it’s just expected. Like having a colonoscopy when you’re 50. You just have to do it. The industry, the readers, the universe expects to find you at www.AUTHORYOU.com so just unplug your ears, and go ahead and build the site.

You only need to include a short bio section with a hi-res professional headshot, and your social media or buy links and a place to sign up for your author email. That’s it. It doesn’t have to be anything extensive. It just has to be. And it has to be professional looking. While it may not have much information, it does need to look like you’re taking your own writer career seriously. Use Wix, Weebly, SquareSpace or WordPress. (WordPress is the best for SEO and lead generation on Google searches.)

Number, 4, Four, Digit, Background, Scrapbooking

You Must Have a Million Followers

ONE. MILLION. FOLLOWERS! Sure, okay. You have a million followers who love you and found you organically online even though you opened your Instagram account….yesterday.

Ever since the industry got a clue that people could buy followers, this whole “how many followers” do you have thing isn’t as relevant anymore. What you need are engaged followers. People who actually comment, like and share your stuff. These people become fans who can become superfans. That’s what you need, so stop worrying about how many followers you don’t have, and create a genuine relationship with the ones you do have.

Number, 5, Five, Digit, Background, Scrapbooking

Setting up a platform can be done in 5 minutes a day

Yep, still eye rolling over here!

Anyone who tells you creating a platform can be done in only five minutes a day is a liar. To create a solid platform, a community for people online, you have to spend time doing it. There is no other way around it, and yes, it is worth it. When you are ready to launch a book, you’ll have people to launch it to.

Use a dashboard like Hootsuite (no longer free) or Buffer or TweetDeck to help you save time on social media or blogging. Schedule out posts as far out as you can.

Pick one social media platform to update. That’s it. Just one. These days Instagram is the best place to be but don’t discount other platforms that may work better for your genre. Spend time every day or every other day responding, liking, sharing.

Number, 6, Six, Digit, Background, Scrapbooking

Set Up a Platform AFTER The Book is Finished

No, no, nope, no, nope! 

You love your book, right? I know you do! Starting your platform after the book is finished is like coming home with a new baby and having no diapers. It’s like starting your race 15 minutes behind the pack. It’s like…like…I don’t know…like trying to start your car with no gas in it.

Look, the industry will tell you that you only need to write your second book and that’s good enough. Yeah, the industry will also tell you if you already have a following, you’re higher up on the list of maybes. Why wouldn’t you want every edge you can get?

If you’re going to publish indie, this is not even up for debate. You need to have a following. Give your readers progress reports, free scenes and snippets from the book or from your research, have your kid interview you on your writing process. If you’re a lawyer, provides case notes (without privacy info of course). If you’re a spy thriller writer, redacted case studies are fun. Do whatever you can to keep them hungry for your book. That way when you launch that book, they’ll be your biggest fans and can help sell it for you.


Jennifer Lovette Herbranson

Jennifer Lovett Herbranson is the founder of Writer Nation, a podcast and Facebook group dedicated to helping writers market their work. With 17 years communications experience, she regularly writes on social media, internet marketing and face-to-face publicity. She currently lives in South Korea and travels around Asia for fun. You can find her on her WebsiteFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest: @jennylovett