How to Build an Authentic Author Brand

by Manuela Williams
published in Community

Hey, writers! Today I want to talk about authentic author brand building. In other words: how can you establish yourself as a real human being, rather than as a robotic, faceless business? 

An author brand boils down to a couple key features: what sets you apart from other authors and, more specifically, what readers love about you. Perhaps most importantly, though, an authentic author brand is more than just a few buzzwords you throw up on your website. 

When you’re being authentic,and being true to yourself, you’re being 100% honest with yourself and your readers. An authentic author isn’t trying to be someone they’re not. Instead, they’re embracing the qualities that make them unique and, well, human! 

But how can you show your readers that you’re a human being instead of a faceless business? Read on for some tips!

1. Set Boundaries 

Before I go further, I do think it’s important to note that you should absolutely set boundaries for what you share online as part of your author branding strategy. Before setting up an author website, social media accounts, and even before sending out your first newsletter, it’s always a good idea to sit down and have an honest conversation with yourself about what you feel comfortable sharing with your readers. 

Some authors feel comfortable sharing more personal moments with their readers — weddings, births, graduations, and other important life milestones. Other authors may want to keep their private lives private — and that is completely okay! However, it’s important to determine exactly how much you’ll share before you begin the process of platform and brand building. 

2. Talk About What Matters To You (Besides Writing!)

Once you have a good handle on what you will and won’t share with your readers, take some time to think about what really matters to you — not just as a writer, but as a person. What are the things you’re passionate about? The things that jolt you awake in the middle of the night? The things that make you want to do a happy dance? The things that make you angry? All these things are important to consider, as they’re what set you apart from everyone else.

As writers, the actual process of writing can sometimes be something we’re very passionate about, however, it’s important to consider that discussions on the craft of writing might not always translate well into your particular author branding strategy. 

For example, although I am personally fascinated by the oxford comma debate, readers of my romance novella might not be. So, this particular “passion” of mine might not be the best thing to share in newsletters or on social media. However, there are other things that matter to me outside of the writing world that I can share in order to show that I’m a unique human being: my love of cats, cooking, an appreciation for anything wine-related…the list goes on!

Ultimately, the goal of building an authentic author brand is to create something that is human. In other words, you are not just a faceless business trying to sell a product. Rather, you are a human being with different qualities and interests that set you apart from everyone else. Embrace your unique qualities and allow them to shine through.

3. Avoid the Sleazy Sales Approach

To me, the sleazy sales approach to building an author brand can mean any one of these things:

  • Sending tons of private messages to strangers on social media with the intention of getting them to buy your book
  • Spamming your mailing list with constant “reminders” to buy your latest book
  • Spamming your social media followers with constant links and “reminders” to buy your latest book

You don’t always have to be peddling your book on social media, or through monthly newsletter blasts, in order to establish a strong author brand. As a matter of fact, you really shouldn’t be doing these things, at all! 

As an author, I do think it’s natural to want your book to do well and to get it into as many hands as possible. That being said, when you use aggressive sales tactics such as the ones mentioned above, you’re doing a better job of driving potential readers away rather than encouraging them to buy your books. But why? 

Simply put, when you’re in this kind of salesy mindset, you’re not really thinking about readers as people. Instead, you’re thinking about them only in terms of what they can give you (book sales). And I don’t know about you, but I really don’t like it when I’m only thought of in terms of how much money I can help another person make. 

Instead, I tend to buy books from authors who have shown me that they are more than a business selling a product. In other words, I’m drawn to the authors I feel a connection with, the authors who not only express appreciation for their readers, but who also work to build real relationships with their readers. 

Back to you, writers! As you continue to work on building your author brand, consider the following questions: What sets you apart as a writer and, more importantly, what are the qualities and passions that make you different? After all, you’re more than a business! You’re an author and you’ve got a unique story to tell. 

Manuela Williams is a Reno-based writer. She is the author of Ghost In Girl Costume, which won the 2017 Hard To Swallow Chapbook Contest, and her second poetry chapbook, Witch, was published by dancing girl press & studio in 2019. She also writes romance under a pen name. When she’s not writing, Manuela is busy drinking coffee and spending time with her blind Pomeranian, Redford. You can connect with her on LinkedIn and Pinterest.

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