Hi, friends! Summer is officially here and we’re halfway through the year. Pretty crazy, right? Before we start heading towards fall, winter, and the end of the year, take some time to evaluate your author brand goals and progress.
In a previous post, I talked about building your brand and one of the points I touched on was taking the time to do an audit at least once a year. This allows you to re-evaluate and make sure your brand still accurately and effectively represents you and your values as an author.
As you do your audit, keep an eye out for these five common mistakes (and easy ways to fix or avoid them!).
1) You Don’t Have a Website
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (and again, and again, and again!): having your own website is crucial to building and maintaining your author empire. With a website, you don’t have to worry about your latest announcements, choosing just the right hashtags to get your posts seen, or monitoring a Facebook group or two. Instead, you can think of your website as your very own corner of the internet, a space where you can post exactly what you want without the stress of keeping up with the latest algorithms.
The Fix: You can choose a low cost option for hosting your website if you’re just starting out, but don’t skimp on a professional domain name! Usually your first and last name will work (for example: manuelawilliams.com or authormanuelawilliams.com). Additionally, spend some time thinking about your brand. This goes beyond just a logo and a color palette. Think about who you are as a person and an author, and make sure your website works to reflect that.
2) You’re Not On Social Media
Social media is an excellent way to connect with your readers and have meaningful conversations with other writers. However, it can be super overwhelming if you’re just starting out, especially since there are so many options to choose from. Luckily, you don’t have to master multiple platforms right away. And if the thought of manually updating your accounts stresses you out, there are plenty of automation tools out there that can do the posting for you, so you can schedule a bunch of posts and not have to worry about it again for a while.
The Fix: Pick a couple platforms that you’re most comfortable with—I would recommend Goodreads and one of the “Big Three” (Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram), and work to build an amazing author profile (separate from your personal account), engaging content, and a consistent posting schedule. Also make sure you’re scheduling a little time to interact with your followers! Engagement is key if you want to grow your platform.
3) You’re On Social Media, But You Don’t Post Consistently
Raise your hand if the last time you updated your Facebook page was back in 2004. I get it, social media can be a pain, especially if you’re updating multiple accounts. But, consistent posting is one of the most important ingredients to building an engaged following.
The Fix: If lack of time is an issue for you, or if you just can’t bring yourself to spend hours on social media every day, consider checking out sites like Buffer, Hootsuite, and/or Tailwind. These apps post to social media for you, so all you have to do is load up your posts and schedule them. If coming up with engaging content is an issue, look for inspiration from other writers in your genre. Additionally, you can consider doing any of these kinds of posts: a “Meet the Author,” character inspiration photos, writing advice, a Q&A with readers, a behind the scenes look at your writing process, writing playlists, quotes, cover art, fan art, and more.
4) You Don’t Send Out a Newsletter
A newsletter is another fantastic way to reach your readers without having to worry about the ever-changing algorithms of social media. A newsletter allows you to directly reach your readers and offers a bit more flexibility than social media (for example, you can send them an exclusive sneak peek at your latest book, deleted scenes, special sales, and more).
The Fix: Make sure you have a newsletter sign up on your website. I would recommend having one at the bottom every page with an enticing sentence or two that give visitors a clear benefit of signing up for your newsletter. You’ll also want to choose a platform that’s easy-to-use and allows you to create professional looking newsletters. If you’re just starting out, Mailchimp is a great option. If you already have a sizeable mailing list and are looking for even more options and tools, ConvertKit is another good choice, however, it is pricier.
5) You’re Trying To Be Someone You’re Not
When you’re just starting out, it can be easy to try and copy the brands of authors who seem to be doing better than you. After all, if they’re successful, they must be doing something right, and you should try and imitate them, right? Wrong! Keep in mind, your author brand should be a reflection of you and your unique work, not anyone else. A successful brand will ultimately stand out from the rest and immediately establish you as an individual with a distinct voice.
The Fix: As you start (or continue) the process of posting to your website, preferred social media platforms, and sending out your newsletters, ask yourself: Does this sound like something I would actually say? Consistently evaluating your content, especially at the beginning of your branding journey, is a great way to ensure you sound like your authentic self, not like anyone else.
Back to you, writers! What will you be doing to make sure your author brand is in shape before the end of the year? Let me know in the comments!
Manuela Williams is a Reno-based writer and editor. She is the author of Ghost In Girl Costume, which won the 2017 Hard To Swallow Chapbook Contest. Her second poetry chapbook, Witch, was published by Dancing Girl Press in June 2019. Manuela is also the founder of Your Writing Friend, a coaching service for writers. You can connect with her on LinkedIn and Pinterest.