When I was first trying to develop a more cohesive author brand and platform for myself as a writer and creative writing coach, I struggled to visualize exactly what I liked and wanted. I mindlessly clicked through sites that I admired and tried to imitate what I saw. But I found that I wasn’t creating something that truly reflected me as an author, coach, and, well, person.
Out of ideas, I turned to Pinterest for inspiration, and found it a lot more helpful than I thought it would be. More than a place to repin recipes and outfits I could never, ever afford, Pinterest is a great place to collect ideas — color schemes, images, website layouts, logo inspiration, and more — all in one place.
Creating a brand board on Pinterest (which is free, by the way!) allows you to get a better sense of the look and feel of your platform as you begin to work on, or revamp, your author website, social media posts, newsletters, swag, business cards, and other branding materials.
Ready to get started? Check out the tips below on how to build your own author brand board. To view a sample board I created for this post, click here. And for even more branding inspiration, check out this branding board.
For an Author Brand, Start With You
The genre of the books you write will play a big role in how you choose to brand yourself as an author. Let’s say for instance you write psychological thrillers. You probably wouldn’t want to use bright pinks and purples on your website. Think of it like you’re designing a book cover. Readers of horror novels have certain expectations for what those kinds of book covers look like. Same with readers of romance. So, if you deviate too much from those expectations, you risk alienating your intended readers.
As you select which images to include on your board, ask yourself the following questions:
1) What kind of books do you write?
The genre you write in plays a huge role in deciding what your author platform is going to look like. The website of a science fiction author will probably look completely different from the website of a contemporary romance author. Look to other authors’ platforms and take note of what seems to be the “norm” in particular genres. For example, are contemporary romance authors fond of bold colors and fonts, or swirly calligraphy and pastels? On that note, be careful not to flat out copy a particular writer’s website and brand. Work to carve out your own unique space!
2) What mood do you want to convey?
Dread? Hope? Intrigue? Take note of the feelings you want to invoke in visitors to your website, social media pages, etc. and think of color schemes, fonts, and images that might help in conveying that mood.
3) What fits your personality?
Finally, don’t forget to inject your personality into your brand! If dark, moody colors aren’t your thing, don’t use them in your social media posts. If you absolutely hate pink, you don’t have to include it on your website. Before building your Pinterest board, consider creating a list of things that make you unique as an author, and work on incorporating that into your board.
Now comes the fun part! Based on your answers from step above, you’ll want to begin searching for images on Pinterest that capture the mood of your books and your personality as an author.
When I was creating my sample board, I pretended that I was the author of fun, quirky chick lit. I wanted my author brand to convey a sense of boldness, and I also wanted it to look feminine. I started by typing “bold feminine” into the search bar to see what would come up. Right away, I found an image I loved: the words “Be Bold” against a hot pink background. Perfect for my brand!
The cool thing about Pinterest is that when you click on one image you love, you can view more pins like it below the original image. Based on these recommended pins, I was able to create a simple brand board in no time at all.
I would recommend saving anywhere from between 25 to 50 pins to your board. That way, you have enough information to create a cohesive web presence without feeling too overwhelmed. Additionally, a brand board can also be immensely helpful to a designer if you decide to hire one to create your website for you.
Bonus: Create a Board for Each of Your Books
While definitely not necessary, creating a Pinterest board for your books can, one, be a great way to visualize your work (and provide even more ideas for your branding as a whole) and, two, give your readers something fun to look at as part of a newsletter or social media post. You can post image inspiration for your characters, settings, major scenes, and even quotes that inspired you. For a sample of what this could look like, check out this board I created for a hypothetical work in progress, Fire and Shadow.
Back to you, writers! Have you ever used Pinterest to gather inspiration for your author brand or books? Let me know in the comments!
Manuela Williams is a Las Vegas-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, is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press. 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.