You’ve heard the phrase “writer’s platform” but what does that actually mean? What many publishers know, from a marketing standpoint, is that writer’s whose names are recognizable typically sell more books than an unknown author the reader has to take a chance on. Charlaine Harris. Stephen King. Neil Gaiman. These authors have power behind their names because not only they have developed and honed their craft, they’ve reached the point where readers will buy one of their books because they wrote it — not necessarily because it’s a really cool urban fantasy story.
Some authors hate the word “brand” because they often argue that they are people with unique personalities. Yes, absolutely. However, from a Marketing standpoint, a brand is a way to present the author in order to market them and their personality. Over time, a brand will evolve and develop from the platform.
Here are three ways to develop your personal brand as an author:
1. Consider Writing Under a Pen Name
Want to write horror but find yourself selling more romantic short stories? Not comfortable with the idea of a brand? Consider developing a pen name. By removing yourself from your work, the pen name becomes your brand. Many authors have done this — including Stephen King, Nora Roberts, etc. The benefit of having a pen name will also allow you to focus your marketing efforts on that particular persona.
2. Specialize in a Genre or Form
Are you an awesome short story writer but have no interest in penning novels? Mastered the true-to-life tale and can’t stand science fiction? By specializing in a particular genre or form of writing, you focus all your energy into that one slice of the bigger pie. There’s drawbacks to doing this, too, because when you hone in on that one thing your versatility may suffer. However, this can be very good for your career as an author, especially if readers respond to your work or you happen to hit a trend.
3. Become Iconic
The word “iconic” means that you are, in a way, predictable. Your brand becomes something readers expect. Maybe this takes the form of a black dress every time you accept an award. Maybe your book covers use the same font. Maybe your recorded readings start with the same strain of music. By inserting an intentional iconic style or element into your brand, you will begin marketing yourself without even realizing it.
What do you think? Do you feel having a brand is more important than developing a platform?