Author Branding by Rennie St. James

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Are you branded?

No, this isn’t some writing kink post. This is a post about the business side of writing though. I originally did a guest post on 10 Minute Novelists on this topic. This post is a re-vamp of that one with some new ideas and discussion.

If you’re an author, you have probably worried about sales. You’ve probably adjusted your pricing and ran sales. You’ve probably also despaired of ever making a living by your books alone.

Have you seen (or posted) the example of people happily paying $5 for coffee before tipping, but then complaining that a book costs $0.99?? I have posted that myself and ranted and raved privately about the injustice of it. It’s taken time for me to see this in a new and different light.

By time, I mean the seven years I’ve been writing and six since I first self-published. This may seem like a drop in the bucket compared to your writing life…or it could seem like I’m incredibly ancient. It doesn’t really matter – even if writers aren’t in the exact same boat, we are setting sail on the same waters. These waters can be annoying calm (no sales or reviews) or terrifyingly turbulent (release week or bad reviews).

Branding is a way to sail those waters more comfortably and profitably.

This advice isn’t my own though I do follow it. I’m also not earning a living by books alone. As with anything in this world, I’d suggest you keep reading, research for yourself and try out some new things. Which means we need to get back to the topic of branding and those people paying so much more for a cup of coffee.

See, those people aren’t just buying a cup of coffee. They are buying a brand. In the case of Starbucks, one that has been around since 1971. Those people have bought countless coffees that met or exceeded their needs and that’s what they are paying for – that guaranteed success of getting what they want when they want it.

As authors, we have to build our brand too. We have to give readers a clear expectation and meet/ exceed it…and we must do that many times.

What exactly is your brand and how do you build it?

1. Rainbows

A marketing author on FB described a brand as a rainbow. Being an author is only one color and no rainbow is made up one only one color.
What type of books do you write? What do you like to do outside of writing? What type of books do you read? Do you have family (furry or human)? These are all part of your rainbow.

Author Kristen Painter shares personal stories about her cats and her cooking (both figure into her books). If you are writing about things you love then you have some easy things to add to your rainbow.

2. 70/30 Rule

Spamming drop and go links in hundreds of groups is a strategy. Here’s another one – post 70% about your life and only 30% about your book. This means those rainbows of color we discussed above get a chance to shine.

Check your social media feed. How often do you post ‘buy my book’ things? Add some more colors to your rainbow and see what type of interactions you get. This is not to say promoting your book is bad. That 30% of your feedback is for your self-promo.

3. Be a reader.

One easy color to add to your rainbow is that of a reader. Join groups and follow hashtags as a reader, not just an author. Fanboy/ fangirl out and stalk your favorite authors and celebrities. As readers, we all know that seeing someone read our favorite book automatically makes us like them (at least a little bit). Seek out those people who love the things you do and build those relationships. Again, it should be something you enjoy so it’s not work. It is smart marketing (esp when you stalk authors who are successful).

4. Support fellow writers.

Being part of the writing community is another color for your rainbow and should be another easy addition.
I love the motto that ‘other writers are not my competition.’ Yes, we are all trying to make a living and sell books. This means only other authors understand the hazards of sailing on the ocean with us. Writers are our Tribe and we should support one another. Join writer groups and be active…and not just when you need something. Retweet generously, like often, and comment whenever possible.
We’ve all been there during those rough times when a random-like or comment absolutely makes your day. It may seem small and it is which also means it’s easy to do.

5. Your book baby is your product.

No parent should have to pimp out their baby, but that’s what we have to do as authors. Work to separate the creative writing side from the business selling side.

Remember Starbucks and their $5 coffee? You want to make sales too, right? It’s a business. Be professional in your interactions and remember that selling your book is a job.

To go back to Starbucks again, they don’t just offer customers one cup of coffee every 2-3 years. Build your library of books and consider waiting to publish until you have more content to offer. Join some anthologies, try online magazines, blog, etc. There are many ways to add to your products. Again, if you pick things you like, it will seem less like work and be more enjoyable.

Are you ready to build your brand?

Are you already branded and have ideas to share?

I would love to discuss further with my fellow writers. I have stolen the ideas above from others and still have much to learn. There are also many paths to success and many of us will have to try various ones. In the interest of full disclosure, not only did I steal the ideas above but implementing them hasn’t made me a successful writer by traditional standards. However, I am a writer with a fulltime job who needs to make the best use of her time and wants to continue sailing these hazardous waters of publishing. I’m also a writer who wants to share things I’ve learned along my journey so far.

Share your thoughts here so we can all learn together!


Rennie St. James shares several similarities with her fictional characters (heroes and villains alike) including a love of chocolate, horror movies, martial arts, history, yoga, and travel. She is proudly owned by three rescue kitties including an all-black lady adopted on Friday the 13th. They live in relative harmony in beautiful southwestern Virginia (United States). The Rahki Chronicles is Rennie’s first urban fantasy series, and the first five books are available now. Her Atlantic Island: Guardian Trilogy will be released in 2020. Rennie also has drabbles and short stories included in several multi-author anthologies by a variety of publishers. You can find her all over social media as she loves to interact with fellow bookworms and authors.

Website: https://writerrsj.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/writerRSJ/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/writer.rsj/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/WriterRSJ
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/rennie-st-james
Book link: http://books2read.com/RahkiWorld

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