Four Steps to Developing Your Unique Author Brand

If you're an author or aspiring author, one thing you'll want to do is ensure you establish a brand for yourself, one that sets you apart from the competition. Your brand may evolve and change over time, and you should remain open to change as it comes, but for now, let’s be sure you have a solid foundation to begin building your brand. To do so, you’ll need to find your target audience and create your elevator pitch geared toward that specific audience.

In this article, we'll explore your passions and your gifts, scope out your ideal audience and create an elevator pitch, and develop your unique brand that sets you apart from your competition.

Step One: Explore Your Passions/Gifts

You may already have an idea for your book or brand, or you might even already have a business started. If so, great, you’re ahead of the game, but don’t jump ahead just yet. Even if you already have an idea or think you have a clear vision, I urge you to keep reading. We want to ensure your image is aligned with your passions and your purpose, and not what you think will be profitable based on what has brought success to others.

Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.
 —Joseph Campbell

I say this from personal experience. It wasn’t until I stopped chasing what I thought would bring me happiness and success by following what was working for others, and instead looked at what my gifts and passions were and then built a business doing what I do best that everything started lining up for me. Once I stopped ignoring my gifts and started pursuing my passions, that’s when doors of opportunity started to open and the universe lined up all the resources I needed to achieve success. The right people began to show up in my life; each time I needed to take the next step or reach the next level, opportunities and resources appeared.

Now, I want you to take some time to really think about what your passions are. Set aside any ideas for your brand that you have or preconceived notions you’ve already decided on. I’m asking you to do a simple exercise to explore your passions and your gifts, I’m not saying you have to change your business model or throw away the dreams you’ve created, but I challenge you to try it. Humor me, if you will.

1. Get out a sheet of paper, and divide it down the middle. The left side is your passion side. I want you to make a list of everything you love. On this side, list all your interests, not just in business, but in life, and include your hobbies. What makes you come alive?  What nourishes your soul? Write those down. List as many as you can—get another sheet of paper, if necessary.

2. Once you’ve filled that side to completion, I want you to make a new list on the right-hand side. These are your gifts. Now write down everything you are good at. Where do you really excel? What comes easily to you? What are people often asking you for help with or advice on? Write down as many strengths as you can.

3. Now, compare both sides. Where do you see an overlap? Can you find a connection between each side? If you want to find success, I encourage you to find something that combines both your passions and your gifts. Even if it doesn’t seem lucrative to you at the moment, the money will come. The universe will provide. Once you surrender to your calling, find your purpose, and pursue that which sets your soul on fire, you will be unstoppable! You will find success because you will be in complete alignment with your purpose.

Step Two: Define Your Target Audience/Avatar

As you begin the journey of marketing your books and services, you must create communications that attract your prospective readers to you. To do so, we need to scope out who your ideal reader or avatar is, and then create an “Elevator Pitch,” which explains the benefits and results you can offer him or her in a simple statement.

Visualize an image of your ideal reader in your mind’s eye. We will call this person your avatar. What does he or she look like? How old? What income bracket?  Hobbies/interests? What age range are you targeting? Male, female, or both? Take some time to jot down as many points as you can about your ideal client. This will be the person you market to, so you’ll want a clear vision of your avatar before you proceed.

Be very specific here. For example, when it was time for me to narrow down my ideal reader for Authorpreneur, I didn’t just say, “Someone who wants to write a book.” That’s too vague, and let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to write a book? I specifically wanted to appeal to a market of aspiring authors and entrepreneurs with a desire to build a business based on their book. I envisioned a forward-thinking professional who doesn’t go small. Someone who doesn’t stop at publication and instead wants to go the extra mile. Someone who wants to begin with the book and then develop a business and a brand around the concepts within their book.

Once I established that Authorpreneur is for the motivated author who wants to build an empire, I needed to get very clear about who I would speak to as I wrote the book. I created a list of attributes and then spent some time visualizing what that person epitomized. I want you to do the same. If your ideal avatar is gender specific, you may even want to give him a name. It will help if you can keep this person in mind while you build your brand.

The most important thing to remember is you must know your audience.
—Lewis Howes

Set some time aside to give this some thought and do this exercise. Once you have a clear vision of who you are marketing to, it’s time to move toward crafting your elevator pitch.

 Step Three: Craft an Elevator Pitch

1. First, take your findings from the above exercise and create a statement that clearly defines your ideal reader/avatar. By this point, you should have a clear vision of who you are targeting, and should be able to define your avatar in just one or two sentences.

2. Next, describe the specific problem, interest or issue that your reader is having, in clear terms. What goal is your avatar trying to accomplish? What problems are they facing? What do they need to attain or excel at to get to the next level?

3. Now, think about how you can help your reader. What do you have to offer that will solve their problem and deliver a solution for their success? Describe the specific, measurable result that you will help your reader to achieve by reading your book or working with you through coaching, or other services you have to offer. Describe the specific convenience that you offer in helping your reader get past their challenges, and realize the results they want to achieve.

4. Finally, turn that information into an elevator pitch—a brief statement that defines what you have to offer, and who specifically your offer can help and targets. Your elevator pitch should be memorized until it rolls confidently and eloquently off your tongue, as you will be repeating it often. Each time someone asks, “What type of books do you write?” or “What is your book about?” this is your opportunity to wow them with your elevator pitch, and it’s your answer to this very question that will open doors of opportunities for speaking, teaching, and marketing your book. With this in mind, you can see why it’s important we start here and complete this step before we go any further.

I’ll now offer you an example of my ideal avatar and elevator pitch to get you started:

Ideal Avatar: A forward-thinking author with an entrepreneurial spirit and a desire to build a business by creating companion products and services based upon the core concepts of their book.

Simply stated, right? But clear and to the point. Not just an author, not just someone who wants to write a book, but an Authorpreneur!

Elevator Pitch: Helping authors and entrepreneurs build an empire based on the core concepts of their book, by creating companion products and services to support and grow their business.

See, that wasn’t so hard. Two simple statements and I can clearly define my ideal reader, and also the elevator pitch for my book and/or business. Now when someone asks, “What is your book about?” or “What is your business?” I can quickly and confidently answer without skipping a beat.

5. Your turn. Take some time to craft your ideal avatar and elevator pitch and practice reciting these statements until it becomes second nature. Imagine you are riding in an elevator with someone who asks what you do, or what your book is about. You’ll want it to be brief, but precise and to the point. The goal here is to be as specific as possible, but relay a clear message of what you have to offer in the short amount of time it takes to ride between floors. When the bell dings and the doors open, your chance is shot. So craft a statement and memorize it. Aim for confidence and clarity.

Step Four: Creating Your Unique Brand

Building your brand is like trying to find your identity; it can be tricky and is often the hardest piece of the puzzle to put in place. Your brand represents you and your business. It is an extension of your style and personality, yet it also portrays who and what you want to attract. Where I often see authors struggle is in trying to develop a brand that is professional yet doesn’t include them in it. It’s important to be professional, yes, but if your brand is lacking what makes you YOU, then you are missing an opportunity to connect with your target audience. Instead of worrying what you think others want to see from you, or what you believe your brand should look like, I would encourage you to take some time to find your own unique style, and then find a way to convey that style in the message for your business.

Once you have a clear vision of your brand, style, and elements, you’ll want to incorporate it in all areas of your life such as:

  • Author/Business Website
  • Social Media Headers and graphics
  • Logo
  • Email Signature
  • Business Cards
  • Photo Shoot
  • Future Offerings

Keeping your branding consistent across the board will help with brand recognition. Make sure your colors, fonts, headshots and photos stay consistent—from your website, to social media, to your logo, to your business cards; it should all tie together.

This should not only set you up for success as an author but also help begin building a solid author platform that's a nice representation of your own unique style and brand.  Remember to include what makes you YOU! That is what your audience will want to see, and that is what will attract them to you in the first place.