Are You Branded? — Questions to Ask Yourself to Discover Your Author Brand and Story

by Karen Jonson

brand you and heart on chalkboard

You already have an author brand — even if you are ignoring it. And if you are ignoring it, readers are probably ignoring your books. It’s time to carefully craft your author brand.

Note: This lesson is an excerpt from the Market Your Books Smarter workshop.

Did you know that as an author you have a brand? You may be ignoring your brand, but you have one nonetheless. A good brand can give you several advantages in marketing and selling your books, including recognition.

So what is a brand? Simply stated, it’s how people see you.

Personality is one aspect of a brand. Some authors are serious. Some are comics. Some are wise and mature. Others are playful and irreverent. Some authors are detail-oriented. Others are breezy.

But it’s more than that. It’s what you write about, what you say about what you write, how you interact with your fans, and more.

Brand is also your “story,” in other words, what’s your background, where did you come from, why did you start writing, and what inspired you to be an author.

So, What is Your Brand?

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to begin thinking about your personal author brand. Give each question serious consideration. Give the process some time. Brainstorm. Take notes. Ask your friends and family members’ opinions, if you feel stumped — or if you think it will help you get clarity.

Once you start thinking about your personal brand, you’ll discover your unique voice and author story. Then you’ll begin developing ways to amplify your brand, voice, and story to help get your books noticed by a bigger audience.

• What do you write: what’s your genre and topics? Include all books you have already written, are writing, or plan to write.

• If you write more than one genre, what’s the link that ties them together? Some authors have a niche and that’s were they stay. While others write in multiple genres. If you write in more than one genre, using the same name versus pen name, there will likely be some similar thread, such as a country, or character, or a topic.

• What are the themes in your books? Outline one to three themes for each book you write. If you have more than that they could dilute your message. The media is one place that loves to ask authors about their books’ themes.

• What’s your writer story? Every writer has a story of how they got into writing and decided to write their first book. What’s yours — in a few sentences?

• What inspired you to be a writer? Beyond how you decided to write your first book, also explore why you write what you write. In other words, what is your motivation to put words on a page?

• What was the most memorable moment of your life as a writer so far? This could end up being very interesting. You’ll want to remember and share the memorable moments of your life as a writer. For example, for me it was the first time I was interviewed by a newspaper reporter. I felt like, “Wow, I’m actually an author.”

• Who are you writing for? Who is your target reader? Your audience might be part of your personal story. Or at least your personal brand should be directed at them. Like Nora Roberts’ story about writing her first romance novel in a snowbound cabin cooped up with two little kids. It sounds romantic and maternal, and feeds into her romance readers’ need for that feeling.

• How do you want your readers to view you as an author? Create an image in your mind of how you would like your readers to see you.

• What do you want to do with your brand? Here is where you’ll think outside the box, as they say (or think outside the book!), and determine what you might like to do with your life as an author besides writing and selling books. For example, some authors want to be public speakers, some want to help promote a cause, others want to address a problem. Do you want to teach, speak, evangelize, or any other among a wide range of options? Often being an author can open doors to those opportunities.

3 Tips for Creating Your Personal Brand and Author Story

Here are a few tips to guide you as you create your author brand and story:

1. Be Genuine. Your author story has to be honest and truly about you. The reading public can detect false stories. Once you lose readers trust, it’s almost impossible to be forgiven. For example, the once bestselling romance author, Janet Daily, lost all credibility when it was discovered that she was plagiarizing other romance authors.

2. Keep it Simple. You may have a wonderful personal story, but if it takes a whole page to share it won’t help you at all. Your story needs to be short, succinct, and to the point.

3. Be Consistent. Once you’ve established your personal brand and story, be consistent in using it across all media. Don’t worry about people getting tired of it. You might, but they won’t. Case in point, I first heard Nora Roberts tell her personal story at a writers’ conference in 1989. I recently saw her on a television interview 23 years later, and she is still telling the same story of being stuck in a cabin in a snowstorm writing her first book.

I hope this sets you on the right path to creating a powerful brand and author story that will help you find readers and sell more books.


Are you ready to learn more about marketing your book smarter? Sign up to attend one of two self-paced book marketing courses: the Market Your Book Smarter Workshop and Indie Book Marketing Workshop.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Barb March 3, 2016 at 5:41 am

Hey Karen,
Very naive of me but still not quite getting if I can do this branding thing. Where exactly does this information go. I am early stages writer and hope to have a couple of things up in outer space by mid year. Love the way you write and I can see your point and think I should have something like this in place but still not quite sure about it all. Is it too soon to be considering branding?

Will keep following you as have so much that is interesting.


Karen Jonson March 4, 2016 at 3:47 pm

Hi Barb, It can be confusing when you are new to this. That’s why I created a program for authors new to book marketing — the Market Your Book Smarter Workshop. It lays out everything and will definitely answer your questions better than I can do here. It’s priced right at only $99 — which is a bargain for all the marketing insight you gain. As for when to market, the best plan is BEFORE you finish your book. There is a lot you can do to begin to build a marketing plan. That’s covered in the course too. Thank you for your kind comments — I’m happy to hear you like my writing. Check out my course here. I think it will be a good fit for you.


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