If you want to stand out in the self-publishing world, you need to do more than write and hit “publish.” You need quality covers, killer editing, and a series of raving reviews. Then you need that final touch, the je ne sais quoi that sets you apart from similar authors and that tells the world that you in particular have a lot to offer. Of course, I’m talking about author branding.
Author branding is a tactic that usually goes under-noticed when it comes to ways to go viral, but it makes a serious difference when you’re trying to stand out in an ever-growing crowd. Branding consists of the way you choose to style yourself to readers--the covers of your books, your avatar on social media, and the look and feel of your author site. It covers things like color schemes and font choices as well as pet phrases, personal quirks, and genre-enhancing aesthetics. Think about J. K. Rowling, Stephen King, or any number of other super-famous authors out there in any genre. They all have a style associated with them, a certain aesthetic separate from writing alone. That's what you need to aim for.
Ready to check it out?
First, you’ll need to spend some time figuring out what a good brand would be for an author in your niche. Romance writers might go for pink and gray colors with a soft script font, while those who write thrillers might want something more cool and sleek. An easy place to scout is the bestseller list for your preferred genre. Look at the book covers and see what they have in common. When you’ve done that, visit authors on social media and see how they present themselves. Who seems like fun to hang out with? Who appears to write awesome books?
I’m going to assume that you already have a stronger written voice than most people. As a writer, you have more practice putting your thoughts on paper and have a clean idea of how you want to sound. The mechanics of branding might need a little more work, and that’s where these top resources come in to help.
First comes font choices. If you’re setting up or revitalizing your author site, this is a must. Any text-based image posts on social media also need to be pulled to attention when you're choosing a font. I recommend going with at least two, and then adding on as needed. This first resource, 1001freefonts.com, is fun to play around with and great if you like designing your own covers, but for now, let’s keep it simple. The first font you want should be a serif or script font, something that’s readable but has some artistic merit. Next, find something simple and ultra-readable, probably a sans serif font. Work until you find one or two good pairings that you like. It's okay to have more than two fonts in your set as well.
Hand in hand with your font choices should be your color scheme. Colors for authors depend largely on the genre but have a lot of flexibility as well. If you write urban fantasy, purple and green could make an electric pairing. If you prefer to stick to western romance, try brown and yellow with streaks of blue. Using a tool like colordesigner.io can help you find a winning palette that will look good across platforms.
Now it's time to put font and color together. When it comes to creating a great cover for your books, I'll typically recommend that you find someone to make the cover for you. You can check out pre-made covers online or hire a professional cover artist for a fee. There's really nothing that can sabotage you like a bad book cover. However, if you're bent on designing your own cover and you've already made up your mind, Book Brush is a great online resource that specializes in book covers. All you need is a good stock photo or two, and you can get started designing a cover from a professional layout. Book Brush is free to try, so definitely give it a whirl if you think it might be for you.
From a branding standpoint, take a moment to remember all the top-selling cover in your genre that you looked at earlier. If you notice any popular color schemes or layouts, mimic that in your covers in keeping with the color scheme you chose. Take advantage of the fonts you chose earlier as well.
As I covered in my article about building an author site, there's a variety of different website builders you can use to design your site, and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. For the purpose of this article, I am going to recommend Wix as a site builder. Unlike its main competitor WordPress, Wix doesn't rely so much on expensive themes and frustrating plugins. Instead, Wix builds your site from the ground up depending on what you want. You can customize anything and everything, and the drag and drop controls make site designing easy and fun.
If you keep your branding in mind with your website, covers, and social media presence, you’ll communicate to the world that you’re serious about your writing, and you’ll come off as a confident writer with a lot to share.