September 18, 2023
Crafting a Magnetic Author Brand:
Aligning Values, Voice, and Vision
Episode 38: Crafting a Magnetic Author Brand: Aligning Values, Voice, and Vision
- Why it’s crucial to start planning as early as September.
- The top trends driving this year’s holiday book marketing landscape.
- Innovative strategies that go beyond the traditional playbook.
Whether you’re a seasoned author or just starting out, this episode will equip you with actionable insights to make your books shine during the most wonderful time of the year.
Recap & Takeaways
- 01:37 What is an author brand?
- 03:01 Understanding what your authorial voice and impact is.
- 05:22 How do you find your voice?
- 06:45 Find your authentic self.
- 09:38 The difference between being consistent and being stagnant.
- 10:21 How to align your brand with your long-term goals?
- 11:15 Identifying your values
- 13:08 Common pitfalls of author branding.
Transcript for Episode 38: Crafting a Magnetic Author Brand: Aligning Values, Voice, and Vision
Hello, and welcome to episode 38 of The Author Switch Podcast. Tonight, I’m gonna be talking about how to create a magnetic author brand. And that’s gonna be aligning your values, your voice, and your vision. to create this brand. Now when I was pulling together my notes for this episode, I think I came up with like 13 pages.
I’m not going to be covering that much because that would be way too long. So I’ve whittled it down to the essentials. So I’m thinking that this episode will be about 15 to 30 minutes long.
So, just in case you are new to my world. Here’s an introduction to myself. My name is Carma Spence. I’m the host of The Author Switch Podcast I have been an author for 16 years and I’ve been in PR and marketing for 30 years. I have two books that are bestsellers, one of them has won three awards, and I’ve authored a total of five books on my own and contributed to numerous anthologies. I’m also certified in author marketing.
First, so that I know that we’re all on the same page about what an author brand is, I want to define my terms.
An author brand is a unique identity and perception associated with an author. It encompasses the author’s values, style, voice, and emotions, or experiences, their work evokes in their readers. It essentially is the promise that an author makes to their readers about what your books will provide them, what they can expect from your books. And being consistent in this author brand not only builds trust in your readers, but it also makes your sales stronger because when readers don’t know what to expect and you keep giving them different things, at some point they’ll stop buying from you.
So you want to really establish this brand before you start writing your books so that you can be more consistent. And I know this from experience because I have been inconsistent because I didn’t know I needed to do this first and I’ve been kind of finding my way. And I don’t want you to have to do that.
I don’t want you to lose the book sales that you deserve just because you didn’t know what you were doing. So here we go.
The first thing, so we’re going to be talking about values, voice, and vision, and the first thing I want to talk about is understanding what your authorial voice and impact is. So your authorial voice is your unique writing style.
It is when someone picks up one of your books and they start reading it, they know it’s from you. They recognize your voice. There’s this certain something about the way you string together your words. That. says yes, this was written by you. And even though it can be hard to define, and sometimes even hard to recognize in yourself, you have one.
In fact, I have had many readers say, yep, that’s a Carma. I have this unique style. And it doesn’t matter what I’m writing, whether I’m writing a procedure, whether I’m writing a book, whether I’m writing a blog post, when people read it, they recognize it as being mine.
Now, this voice has an impact on your branding because it plays a pivotal role.
It is integral to that branding. Your branding needs to reflect that voice. And your branding and your voice, they come together, and they create an emotional connection with your readers. This is why your voice is such an integral and key component to your brand’s identity. Those readers who resonate with your voice are more likely to become loyal followers.
And of course, there’s consistency. You want a consistent voice, which Honestly, I don’t think you have a choice. Once you’ve developed your voice, you’re consistent no matter what you do, but your brand needs to be intentional in connecting with that voice and expressing that voice as well. And you need to be consistent in your branding throughout your presence, whether that’s on social media, your website, when you’re a guest on a podcast, your branding should always be there. You should represent your brand no matter where you are, virtually or in person.
So how do you go about finding your voice?
That’s a little bit harder to define because it’s something that grows out of who you are. Your voice is something that, that communicates who you are and what you value in the world. And it also expresses how you choose to communicate. So when you’re looking for your voice, when you’re trying to find your voice, a lot of people will start by imitating their favorite authors. So, when I was first finding my voice, I tended to imitate Ray Bradbury because he’s my favorite author. But I’ve since gone off in my own direction because I, at this moment in time, I don’t write fiction. I write it on the side. You don’t see a lot of it, but there is a quality of Bradbury-ness to my writing.
There’s that, that awe and wonder of the word. There’s the awe and wonder of what is possible and creativity and, and that, that comes through in my voice. So who are your favorite authors? Because they speak to you in a way that you will eventually speak to your audience.
And you want to identify your, your authentic self. So , there’s a process of self-discovery. You, you identify you’re a unique authorial voice through experimentation, through self-reflection, exploring different writing styles. I’ve experimented with all sorts of writing styles and, and there are some that I’m like, Okay, that was an interesting experiment.
I don’t like that. That’s not me. And then there’s others I’m like, Oh. That’s kind of cool. I like playing with words in that way. So experiment. Be open to exploring a variety of styles, a variety of genres, until you find the ones that you resonate with. And embrace your individuality. Your voice is an extension of your personality and your experiences.
So embrace your quirks, your beliefs, your idiosyncrasies. in your writing. For example, one, one way I, I tell people to help them find themselves is, who’s your favorite character in the Hundred Acre Wood? Mine is Tigger. And if you know me, you’ll understand that that is so point on with me. I am very much a Tigger type of person.
Not only am I energetic and have ADD, but I’m also very likely to embrace whomever’s in front of me and go, yeah, you’re the neatest person. Okay. Maybe you’re not. One of the things I’ve always loved about Tigger is he’s like, honey, honey’s my favorite food. And then he eats it, and he goes, oh, I can’t stand honey.
Well, I’m kind of like that. I’m, I’m ready to embrace the idea of liking whatever it is I’m presented with and whomever I’m presented with only to pull that back if it doesn’t work. So. This, this is something you, you can do if you find your favorite character in the Hundred Acre Wood.
Are you a Winnie-the-Pooh type of person? Are you an Owl? Are you a Rabbit? Are you Piglet? Are you Kanga? Are you Roo? Each of these characters have unique personality quirks. And more than likely, if you find your favorite character, their quirks are your quirks. So there’s just an idea. I also think you can apply that to any group of characters.
You could like, who’s your favorite character on Star Trek The Next Generation or The Original Voyage? Who’s your favorite friend on Friends? Those characters in the stories that you enjoy have the quirks that are probably your quirks.
So now that you’ve kind of got your voice and you’re consistently expressing it, there’s a difference between being consistent and being stagnant. You are a human being and therefore you are constantly growing. So your voice may grow and evolve. Embrace that. That’s okay. Because there will be a through line.
Because you can’t stop being you.
And building and really connecting with your voice, your author voice, helps you connect with your readers because they’ll resonate with your voice. At least the readers that were meant to be your loyal fans, they’ll resonate with your voice. And this becomes part of your brand.
So how, how do you align your brand with your long-term goals?
Because you need to do that too. Because if you brand for the moment, with no thought of where you want to grow in the future, you will find yourself constantly updating your brand, redoing your brand, and tearing it down and redoing it. So before you start working on your brand, you need to think about, where do I want to take my career here.
Where do I want to go? What do I want to be? What do I want to step into? What is that best version of myself that I’m working toward? And create a brand that represents where you are now, but also helps you stretch into the future.
So you want to align your brand with where you are currently, as well as where you want to be.
And one way you do this is by identifying your values. And so just as an example, my values are creativity, innovation, and integrity. I, I, creativity is my number one. In fact, everything I do, no matter where I do it, it’s all about expressing your creativity and helping the people that I serve express theirs.
I’m also really, I really value integrity. And when I find myself out of alignment with that particular value, I, it’s painful. It’s really painful. And actually it’s not innovation, it’s kindness. I forgot. Innovation is sort of a fourth one, but kindness. When I see unkindness happening in the world, it makes me so angry.
So my values are creativity, kindness, and integrity. What are your values? What are the things that when you find yourself out of alignment with them, you get really uncomfortable. Sometimes you even feel sick. What are those, those values that when you see something happening in the world that doesn’t align with that, you get angry.
Your values are the things you stand for, that you don’t want to back down on. You may because you’re human and life happens, but for the most part, you tend to have boundaries around those values. What are those values? And choose three. Because that’s a nice round number and you usually, the three interact with each other to create a more holistic version of who you are.
And then those values are infused into your voice and into your brand.
Now finally what I want to cover is the common pitfalls that authors fall into when it comes to branding. And the first one is a lack of brand clarity. If you are not clear on your brand, then you are more likely to do what I’ve done in the past.
And that is write a book about one thing, then write a book about another thing, then write a book about a third thing, and none of them connect. So you lose your readers. In fact, I remember talking to a fiction author once who said, they, They hadn’t figured out what they wanted to do in their fiction writing, and so they were writing fantasy, and then they were writing romance, and they were writing science fiction, and all these stories they were writing, one reader wouldn’t want to read all three of them.
It was three completely different markets. It was when they decided, okay, this is my through line. That they can apply to some of these other genres, but it brought those wildly disparate genres together into what they did. And once they started doing that, all of a sudden they started to build a loyal fan base who kept reading their books, book after book after book, and that builds sales.
So you want to clearly define your brand. Take the time to do that. Now, if you need help with that, I do offer a Author Branding Bootcamp that you can… uh we go through it for an entire day And we nail your vision, your values, your mission, and your brand promise. And we even get to a little bit of your colors, your fonts, your brand is done. And then at the end, I pull it all together and I mail you to your home your very own Brand Bible. Cool.
So if that’s something of interest to you, just simply drop me a message, contact me and I can give you more information.
Pitfall number two: Inconsistency across platforms. And I see this a lot. It’s like, when you do your, your shoot of headshots, okay, you’re wearing pretty much the same thing. And you might have two or three pictures of you wearing the same thing.
Use that photo shoot everywhere, on your website, on your social media, when someone puts you on your podcast. In fact, I have a new photo shoot that I did back in November, and that’s what I use everywhere. So when I’m a guest on a podcast, that’s the image I want them to use. And when they don’t, they use one of my old, I always go cringe.
How are people going to know it’s me if you’re using some of my old pictures? So, what you want is no matter where your readers find you, they recognize you. And if your pictures are like years apart, or say for example, like now I have a little bit of gray in my hair, if they’re going to see pictures of me when I was a redhead, they’re going to go, who is this woman?
It’s not me anymore. My hair isn’t red anymore. And I’ve got silver streaks. Different person. Visually. Be consistent. The colors you choose for your brand, be consistent throughout. You go to any of my social, social media presence, you will see the same colors, the same fonts, and images from the same photo shoot.
The next pitfall is frequent genre hopping. And honestly, I’ve done this. If you are going to do this, you may need to develop sub brands and write under a pseudonym. I’m not saying you can’t do it, but you need to be very clear on your brand and what books fit into that brand. And if you’re going to write something outside, write under a pseudonym.
Lots of authors do this. For example, Stephen King has the Richard Bachman books. Anne Rice had the Anne Rampling books. Because the people who read Anne Rice may not want to read Anne Rampling. Very different style of writing. So, if you’re going to step outside of your brand, create a new brand with a new name.
Another pitfall is failure to evolve thoughtfully. This means you resist the necessary brand evolution that can hinder your growth. It means, for example, if you look through… go to my Facebook and look at the images that I have because you can actually look at someone’s history of what they put in their images and their brand and their, their banners.
You can see that my brands evolved over time. My color schemes have changed, the imagery I use has changed, my words have changed, and that’s because I have grown and evolved as an author and as a business owner. Well that’s going to happen to you too. Yes, you create the brand today that you hope will last at least five years because you’re going to grow into it, but at some point you may need to rebrand and that’s okay. Don’t resist that.
Another pitfall that some authors fall into is inauthenticity. That means they try to be someone they aren’t. And the thing is, your readers see right through that and they don’t like it. So stay on brand, stay true to your authentic self, no matter what you’re doing, stay true to yourself, and you will develop the loyal fans that you, that were meant for you.
And finally, the final pitfall I want to talk about is a failure to adapt, which is related to evolve thoughtfully, but it’s different. Sometimes stuff happens and you have to adapt and change. So for example, three years ago, something major happened in the world and people had to pivot. Because all of a sudden, the world changed.
And if you didn’t pivot and adapt to that change, then you were left in the dust. And that, that changed the book world. It changed the price of books. It changed what books were being bought. It changed how books were being sold. It changed everything in the book world. And again, if you didn’t adapt, you had a problem.
So, I know that this is really surface stuff. This is like high level because I can’t go into everything you need to do to craft a magnetic author brand in 30 minutes or less. But the things I talked about today that should help you align with your values, your voice, and your vision, so that you can get a good head start on developing your authentic magnetic author brand.
This is the end of episode 38 of The Author Switch Podcast. Thank you for listening. This is your host, Carma Spence, saying, Ciao for now!