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Create your Author Brand - with brand expert Tessa Graham

Updated: Nov 28, 2023

As authors, we need to be savvier than ever about who reads our books. We have the ability to market our books directly to our readers. We no longer need to rely on agents, publishers and booksellers to get our message across and sell our books and our brand. In the past, as an author, you would find an agent, the agent would find a publisher, and the publisher would take care of the editing, design, printing, marketing and distribution to booksellers and ultimately to the customers. While that model still loosely exists today we now have the responsibility to create and build our own personal brands and to let the world know who we are and what we stand for.

‘A brand is a living entity - and it is enriched or undermined cumulatively over time, the product of a thousand small gestures.’ Michael Eisner, Former CEO Disney The world of publishing is changing. Digital technology has turned it on its head. Authors are no longer just pictures and short bios on an inside back cover. They have websites, Facebook fan pages, Instagram followers; they Tweet, speak, conduct seminars and even sell products. As an author, it is critical to create a unique, consistent, relevant and authentic brand. To be truly authentic, your brand is based on YOU – your personality, values, vision, beliefs and everything that makes YOU truly unique! Most importantly, it is based on your WHY. What we all know, is that a brand is more than a logo. It can be everything from a trademark, an experience, the music that is played, what something looks like, what posts are on social media, what a website looks like, and the tone of voice that is used. Brand - /brand/ - noun: The sum of all of the experiences of a company, product, product service or person. I love to use the example of Apple. The experience is defined by the product, the services, their website, their advertising as well as what happens when you go into an Apple store. It’s not just one thing that defines the brand, but the sum of all of the experiences you have with it. The same applies to you as an author. It’s important to think about your brand and what the sum of all of the experiences of BRAND YOU is – to your readers, your editor, your publisher, your PR agent (if you have one) – and most importantly for you to understand what it is you stand for. To build an authentic “personal” brand, we need to have a deep understanding of who you are, what you stand for and, most importantly, your “why”. So the starting point is to define your brand by using a tool that I call the BrandPrint. It takes time, focus and dedication to put it together. In my experience, it is a critical step in the process of building your brand. So where do we start in building your brand? With the name! As an author of a memoir or of a non-fiction book, it is likely to be one of the following:

  1. Your name – like Michelle Obama

  2. A pseudonym - like. Robert Galbraith aka J.K. Rowling

  3. A character – like Harry Potter

  4. The name of your book or philosophy – like Start With Why by Simon Sinek It is important to decide and choose one. You want to focus your efforts and resources on building one primary brand not on building a number of brands. Time is your most precious commodity. Spend it well. Time is your most precious commodity. It should be focussed on doing three things:

  5. Being Commercial

  6. Building Awareness

  7. Creating Inspiration Keep track of how you spend your time and make sure you spend it wisely. Find the balance between these three areas. Being commercial will give you the resources you need to fulfil your why. Building awareness will make sure that other people know about it and creating inspiration will make sure that you always have the energy. The most important thing to remember in building your brand is assuring that everything you do, every book you write, ever post you load on social media, every opportunity that you pursue is aligned with Brand You! This is an extract from Write your Book in 100 Days: Stop Mucking about & Just Write your book Sarah Bullen & Kate Emmerson with Tessa Graham (pictured below) Tessa Graham builds author brands. She has worked with top authors including Jamie Oliver, Natasha Sideris, the Tashas Group, Fox Browne Creative, David Higgs, Lewis Pugh, Stella McCartney, Joe Boxer, and Razorfish to name a few.


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