How to build your brand

I recently shared my thoughts about branding building with my publisher, Aberdeen Bay, Author Community in the hope this would be helpful to other authors. Aberdeen Bay published my historical novel, Papa’s Shoes, in May 2019.

Building A Brand 

by Madeline Sharples

Before I discuss what I did to create my brand, I need to emphasize why an author – or any business person for that matter – needs a brand. We must market ourselves so that potential readers will know about us and our books. If people don’t know we exist, they won’t know what we have to offer.

In addition, a strong brand lets customers know what to expect, represents us, helps us stay focused on what we’re offering, and helps connect us with our customers. As a result of a strong brand, it will provide value to what we are offering.

I can’t emphasize this enough. People need to hear about us if we are going to sell our books. And if we’re perceived as experts as a result, we will stand apart even more from our competition.

I think my efforts in marketing my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, starting in early 2011, were tantamount in my author name becoming a brand.

When I signed my contract for my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, my publisher gave me some great marketing advice that I needed to start implementing at least six months before my memoir was to be published.

First, create a blog. I felt great about that since I had started a blog four years earlier. However, I needed to change my blog’s focus to the subject matter of my book and all aspects of my writing life. With that I recreated my website cover page and included links about my book and where to buy it. And with the recent publication of my historical novel, Papa’s Shoes, I asked a web designer to update my website cover page again. Now both books are included prominently.

Next, create Facebook personal and fan/author pages. And she suggested I find a new Facebook group to join every week. I’m currently a member of many writing groups and groups about suicide, mental illness, and bipolar disorder (the subject matter of my memoir), and historical fiction groups (the subject matter of my novel). I also joined Twitter, which has taken me years to get experienced in, LinkedIn, Goodreads, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest. Fortunately, when I publish a blog post at least once a week, it links to my Facebook author page, Twitter, Goodreads, LinkedIn, and to my Amazon page. Another thing I’ve done, for which I thank, WOW! I host other authors while they are on their book tours. That way I get to give my blog a variation in subjects, kinds of books, and writing voices.

The major advice I’d give to new authors is to interact regularly with all these social media networks – once or twice a day at least and write a blog post weekly.

Yes, I know all this takes a lot of time. And really, it’s not the end of it. I went on a WOW! Women on Writing blog book tour right after my memoir was released and had another WOW! tour organized for my novel, Papa’s Shoes. I also created another blog book tour on my own, I went on several radio and online interviews, and one of my favorite things to do is give readings and talks about my books. Marketing and PR work is never ending, but very well worth it.

All of this marketing work helped a lot in finding a publisher for my historical novel. What was also important was the quality of my query letter, the brief synopsis I wrote about the book, and that the manuscript was finished, well-edited and revised, so in the mind of the publisher upon reading it, it was ready to go.

I started Papa’s Shoes in 2010 when I was still querying for a publisher for Leaving the Hall Light On(that incidentally took two years and sixty-eight queries) at a UCLA Extension Writer’s Program workshop called “How to Write Your First Novel” with Jessica Barksdale Inclan. I later took, the Novel III online class from her. And as my work got further along, I took Mark Sarvas’ “Novel Revision Techniques,” class, also at UCLA extension. As a result, and maybe this was a little overkill, I revised Papa’s Shoes a total of ten times.

Also, from my many writing friends and contacts I was able to recruit three rounds of Beta readers who worked at three different points in my book writing and revision process. Their hard work, dedication, and valuable comments were mostly incorporated into my book.

I also hired two editors. One did a content edit who provided ten pages single-spaced suggestions on how to make my book better with such detailed that I had to rewrite the book almost entirely at about revision number eight. And at the bitter end, I hired a copy editor. Her meticulous attention to detail was so important to how my book turned out; I couldn’t have finished this book project without her.

The lesson here is that it is very important to have fresh eyes look at your work before you let it out the door. By the time I started querying for a publisher Papa’s Shoes was ready, totally finished. In fact, it only took seven queries. Aberdeen Bay responded almost immediately, and we came to a publishing agreement within a month. I am so pleased to have my book out and getting great reviews. But that couldn’t have happened without all this hard work.


Please let us know your thoughts about building a brand, and of course, comment on this article – whether or not you agree or disagree and if you have some additions or corrections. All voices are welcome.

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