If I say the name J.K. Rowling to you, what do you think of? I'll bet you don't think of a British mum who lives in the country, though that's who she is as a person. You probably think of Harry Potter right away. J.K. Rowling is a brand name to us readers; she's only a person to her family members. And if you want to make it in the literary game, you've got to learn how to turn yourself into a brand, too.
The Professional Mask
That's right. I'm about to tell you to stop being a person, and start being a commodity. You can be a person when you're with your friends and family members. You're a person when you're sitting on your couch. But when you're on social media and when you're self-publishing books, you're a brand. From now on, the pen name you use is your brand name. And you'd better start building it.
Turn yourself into a brand name through what you do online...and what you don't do.
- Recognition: First and foremost, you need to be recognizable. Give yourself a profile picture across all your social media profiles and your author pages on sites like Amazon. I advise using the same image. You want to be immediately recognizable to your audience, and the best way to do that is to avoid confusing them.
- Professionalism: Be careful about how you're presenting yourself on social media and your website. If you want to appeal to the widest possible base of readers, keep your personal political and religious affiliations to yourself. The exception to this is, of course, if you write political or religious books. Always be professional, with your readers and with other authors. Respond to comments, even the negative ones, but always do so in a professional way.
- Stay visible: Be everywhere that you can be online. Create profiles on Goodreads, start writing a blog, jump at the chance to do interviews. The more you get your name out there, the more you brand yourself as an author to pay attention to.
Turn yourself into a brand, and your books will have more name recognition among readers. You can't build a fan base if you don't first establish your name and make yourself recognizable. So brand yourself, and sell more books.