When I talk to my friends who are agents and publishers, they all say they give authors advice and documents that walk them through the online marketing opportunities and timelines. The bigger publishers even have author portals with lots of important and useful information. I wonder then, why do so many authors I speak with say "why didn't someone tell me that."
I speak and work to promote authors online and almost all of them feel that their needs are not supported by their publishers. As someone who has worked in-house, I know how hard everyone works and how passionate they are about their books. So I wonder why there is this disconnect?
The fact that so many authors feel that they were not given the right advice and direction, makes me think that there is an opportunity for publishers to create an "author branding department." A department where authors (all authors not just the big ones) learn to develop their brands along with writing their book. I know it's a lot of work and I know authors are already busy, but in today's digital culture both are equally important. Yes authors need to write the best book possible, and yes they need to have an online brand that helps sell more copies of their books. It is not an either or option. There is an editorial department, maybe there should be an "author branding department" as well.
I believe there are three steps for developing a successful online brand. With my clients I use the following formula: Design + Engagement + Visibility = Success.
- First step in the process is Design. Studies show that we judge a person in 1/10 of a second. I don't think our visual branding is any different. A good website can make or break an author's career. The design of the website, social media assets, graphics, newsletters and video (if possible) is all crucial today. All of these assets require some resources and skills. Some authors have them, but most need advice from professions. Maybe publishers can work with authors right after the contract is signed. I know many authors would benefit from publisher support in this area. With a strong author brand, publishers would sell more books too, so it's a win win.
The few authors that have become huge bestselling successes without a digital or social strategy are anomalies. Most of us need to work on online branding everyday, for the success of our businesses, books and careers. I think everyone would sell more books, if we helped authors, who are the biggest assets of our industry, develop and manage their online brand. In my opinion, online branding is not about selling, it's about making buying easier.
© 2015 Fauzia Burke. All Rights Reserved.
Fauzia Burke is the founder and president of FSB Associates, an online publicity and marketing firm specializing in creating awareness for books and authors. She's the author of Online Marketing for Busy Authors (Berrett-Koehler, Spring 2016). Fauzia has promoted the books of authors such as Alan Alda, Arianna Huffington, Deepak Chopra, Melissa Francis, S. C. Gwynne, Mika Brzezinski, Charles Spencer and many more. A nationally recognized speaker and online branding expert, Fauzia writes for the Huffington Post, MariaShriver.com and MindBodyGreen. For online publicity, book publishing and social media advice, follow Fauzia on Twitter (@FauziaBurke) and Facebook (Fauzia S. Burke).