During discussions about branding strategies with my college peers, it is common to hear about the importance of searching for the value a reader is looking to find when they are browsing through books, and then focusing on producing manuscripts that target these values. This initiative probably works well when producing and marketing most products, but how effective could this strategy be in the book market?
Like marketers at other product and service companies, marketers in the book publishing industry conduct research about what their readers are looking for, and even find topics readers haven’t discovered yet because they are so new. The difference between other marketers and book marketers is in how they put their findings to use. If we want to put what readers are looking for on the shelves of bookstores, we need to begin by finding those writers whose personal and professional principles mirror the values of the readers. By investing in enhancing these writers’ identities and brand values, we can help them connect with readers who will become life-long fans.
In 3 Steps to Building your Author Brand, Leila Dewji says that it all starts with brand values. She claims, “whether you like it or not, all authors have a brand that will be judged by readers, media, and book sellers.” Rather than inventing this brand, the brand is naturally created by a writer who is motivated by their own principles, interests, and values. The author’s passion and drive will produce topics and materials that will spark the interest of readers. Manuscripts will be created with the intention of communicating, educating, entertaining, etc., rather than being created for the sole purpose of having a high financial profit, which might come as a given result anyway.
Once brand values are clear, the author, editor, designers, marketers, and publicists should work in unison to strengthen that brand. Each of them has a different role, but the goal is the same: to present a clear and defined identity to the readers, social media, and bookstores. The author’s role is to express and organize their ideas in a genuine way by being themselves. In the article Brand Strategy for Authors: How to Truly Stand Out From The Crowd, Kimberly Grabas writes that the “first step is to very clearly define your brand purpose and values.” These are composed of “purpose, vision, and mission.” Through this reflective exercise, authors can discover their “unique areas of advantage or value” and their own voice, which is then communicated through their writing. It is also important that writers show these principles and values, not just in their writing, but also in their social and public lives. The editor’s role is to then help the writer shape the manuscript toward that unique identity.
The design, marketing, and publicity departments also play a very important part in this process. They work on creating strategies that bring cohesiveness to the manuscript; this can include details such as the content in social media, the colors used in the design, and the chosen fonts, especially on the book cover and media graphics.
By investing in enhancing the author’s identity and brand values, we can help them connect with readers and create long-lasting bonds with them, which will result in the overall success of the project, which benefits everyone in the end.