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Your Author Brand – Your Reputation on the Internet

Your author brand is your reputation on the internet

For many authors, the idea of a “brand” is one that they are vehemently against. They think a brand is something manufactured and fake. They want to be authentic. But the truth is, your author brand will emerge regardless. The key is to make that brand a positive one, which will eventually result in more sales.

What is an Author Brand

Your author brand tells people what to expect from you.Generally, you can consider your author brand to be the amalgamation of the different content you present on the internet. You can have a different brand per social media, or have a singular one across all of them. For example, if all you post on Instagram are cat photos, your Instagram brand is just that: Cat photos.

Why does that matter? Because if you suddenly take your feline-focused timeline and turn it into one selling your horror novel, you might find yourself losing followers left and right. More importantly: You may not sell any books.

Taking it another way, your brand tells people what to expect from you. It helps build that all-important trust necessary for soft selling. Building your online persona focused on a certain theme helps attract potential readers of your genre.

Build a Brand Workshop

Multi-million dollar corporations have teams assigned to brand image and management. You, self- or indie- author, have just yourself. So you’re free to take it as detailed as you like.

Start by asking yourself, “What do I want people to think of when they see my name on social media?” Start at the ten thousand foot view:

  • Do I want to provide readers with information about a certain topic?
  • What are the main themes of my book(s)?
  • What genres do I write in, and what are other authors in that genre doing?

Once you have the answers to those questions, you can start digging deeper. Once you’ve got a general idea of the person you want to be on the internet, you can decide what kind of content you should be posting. For example: if you want to be known as an author who helps other indie authors, post indie knowledge anecdotes. If you want to be fantasy writer, you should follow nerd and geek sites like io9, so you have plenty of content to share to fellow nerds.

It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does have to be more or less consistent. And, of course, if you find yourself veering away from what you thought your brand was, feel free to change it! After all, it’s your brand.

Social Media Etiquette

When it comes to your brand, how you behave is just as important as what you schedule. Every fan response, every reply builds your readers’ idea of you. So, obviously, you want to make sure that perception is a positive one.

It goes without saying: Never respond to negative reviews. Ever.

Even if you think you’re right, even if you think the reviewer is targeting you unfairly. Or if they got the book wrong. Even if you do it privately, because there’s no guarantee the reviewer won’t respond by screencapping your email and posting it for the world to see. Take a breath, write your response in an offline journal, and move on.

When it comes to ruining brand over bad sales, this is a bit more nuanced. Generally, people flock to two kinds of folks: those who are upbeat and positive, and those who cause lots of excitement by drumming up controversy. It’s why we love reality TV.

What people don’t love is when an author gets online and says, “Woe is me. Nobody buys my books. I guess I’ll just hang up my hat and stop writing.” You’ll get a few well-wishers, and maybe a pity sale, but what you’re doing is alienating the readers you do have. Instead, focus on giving yourself opportunities to highlight the positives. Run a sale on your books and post when it hits a high water mark.

This isn’t to say, “don’t be human.” If you’re having a bad day, share it with your followers if you feel it’s appropriate. One of our favorite tried-and-true methods for turning a frown upside-down is our “Bad Day Giveaway” where when we have a bad day, we’ll run a quick Twitter contest and give away a free eBook. We also like, “Tell us something great that happened to you.” It gets our fans talking, and brightens our own mood.

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Author Street Team – A Hundred Megaphones

Author street teams, a hundred megaphones

What is an author street team? Well, in a nutshell, it’s a group of readers who you can call on to help promote and market your book. In return, they get early access to books and author swag. It’s one of the most effective marketing tools–if done right.

If you’ve been following along in our marketing blog series, you’ve probably seen a common theme around soft selling. This is the art of creating good relationships first, then using those relationships to market your book. From bloggers to your social media followers, people want to get to know YOU first.

How to Get Started

Build your author street team from fans who've already read your book, and those who might in the futureConverting those social media relationships into a street team is fairly easy. Think about the fans who always comment, always share, who are always asking questions. These are the folks you should invite to join your street team. There might also be others lurking amongst your followers who’d be game, so be sure to talk about it.

A few weeks ago, we wrote a post about Facebook groups, and we really like that platform for managing your team. However, be advised that not everyone (especially the younger crowd) is still on the Facebook bandwagon. We’ve also used Twitter groups and have played a little bit with Instagram Direct Message groups, but they aren’t as well-organized.

Make it a Community

If you’ve joined any sort of fan group on the internet, you probably joined because of the celebrity or TV show, but stayed for the community. That’s exactly how you should be building your street team. Although the point of the group is to talk about you and your books, mix up your content with questions, discussion posts, or even guest posts. This is especially important when you aren’t actively promoting a book.

If you’re using a content scheduler tool like CoSchedule, you can even schedule these questions in advance, making sure that content is posted on a fairly regular schedule. Don’t forget to respond to comments, though!

Let’s Play a Game

Use competitions to incentivize your author street team to share and leave reviewsWhen you are gearing up for a book release, your street team can be a valuable asset in your marketing arsenal. One of the things we like to do is to run competitions within the street team that rewards them for sharing, commenting, or posting their own original content. We figure out what our end goals are (more reviews/more sales/more organic reach/etc) and then design the competition to reward players for taking those actions.

For most of our competitions, there are various levels resulting in bigger prizes. In some cases, each person earns points for themselves, but we’ve also split the street team into competing factions. Prizes start out small–bookmarks and postcards–and have gone all the way up to coffee mugs and tote bags.

A tweet or a Facebook comment would be a single point, whereas a review on Amazon would be twenty points. We also award extra points for cross posting to Goodreads, Barnes and Noble, and any other eBook store out there.

Have you ever participated in a street team? Tell us about it in the comments!

And if you want to join S. Usher Evans’ street team, check out all the information here!

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Buffer for Authors – Queueing Content and Saving Time

Buffer for Authors

We’ll admit, it took us a while to figure out how to incorporate Buffer into our marketing plan. But now, it’s part of our daily marketing tasks. Today, we’ll talk about the social media scheduler, and some ways that you can use it to complement your social media. Buffer for authors can be an incredible tool!

What is Buffer

Per their website:

What it does is simple. You add updates to your Buffer queue and it will be posted for you well spaced out over the day – and at the best times.

The free version offers you ten slots to fill up for a pre-set schedule that posts the same time every day. Depending on your social media needs, you could do all ten in one day, or space them out over a few days or a week.

All about that Queue

Buffer for Authors: We love using Buffer with content aggregators like Feedly to share relevant content from others in-between our own stuffOne of the big reasons why we couldn’t crack the Buffer nut is we don’t work so much in queues. We like auto-scheduling functions which post different content at different times. We piloted Buffer with CoSchedule, and we ended up with a series of Twitter posts about a single blog post without anything in-between. Or, when it was an off day, we’d end up with one post at 7am every day (because we didn’t have anything else in our queue).

What we started doing instead was to combine it with Feedly, which allows us to aggregate blogs from marketing, publishing, SEO, and any of the other topics that we blog about. Then, every morning, we browse through posts and pick our favorites, adding them to our Buffer queue. We can also use the Chrome add-in to re-share directly from the browser.

In essence, we use CoSchedule’s autoscheduler to post our content and Buffer to share information from others. It gives us that right balance between self-promotion and sharing good content from other people.

Maximize your Buffer

Buffer for Authors: I should fill my Buffer queueOne of the great things about Buffer is the schedule. If you’re an indie author, your fanbase is probably international. You can use the Buffer scheduler to post content all 24 hours, allowing you to do things like write your books instead of being attached to Social Media.

We are also BIG fans of the Re-Buffer feature. When we have an article that resonates with us and our fans, we can re-add it to the queue. Buffer provides fantastic analytics on each of your posts to see which got the most likes, retweets and shares, and comments.

If you’re not a fan of Feedly, you can add a “Buffer button” to your internet browser or, when you download the app, you’ll get an option to share a link to your Buffer. This is really useful for re-tweeting followers, and helps space out your content without having to sit on a website.

Finally, and this is probably more helpful with the paid users (who get up to 100 Buffer posts in their queue), the shuffle feature is beneficial if you’ve added a few items from the same source and want to mix it up a bit.

Have you tried Buffer? What are your favorite tips?

Buffer for Authors: Do's and Don'ts of content scheduling

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CoSchedule – Your Social Media Life in Plain View

CoSchedule: Your social media life in plain view

Being a small business, we’re pretty particular about what we invest money in. Our goal is usually to try to do something ourselves first, and when we realize we can’t, then hire it out. Sometimes, however, investing a little bit in something else pays dividends. Today, we’re going to talk about a paid app we’ve come to adore called CoSchedule.

It’s a social media scheduling platform that connects to pretty much every social platform and WordPress. You can write a blog and schedule all your Tweets, Instagrams, Facebooks, Tumblrs and whatnot in an easy-to-see calendar.

Disclaimer: I’m not a paid advocate for this product… yet.

Why Should You Schedule Content?

Over the past few weeks, we’ve spent some time talking about different social media. If you’re like most authors, you’re trying to juggle your writing career with a full-time job, and perhaps a family, too. Marketing probably doesn’t rank high on your list of things to do (although it should).

By scheduling your content ahead of time, it allows you the flexibility to have a life, as well as maintain a regular presence across different media. You shouldn’t schedule everything, of course. Regular human interaction is important, too.

Why CoSchedule?

We’ve tried a couple different tools, but CoSchedule is far and away the best for our needs (we’ll talk about Buffer next week). In the first place, since we’re managing two separate (but occasionally overlapping) social media brands, CoSchedule makes it easy to put together campaigns. Our weekly SGR-P blog posts are cross-posted across all ten of our connected social media accounts, alongside whatever S. Usher Evans is doing that week.

The calendar view, in particular, is extremely helpful:

A screen shot of our marketing calendar on CoSchedule

We can take a look at each day and level-out if we’ve got too many messages on Monday, or not enough on Tuesday. We can also filter by social media account (to check the number of tweets or Instagram posts) or by campaign/tag. It’s been very helpful as we try to juggle multiple campaigns, from these blog posts to book releases to hosting other authors on the blog.

Content Templates – Our Best Friend

Our best-loved feature in CoSchedule is the ability to create “templates” of social messages. For example, these blog posts get the same treatment week after week. CoSchedule’s Social Campaign feature lets us set up “text helpers” (reusable phrases) and “image helpers,” then put them in a queue of Facebook posts, tweets–even Instagram posts and Pinterest pins. For those of us who blog on the regular, having all this already set up means an hours’ worth of social media scheduling is wrapped up in about 2 minutes.

A look at how we use Coschedule's Content Templates for our weekly blog posts

So Many Ways…

Blogging comprises only one piece of our daily social media habits. Below are the different ways we use CoSchedule to help us get our message to the masses:

  • As we said above, we’ve got a reusable template for our weekly blog posts. One-click and done to Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram
  • Speaking of Instagram, we LOVE using text helpers for all those pesky hashtags. We have a set that we use for all posts and then leave a blank placeholder for post-specific hashtags.
  • We also use CoSchedule to post and share our Wednesday quote picks and also pin them to Pinterest

Our favorite CoSchedule hack is to use templates and text helpers for Twitter Chats. We’ve got a template set up for promo tweets (which start 2 weeks before the chat). Then, on the day of, we have 10 template questions that we fill in with specifics and images. There’s no scheduling, no worrying about the hashtag–it’s all done for us! What used to take us several hours now takes 10 minutes, including the time to dream up questions.

As we said above, it takes a really great product for us to throw down some business dollars to invest in. But for our money and for what we’re trying to accomplish, CoSchedule is worth every penny!

CoSchedule from Garrett Moon on Vimeo.

Why we love CoSchedule to manage our social media

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Instagram for Authors: A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

Instagram for authors: a photo is worth a thousand words

Instagram is fast becoming the most-used mobile social media site, hitting 600 million users in December 2016. It represents a different medium to reach our audience, using not text, but photographs. Still, with over 300 million daily active users, Instagram for authors is a marketing tool they cannot live without.

Instagram in a Nutshell

Instagram is a social media site where users posts photos. It’s intended to be a mobile-only solution, with limited functionality available on the desktop site. Instagram also connects with Facebook (who owns it), Twitter, Tumblr, and more for easy cross-posting of content. Content is displayed to users via an algorithm–the more times a user has interacted with your content, the more they will see your posts in their feeds.

Instagram for authors: Instagram users strive for an aesthetic, a similar look and feel for every photo they postInstagram functions differently than Facebook and Twitter in several different ways. On most social media sites, content remains forever. You can use search features to find content from way back to 2013 and even 2005 for Facebook. The most successful Instagram users, on the other hand, keep their feed to under 100 photos, deleting older and lower-performing photos and keeping the ones that fit their “aesthetic.” An aesthetic is a je ne sais quoi, or the overarching thematic elements of a photograph. Grouped together in a profile, these photos have common colors, angles, etc.

Some common aesthetics for authors include showcasing what you’re working on, such as your Scrivener word count or computer screen, photos of what you’re reading, or your book, or even just having the same filter for every photo to keep the colors the same.

Now, not every Instagram user implements an aesthetic, but having a common visual theme is important to finding new followers. Users want to see visually appealing content, although the occasional dog/cat (or, in one author’s case, ferret) photo is also welcome.

Instagram for Authors

For authors, Instagram provides another avenue to be creative, although for some, switching from word to photos is a bit of a stretch. All you need is your smartphone, a setting, and maybe some small items to stage the photo with. You can even take a few photos at once and schedule them using your favorite content scheduler (more on those in a few weeks).

Once you’ve got your photo, use your phone to upload it to the site and add a filter. Then you’ll need to add some text describing the photo. You can either go short and sweet or long and descriptive. Both options work!

If you decide to go long, Instagram removes carriage returns (line breaks) without text. As well, some users like to “hide” their hashtags at the bottom of their posts so they don’t clutter up the important text (or they add it as a comment).

For both, you’ll often see users add:

[Text text text]
[more text or hashtags]


Instagram for authors: You can use up to 30 hashtags on Instagram--use every one!Unlike Twitter, which recommends one or two hashtags per tweet, or Facebook, where hashtags never took off, Instagram is an app that thrives on hashtags. You may use up to 30 hashtags, and if you’re looking to boost engagement and reach, you should use every single one.

Some of the best are below:

  1. Bookstagram
  2. Bookish
  3. Bookaholic
  4. Bookaddict
  5. Booklover
  6. Booknerd
  7. Booknerdigans
  8. IreadYa
  9. YALit
  10. YAbooks
  11. amreading
  12. igreads
  13. igwrites
  14. amwriting
  15. writerscommunity
  16. indieauthor

To find more, check out our two Instagram accounts (susherevans and sgrpublishing).

Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories is a new(ish) feature introduced by Instagram that favors Snapchat’s formula of instant photos with text and drawings that disappear after they’ve been seen. For Instagrammers, especially those who want to keep their profiles to under a hundred photos, Instagram Stories provides an opportunity to showcase more than your aesthetic. You can post behind-the-scenes, short videos, and even advertise your new posts to show them to users who might have missed them. Unlike photos on your main feed, all stories are shown to all users.


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Facebook Groups – A Multi-Purpose Tool

Facebook Groups for Authors are exactly what they sound like–place where people can gather to have discussions about different things. For authors, they present three opportunities for marketing. Authors can join groups with other authors in their genre for networking, or they can join groups where readers are hunting for the best deals. Or authors can create their own groups for managing street teams. We’ll cover all three in this blog post.

Author Support Groups

Author support Facebook groups help you network with authors in your genreIf you’ve decided to self-publish, the road can seem pretty lonely at times. That’s why it’s important to find other authors in your genre to network and lean on for help and support. Using Facebook’s search function, you can seek out genre groups and ask to join them. Most of these groups will be closed to protect individual authors.

Besides emotional support, these groups offer opportunities to work with other authors in your genre, too. Here is where you mind find an opportunity to add yourself to a box set, or join in a promotion activity. But as for self-promo, these groups usually have pretty strict rules around it (usually not allowed).

Genre Groups

So where do you go to promote your book? Alongside author support groups, there are hundreds of Facebook groups dedicated to helping readers find the best deals on their favorite kinds of books. These are the groups, usually, where you can post (or request to post) your sale book info. Be careful though, as these can become what we call “author graveyards” where the only people reading the content are authors who stop in to post their own stuff.

Street Team Groups

Facebook groups are the best way to communicate with your author street team In the first two examples, you are a participant and the groups are already being created. In this case, you are the owner and operator, which opens up a whole lot of fun opportunities.

We’ll have a blog about street teams at a later date, but suffice to say, we’re big believers in them. In the first place, a street team helps you soft sell your book to others and may also help boost your review numbers. In return for helping you spread the word, you can give them free stuff like swag and eBooks. (Want to join our alter-ego’s Street Team? Click here!)

While there are many options to managing your street team, there really is no better option than Facebook Groups (although Goodreads Groups may come in a close second). From a content display standpoint, topics are organized by original post. You can also pin posts to the top of the discussion that you want the team to see.

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Facebook Pages for Authors – Your Professional Profile

Facebook pages for authors: the best way to reach fans on the social network

Facebook Pages for Authors are some of the best tools writers can use to find their readers. Facebook is, of course, one of the most popular social medias available today. Many of your readers will seek you out (or you’ll find them) via the website. But there’s a few things to know when working with the website.

Facebook Profile vs. Pages

Facebook pages for authors: the best way to reach fans on the social networkMost of us probably already have a Facebook profile. It’s where we post photos of our pets and kids and food, and where we get into arguments with our family on the opposite side of the political spectrum. But Facebook intends for your personal profile to be just that–personal. If you use your profile to sell, there’s a chance it could get flagged for removal.

Instead, authors should create Facebook Pages. You’ll need to use your personal page to create a page, and Facebook has more information here.

Facebook vs. Twitter

Each social media site has a different type of content that works better. Whereas Twitter works best with a lot of content, Facebook requires decidedly less posting frequency to achieve the same result. As well, Twitter shows all content in a stream, Facebook has the dreaded algorithm (yes, much like Amazon’s) that shows content to specific people.

For both media, videos and images work better than straight text. You can also use a litany of different tools to connect Twitter and Facebook so you’ll only have to post in one place.

Facebook’s Algorithm

Facebook pages for authors: the best way to reach fans on the social networkOne of our biggest issues with Facebook is the algorithm. Facebook is moving toward a model of pay-to-play; that is, they’d like pages to pay to reach the audience they’ve already accumulated. They rank certain content higher, including content that doesn’t come from your own website. We’ve noticed a difference between blogs that originate on our own URLs and guest blogs from other URLs.

Because of this, we use both our Facebook pages as just another tool to disseminate information, instead of an active presence where we talk to our fans.

The other reason why we opt to not utilize Facebook (or pay them) is because our audience is much younger than Facebook. For authors who target young adults and teens, they’re better served focusing their energy on Instagram, Snapchat, and Tumblr. For those who focus more on older adults, Facebook is the place to focus your energy.

Facebook Ads

For those who are focusing on the older audiences of Facebook, it might be worth it to invest in Facebook’s advertising programs. For a budget that you set, you can boost your posts or show your posts to brand new people. Facebook also allows you to have pretty refined granularity to show your ads to specific people. Considering the amount of information people feed to Facebook through likes and comments, there’s a good chance, if your users are on Facebook, your ad might be seen by them.

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