Brand You: How to Find Your Author Brand

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

I come to novel writing by way of advertising, and I tend to view the task of marketing one’s books through an advertising lens. It took me a long time to get an agent for my newly published book, Mistress Suffragette (Penmore Press, 2017), so I was able to devote plenty of attention to thinking about my brand.

When I was in advertising, I learned that Madonna is a brand, and so is Coca Cola. So, let’s look at Coca-Cola: What does it stand for? For starters, it’s red—in other words, high energy. It’s also caffeinated. And, if you go back to the days of the “Have a Coke and a Smile” slogan, Coca-Cola also stands for happiness.

Red, caffeinated, happiness. Those words have become synonymous with Coke. Every time I watch a Coca-Cola commercial, I see the color red, and I watch as people jump up and down for joy while drinking it. That feeling defines the brand.

In the same way that having a clearly defined brand helps Coca-Cola connect its drink with the millions of people who love it, I believe that having a clearly defined brand will help people connect with you and your work. Here’s how to do it.

Choose 5 Adjectives

I like to reduce my brand—really, any brand—to five adjectives. I describe my author brand as humorous, smart, and feisty, with a heavy dollop of New York City thrown in. Historical rounds out my list to five adjectives since it’s the genre I write in.

Identify Your Writer’s Voice

You can also define branding as your writer’s voice. Before I even had any idea what my voice was, readers told me I was funny. I prefer to think of my voice as my brand personality, because that seems more fleshed out, more multidimensional. It also puts me in self-promotion mode for my novel.

To find your brand personality, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is your work serious or lighthearted? Contemporary or classic?
  2. Are you introverted or outgoing? Quirky or classy?
  3. What core value guides your approach? Morality? Outrage? Confrontation? The search for love?

Understanding these elements will help you find your voice.

Be Consistent

My brand personality impacts all my marketing. Three months before I published my novel, which just so happens to be humorous, smart, feisty, and very New York oriented—not to mention historical—I opened a Facebook account and a Twitter account for the novel. I decided that every single item I posted would need to align with the brand identity I had set for myself.

Your brand personality will inform your marketing and communications and keep your message clear. An old adage tells us that “consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,” but I think it’s a good idea to strive for consistency. Keep a consistent look and tone in your headshot, tagline, website, social media platforms, e-newsletter and any marketing collateral.

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About Diana Forbes

Diana Forbes is a ninth-generation American with ancestors on both sides of the Civil War. She lives and writes in Manhattan. When she is not cribbing chapters, she loves to explore the buildings where her 19th-century American ancestors lived, loved, survived, and thrived. She is passionate about vintage clothing, antique furniture, and ancestry, and vows to master the quadrille in her lifetime. Diana Forbes is the author of Mistress Suffragette. Prior to publication, Mistress Suffragette won first place in the Missouri Romance Writers of America (RWA) Gateway to the Best Contest for Women's Fiction. A selection from the novel was a finalist in the Wisconsin RWA "Fab Five" Contest for Women's Fiction. Mistress Suffragette won first place in the Chatelaine Awards in the Romantic and Sensual category and was shortlisted for the Somerset award in Literary Fiction. Learn more at


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