Ever worried about things that might go wrong when building your author brand?
What if we told you that there are little known ways to spot, prevent, and fix your author branding mistakes?
In this article, we’ve collected 10 most common author branding mistakes that you should avoid at all costs and tips on how to overcome them.
What are we waiting for? Let’s begin.
10 most common author branding mistakes
Let us walk through the basics of what author branding mistakes you may deal with.
Mistake 1: Not identifying your target audience
Let us just say this upfront: it’s important to gather all the insights and information you can get your hand on about you
r current and potential readers. Believe it or not, it’s not enough to leave your reader’s personal research to guesses, assumptions or false beliefs, and hope it’ll work out in your favor. It would be best to have at least a vague idea of your author brand follower’s interests, activities, and opinions.
Don’t base your audience research on the particular novel or genre, but consider your whole author career and the public image you’ve created. Involve your reader in everything you do: your style, reputation, vision, opinions, etc.
How to analyze your audience? You can do it right now. Hard to believe? Well, take a pen or open your laptop, and try to give brief answers to the following questions:
- Who are the people you are trying to reach out to? What do they do for a living and in their free time?
- What’s your mission? Why will your audience be interested in it?
- How did your readership find out about you as an author? Where’s the link?
- Are you an innovator or conservative? Depending on the answer to this question, your target audience should have similar views and opinions.
- What are the competitive advantages of your author brand?
- What can prevent readers from perceiving you as they should?
Now, you are all set to improve your engagement with the readers through a well-established author brand. Our next stop is to understand how the wrong social media campaign can harm your author branding.
Mistake 2: Inactive social media presence
Another mistake many authors make when creating the author brand is ignoring the power of social media. Welcome to the 21st century!
For your author brand to improve and develop, it’s not enough to concentrate on writing and leave everything else to chance. Solution? You need to find places where your readers and fellow-authors hang out the most.
Luckily, in a fast-changing society, you don’t even need to leave your apartment. Go online! Post useful updates and information. Now, we’re talking: you’re putting yourself out there. In our recent interview, a best-selling LitRPG author Apollos Thorne expressed his opinion regarding the social media presence:
With any marketing, always research which platforms your readers use. On one hand, platforms they use for their social media are important to reach them but don’t forget about the platforms where they buy and read books. For example, my readers hang out in Facebook groups, so advertising there is also a must.
Let us give you a few ideas about social media activities to develop your author brand further.
- Book cover teasers and reveal
- Short videos
- Q&A sessions
- Live Streams
- “Ask me anything” section on
It’s time to look at two more author branding mistakes when it comes to social media campaigns.
Mistake 3: Concentrating too much on book branding, instead of providing useful information
Sometimes, the only thing authors do is promote their books. That’s not how you establish an excellent author brand. Seriously, if it’s all about that one book, the readers might get the feeling that you’re trying to sell them something and take advantage of their trust and loyalty.
Don’t get us wrong: it’s fine to discuss your book. You wrote it. You’re proud of it. But make sure it’s not the only thing you talk about on your social media, newsletters, author website, author events, and interviews, etc.
Some experts recommend using the 30/30/30 formula. It means publishing 30% of professional content, 30% of personal content, and 30% of the content in the form of testimonials and reviews.
Here’s a helpful list of ideas that you can share with your readers on social media:
- Content curation (share what you saw, read, or listened to.)
- Behind the scenes
- Upcoming events
- Links to your blog posts
- Exclusive book reveals
- Book release updates
- Other book recommendations
- Industry news
The next issue you might face when building your author brand through social media presence is a poor engagement with the followers.
Mistake 4: Not engaging enough with your readers and fans
This might seem like an obvious mistake, but let’s still discuss it for a bit.
Communication is the key. Make sure you connect with your readers. As simple as it is, rule no 1 is to react to their messages, letters, e-mail replies, etc. How would you feel if your favorite movie star exchanged a few texts with you? Here you go.
Another thing is to react and respond to the comments on each of your social media channels. Even if that means you’re just saying thank you to the loyal brand follower. Then, from time to time, monitor the shares, mentions, and retweets. Prove to the people you’re out there and you care.
Let us explain what we mean by sharing tricks that you can implement on two of the most popular social media platforms: Facebook and Twitter.
Facebook’s fundamental distinguishing feature is that the feed includes the posts of friends and posts that friends of friends have commented or “liked”. Because of this, Facebook contributes to the viral spread of content. Facebook’s best content format for authors is one or more photos with a text or a link.
Twitter is designed to exchange posts up to 140 characters long. Hashtags can help you use Twitter to promote your author brand. The best content format for Twitter is capacious text, link, and 2-3 popular hashtags.
Now, let’s look at another common author branding mistake: the design.
Mistake 5: Poor quality of author branding design elements
First, let’s go through a list of design elements for building your author brand:
- Author logo
- Author tagline
- Author headshots
- Brand colors
- Brand fonts
- Author blog
- Social media accounts
- Social media graphic elements
- Business cards
- Promotional materials
Depending on where you stand, you might go with some DIY options or hire professionals.
There are two main things that a lot of indie authors struggle with and make mistakes:
- Lack of consistency in design style
Every element of your author branding design should match. As simple as it is, use the same color palette, fonts, and graphics. Look at the example below. Every single detail creates a perfect balance and has the same style as other items. You need that to build a successful author brand—no way around it.
- Lousy design quality
If your author brand’s design elements look too amateurish, the only thing you’ll accomplish is jeopardizing your credibility as an author and as a brand. For example, it’s a poor taste to get standard and boring fonts on your designs. The same goes for color palettes; old-fashioned black and white logos that you’ve put together in Microsoft Office are getting you anywhere. Use your imagination.
Mistake 6: Not having or having a bad author website and blog
Let us ask you a question. Do you have an author website? If the answer is no, stop reading this article right now and fix the issue. For those of you who did their homework and built a functioning author website, welcome aboard. There are the main important functions that your website should have. Unfortunately, some authors cannot deliver it. Pay attention to the following factors when coming up with your author website:
- author funnel
- search engine optimization
- calls to action
Besides, these are some common mistakes and issues with author website and blog:
- Loading time and lack of optimization.
A poorly designed website will not only look less professional but also be not visible in search results.
- Wrong domain name.
The best idea is to go with name and surname variations. Don’t put the title of your book as your website’s name.
- Old-fashioned design.
Sometimes websites have a really outdated design. Check out WordPress or Wix. They are great user-friendly website creators.
Make sure you don’t fall down on the trap of these mistakes when coming up with your author website and blog.
Our next stop is book marketing mistakes that can harm your author brand. Buckle up.
Mistake 7: Ignoring book launch and marketing campaigns
If you think that the book pre-launch, launch, and marketing campaigns are a waste of time, you’re missing out on tons of branding possibilities. Think of the business world for a while. Apple is making a huge deal out of its new iPhone release campaign. Why should you be any different?
Take a look at the list of benefits before you slam the door:
- interaction with the readers (both online and offline)
- showing that you care by tossing in some author commentary or freebies
- spreading the word around
What about the market research? Not paying enough attention to the industry is one more author branding mistake to avoid, no matter what.
Mistake 8: Not enough research on the market trends
If you don’t know much about the writing industry, it seems like a nearly impossible task to make the right decisions when establishing the author brand. Many self-published authors lack time to research the latest trends, updates, news, etc.
However, everything that’s happening around you might affect your readers’ perception and choices when they’ll get appropriately introduced to your author brand.
There are two things you can do about it. First, stay tuned to the influencers in the writing industry, and check from time to time if any new ones pop up.
Have you already heard about:
Do the same when it comes to genre trends. Follow fellow authors who write in the same niche as you do. Analyze their strengths and weaknesses in the author branding department. And see if you can relate to any of those ideas. Alert: don’t borrow or copy any other author’s ideas. Otherwise, you’ll lose the distinguishing feature of your very own author branding.
One more author branding mistake worth mentioning is randomly changing your values, mission, and the genre you write in. Let’s take a closer look.
Mistake 9: Changing your unique selling point and writing genres without putting too much thought into it
We get it. It might be hard to restrict your creative mind to just one genre. However, make sure you switch from different topics, genres, and unique selling points wisely. Not putting too much thought into the shifting strategy can harm your marketing and branding. First of all, you risk losing the current readers that already became attached to your writing style and vision.
The same rule applies to the author brand. The readers trust you because they can relate to what you are doing. So if you jump into some partnership, collaborations, or offer more services, make sure your readers are prepared. And that whatever you’re doing is not compromising your initial presentation. It’s easy to lose face, watch out.
Finally, you need a plan. Not just a plan, but a well-thought branding plan.
Mistake 10: Not having an author branding plan
Let’s turn on your “authorpreneurship” mode for a bit, shall we? Relax, we won’t be talking about analyzing complicated charts or getting lost in calculations.
Instead, what you should do if you want a fruitful author brand is:
- Create a content plan. This one is easy. Write down the type of content you will share with your readers through multiple channels weekly or monthly. Set clear goals and check if you’ve managed to reach them. Also, take a look at what went wrong and how it can be improved. Take a look at the templates for your author branding content plan.
- You also might want to check some collaboration platforms, like Trello, to set tasks and monitor your performance. Plan, plan, and plan one more time. Author branding does not happen overnight.
Watch out for these 10 common author branding mistakes, and you’ll get one step closer to building a strong and recognizable brand. Come back to this article every time you encounter an issue, need a solution, or just want to peek at outstanding author branding design examples.
Happy author branding!
Anastasiya is a Content Writer at MiblArt — a book cover design company for self-published authors. There are so many stories in this world worth telling. Let us make sure yours gets the attention it deserves.