Wednesday, August 17, 2016

3 Things Authors Can Learn from Brands

Greetings all, John J. Horn here.

I work in digital advertising, so I spend a significant percentage of my brainpower each day thinking about how I can help businesses make more money.

Like it or not, every author is a business. You may not be profitable, but you're a business. You have a brand. You might even have multiple brands (e.g. fiction and nonfiction).

Here are three things authors can learn from brands about building their own brands.

1. Be consistent

Smart brands are consistent.

They use defined color schemes in their ads, on their websites, and in their product packaging.

They use taglines, like Nike's "Just Do It" and Geico's "Save 15% or more . . ."

They consistently present themselves as a solution to a specific problem, a way to achieve a specific feeling, or the purveyor of a specific experience.

Not every author needs a tagline and a logo, but you should apply the concept of consistency to your brand or conglomerate of brands.

Are you known for writing historical epics and now want to dabble in young adult romance? That's fine, but make sure your readers understand the difference. You may write a fantastic drama about the high stakes of high school, but that's probably not going to excite somebody who expected blood and guts in Ancient Rome.

Many authors tackle this by using pen names. Others use their real names (or single pen names) across all genres but they make sure their covers, marketing materials, and so on clearly communicate the differences between their books.

2. Know your market

One of the first questions I ask a new client is: Who is your target audience?

Do you know yours? Are you writing for young adults? Middle-aged women? Ten-year-old boys?

Because every person is unique you may very well write a book which interests young adults, middle-aged women, and ten-year-old boys all at the same time. However, you almost certainly have a target audience which makes up the vast majority of your readers.

Know your audience. Understand them. Know what they want, what they hate, and the kinds of books they've probably read.

This is where the "Amazon review" effect comes into play. Reviewer A says the book was "the best thing that ever happened to me" while Reviewer B says "I should have burned the money I paid for this garbage — at least that would have given me some enjoyment."

It's the same book. The difference is the reader, and you should focus on the people most likely to read your book — not on pleasing every single human.

3. Build loyalty

There's a reason that brands often spend more money in advertising to acquire a new customer than the customer pays them for their initial purchase.

The reason is called Lifetime Value. The initial purchase is just the beginning of a relationship. Hopefully that customer will come back for years, will refer their friends, and their friends' friends, and become a mini brand ambassador.

Sound familiar? That's exactly how successful authors grow their empires and break through the ozone layer into the elite ranks of authors who make decent money.

The hard work you put into your book brings you more than the $10 or $2 a reader pays you to read it. Your book becomes a 200-page commercial for your next book. And your next.

Make every book the best possible product you can (within reason). Not just because that's the right thing to do, but because you need loyal customers who are going to snap up every book you write.

Be consistent. Know your market. Build loyalty. Write amazing books!

John J. Horn is a Christian author from Texas. Purchase his Men of Grit series from Amazon here and sign up for his newsletter at

1 comment:

  1. Ooh... this hits me right where I needed it. :P Let's just say that I'm slowly learning to apply all of this. ;) Thanks for the reminder!


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