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Why Authors Shouldn’t be Hiding Behind Their Books_ What it Means to Build an Author Brand

Why Authors Shouldn’t be Hiding Behind Their Books: What it Means to Build an Author Brand

Why Authors Shouldn’t be Hiding Behind Their Books_ What it Means to Build an Author Brand

What happens after that exciting moment, once your book hits those shelves, or digital selling platforms?  Once you’ve let all of your friends and family know that you’re a bona fide writer? After you’ve posted across your social media channels that your new book is now launched? Is it time to crack open the champagne? You’ve definitely done some hard work by this point. But, is that all? Have you figured out how you are going to entice readers to your book, your position in the marketplace, and what your marketing and publicity strategy is going to be?

The first thing we do in PR and Publicity is to establish “what’s the story”, in the same way that journalists do when they’re in the newsroom. The story, as you’ll know if you’re a writer, is the driver; is the thing that gives a book or an event or an action its reason for being in the first place. Stories are what connect us as humans to other people, places, and things. 

You may have heard marketers say before that people don’t buy objects, or things. They buy feelings. They buy stories; or in other words, what the things signify, the emotional attachment that they have assigned to the thing. The story that we believe about the thing. 

It is the same with books. We’re buying what we believe the book is going to give us, emotionally. How the book will make us feel. This might be to feel cosy, warm, transported to a fantasy world; or to leave us feeling that we have really expanded our minds and learned a new perspective, or gained a new insight into a part of the human experience with which we weren’t already familiar. 

This is the principle concern before embarking on PR and Marketing for your book. It’s not a simple paint-by-numbers game of this review going into that publication or website. You want to get to the heart of your book and from there to the heart of your readership. Because no two books are the same, no two authors are the same, and no two stories are the same.

One of the big mistakes I see authors making (especially over on TikTok!) is that they spend a lot of time and energy trying to explain to potential readers what their book is about. Authors can often go into minute detail on their social media accounts of plots, characters, viewpoints, arcs and motives. This of course is absolutely essential to have figured out when you’re writing the book. But when you’re trying to compel potential readers to go ahead and order and buy it? Not so much. 

Telling your potential readers or social media audiences what your book is about in great depth, is far more likely to have them switching off your Reel in favor of going back to watch cat videos. 

What you want to be able to convey to your potential readers is WHY you wrote your book and therefore what it means to you. 

What was your motivation for writing your book? What made you so passionate about writing it that you applied yourself for hours of focused work, taking energy and quite probably blood, sweat and tears to produce a whole book? What has led you, either circumstantially, emotionally, or spiritually, to write your book? This is what we want to try and convey in the Author Brand Story. 

This is the piece that clearly shows your potential reader what it is that drives you, what makes you different, what is your uniqueness as an author? Your own experiences, circumstances, and passions drive you to do what you do. What are they? What are the things that are most important to you, or in other words what are your core values?

Once you have uncovered and are able to articulate these elements of who you are as an author, you will be able to clearly tell your reader why you wrote your book. Introducing this human element to your own Author Brand Story, is the piece that your readers will be able to connect to. This is what will compel them to want to read more, to pick up your book, buy it and read it.

I’m often asked by authors whether they need to focus on visuals to build their Author Brand. Things like headshots, images of themselves, logos and graphics. Imagery helps to illustrate a story, but the words are the most important thing in terms of allowing your audience and readership to get to know who is the author behind the books. 

As with all cultural properties, that includes movies, TV shows, and music, the thing that will ultimately sell books is word of mouth. This is what most marketers are trying to generate. In order to get people talking to each other about your books, sharing recommendations with their friends, and reviewing your books online, you as the author need to do the work in drawing the potential readers’ attention to your books. 

Your Author Brand Story, once fully uncovered, tells your potential reader Why you wrote your book, that you wrote it for them (that they are your ideal reader), and Why they should care about it enough to actually read it. Your Author Brand Story can then form the basis of your marketing and publicity efforts, in drawing in whomever you are pitching yourself to as an author (or pitching your books) to agents, publishers, journalists, award judges, etc in the future. 

We are very close to our own stories, therefore it’s not always easy to identify and articulate our own motivations for why we have written that which we have, but if you want to have a go at finding your own Author Brand Story, a good place to begin is by answering these questions: Why you? Why here? Why now?


About the Author:
Isabelle Knight is a professional Publicist of over 20 years, having worked with some of the biggest names in Entertainment and Publishing, including JK Rowling and BBC. Isabelle is now a Speaker and PR & Brand Mentor to Authors and Business Founders. She is also Adjunct Professor in MA, PR & Advertising at the American International University of London. 

In 2024 Isabelle will be a Book Award Judge of the Page Turner Awards, judging the International Novel contest. 

For more information on how Isabelle works with Authors, please visit

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