RU Writers – listen to what marketing expert Oliver Rhodes has to say – he certainly knows what he’s talking about!
With the current whirlwind of change within the publishing industry – led by the rapid growth in ebooks, self-publishing and the growth of social media – there are few reassuring constants. Format, price, retailers, publishers, agents and the way that readers discover and choose their books are all constantly evolving.
Sometimes it feels impossible to keep up with the changes. What is the latest thing that is going to make your books a success?
Reassuringly, one thing remains resolutely the same. It’s something that almost all bestselling authors, whether traditionally published or self-published have in common. That is the importance of the author brand and delivering what your readers want consistently.
I have written at Romance University before about understanding author brand and how you can make the most of it.
But why exactly is author brand (you can substitute the word ‘reputation’ for brand if you prefer) important? And how can it make you more money?
AUTHOR BRAND AND CHOICE
For readers faced with an increasingly bewildering array of choice, author brand is an important way of navigating through the millions of titles available.
Your author name should be a reason for readers to choose your book over the others in the chart – a guarantee that their time and money will be well spent.
Even better, your name can be something that readers search for directly – cutting out the competition.
That’s not to say that having an established author name means that your work is over and you can charge whatever you want for a book. There is so much competition that, for long term success, you need to keep giving readers what they want and price fairly – or they will find replacements.
What it does mean is that having an author brand – stories with consistent qualities and of consistent quality – is a competitive advantage that will help you sell more books.
AUTHOR BRAND AND PRICING
Any quick surf through the Kindle charts will reveal a mountain of content available for FREE, or at a very low price. As a consumer you could quite happily spend all your reading time on free (or very cheap) content.
So why pay? The answer is relatively simple – the reassurance of high quality content.
As a reader, you invest more than just money in a book – you invest time. In a world where leisure time is increasingly at a premium, reading a book is a considerable investment – much more so than listening to a CD or even watching a film.
Put simply, life is too short to read bad books.
Your author brand is a guarantee to the reader that they will be investing their time in something that they will enjoy or find rewarding – and that is worth paying for.
How much? That will depend on 1) how much readers want your book and 2) how much competition you have.
Of course, if you are traditionally published you won’t have control over pricing. But you do have control over your content – and by concentrating on writing books that delivery on your brand promise again and again, you’ll help your publisher to help you.
A note on pricing if you are self publishing…
An excellent strategy when you have several books available is to use low pricing, promotional pricing (or even free) for one eBook – which you use to get readers to trial your writing. If they haven’t read any of your books before, they’ll need a good reason to pick you (as opposed to one of their other favourite brands). Don’t use your weakest book. Use your best one. The book that is most likely to have readers wanting more.
Your other books can then be priced higher. Once readers have read your work they (hopefully) have a good reason to pay for more of the same.
WHAT DOES THAT ALL MEAN FOR ME?
Author brands aren’t established over night. Keep going and deliver consistently, book after book, after book. Author brands are built one book and one reader at a time. Plenty of bestselling authors (from Nora Roberts to Debbie Macomber) didn’t take off until they’d written a lot of books.
Consistency is key. If you’re switching genre or writing style from book to book, don’t expect readers to follow you, even if the new book is great. For your brand to mean something, you have to be consistent.
Don’t be afraid to stand out. Being different means you’ll have less competition – and be harder to replace. If readers are getting something from your writing that they can’t find elsewhere, they’ll keep coming back.
Write series. Writing in a series – with a returning world or characters – is a way of guaranteeing that you’re offering something that readers can’t get anywhere else.
Understand the link between brand and price. Use price to hook readers in, but understand that by delivering consistently great books, you can afford to charge more once you have done that.
With the rate of change in publishing and marketing, it is tempting to look for quick routes to success. Being a whizz on social media and understanding how to promote your books effectively can all help. But the most important part of marketing – and the cornerstone of any brand – is still your product. Focusing on getting that right consistently is an author’s first and most important job. And it’s what readers will pay for.
Who are your must-buy authors? Are you prepared to pay more for authors that you trust? Let me know via the comments section!
Join us on Wednesday for To Publish or to Self-Publish: the Wild West of Publishing with Agent Elizabeth Winick Rubinstein
Oliver Rhodes is the Founder of Bookouture – a digital publisher of romance and women’s fiction. Recently picked by The Bookseller as one of their ‘Rising Stars’ of 2012, he’s passionate about building global author brands.
Formerly Marketing Controller at Harlequin UK, Oliver has worked in publishing for over 12 years. Some of his highlights from his time at Harlequin include launching Mills & Boon’s New Voices online writing competition and rapidly growing its MIRA imprint – establishing authors such Debbie Macomber, Diane Chamberlain, Susan Wiggs and Alex Kava in the UK market.
- Your Author Brand – How to Make the Most of It with Oliver Rhodes
- How to choose the right publishing option for YOU by Oliver Rhodes
- Weekly Lecture Schedule – December 2nd to December 6th
- New RU Columnist Oliver Rhodes: Do I need an author website? And what should I put on it?
- Oliver Rhodes: How to be a more successful author by doing less