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Why you should consider an author “brand”
San Francisco Writers Conference San Francisco Writers Conference
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: San Francisco, CA
Wednesday, July 28, 2021


Did you know that as an author you have a “brand?” Yep, just like Nike or Starbucks or Reese Witherspoon, your books are a product with a reputation.

Part of your brand is the thing readers will come to expect from your writing style. Dark themes? Snarky female voices? Soulful prose and lush settings? We all know to expect twisted, thematic horror from Stephen King or tight, page-turning thrills from James Patterson. If Master King suddenly wrote a cozy mystery with a feline protagonist and a cupcake shop, we might be thrown—and throw the book.

Consistency in your writing style helps you find and maintain loyal readers who love your particular brand of writing. This is why many authors will adopt a pen name when they want to try something “off brand.”

But secondly, your brand is who you are. Now, most people don’t become writers to have their face recognized at the airport, and I’m not saying you have to put yourself out there fully exposed. But in today’s globally digital world of social media and online marketing, it can be hard to hide unless you stay off the internet completely. Owning and controlling your public persona can be a vital element of success—it can also be a lot of fun!  

The truth is, whether you’re a Big Five traditional author or an Indie Powerhouse, if you have any level of publishing success, readers are going to form opinions about you. They’ll wonder who you are as a person. 

They’re going to Google you.

Purposefully crafting a brand can be an opportunity to create a curated author persona that supports your writing style. Instead of your readers deciding who you are, you get to control the narrative. And narrative is what we do best, right?!

So what does “branding” look like for an author?

The Basics

Basic branding is a consistent design across all your covers, newsletter, and website. Whether you want to put yourself out there or not, every author should pay attention to these fundamental elements. The creative should match what you’re selling and be as streamlined as possible. 

  • Your covers should be genre appropriate and consistent 
  • Your author website should mirror your creative (e.g., If you write bubbly rom-coms, your website shouldn’t be dark and brooding) 
  • Your newsletter should mimic the voice and theme of your writing. Your readers want to hear from an old friend.

Step it up with Social Media

You can add power to your brand by extending this practice into your social media presence. Sure, you can post pictures of your cat all day long on Instagram and maybe your loyal fans will enjoy your furry feline. But unless you write cozy mysteries, it probably won’t do much to support your brand. 

Crafting your online profile around your book style and theme will not only entertain your current fans, but it will attract more readers of that genre.

If you’re that rom-com writer, you might want to entertain your followers with jokes, uplifting photos, and snapshots of settings that inspire romance. If you’re comfortable, maybe share some glimpses into your own love story. 

If you write paranormal fantasy, maybe you post a picture of an abandoned house you drove by, passages from your favorite ghost stories, you reading Stephen King by the fireplace. You get my drift.

Take me as an example. I write mysteries and suspense with badass, vodka-swigging heroines. While you might get a glimpse of my sweet daughter on occasion, mostly I’ll entertain you on Instagram with dry murder jokes, my nightly martini, some creepy settings that inspire me, or just some insight into my writing process. 

You can offer some glimpses into the “real” you, but your readers don’t necessarily want to reconcile two completely opposing characters (unless the dichotomy of that in itself becomes your brand, haha). My fans know I have a love of murder, a stiff drink, red lipstick, and Louboutin heels (as I joke, sometimes all at once).

While it’s part of my brand, it’s also true. I’ve crafted my brand around the things I love. 

Someone who is killing it at this is Reese Witherspoon. Her Instagram is bursting with sunny images of Pinterest-worthy summer picnics and books and bubbling southern charm. Is she like that in her everyday life? Who knows. But I’ll tell you she is worshiped here in Nashville, TN, and her clothing store downtown, Draper James, is a mecca for southern gals in search of all things gingham.

Nice to meet you—branding in person

Now, depending on how public you are or how often you attend events, or even just how much fun you want to have with it, your brand can carry into your everyday life, too. Do you attend events like book signings or conferences? This can be a fun opportunity to support your brand with your personal style and conversation type. 

J.R. Ward, ©Penguin Random House

A great example of this is J.R. Ward. She has a crazy successful dark vampire series (Black Dagger Brotherhood). To support this brand, she always wears the same uniform of slim black pants and a black blazer, black stilettos, dark black sunglasses and her sharp tongue. You just can’t picture her any other way.

When I attend an event, I have a uniform too. You’ll usually see me in sky-high heels and red lips. I’ll probably have a tight dress and you’ll definitely find me with a martini by the end of the night. It’s a brand, but it’s also what I love! (Hint: I can be bought with martinis).

The wonderful thing about being an author is being able to fully express who you are. But, it can also be a fun opportunity to play a part. It doesn’t have to be the person you are every day! We do make up stories for a living, after all. 

No matter where you are in your author career, consider how you can craft a brand to support your writing. Questions about branding? I’d love to hear from you!

Amanda J. Clay headshot

Amanda J. Clay writes gripping mysteries and thrillers with complex, kick-butt female leads designed to keep you up all night.

She currently lives in Nashville, TN with her dashing, real-life hero of a husband who inspires her heroes and villains alike. During the pandemic they welcomed their first daughter who is doing her best to keep them on their toes.

She is proudly represented by Melissa Edwards of Stonesong Literary Agency in Manhattan. You can contact her at [email protected] or follow her on Instagram and TikTok: @amandajclayauthor



The San Francisco Writers Conference and the San Francisco Writing for Change conference are both produced by the San Francisco Writers Conference & San Francisco Writers Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit. The SFWC Director is Laurie McLean.  For registration help, contact Richard Santos at registrations@sfwriters.org. For SFWC sponsorship opportunities, contact Carla King at Carla@carlaking.com
The SFWC website is: www.SFWriters.org

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Group: San Francisco Writers Conference
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