The Business Side To Being An Author

Literary agent Vanessa Grossett shares why it’s important for authors to be authentic, build their brand, and pay attention to the business aspect of book publishing

While I know writers are more interested in the creative side and getting their manuscript completed, it’s good to remember that being an author is a business. A lot of authors tend to shy away from the marketing side, particularly with regards to promoting themselves.

I still get queries, especially from new authors, stating they are looking for an agent to market them and their book. Though I do happily promote my authors’ works, not all literary managers will do so; they are not obligated to. This goes for publishers as well.

It is important for writers to build their own credibility, readership and fan base – even more so if you are new to the business. Thankfully, with many avenues to market, building your brand as an author is easier than it used to be. Plus, you can reach readers from all over the globe.

Here are some tips and advice that will help get you started and maintain your brand:

Be yourself

This is significant, especially when you make the big time. There will be pressure to fake the authentic you, and to watch what you say. However, readers are buying your books because of who you are, and not just for a good story. When you start to be yourself in the early stages, it will be a lot easier to remain as you are as time goes on. I am not saying to disclose everything about yourself – yes, there are things that are personal – but just enough so the reader can relate. The author-and-reader relationship, believe it or not, can be long lasting. If a reader likes you, they will surely support you continuously and buy your books.

Build a website

There are a lot of free website builders you can use, like Wix and WordPress. Having a website is good for your brand, and for your readers to visit. You can also allow readers to subscribe to newsletters via your website, and post videos about your writing journey or about books you are writing. You can also develop your contacts and collaborate with other authors by doing blogposts on their sites (which is also a great way to network). In any industry, having contacts is a must, and publishing is no different. 

It’s good to do your own research on other author pages, or even look at website design in general to get a feel of what suits you.

Social media presence

If used in a positive way, social media can be one of the best marketing tools. It can help you reach people that you most likely would not have interacted with. I personally have found social media helpful in terms of networking and marketing, and you don’t need to post everything on there. You can share only what you want to share, and engage in other people’s posts and comments. The more you do that, people will tend to view your profile, and you can make wonderful connections.

With social media, don’t just post about your book. For example, as well as my author’s products, I also add inspirational or scriptural posts. It’s about having a balance and you don’t need to be on there every day. Furthermore, don’t get caught up in what everyone else is doing, focus on your God-given successes and accomplishments.

Remember, there is a time for all to have their big breakthrough and blessings – you included. Isaiah 60:22 says “When the time is right, I, the Lord will make it happen.”

Investing in your brand

Don’t be afraid to invest in your brand – which is ultimately yourself. Even if there is a monetary exchange, set a budget aside.

If it means hiring a publicist to help you get started, hire one. If you need to take a website design course, or other courses, such as creative writing, to enhance your skills, then do it. You are the business, and you want to present yourself in the best way possible.

You can always learn from other people, someone may have something of value to exchange, and to give you advice on. Investing in yourself and your brand is a good way forward.

These are just some of the ways you can build your brand as an author. Do remember to ask for help, especially as a new author. Don’t be embarrassed, everyone had to start at some point. One day you may be one of the ones someone will turn to for help.

Happy writing and brand-building.


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