The Costs of Self-Publishing 101 – Marketing Part 1: Branding

Posted by: Joshua Unruh 1 year, 4 months ago

In many ways, marketing may be the most mysterious concept the self-published author faces. Even after you pierce the veil of what constitutes marketing, you have to learn other concepts like “branding,” “reach,” and “impressions.” Assuming you get your mind around a few individual concepts under the big tent of marketing, how do you turn that into a plan that you can implement across your own website, various social media outlets, and advertising opportunities? And what’s all this going to cost?

The good news is, basic author marketing can be boiled down to brand, website, and email. We’re going to spend this week talking about the basics of the brand. It’s a lot of information though, so we’ll talk about website, email, and maybe a few other ways to implement your brand next time.

I’m With the Brand

If you’ve done any research into marketing, you’ve heard about your brand and it may have freaked you out because it’s such a complex idea. The bad news is, your brand is a huge deal. The good news is it’s simultaneously not that big a thing. To explain, let’s take a look at a brand like Nike.

Nike has a logo (actually a couple if you count the famous Swoosh and the type treatment of their name) and a slogan that is seen everywhere. Their ads use photography with a unifying them. They may have a celebrity-athlete spokesperson or three which you see in each ad wearing Nike gear. So these athletes become both brand and branded. And Nike hasn’t even bought a billboard or a TV spot yet.

That’s complicated, right? It’s big, all-encompassing. And the truth is that the best way to think about your brand is holistically. But you don’t start there. You build up to it.

Brand Building Blocks.

One good way to start a brand is with a logo design. It’s probably going to be simple so it can be reproduced in color or black and white and at various sizes without losing its distinctiveness. Color and size options keep you agile so the logo can look attractive on anything from a banner or t-shirt all the way down to the spine of your book.

The logo’s color option will give you signature colors you can build around. Your web designer (more on that in a minute) will integrate it into your website and maybe an email or newsletter format. Your logo and colors can be spun into Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Instagram headers. They can be adapted to business cards. You might even buy some clothes in these colors for your new author photo.

Now you use that logo and color scheme everywhere. When you go to a trade show or conference, wear the colors. Give out the business card. Display the logo on every book cover. Give away shirts with your logo. See that? We just built your brand.

Advanced Branding

If you want it to, branding can get more complicated from there. Maybe you decide to keep your personal thoughts and feelings out of your Tweets and Facebook statuses because you don’t want to alienate a potential reader. You might notice that it’s impossible to figure out the political persuasion of anybody at Draft2Digital based on our social media presence. That’s not an accident.

Or maybe you manage language and choose specific words that you will use exclusively. Draft2Digital doesn’t have customers, we have our authors. We don’t have technology, we have tools. How we talk about what we do is part of our brand.

Wear a distinctive hat in your author photo and then always wear it when you appear at signings or shows. One of our authors wears a mask! Refer to your fans as “My Lovelies” whenever you talk about them. But these are just examples. Any time you take your brand into account while deciding how to appear in public, you are doing advanced branding.

The Cost of a Brand

The good news is, a lot of that “advanced branding” is you thinking about what your brand looks like when applied in various ways and avenues. But to do that, you need a strong foundational brand with your logo and color scheme. It’s remarkable what can be said with two colors and a simple image.

But to do that, you’ll want to contract a professional. Someone with a background in graphic design and typography. Someone who will talk to you about what you want your brand to silently say about you. And somebody like that is going to cost you anywhere from $500 to $2500. I think you could find some incredibly competent and talented people towards the $500 end of that pool, but I want you to be prepared.

Obviously, it could cost more. And if you’re already a bestselling author with a built in fan base (i.e., eyes to see the brand), it likely will. It could also cost a lot less if you visit Craigslist or Fiverr. I do not recommend those cheap options, though. You could get lucky, but odds are you’re not getting someone with a lot of experience.

Next Steps

If you’re still feeling lost in the concept of branding, don’t worry! It’ll be a few weeks, but I’m going to spend several posts providing you more in-depth discussion of what a brand is, what it isn’t, and how you are entirely capable of implementing it even if you aren’t a marketing expert.

In our very next post, though, I’ll tell you about the two most basic ways you can apply your brand: your website and email marketing. We’ll talk about how those can work and what it will likely cost you.