Your Author Brand

You believe most people who discover your book will fall in love with it. Your book is available at Amazon, B&N, Smashwords and your own personal website.But after checking your dashboard you realize only a handful of readers purchased your book. Why?

The answer may be few readers know your book exists. You need to develop your author brand and author platform. An author brand is an author’s perceived image and identity. While an author platform is all the ways in which you are visible to and communicate with your target audience. In other words, your author platform is every effort you make to be visible while your author brand is what worked. This post will focus on your author brand.

As an independent author an author brand is crucial to success. It can be an effective way to increase readership and freelance work. It’s a win for everyone when an author has a firm grasp on how to market themselves and their work. The reader will know what she is taking off the bookshelves and the author will have someone excited to read his work. Here are

Questions To Identify Where Your Author Brand Stands:

  • How do readers get to know you?
  • Who is familiar with your writing?
  • How many hits does your website receive?
  • Does your work appear in any publications? How many readers do those publications have?
  • How many people subscribe to your blog? How many followers do you have on Twitter? How many people follow your Facebook page?
  • Are you familiar with other writers in your genre?
  • Are you apart of any writing communities?

Taking sometime to reflect where you’re at, as an author will help determine what steps you need to take to bring your author brand to the next level.  You want readers to associate your work with your niche. Mention Maya Angelou readers think poetry and memoir. Mention Stephen King readers think horror stories.  Here is a list of

How An Author Brand Develops:

  • Speaking and workshop engagements – Exposure.
  • Do creative events – Break out the habit of just doing book signings.
  • A blog with a following – Consistently putting out material that is interesting and entertaining is a good way to start.
  • Active social media – Engage!
  • Connections with other authors – Writing conferences and book fairs are good avenues to build relationships.
  • Publications – Having published work for readers to know your work. You’re a creative non-fiction writer, Creative Non –fiction is a literary magazine for you.
  • Do interviews – Readers will see another side of you.
  • Being active in networks such as Writing groups and Associations
  • Volunteering for something your passionate about – Let your passion for children reading lead your efforts not just your children’s book.
  • Credibility in the field you’re writing about – A MFA in Creative Writing, experience in your field or your body of work can add to your credentials.
  • Write and request reviews – Readers want to know what other readers think.
  • Acknowledge your supporters – Thank You Cards.
  • Recycle – Pictures from events, interviews, reviews and other material that reveal your brand.

How have you developed your brand? Do you have any methods you would like to share? Leave your suggestions as comments.  

Rashaun J. Allen (@rashaunjallen) is the author of A Walk Through Brooklyn & In The Moment. He has been featured in several publications such as: The Chronicle, The Troy Record, Albany Student Press & UA Magazine. Find his books at

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

How Writers Make a Living

     My alarm clock goes off. It’s time to get up. I didn’t stay up to 1am to write, therefore, I am in a good position to go into this two-hour writing session with more energy before work as an Assistant Store Manager. I am free from distraction even skipping breakfast. I look at what isn’t crossed out on my to do list: work on memoir, work on blog, write journal and do writing assignment for workshop. I decide to write my blog. It has brewed the most in my head. I attempt to ask an important question, I would usually avoid. Can I make a living from writing?

It depends on what kind of writer you are. Dana Beth Weinberg’s The Self-Publishing Debate: A Social Scientist Separates Fact from Fiction (Part 3 of 3) shows writing income for four different types of writers:

  • Aspiring writers are those who haven’t published their manuscript
  • Self-published writers are those who independently published their manuscript
  • Traditionally published writers typically sell their manuscript to a publishing company
  • Hybrid writers are those whose manuscripts are self-published and traditionally published

Looking at the numbers from her survey, “aspiring writers made no income, while self-published authors in the sample earned a median income in the range of $1 to $4,999, while traditionally published authors had a median writing income of $5,000 to $9,999, and hybrid authors earned a median income of $15,000 to $19,999.” Before aspiring writers become authors do your homework about publishing. I wrote a previous post about where to go to publish. It may make sense to be a writer who has one foot in traditional publishing and the other in self-publishing to reach your fullest potential.

     Let’s face it. Writing is a courageous act for a writer because the road to success has no clear path. Despite working on the next great American novel and having the ability to chase writing gigs that pay; both may not produce a livable wage. It can be a cruel reality trying to find the right blend of writing and making a living. For a lot of writers, writing is the other job after a full day’s work. It could be teaching, or a list of jobs that have nothing to do with writing.

     Writing has to be one of the few passions where achieving the end result i.e. a book doesn’t necessarily change one’s living situation. Thinking it will could be problematic. But your book that took hard should be met with reasonable expectations. What readers, critics, agents or publishers think are valid. They all have the potential to enhance your book sales. But writing rigorously puts a writer in a better position to be successful.  I will go as far as to say having a purpose to write is more important than making a living from it.

As you prepare to make an income from writing here are 10 tips to make a living off writing:

  • Write with a purpose
  • Master your craft
  • Write great books
  • Create a marketing plan
  • Have a great book cover
  • Develop your brand
  • Follow the publishing industry
  • Have a network of writers, editors, readers, agents and publishers
  • Know your audience
  • Sell your work

     My alarm goes off again. It’s time to put my pen down. I mentally switch gears from Writer to Assistant Store Manager. As an Assistant Store Manger, I am responsible for motivating associates to do their best to help achieve profits. As a Writer, I am responsible for my own motivation to create compelling stories. One day a reader of my work wrote me an email saying I encouraged her to pursue her dream to write. She saw me taking steps in my life to write despite countless obstacles. The feeling of inspiring someone is empowering. If only I earned a living from it.

Rashaun J. Allen is the author of A Walk Through Brooklyn & In The Moment. He has been featured in several publications such as: The Chronicle, The Troy Record, Albany Student Press & UA Magazine.

Where To Go To Publish?

            You’re a writer with a vision to have a best seller like Khaled Hosseini who wrote “The Kite Runner.” You spent countless hours, months to several years writing to produce a manuscript. Take a moment and give yourself a round of applause. Not many sane people will commit to writing a book. It can be argued that being crazy enough to think outside the norm can be all the difference of writing that masterpiece. But how do you go about getting your book published?

            It’s no easy question to answer. Your manuscript is your baby and just like a newborn not just anyone is going to get close enough to hurt your pride and joy.

There are a ton of options nowadays that can be broken down into a few categories:

  • Traditional publishers like Penguin Books
  • Print On Demand (POD) like Lulu Press
  • Vanity Publishers like Dog Ear Publishing
  • Self-Publishing as in Do It Yourself

Just to clarify many of the companies mentioned along with others do a little bit of it all catering their services to the needs of the author. Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing is for that writer who wants to make an Ebook only. Meanwhile Createspace (also an Amazon company) will allow that same writer to make a paperback or hardcover of their book with the option of leveraging KDP for an Ebook.

 Self-publishing perception was frown upon for years.  The great debate was authors who self-published were not good enough to be published by traditional publisher. Despite Stephen King’s first novel “Carrie” and Robert Kiyosaki’s “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” were both originally self published. Dana Beth Weinberg’s Author Survey Results: Expectations of Traditional Publishing and Self-Publishing gives insight on what authors think about their publishing options.

 Melissa Donovan’s A Writer’s Guide to Types of Publishing Companies gives a more in-depth explanation of each type of publishing company. But how do you know the best approach for your book? As you prepare to decide how you will bring your book to market here is a list of 10 questions to consider:

  • What is the publishing company’s reputation?
  • What’s the purpose of my book?
  • Who’s my potential market?
  • What’s the budget needed to achieve my vision?
  • What’s the time frame to get my book to readers?
  • What skills do I possess?
  • What skills do I need to outsource?
  • How much promotion do I need?
  • How important is it to me that I get a fair percentage of all book sales?
  • Will I publish my book as Print Books only, Ebooks Only or both Ebook and Print Books?

If you were putting together a book about your family history a POD would be good enough. But if you want your book to be available at every Barnes and Nobles, Books-A-Million and Independent Book store in the United States you’re going to need an agent to help you land a deal with a traditional publisher. Finally, if you want to hedge your bets for increase exposure back with higher revenue than a traditional press you may elect to work with a small press.

Rashaun J. Allen is the author of A Walk Through Brooklyn & In The Moment. He has been featured in several publications such as: The Chronicle, The Troy Record, Albany Student Press & UA Magazine.