If you ever hop onto your favorite author’s social media, you may notice a pattern.
- Page flips.
- Spicy excerpts.
- Story times.
- Gorgeous color schemed posts on Instagram that create a pleasing palette of three colors or even sparkles.
- Or, in my case, esthetically pleasing picture ads I’ve made on Book Brush.
- Thirst Trap Duets.
- Other (fill in the blank with crayon).
Branding, is what the experts call it.
What is Branding?
I am no expert, which is why my social media looks a lot like my life. Chaotic!
But the great thing about being a part of an active, brilliant community, is that other authors are usually up for helping each other succeed. A few months ago, I went on a writer’s retreat with friends I’d made on TikTok, who are all in various stages of their career, and we got to talking about marketing. Side note-If you’ve got friends with some skill in this marketing game, buy them a drink (or shoot them a gift card for caffeine) and ask to pick their brain!
I asked a good friend of mine, Greer Rivers, who is amazeballs, why she always does her videos for TikTok and Insta the same way, and her response was surprisingly simplistic.
“Because it works.”
How many times?!
Which brings me back to that pesky branding again. I heard somewhere in the course of my publishing journey that it takes readers on average seeing your book seven times before they’ll buy it, which is better than another theory that someone has to watch your content twenty-six times before they’ll click. Twenty-six times?! If you shift your branding, does that number start over again?
Or perhaps I’m being dramatic?
But creating a video using the same quote, for the same book, twenty-six times with a different song and concept sounds crazy right?
Just crazy enough, I think!
I call it the, “Which video do you see on your FYP (For You Page)” rule. Authors will sometimes post three similar videos, using different esthetics and see which one performs better, as a way to judge the algorithm. But putting two dozen or more similar videos will get old fast, right?
Eh, according to authors, no. In fact, it’s when they stray away from the tried and true that their views and tractions drop.
Think of it like movie trailers and teasers. While some of the content may overlap, they are just different enough to keep you engaged. That is exactly what your videos and post should be. Hook that reader who is on the fence by getting them comfortable with who you are and what you write.
To be clear, I don’t know who all these people are with their outstanding willpower that wait to buy books, because if I see a book with a pretty cover, I want it now! This is why newsletters like BookBub are an issue for me. (Which every author should have a profile on because the company sends out a free release email to your followers, but that’s a topic for another day!)
Over the years thanks to BookBub, Newsletters, and Social Media, I’ve collected more books than I can read and keep up with, curses! Want tips on your author newsletter? Read 5 Tips for Designing Author Newsletters.
Humans Dig Visuals!
I digress. If a reader needs to connect with you and your material multiple times before taking a chance on your works, then it makes sense that consistency is key and I’m providing some examples of successful, visual branding.
Below, you’ll see screen shots of best-selling author’s Instagram profiles (and me!) What do you notice?
@authorgreerrivers has a nearly consistent pattern of page flips and her darling face with popular songs, as she gives you little snippets about what her books are about.
@monicamurphyauthor uses esthetically eye pleasing pics and reels to show off her adorable covers and tie into her newest release theme.
@nicoleflockton uses the same color scheme cards for all of her quotes and question posts on Instagram that draws you in and glitter is a huge theme on her page.
@authorcodihallgary and then there is me, that posts a lot of Christmas content because most of my releases have been holiday books the last three years, but am usually all over the place.
Consistencies in your branding play a key role in following and noticeability. You follow romance authors for quotes, updates on new releases, cover reveals, teasers, book trailers, giveaways, and so much more, but if an author goes off brand, it can actually turn readers off.
Always Learning Something New!
Here is what I noticed about my own branding. When I consistently post pics on Insta that I’ve created with Book Brush, Quote Cards using the same background, This or That with the same theme, Cover Reveals, Publishing Announcements, and all things book related, those posts get better traction and response than if I post a plate of cookies I made or a picture of one of my animals. Don’t get me wrong, they are adorable and average about fifty likes per post, but is my Instagram Account about animals? No! It’s about an author who writes funny, sometimes emotional, often naughty, with a sack of foul language thrown in, romances and that’s what my followers want to see.
I’m not saying you can’t have random posts here or there, but if you want to include your fur-baby, then slip a hard-back copy of your book between his/her paws and make them a staple of your page. You love to bake? Great! Make every other post about baking a new recipe and tie it back to your books.
Ain’t Nobody Got Time for This!
Now that you’re consistent with your content, let’s talk about your posting schedule. If you’re building your planform, you should be posting three to five times a day and study the times you post. Some people hit the right audience in the evening, while others bring all the early birds to the yard. Once you figure out your schedule, you should continue to post at the same time. Now, depending on the day of the week, the times may change, but luckily, there are post scheduling sites like Hootsuite, which can make organizing your life that much easier.
For more info on scheduling sites, check out Blogging Wizards Best Scheduling Apps of 2022! Posting at the same time gives your followers a sense of comfort and they’re more likely to keep up with your posts if you’re not being Random Rachel.
I DON’T WANT TO START OVER!
Even if you’ve been in the game for a while, you can always rebrand and come up with a consistent plan of action. The questions you need to ask yourself are:
- Who is my target audience?
- What sets me apart as an author?
- What kind of content can I REALISTICALLY create on a regular basis?
- (Also, what are my favorite colors and what is my spirit animal can be helpful too.)
Once you have those questions answered, you can start organizing your rebrand to include:
- Author Logo-this can be as simple as a burst of your favorite colors, stars, or the outline of your favorite animal.
- Pick two types of posts to start. I’d do your book quotes with a visual of your cover and maybe a This or That with a consistent back ground. Last fall I did a behind the scenes facts of my Mistletoe series and I saw some fun engagement with those.
- Stick with the pattern for one week. If your traction isn’t improving, shift gears slightly (nothing major) and see if there is an uptick. And don’t forget to use #hashtags
Go into this with patience, because not everyone sees results overnight. Often, you’ll be plugging along, ready to give up and bam, you hit the book-stagramming jack pot and when that happens, stick with it!
Article by Codi Gary
Codi Gary is the author of twenty-nine contemporary and paranormal romance titles including bestselling books Things Good Girls Don’t Do and Hot Winter Nights under the name Codi Gary and the laugh-out-loud Mistletoes series under the pen name Codi Hall. She loves writing about flawed characters finding their happily ever afters because everyone, even imperfect people, deserve an HEA.
A Northern California native, she and her husband and their two children now live in Southern Idaho where she enjoys kayaking, unpredictable weather, and spending time with her family, including her array of adorable furbabies. When she isn’t glued to her computer making characters smooch, you can find her posting sunsets and pet pics on Instagram, making incredibly cringy videos for TikTok, reading the next book on her never-ending TBR list, or knitting away while re-watching Supernatural for the thousandth time!
Codi is represented by Sarah Younger at NYLA. Join her newsletter by visiting her website codigarysbooks.com