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October 2011

Reporter: Beth K. Vogt

Beth K. VogtBeth K. Vogt is a nonfiction author and editor who said she’d never write fiction. She’s the wife of an Air Force physician (now in solo practice) who said she’d never marry a doctor—or anyone in the military. She’s a mom of four who said she’d never have kids. She’s discovered that God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” Her debut novel, Wish You Were Here, will be published by Howard Books in May 2012. Learn more about Beth.

Editor: Dawn Kinzer

Dawn KinzerDawn Kinzer is a freelance editor and a member of The Christian PEN and Christian Editor networks. Her own writing has been published in the Christian Fiction Online Magazine, Backyard Friends, and The One Year Life Verse Devotional, and featured on the radio ministry, The Heartbeat of the Home. She co-hosts and writes for the blog, Seriously Write. Learn more at her editing site.

Workshop 20: Author Branding

Establishing an author brand is simple. Just think cattle branding.

In the old west, a rancher’s brand indicated, “That’s my cow.” In the same way, your brand establishes who you are and what you write.

Morgan Doremus“Your brand is not a tagline. It is not a color. It is not a photo. It is not a logo,” said Morgan Doremus (right), the website editor and multimedia coordinator for RT Book Reviews magazine. “These are all elements that help build your brand. Your brand is the feeling a reader gets when they see your books or hear your name.”

Start now

During her ACFW workshop, Doremus said it’s never too early or too late to build your brand. “Your brand is a promise to your reader … what you promise to give (them). You can start before you’re published, or you can be published and still not have a brand. Your promise to your reader evolves.”

How do you discover your brand?

Doremus suggests examining your core values—defining who you are as a writer. Ask your editor, your critique group, your family and friends for input. Consider both your writer’s voice (humorous? reflective?), as well as themes you write about, such as hope or grief. Ask questions on writers’ loops. It also helps to look at other authors’ websites to see how they established themselves.

Make good use of your brand

Use your brand to appeal to your readers’ senses. Interviews, workshops, and book trailers act as verbal reinforcements of your brand. Visual ways to convey your brand include websites, book covers, and professional photos. All are clues to who you are.

“Don’t visually confuse your audience,” Doremus said. Someone who writes suspense à la Ted Dekker shouldn’t have a soft, pastel-colored professional photo.

What’s the benefit of an author brand? Besides knowing who you are as a writer, establishing a definitive “this is me” reputation helps publishers and publicists. They will think of you when there’s a specific project, opportunity, or interview, Doremus said.

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