Authors are solitary people. It can be hard to find your audience, let alone get in front of them. Trust me, I get it. With years of writing and marketing experience behind me, though, I’ve found several tools that have helped me strengthen my brand as an author.
Are these tools going to suddenly rocket you to success? Are you going to sell so many books that you’ll quit your job and move to a seaside cottage where you write nonstop? Probably not. But they should help you foster a personal brand that looks professional and intentional, which means people will take you more seriously.
This one is obvious. You have to be on social media presenting yourself as an author. Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, Twitter, TikTok, whatever, you should have a social media presence. It’s free to make an account on any of these platforms.
You’ll find communities of authors and readers in these places. Whether it’s Reddit’s subreddits like r/fantasy or r/romancebooks, or TikTok’s massive #booktok community, these places are where you’ll meet people that are looking for the kind of book you’re writing.
Yeah, it’s tough to step out of your comfort zone and put yourself out there, but you gotta do what you gotta do. This is one of the first steps to success!
Once you’ve got a social media presence, you’ll want to use some of the tools listed below.
Royalty-free Stock Images
The truth is you can’t just Google search an image for “cool sword” and use that on your book cover or in a Facebook ad. Sure, you can probably get away with it for a while. But what if you become that NYT-bestseller raking in mountains of cash, then an artist comes knocking at your door with a lawsuit because you used their photo/illustration without permission? Best to avoid that problem.
These sites serve as databases for royalty-free images. That means you can use the images on these sites without having to pay the artist. Basically, the artists have said, “I’m okay with anyone using these pieces of my art for promotional reasons, I don’t need to be paid for them.” Sometimes they’ll require that you credit them, which isn’t difficult. If those are the conditions, make sure you mention the artist in the caption or description where applicable.
Not a graphic designer? Yeah, me neither. That’s why I use Canva a lot to design my Instagram giveaways. You can make an account for free and have a basic selection of fonts, colors, and templates, but you can get more if you pay a fee.
I stick with the free version. There’s still enough versatility in the basic version that covers all of my needs, and you can create as many designs as you want. Canva has become a staple for designers and social media managers across the marketing profession because it’s so easy to use.
Pixlr is similar to Canva in that it’s almost like a free online Photoshop platform. The two feel very similar, including templates for things like Instagram stories or YouTube thumbnails. The differences are that PIxlr provides more photo manipulation tools and limits you to three “downloads” per day. So if you’re working on an image, you can only download it three times before they want to charge you for it, otherwise, you’ll have to wait until tomorrow.
But you can export images to high-resolution JPGs and PNGs. They look crisp and clean and you can edit them to any size you need. I use it whenever I need to make headers for my social media platforms or thumbnails for my YouTube videos.
Mailerlite is saving our lives. It’s a free service that lets you create signup forms and newsletters to keep your fans up to date on what’s going on. It’s similar to MailChimp, but the basic version of Mailerlite is free for your first 1000 subscribers. After that, it’s something like $15 per month.
However, you do have to have a fairly robust website in order to support it—something where you’ve bought a custom domain (such as myauthorname.net). You’ll also need a website email address such as email@example.com. You can’t game the system either—Mailerlite runs tests to make sure what you’ve got is legit. But once you’ve got those up and running, you’re in business.
The emails look clean, they give you metrics such as opens and click-through rates, and there are even WordPress plugins that let you create popups and embed signup forms on your website. You probably saw a couple of mine just opening up this article. I love Mailerlite.
Were these tools helpful to you? Share this article with an author friend who’s trying to get their feet on the ground. We’re all in this together.