your voice is your brand (developing your author platform even if you’re not published yet, part four)




The purpose of an author platform isn’t to sell books. Selling books is like happiness: it comes as a side benefit of doing other things.

What you really want to do is call your tribe. Gather them to you.

Attract the readers you click with and turn them into fans…and then, if you’re lucky (and very good at what you do), True Fans.

Then you can sell them your books.

As Chris Brogan points out, it’s best to have the community before the sale.


Attracting readers, seducing them, and making them fall in love with you doesn’t happen overnight.

It’s a process.

Like any relationship, it requires work and commitment on your part.

Don’t rush. People don’t like to feel rushed.

Don’t be needy. Neediness turns people off.

Don’t be dishonest. People will never trust you again.

Maintain a long-range vision.


True Fans develop a devoted relationship to you – or more specifically, to your author brand.

This requires time and a growing sense of familiarity.

The process can make you a better, more generous person. You focus on the reader’s needs. You listen to the reader.

The process can teach you about yourself: who you appeal to, what you do well…and what you maybe shouldn’t do at all.

This self-discovery is one reason it’s good to start small (as if you have any other choice, but never mind). You practice and develop your voice. You learn to create better content.

You deepen your sense of your brand and how to present it.


Brands are not what they used to be.

They used to be about association and allure. Drink me. Eat me. And be sexually fulfilled!

Starbucks isn’t a cup of coffee that promises to make you happy and beautiful. It turned itself into a cultural idea – the third place, the place between home and office — you could incorporate into your daily life.

We use our brands. We engage them. We interact with them.

The ‘brand molecule concept’ suggests that a brand is not — or no longer — composed of one monolithic message, but evolving clusters of interrelated ideas. One idea grows out of the next (Starbucks sells coffee, it is a coffeehouse, it plays jazz music, it sells jazz CDs…)

It’s the total sum of the impressions that matter.

The different parts – the different ideas — of your brand begin with your blog and build out through the different ways you find and connect with your tribe.

The message of a brand no longer arrows one way (out to the consumer). Your brand goes out into the public, and the public absorbs it, does what it wants with it, and reflects it back to you. You listen, adapt, and grow the brand accordingly. The brand goes back out into the public and the public loops it back to you.

And so it goes.

The brand changes and evolves.

You evolve.

You shape that growth with strategy and vision. You figure how best to provide value to the reader, and earn their trust and respect.

And maybe their love.


You are your voice.

Your voice is your brand.

Your voice leads the way.

But you are also your content.

When we seduce, we catch the other person’s eye through how we look, how we sound, how we make them feel, and what we give them (flowers, candy).

Online, we don’t give candy.

We give content.

And here’s the thing. Most content sucks.

Which gives you an excellent opportunity to be excellent.

More on this next time.


When you go online, what are you looking for? What makes you fall in love with a person, blog or brand?

What are the ideas that might make up your own author brand?

How To Stop Procrastinating and Start Your Blog

The Brand Innovation Manifesto: How To Build Brands, Redefine Markets and Defy Conventions



Dec 22, 2009

5 comments · Add Yours


I couldn’t agree with you more. You are putting out there what I’ve learned and seen in practice. I can name more than a few authors that would have never reached my radar if not for Twitter and their stunning personalities. That alone has made me step outside of my boundaries and give new things a shot.

Thanks again for this unique series. You’ve got great content.



Well said!

Yes, building a true fan base–and escaping the long tail–has become the norm.

I do like what you’ve said about self discovery and how our branding is interrelated and evolving.

Good and important advice. Thanks!


Hi Justine :)
Thank you for sharing your wisdom. I look forward to learning here.
Merry Christmas!


Same with me — I was in the YA section of Barnes & Noble the other day and realized all the names on the books on the front tables were familiar to me through interactions on Twitter and blogs. Which made me want to buy many of them. So I did.


Hey Justine,
one quick thing…if you have your links opening in different screens it’ll optimize your readership. For instance, when a link opens up I become engaged with what’s in front of me and forget about your page when I close the window because, well, it’s not there anymore. However, I can become engaged with a ‘new window’ and once I close it return and be re-engaged with your blog.
Just a helpful tip.
(I do this as a means to pay bills, writing is my means to living ;)


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