How To Attract Readers By Creating A ‘Lighthouse’ Author Brand

Lighthouse Author Brand

Recently I’ve been watching with increasing dismay as one of my author friends rushes around, relentlessly trying to push her books in every single social media channel on earth, while hassling book bloggers, reviewers and online media to the point of exhaustion.

As well as turning herself into a social media train wreck, she also continues to ignore the most powerful selling force that’s staring her in the face.

reader3You see, hidden behind the covers of your books are features unique to you that can create a memorable Lighthouse Author Brand, making yours the first books that come to mind when readers decide to look for something to read.

The fact is, an author brand is built by readers, not by you.  You cannot push it.

Instead, your brand is built by readers discovering your author identity while reading.  If your books have appeal, they’ll remember you forever, tell all their friends, and increasingly want more of you.

So I’m going to highlight seven tactics based on your writing to help establish a Lighthouse Brand in readers’ minds and grow your long-term readership.

7 Ways To Spotlight Your Author Brand And Grow Readership:

1.  Create an overarching theme-tagline to wrap around your books

If you write individual one-off novels, you’ll have discovered a downside.  Without the addictive power of a series, it can be prove difficult in the early stages of your career to persuade readers to buy another of your books – even though your author name may be prominently displayed.

What to do?

A simple way to keep your novels top of mind is to create a distinctive theme-tagline that draws your books together under a single overarching identity, giving them a memorable point of difference that enhances your Author Brand.

Racy blockbuster author Jackie Collins, for example, has a tagline that I feel is a work of pure genius because of its tongue in cheek simplicity:

Jackie Collins

Jackie Collins’ winning tagline:  “She’ll keep you up all night”… 

If your tagline is memorable enough, it will capture a reader’s imagination and be quoted by them, adding fuel to the ‘word-of-mouth recommendation’ wildfire.  But it does need to be remarkable, meaning it has to be different, noticeable, and causes people to remark on it.

Examples of places where your tagline and graphic can be featured:

  • Emblazoned on your book covers
  • On the title page of your books
  • In the blurbs about your other books at the end of each book
  • In your Amazon descriptions
  • As part of your Amazon author profile
  • In your blog header
  • In your Twitter background
  • In your Facebook author page header
  • As your email signature
  • On paper book-marks that you give away

It can even be used to introduce your books when you speak – as a giant ‘slide image’ projected behind you, along with your latest book cover.

Eventually your author name itself will acquire the same meaning as the ‘tagline’. It’s all part of growing your Lighthouse Author Brand.

2.  Anchor yourself in a reader’s mind with a ‘Jacket Flap’ Author Biography inside your eBooks

Publishers have always known that the author is the cornerstone of book marketing.

Jacket FlapAcross nearly a century of traditional print publishing, the inside back flap of a book jacket has invariably offered an author mini-biography.

But it has to be done the right way.  A jacket flap author bio is not a life history, but an extended catch phrase of two or three luminous, fascinating paragraphs that underscore the author’s brand story. 

Crucially, this story never changes, because the author becomes known by it.  And it’s used across all promotional channels, not just the book.

So include a mini-bio inside your eBooks.  Dramatic, touching, even funny in parts with a pivotal anecdote that would be fascinating to the reader.  If memorable enough, it will be re-read with every book and make your Author Brand increasingly familiar.

Nora RobertsYes, you are a brand, whether you like it or not, because you provide a consistently enjoyable experience that readers know they can reliably return to for more, which is the essence of every successful brand.

For example, bestselling Romantic Fiction author Nora Roberts always uses her ‘Blizzard’ story.

Most of her readers know and cherish this story.

Quoting from the Nora Roberts website:

After her sons were born she stayed home and tried every craft that came along. A blizzard in February 1979 forced her hand to try another creative outlet. She was snowed in with a three and six year old with no kindergarten respite in sight and a dwindling supply of chocolate.

Born into a family of readers, Nora had never known a time that she wasn’t reading or making up stories.  During the now-famous blizzard, she pulled out a pencil and notebook and began to write down one of those stories. It was there that a career was born. Several manuscripts and rejections later, her first book, Irish Thoroughbred, was published by Silhouette in 1981…”

3.  Feature A Memorable ‘Jacket Flap’ Author Photograph

Ian FlemingMake no mistake, this is a vital part of your author biography.  The Author Brand Image included in your mini-bio is part of building the memorability of your books.

James Bond author, Ian Fleming, had one of the most distinctive author photographs in the history of publishing.  It was taken by society photographer Cecil Beaton and became synonymous with the early Bond books.  In fact when one of the editions failed to feature it, a roar of protest arose from the millions of reader fans.

The photograph reappeared on later editions.

Despite the studied appearance of Fleming’s photograph, it truly reflected his personality, and is not a mask.  We’re all adept at reading a human face, so the photograph needs to communicate genuine personality.  Looking straight at the camera and smiling without apparent artifice is the best approach.

In fact it pays to invest in a professional photograph.  This is your career image, and worth taking time over, rather than using a holiday snapshot.

Once a photograph is chosen, never change it, for the same reason that Coca Cola would never change its logo.  It forms a permanent, increasingly memorable part of your book brand.

4.  The ‘Book Store Window’ Inside Your Books That Will Multiply Sales

In this digital age, the most brightly lit book store window is actually inside your current eBooks.

Books on KindleEach book can contain be a wonderfully effective author branded book display.  Each book will sell all the others if you set them up the right way.

As I pointed out in a recent post about Goodreads CEO Otis Chandler, readers are most susceptible to buying your books immediately after finishing one.  So put a link to your books right there on the finishing line.

Think about it.  A reader has just enjoyed a fully immersive story experience for several hours, they love what you write, so there’s no better time to pitch your next book.  Put links at the back of each book to all your other books, with cover images displayed, a blurb for each, and maybe a few opening pages that stop at a cliff-hanger moment of your next story.

This is classic marketing known as cross-selling.  (One product sells another.)

Look Inside5.  Use The ‘Look Inside’ Feature On Amazon

Your books need the Look Inside function, so readers get to sample your writing, another effective way for your writing to go to bat for you and directly influence sales.

Note:  At the moment, Amazon selects approximately 10% of a book as a sample teaser.  I’ve queried them about whether they’ll allow specific-length free samples so authors can end them at a cliff-hanger point, making it more likely readers will buy.  They replied it’s definitely something they’ll consider.

6.  Book Cover Continuity

“Hold the train! I see a new book by Suzanne Collins!”    

When considering all of the ways that might encourage readers to read more of your work, covers play a gigantic role.

It’s essential that each of your book covers is of high quality, all with the same unique, instantly recognizable appearance, even at a thumbnail size, so they grow increasingly familiar to readers.

Suzanne Collins Books

Again, this is Author Brand development.

A book is forever summed up for the reader by its cover.  Once seen, the memory of a cover can never be rewound, and remains etched in the mind.  It becomes an almost magical icon with the power to recreate the emotion of your story every time a reader sees it.

On catching sight of a new book featuring an author’s recognizable cover styling, an addicted reader’s pulse quickens.  Memories of past stories flicker to life, reminding them they have a chance to enjoy another richly immersive voyage from the same trusted source.

7.  Viral Word-Of-Mouth Generated By Your Writing

Finally, let me make the most blindingly obvious point about the ultimate selling power within your books:

writingYour writing. 

It should be your central focus, and is your primary Author Brand strategy, far above any other.

Your books are unique to you, and if they’re well written and have appeal, readers will not only fall in love with them, but gossip about them, recommend them to friends, and write great reviews of them.

Successful books through history from the time of Dickens have been driven to bestseller status by the power of peer to peer gossip.

In fact, the six factors I’ve just covered will only work if your books have reader appeal.

The bottom line is to do your utmost to ensure every book has reader appeal, so your writing becomes an increasingly familiar Author Brand, book by book.

Write memorably, cross-sell with links in the back of your books, have a theme-tagline, a bio and photograph, use Amazon’s look inside feature, and have outstanding cover designs that are capable of stopping new readers in their tracks so they take notice of your work and eventually come to know you.

Note:  This post is part 2 of a 3 part series on how to sell more books.
Part 1:  The Book Launch Strategy Every Author Should Use.
Part 3:  7 Bestseller Marketing Strategies For Fiction Authors 

Is there an author mini-bio in your books?  Are you thinking about an Author ‘theme tagline’?  Excited by the idea?  Do leave a comment.

Jonathan Gunson

Article written by Jonathan Gunson

Author / CEO Bestseller Labs

 

Notice: This article is copyrighted material. Reproduction of brief snippets of this article with a link to this site are permitted, but it may not be reproduced in full anywhere without the written permission of Jonathan Gunson at BestsellerLabs.com

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Comments

  • May 8, 2013 at 9:47am

    Hi Jonathan, Great post and that tagline thing is

    a) brilliant and something I totally endorse
    b) Really, really hard :) especially for new writers in the process of finding their voice.

    From my own experience, I decided to use “Ancient mystery, modern thrill” because my ARKANE series are modern thrillers based on ancient objects, resonant with symbolism and mystery.

    BUT/ my next book, Desecration, is more crime, or dark mystery with a hint of the supernatural. I also had a comment from someone who thought my books were historical because of the “ancient mystery” tag. So I am about to remove that tag and think about something new.

    I feel like I am growing into my voice and this next book reveals a lot more about the themes I want to explore.

    How do you suggest going about finding the tagline?

    Thanks, Joanna

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 8, 2013 at 10:15am

      Joanna

      I’m familar with your tagline, “Ancient mystery, modern thrill” and very nearly included it in this post, because I know it’s close to your heart.

      And yes, I agree that it’s far from easy for new writers to not only divine the essence of their work, but also package it with style in a single line. It has to be made from pure juice, no extract allowed! So I’ll ponder your question, because while there’s some logic involved, intuition plays a greater part.

      But here’s thought to get you started: Basically the first stage is to write down the idea you’re attempting to convey in plain English. Then get let the muse go to work on it to evolve it / translate it into something witty / pithy. i.e. ‘Ancient mystery, modern thrill’ is pretty darned good, but I suspect the reason you’re not entirely comfortable with it may be that it’s still be lurking somewhere in between the first stage and a pithy / witty translation… maybe.

      Re your writing, sounds to me as if you’re gravitating inexorably towards your natural oeuvre. Don’t resist it for even a second. One can sometimes not like where one’s innate tendencies lie, but it pays to go with the flow. It’s who you really are, and that authenticity will be the foundation stone of your emerging lighthouse brand, no question.

      To be continued…

      ~Jonathan

      PS. Great Lighthouses of the world: Check out La Lanterna in Genoa. Beautiful.

      • May 9, 2013 at 8:41am

        Thanks Jonathan – I am definitely pondering – and I don’t think there’s any harm in morphing over time. I don’t think Jackie Collins got her tagline when she only had a couple of books :) I’ll let you know how it goes!

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          May 9, 2013 at 10:16am

          Perfect Joanna. It needs to percolate – closely allied to finding your voice. It’ll happen.
          ~Jonathan

      • May 19, 2013 at 7:53pm

        Jonathan… I enjoyed this very much ! Lots of good ideas and the best part was you weren’t trying to sell me anything… you were actually trying to help and really did. Thanks !!

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          May 19, 2013 at 9:28pm

          I have things to sell Tegon. (e.g. Twitter For Authors) But the fact is, people are far more inclined to buy if they are genuinely helped first, or given something fascinating to read.

          This is the path I teach authors to take as well: On Amazon the selling tactics are direct, but when it comes to attracting readers and eventually sending them to Amazon to buy your book, it’s best to first talk about interesting things in the genre (on Social Media for example) than just constantly shouting (selling) “Buy My Book!” … “My New Book Is Out!”. This shouting pitch will actually work, but only when done in context of much more interesting material.
          See: http://bestsellerlabs.com/biggest-author-social-media-mistake/
          ~Jonathan

  • Dianna says:
    May 8, 2013 at 10:02am

    I always love your blogs. I do agree with number 7, the books that you write the legs that you stand on as an author.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 8, 2013 at 10:32am

      Dianna
      True indeed. Inevitably it all comes back to the writing.
      ~Jonathan

  • May 8, 2013 at 10:53am

    Jonathan, you are always, it seems to me, ahead of the game. I don’t know where you get all this stuff from – when the dust has yet to settle on this new publishing world of ours – but do keep sending my share of it.
    Thank you.
    PS: That tagline advice is particularly brilliant (one of those, ‘yes, of course!’ things, obvious when it’s pointed out ). I’ve just coined mine for my Batch Magna series, from something one of the reviewers of the first books said: ‘You’ll never want to go home.’

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 8, 2013 at 11:02am

      Peter
      Great line for your batch Magna. “You’ll never want to go home”
      And, love your website. Shades of Miss Marple yes? I’ll also have to re-quote your featured piece of Houseman, recently uttered in the TV series ‘Lewis’ I recall, by Sgt Hathaway.

      Into my heart an air that kills
      From yon far country blows:
      What are those blue remembered hills,
      What spires, what farms are those?
      That is the land of lost content,
      I see it shining plain.
      The happy highways where I went
      And cannot come again.
      From A. E. Houseman’s A Shropshire Lad.

      ~Jonathan

    • Kathy says:
      May 8, 2013 at 11:24am

      I’m also going to use repetitive comments in reviews of my books to create a tagline. The readers will help me.

      • Jonathan Gunson says:
        May 8, 2013 at 11:38am

        Kathy
        That’s the spirit. The best things can come out of conversation and feedback. Last year for example completely out of the blue, I was given a great line to use for my social media work on Twitter by Felicity Lennie
        “Change the lives of a few and let your ripples go out through them.”
        ~Jonathan

  • May 8, 2013 at 11:04am

    Another great treasury of advice — had to tweet it. Like Joanna, I’m struggling with the tag line, since I write both children’s books and novel(s). I wonder if I should concentrate on a tagline for just the novels? Meanwhile, I’ll give the other points more attention than I have in the past . . . and will keep writing. Thank you!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 8, 2013 at 11:32am

      Gloria
      Your theme tagline can be tremendous fun to devise if brainstormed with other writers, family and friends who know your work. That can help tremendously.
      ~Jonathan

  • May 8, 2013 at 11:06am

    As always Jonathon your hints are great. Putting them into practice takes me a bit more time. Only just reaping the crop of part of your course on Twitter. With the tagline… mine is ‘the Apostle John series’. because that is what the book series is about. But in the ‘trailer’ it came up ‘Christianity comes alive’. I like that but am at a loss where to put it… oops. Inspiration – Christianity comes alive in the Apostle John series. Where to use it is next consideration for this beginning ‘marketer’.
    Appreciate you making me think.
    Thank you
    Susan Preston

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 8, 2013 at 11:34am

      Susan
      Christians are such a specific and faith-committed audience that your line ‘Christianity comes alive’ should appeal, if that really is the case with your books. It certainly rings with shining optimism.
      ~Jonathan

  • Kathy says:
    May 8, 2013 at 11:22am

    Great article. Gives me focus with the very time-consuming job of promo! The cover continuity part is a little more difficult when working with more than one publisher though. I suppose once you have a large following, you can have more say.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 8, 2013 at 11:29am

      Kathy
      Sooner or later you’ll gain control of your books, and then unify the covers – if they’re all of the same genre. Not sure why you have them across various publishers though. That may make take longer to claw back all the rights.
      ~Jonathan

  • May 8, 2013 at 11:36am

    Hi Jonathan,
    Great post, enjoyed this one as I discovered I’ve missed a few of the valuable points you have raised.

    LOVE the idea of a strap-line, will have to ask my inner-creative genius for some help….that’ll keep me busy over the next few days!!

    I’ve already written a series http://www.dodona-books.com/authors of Zodiac Sun Sign books….and I can see I need to pull them altogether…

    Thanx again, Grrrrrreat post!!

    In Peace
    Mary xx

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 8, 2013 at 11:42am

      Mary
      Take time over the tagline Mary – you can’t force it. Ask yourself what it might be in a tranquil moment before you go to sleep at night. (Works for me)
      ~Jonathan
      PS. Looking at your site: ‘Resident Astrologer for Talk Radio Europe’. An intriguing / fascination place to find yourself indeed.

  • Sue Brown says:
    May 8, 2013 at 11:37am

    I was reminded of the importance of a brand when I talked to a features writer who commented on mine. It was the first time an ‘outsider’ to my genre had mentioned the fact I was recognisable, across all my sites. It was an epiphany moment.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 8, 2013 at 11:47am

      Sue
      More than a few writers reject the term ‘author brand’ fearing the ‘art’ of their work might be trivialised by such association. What appalling conceit! They’re all brands. Congratulations on being ‘recognised’ by the way.
      ~Jonathan

      • Sue Brown says:
        May 8, 2013 at 11:56am

        I was lucky to be taken in hand by a clever marketing lady (also an author) who has done more to transform my genre than anyone I know. If people reject the idea of a brand they are frankly insane.

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          May 8, 2013 at 12:05pm

          Sue.
          Such great news that you linked up with a marketer / author. We all need a mentor.
          ~Jonathan
          PS. When you say she’s transformed ‘your genre’, do you mean your books, or the entire genre?

          • Sue Brown says:
            May 8, 2013 at 12:46pm

            The genre. I see her touch in the taglines and websites of authors. My genre is becoming more professional. She may not have spoken to everyone but authors are seeing the effect a proper brand has and doing the same for themselves.

  • May 8, 2013 at 11:44am

    Wow! This is a great article with a lot of sound advice. I will put into practice all of them. People already know me by my main character, but it would be nice to make them think of me as an author of other kinds of books too. As I said, great article. Thanks!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 8, 2013 at 11:50am

      Cinta
      If you’re already known by a main character that’s extremely valuable and worth nurturing. Your author brand stands back from that – at a deeper level. Think JK Rowling and Harry Potter as a broad guideline for the balance required.
      ~Jonathan

  • May 8, 2013 at 11:55am

    These are nice finishing touches for a book, and fairly easy points to be included in promotion. As one comment above says, it seems obvious once you’ve pointed it out! :-)

    An author spends many lonely hours writing, absorbed in their work, only to find that there is an equally lengthy task at hand in editing and refining the writing. Then, just as they think it’s ready, another long haul appears – how to get people to start reading the work? It’s great to have such helpful articles appearing from you, for this last and most difficult of tasks. Thank you Jonathan.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 8, 2013 at 12:02pm

      Peter
      I can sense your patience – a great attribute for a writer, for this writing life is a long haul. Re-watch the Ray Bradbury video. Great optimism, highly encouraging.
      http://bestsellerlabs.com/how-to-sell-8-million-books
      ~Jonathan

  • May 8, 2013 at 12:07pm

    Jonathan

    I’m fairly new to all this (a year) and still working on my ‘brand’. Your articles are so useful.

    Particularly liked the theme-tagline idea – this was new to me – lots of scope for thought there!

    Intrigued as to what Part 3 of your series will be…

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 8, 2013 at 12:39pm

      Ellie
      Let me know when you’ve cooked up a tagline. (Brainstorm it with family and friends – you’ll be surprised at what transpires.)
      ~Jonathan

  • Atty Eve says:
    May 8, 2013 at 12:12pm

    Thank you so much for helping us out. I’m a new author in the middle of editing my first novel My Beautiful Suicide. I have finished the 5 book series and want to make sure I don’t screw up the debut. The good thing is that I will be self-publishing so I have creative control, but going at it alone is difficult. Who else but an agent or publisher would tell us we need taglines or branding? Your articles are a lifeline and I just want to thank you for taking the time.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 8, 2013 at 12:26pm

      All the best with your series Atty.
      5 books is a massive achievement. I assume you have an editor on board – not just self-editing? They bring so much to the table, and can be transformative.
      ~Jonathan

      • Atty Eve says:
        May 8, 2013 at 12:46pm

        Yes, I do have an editor who for the last 8 months has been ripping my book apart. She has made me a better writer. She not only tells me what’s wrong with the book, but she tells me why. She’s more of a writing coach. She told me that writing is the easy part and it was. I wrote the whole series in 7 months, 500K words. But putting my ego aside, editing, promoting and publishing? – that’s the hard part. So thank you for helping us newbies.

        • Atty Eve says:
          May 8, 2013 at 12:59pm

          Glad my editor hasn’t read this post. I would be ripped on how many sentences start with She. Ugh, I know better!

          • Jonathan Gunson says:
            May 8, 2013 at 10:38pm

            Ha ha ha. This isn’t a novel Atty. Sprawl as much as you like here. No-one minds – in fact, to mint a phrase. “It’s the thought that counts.”.

  • Rachael McIntosh says:
    May 8, 2013 at 12:19pm

    Thank you for this information. And thank you for giving it to us all for free. I am saving this. I have not yet published my first novel in the trilogy I’m writing. I’m hoping to have my first draft manuscript done by the end of the month. I will use your advice and let you know how it goes. Thank you again!
    Warmly,
    R.L. McIntosh
    She didn’t want to be crazy…

    How’s that for a tagline? :-)

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 8, 2013 at 12:27pm

      Rachael
      Hot tagline for a single book!
      ~Jonathan

  • May 8, 2013 at 12:23pm

    Jonathan:

    Once again, great advice!

    I’ve had the good fortune of having readers create a tagline for my series – SOLSTICE – in one word: “Addicting!”

    And, in order to ensure the five books are tied together, I’ve been keeping the same look on the covers with the exception of the title. Time will tell if this works to advantage or readers become confused by them.

    John

  • Jonathan Gunson says:
    May 8, 2013 at 12:35pm

    John
    In my view your book covers all look far too similar.
    In fact they almost appear to be a single title unless closely examined! A series design needs to have the same look and feel overall but with clear image differentiation for each title. See the Twilight books or Harry Potter. All belong to the same recognizable school, but can be differentiated at a glance, even at thumbnail size.
    A cover designer may be able to help – it’s worth the investment.

    Also, see my article on covers:
    http://bestsellerlabs.com/the-billboard-that-can-make-or-break-your-books-success
    ~Jonathan

  • SJ Hailey says:
    May 8, 2013 at 12:51pm

    Jonathan been reading my mind again.
    First thing I thought was JFP’s tagline, spooky.

    Thanks for the inspiration, editing to commence shortly.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 8, 2013 at 10:40pm

      Ah yes. The magic of the editor. I hope you don’t get into battles. I had a long one over the word ‘Fragrance’. Editor wanted ‘Smell’. She won.
      But it still irks me each time I see that page – after 20 years!
      ~Jonathan

  • May 8, 2013 at 12:57pm

    Your reasoning is so easy to understand. I’ve used a theme of the sea in all my book covers and titles. I had wondered if they would be too confusing, but now you’ve pointed out the benefits of branding, I’m glad I did. Thank you.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 8, 2013 at 9:40pm

      The ocean, the sea – always attractive. It’s the ‘escape’ sound of waves I think that awakens a writer’s muse.
      ~Jonathan

  • May 8, 2013 at 1:10pm

    Hello Jonathan,
    just contacted you to tell you I withdrew by manuscript – I WANT TO LIVE, from the publisher I sent it to as six months is a big long to wait for a reply. I contacted a self – publish publisher, [ in England ] as traditional publishers appear to have their own authors and favourites and won’t take a chance on others. This self – publish firm are publishing the paperback and are putting it, as well as the LOOK INSIDE and KINDLE features on AMAZON, for a very fair fee. Do you think Jonathan, that if I contact Amazon, they would put all of my three books all on the one AMAZON page for reader viewing. If so, how do I contact them to ask them how to do that? The I WANT TO LIVE, cancer book will be the first of two, as I have lots of material that will accommodate a send book in the series, I WANT TO LIVE part two. I will let you know when the book goes on Amazon in a few weeks so you can look it up. thanks for your help and advice Jonathan, cheers mate..

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 8, 2013 at 9:50pm

      Patrick
      Individual pages are exclusively for individual books on Amazon. But in your Amazon Author Central account ( https://authorcentral.amazon.com ) if someone clicks on your name (or searches for it), your other books will show as an option.
      ~Jonathan

      • May 8, 2013 at 11:34pm

        Thanks Jonathan, you’re right as usual. When I click on one of my books, both of them show, a bigger picture for the book requested , and a thumbprint picture for the other book, that is shown just underneath it. I tried it after reading your reply, thanks again mate, appreciated.

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          May 9, 2013 at 12:10am

          Good man. Glad it worked out. Box on.
          ~Jonathan

  • May 8, 2013 at 1:11pm

    Jonathan,

    This was an excellent post – lots for great tips. I need to do just about everything you mentioned, starting with a re-edit of my book. Then I will move onto the rest. I agree, the writing remains the central focus. Will have to think about the cover, since it started out as one book as is turning into a series of three.

    Thanks again for sharing your insights.

    ~ Diogenes

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 8, 2013 at 9:56pm

      Diogenes
      Editors are Gods.
      ~Jonathan

  • May 8, 2013 at 1:11pm

    Great blog, all very logical but so useful to see everything listed like this, to point us in the right direction. It’s easy to not ‘see the wood for the trees’ as they say, and forget to assess all of one’s work as a whole, not just as individual books.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 8, 2013 at 10:26pm

      Martin
      It pays to stand well back sometimes. Not easy when one is way down in the writing well.
      ~Jonathan

  • May 8, 2013 at 1:13pm

    That typo on my first blog is send instead of second, thanks mate.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 9, 2013 at 5:43am

      I gathered your drift OK Patrick :)
      ~Jonathan

  • May 8, 2013 at 1:41pm

    I found your ‘Seven winning ways….’fascinating. Much food for thought and I will certainly take on board your suggestions. It’s all common sense really but it needs someone like you to point it out.
    Mmmm…now to think of a tagline.
    Many thanks.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 8, 2013 at 10:00pm

      “When Mr Darcy becomes real..” (?) Some still dream of this.
      ~Jonathan

  • May 8, 2013 at 1:41pm

    Great article and very useful. I’ll bear all these in mind when I get to that stage. I especially like 1, 3, 6 and 7. I’m writing the first of a trilogy with an over-arching storyline (despite each novel having its own storyline) and I’ve already got an idea for a book cover element that could tie them all together.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 8, 2013 at 10:05pm

      FI
      Excellent. You have the best of all worlds, because while writing complete stories within a greater story is not so easy, you’ve succeeded. J K Rowling did this of course with Harry Potter. That type of set up that has the greatest sales potential. Once a reader puts one down they HAVE to get the next. The overarching story does all the sales work.
      See article: http://bestsellerlabs.com/the-hottest-tip-no-fiction-writer-can-afford-to-ignore/
      ~Jonathan

  • Jeanie says:
    May 8, 2013 at 1:54pm

    Once again, Jonathan, you are the Go-to-Guy! I so appreciate all this very good information as I’m still treading water. My books are written, but I’m now in the book cover stage, so will use your link to find something that works.

    I am also a copyeditor for novelists and am saving all this great information to forward to my clients. It is such useful information.

    About author branding, ultimately, as writers we are the brand. It cannot be any other way.

    Thanks for being such a good teacher!!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 8, 2013 at 10:15pm

      Jeanie
      A good copy editor is worth their weight in gold.
      ~Jonathan

  • May 8, 2013 at 2:06pm

    Hmmmmm, good advice! Common tagline for my two books…”It happens in your own home town.” Both Ridin’ Around and One Wrong Move have ties to one small town in Texas, but could have happened just about anywhere. Fun or terror. Quite a range.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 8, 2013 at 10:15pm

      Deliciously disturbing tagline Elaine.
      ~Jonathan

  • Jan Moran says:
    May 8, 2013 at 2:36pm

    Jonathan, thank you for sharing your thoughts. Very enlightening for new authors! Adding your advice to my to-do list now….

    My work is upmarket commercial fiction, and I’ve been working on taglines; my current line is “Smart & Stylish.” It was “Smart, Stylish, and Sexy,” but thought that might be problematic for SEO. Still working on the branding, and I found your advice spot on.

    Thanks for the illumination! Looking forward to reading more :)

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 8, 2013 at 10:23pm

      Jan

      I’ll attempt to be encouraging here: Your ‘Smart, Stylish and Sexy’ wording is like the undeveloped ‘technical’ wording in an ad agency briefing document that correctly describes the books. It would be supplied to the creative team as basic info from which they generate the real advertising strap-line. (I worked in agencies for a decade.) So your basic wording that correctly describes your books is OK, but to work properly needs to be translated into something that sparkles with wit.

      For example, the Jackie Collins ad agency ‘technical’ briefing document might have said ‘Very racy books that you can’t stop reading’, which has been translated creatively into ‘She’ll keep you up all night.’ An attractive, truly remarkable double entendre.

      ~Jonathan

      • Jan Moran says:
        May 12, 2013 at 4:30pm

        Thanks for the guidance, Jonathan! Back to the drawing board–that’s why pros like you rock!

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          May 12, 2013 at 8:59pm

          Jan
          This is not an easy thing to do. Advertising agency teams will usually spend DAYS or even WEEKS working on a branding line. It’s central. The solution is to keep working at it. Scribble down ideas, dwell on it. It’ll become frustrating but press on and sooner or later the muse will throw it in front of you… but only if you keep working at it.
          ~Jonathan

  • May 8, 2013 at 2:57pm

    Thanks for sending me your post. I am completely exhausted by the social networking thing! Because my novel is not populist in theme or style, finding a readership is particularly difficult. You have provided some useful advice and I am at this moment thinking of a memorable tag-line for my work.

  • May 8, 2013 at 2:59pm

    Jonathan, you continue to amaze with the truly valuable and ahead-of-the-pack info that you share with your audience!

    I loved this post. Your title reminds me of something Anne Lammott said in “Bird by Bird.” I’m paraphrasing but it was something to the effect of lighthouses (and “M”:) don’t go running all over the island looking for people to save; they shine bright and steady to guide people home.

    I see that principle throughout your post. Done well, an author’s books bring readers to their cozy familiar home and keep them up all night.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 8, 2013 at 10:30pm

      Karen

      Always a pleasure to see you here. Re “ahead-of-the-pack” All I’m really doing is restating principles I learned in marketing long ago. Nothing changes I happy to report.

      I particularly liked your quote: “…don’t go running all over the island looking for people to save; they shine bright and steady to guide people home.”

      ~Jonathan

  • Hazel Eggleton says:
    May 8, 2013 at 3:02pm

    Wonderful advice, Jonathan. As a newcomer to publishing [just about to have my first book published] I really appreciate your articles.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 8, 2013 at 10:31pm

      Standing by for your book Hazel. Exciting times for you.
      ~Jonathan

  • Pam Long says:
    May 8, 2013 at 3:12pm

    Jonathan,
    You are such a genius and I thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for sharing your insights and strategies with us. I’ve been looking for something like this but didn’t know exactly where to begin. Now, I do!
    You never disappoint.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 8, 2013 at 10:34pm

      Pam
      Thank you!
      ~Jonathan

  • May 8, 2013 at 3:22pm

    Dear Jonathan Gunson, Thank you for this excellent overview of marketing books. I have a tagline on posters for my novel ‘the Rainbow Alchemist’ … ‘the best and latest in New Age Fiction’ since my story involves mysticism and New Age themes. I am, alas, a slow writer and a sequel and other novels will be a while in coming of age. So I am left with promoting my single and only, albeit singular novel as a first time author.
    Thanks for keeping me in the loop.
    Best Regards,
    Martin Bueno

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 8, 2013 at 10:35pm

      Martin
      ‘The Rainbow Alchemist’ a title of delight that appeals to my inner Peter Pan, or maybe Puck?
      ~Jonathan

  • May 8, 2013 at 3:46pm

    I find it humorous that we can 100,000 words for our books, but a 5 word tagline leaves us in agony. *bangs head on desk*

    Great post! Thanks for information, and I love the ‘Book Store Window’ in the ebooks! Thanks again!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 8, 2013 at 9:04pm

      Ha ha, Yes true. But remember, marketing is a completely different discipline to creative writing. Keep thinking about the ‘line’ logically but also let it percolate.
      ~Jonathan

  • May 8, 2013 at 3:46pm

    Another great post! I love the clear focus and included examples. The image of a lighthouse is very powerful. Thank you for pulling all this together and sharing it with us.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 8, 2013 at 9:36pm

      You’re welcome Heidi
      Focus is indeed the word – I have trouble with it most days.
      ~Jonathan

  • Diane says:
    May 8, 2013 at 3:49pm

    Jonathan-
    Really appreciate the advice offered here. I am already on board with the Tagline! I am excited about that! I just need to remember to implement it more. If interested- Check it out here: http://dianesloftis.wordpress.com/ Can you pinpoint my Tagline? ;) I just added new pages to my blog- more content is “coming soon”! The other piece of advice that stood out to me while reading this is about the professional author photo- I will defiantly keep this in mind as I pursue my writing dreams. Thanks for all you do! :)

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 8, 2013 at 9:32pm

      Diane
      ‘Write in the Moment’….
      ~Jonathan

  • May 8, 2013 at 4:12pm

    This was an excellent article – good, clear suggestions. The first in this series was not so good – it simply said “start early” by using facebook & twitter. This one gave more detailed ideas and suggestions. Keep up the great work!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 8, 2013 at 9:28pm

      Jane
      I still hope you plan to ‘start early’.
      Jonathan

  • May 8, 2013 at 4:19pm

    Excellent! Excellent. I use “Healing wounds, one teardrop at a time.”

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 8, 2013 at 9:25pm

      Peaches
      Sweet / touching line. You should find a ‘tear drop’ photograph and wrap the words around it as a logo.
      ~Jonathan

  • May 8, 2013 at 6:18pm

    John,

    I recently set up a mailing list and this post made me aware of how I’ll sign off every email, with my tag line. It’s one I developed about 8 months ago and is now al over my blog and social media channels. “I write with an edge and aim to give you nightmares” sends my point home. Thanks John

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 8, 2013 at 9:24pm

      Kyle
      “I write with an edge and aim to give you nightmares…”
      Fantastic. Love that hint of malevolence.
      ~Jonathan

  • May 8, 2013 at 6:52pm

    Thanks for sending me this information. I have no idea how you got my e-mail address, but I am glad you did. I am in the throes of finishing my third book of fiction, but each is different from the other. Short story collection, contemporary military and now historical fiction. Although there is no common thread, I do plan to figure out a brand theme, because I know you are right about it. Thanks for the insight.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 8, 2013 at 9:23pm

      Sarah
      Three books? A wonderful achievement. And yes a brand theme will help , but it shouldn’t supplant your AUTHOR NAME. That’s who readers come to know – and a relationship will grow.
      ~Jonathan
      PS. The only way I will have your email address is if you submitted a request for my free eBook, The ‘Bestseller Labs Guide For Authors’ and additionally you must have confirmed that you wanted to be on my list through an email sent to you. It’s not remotely possible you’d be on it any other way.

  • May 8, 2013 at 7:23pm

    Thanks for these great ideas, Jonathan. I think I’ll follow all of them apart from the tobacco smoke wreathing my face.

    Apart from the seven practical ideas I’ll take away the idea that it’s the readers who build the brand rather than the author.

    Great insight.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 8, 2013 at 9:16pm

      Martin
      I see we’re now connected on Facebook. The journey to find those readers continues.
      ~Jonathan

  • May 8, 2013 at 8:00pm

    Hi Jonathan. Clearly, I’m a little late to this party, but couldn’t resist chiming in.

    As someone who has spent the past ten years in commissioned sales, I understand the value and necessity of personal branding. In fact, to make a point, my old real estate manager asked a group of us “newbie” realtors, “What are you selling?”. The answers were varied and imaginative, and some not so much, but I kept thinking, “I’m selling me. People buy homes from people, not companies.” Turns out, I was right. Same thing holds for books. People buy books based on the author, not the agent, or the publisher, or the vendor. So, branding is ultra important. In reading your post here, I’m pleased to see you have included some of the key elements of any sales tactic, and make no mistake, branding is as much a part of sales as peanuts are to peanut butter. One can’t exist successfully without the other.

    In fact, I found this post especially interesting since my blog post from last week, before I read yours today, is on the same subject; author branding. We seemed to have hit on some similar points, but yours on tag lines is beautiful. I didn’t know that what I was doing was called a tag line (you learn something new every day). About a month ago I started using one on some of my promo material for my paranormal romance/murder mystery novel. It’s on my new bookmarks, and I also started putting it on the flyers book stores are using to promote my upcoming book signings. It’s still early days, so it hasn’t caught on yet, but I’m hoping it will for this series. You’ve given some great additional suggestions where to use tag lines, and I’ll definitely be using them!

    Of course, as Joanna mentioned, when the author changes genres, or starts a new series, the tag line may have to change as well, if appropriate. I guess the key is to find a tag line, like Jackie Collins did, that is synonymous with the writer, rather than the work. I hadn’t thought of that. Thanks once again for giving me food for thought, and action.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 8, 2013 at 9:15pm

      Debbie
      I’ve just checked out your site and found your article on branding. After working in ad agencies for a decade I can immediately sense when people are getting their marketing right, as you are.
      One thing shone through: “…The key is to carefully choose the message you want people to take away about you, as an author, and your work. It has to permeate everything you do that relates to your work…”
      100% correct and on the money.
      ~Jonathan

      • May 9, 2013 at 1:35pm

        That’s why I related to this post. You have such great, but easy to implement, ideas and suggestions for all of us. Keep up the good work. :)

  • May 8, 2013 at 10:10pm

    Another great post, Jonathan! I just did two all-nighters getting a coming-of-age story to my publisher and now here I sit, chewing my nails, wondering if I am getting everything right! But SO GLAD to have your articles to reference! In a lot of ways, your articles are helping me to discover my “brand”. I was surprised, and happy, when my publisher and I were discussing target audiences, and I actually was able to elucidate who they were. A lot of my thanks for that goes to you. I will keep working to grow into the guidelines you so generously share with us. Thank you, again.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 9, 2013 at 12:23am

      Aya.
      “….when my publisher and I were discussing target audiences, and I actually was able to elucidate who they were.” A massive step indeed.
      ~Jonathan

  • May 8, 2013 at 11:40pm

    Hello Jonathan. Thanks for another fantastic article. Such great advice here, especially about developing a ‘brand’, which is a term I use often when talking about my work. I started off using the same photo for all of my work and pages, but I recently started using new ones. I appreciate the reminder that the photo is a part of the brand. I’ll have to find one that I want to stick with, although I’m pretty sure it will be the original one I started off with.

    I’ll also have to check my ‘inside the book’ feature. I noticed that for some of my books Amazon automatically skipped the contents and went straight to the first chapter. That might be because of how I formatted the manuscript. I’ll have to look into it.

    I like the idea of a tagline also. I used to use the Latin motto ‘Non Omnis Moriar’ (not all of me shall die) for book signing and email signatures, but not as often anymore. I’ve toyed around with the bold and simple ‘Bard Writes Books’ as well, so I guess I’m still working on that tagline.

    Thanks again, Jonathan!

  • Rob Loughran says:
    May 8, 2013 at 11:40pm

    This is probably the single most solid and succinctly stated marketing advice I’ve read. Thank you.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 9, 2013 at 12:06am

      Rob
      There’s more to come in part 3.
      ~Jonathan

      • Rob Loughran says:
        May 14, 2013 at 11:08pm

        I can’t wait for Part 3. I’ve already started implementing these strategies on my new novel “Beautiful Lies”

  • May 9, 2013 at 3:08am

    Ho Jonathan, all great advice. What does a writer do who is a journalist, slice of life and short story writer do to get the possibly only book I’ll ever write promoted more effectively. I do have a collection of short stories coming up but basically I write short stories and newspaper articles.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 9, 2013 at 3:19am

      Micki
      You have the perfect promotional vehicle through your journalistic connections.
      i.e. Write articles for the media (about what needs to be written in order to be published), but always find a way at some point to relate that article to something in your book. This justifies giving out a link to your book at the end of the article. (Or your website where they can find your book.) This won’t always be allowed, but in most cases it will.
      ~Jonathan

  • May 9, 2013 at 4:03am

    Another great post! I particularly like #7. Great reminder that it’s the writing, the writing, the writing that sell the books and brand the author.

    OTOH #1 is super hard. I write in multiple genres, so having a one-size-fits-all tagline probably won’t work. Each genre has its own series, trilogies, books, novellas, short stories, etc. So from what I’m reading in your blog, it would make sense to have tagline for each genre.

    Funny. As a writer, it takes me less time to write 100K words than it is to agonize over a 5-word tagline LOL. Hemingway could tell a story in 6 words. But he’s Hemingway.

    So. Is it OK not to have a tagline? I don’t see some NYT authors having taglines. I want a tagline but I write in 3-4 different genres, and I want to unify them all with one tagline, and heaven forbid it should be: “Jill of All Trades” LOL.

    I’ve noticed that some big name authors don’t have any taglines on their website, except for the occasional “#1 New York Times Bestseller.” Is that a tagline? Or are the author names themselves their own tag lines, so to speak?

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 9, 2013 at 5:22am

      Jan

      I’m risking writing an entirely new blog post by replying, but here goes!

      It’s too easy to become confused by this ‘branding’ issue. Essentially it’s all about being known for something specific and therefore memorable, being clearly identifiable and top of mind as an author for a particular type of book in a highly competitive market place. Makes it so much easier to promote. As Zig Ziglar says: “You can be a meaningful specific that people remember or an everywhere generality the no-one recalls.”
      In any marketing arena it’s far easier to become known for one thing than six. e.g. McDonalds makes burgers but does not sell Chinese food. It’s known for a specific thing.

      But you see, no-one is obliged to use a theme-tagline. They are simply designed to assist authors by enhancing their memorability in the early stages of their career if they’re writing one-off books within a single genre. Romantic Fiction has this issue in particular because the stories all have happy endings, so sequels with ongoing characters aren’t possible in most cases.

      In all cases the author’s name is clearly the overall brand and becomes known for ‘Romantic Fiction’, or ‘Crime,’ or ‘Paranormal’ or ‘Historical Romance’ or ‘YA’ and so on. It’s the ultimate ‘tagline’ of course! But this is made a lot more difficult if you write across multiple genres, for the obvious reason that the author name cannot then be strongly associated with any specific genre.

      Readers generally like to read within only a few types of genre at the most and so becoming known for a particular genre is hugely advantageous. Some authors use pen names to get around this issue. (e.g. Nora Roberts writes ‘Police Procedurals’ as JD Robb.) But you’re not obliged to do that either, although you can see how it clarifies things, and dramatically increases memorability and word of mouth buzz by readers.

      ~Jonathan

      PS. Quoting from Debbie McClure’s earlier comment – she points out accurately: “… the key is to carefully choose the message you want people to take away about you, as an author, and your work. It has to permeate everything you do that relates to your work….” http://bestsellerlabs.com/attract-readers-with-a-lighthouse-author-brand/#comment-6794

      • May 9, 2013 at 9:02pm

        Thank you, Jonathan and Debbie! Great points, for sure. Appreciate the thorough explanation. Does look like perhaps a related blog post wants to be written down the road…

        I see the rationality of downsizing the number of genres I write in, or perhaps just stick to my top genres and put the rest on the back burner for the time when I run out of things to write (haha — that’ll be the day). I get it re: branding with author name.

        Silly me. I just remembered that I do have a tagline on my website. But it’s a poor one. I basically listed the genres I write in. “Thrillers. Historical. Inspirational.” Problem is I haven’t gotten around to “fixing” the formality. I meant “Historical Fiction” but the problem is whether people will get confused — “Thrillers. Historical?” Nope. The amateur grammarian in me cringe at this alphabet soup of my own doing.

        I did explain it i a longer sentence on my platforms: “Jan Thompson writes 21st century international thrillers when she is not chronicling 18th century regional history.” But to distill that into half a dozen words? I need a marketing expert. Or I can just use that sentence. Can a tagline be a long sentence?

        As for pseudonyms… Stubborn me, I refuse to use them. I mean, which nom de plume shows up at a book festival? How many websites, FB page, Twitter accounts should I manage? I find masks confusing and disingenuous, but that’s just IMHO.

        I believe that readers are intelligent enough to differentiate the genres their favorite authors write without the authors resorting to pseudonyms. E.g. Brad Meltzer writes thrillers and comic books. Joel Rosenberg writes thrillers and non-fiction. Michael Koryta writes mystery and paranormal. They all use their own names, and IMO their readers are not confused.

        OTOH I wonder if Nora Roberts and her many pseudonyms are confusing especially to new readers. I noticed at the library that on some of her covers, the publisher had to write “Nora Roberts writing as JD Robb” or something to that effect, as if they found a need to clarify. If there was not confusion, why put that on the cover?

        I hope to conjure up a tagline very soon. You’ve given me food for thought. Thanks again.

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          May 9, 2013 at 10:28pm

          Jan
          It intrigues me to see the sheer number of individual authors who write across many different genres. It’s just the way they like to work, being driven to write about separate ideas that excite them, rather than any specific genre. You are numbered amongst them. There are no hard and fast rules, but it’s clear that in your case, sticking to your own name as author is the correct route. See my related reply to James Nelson. http://bestsellerlabs.com/attract-readers-with-a-lighthouse-author-brand/#comment-6871
          ~Jonathan

          • May 10, 2013 at 2:33am

            Thanks for your time and suggestions! I’ll let you know how it turns out juggling these genres. It’s like doing a double major at university, or a major and a minor.

            Definitely agree with Mr. Nelson there about just using one writer name for all genres. Keeping it simple is best. Easier to cash royalty checks, and easier to say, “Hello, my name is…” LOL.

            Thanks again for your helpful blogs on publishing.

  • Andy Szpuk says:
    May 9, 2013 at 6:59am

    Interesting and useful post, and I found 7 and 14 most enlightening. I’m starting to think my blog needs a revamp and the ideas here are something to build on. The tagline I’ve come up with for my work is ‘Angels Kiss the Pages’ – because of the poetic sensibility I try to inject into it, So feedback would be welcome if possible.
    I also had a couple of other ideas:
    ‘Stories from forever and beyond’ was one.

    Thanks Jonathon!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 9, 2013 at 7:04am

      Andy
      ‘Angels Kiss The Pages’ is sublimely beautiful and highly evocative. Perfect for poetry – depending on its ‘magical’ nature. Great stuff. So go find a picture of an angel, and wrap the words around it. It’ll be quite a logo to see.

      Angel picture …

      ~Jonathan

      • Andy Szpuk says:
        May 9, 2013 at 7:18am

        Thanks Jonathon,
        Sadly, working with images is not my forte, but I like your idea! May have to beg a favour off someone . . .

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          May 9, 2013 at 7:20am

          Sure you can Andy. Do you realize how powerful the honesty of your idea is? It deserves ‘the works’.
          ~ Jonathan

          • May 12, 2013 at 11:35am

            Hi Jonathan,

            I worked around Angels Kiss the Pages (decided it was too poetry-specific, so will save for another project I have in mind), and came up with this:

            http://andyszpuk.wordpress.com

            Feedback welcome!

          • Jonathan Gunson says:
            May 12, 2013 at 9:09pm

            Andy
            Your ‘Angels’ line is a sparkling metaphor generated from a more boringly literal thought. e.g. The literal idea might have been ‘This is beautiful writing that people might feel is heaven sent.’ A literal thought from which you have generated ‘Angels Kiss The Pages’ - a beautiful creative translation from a literal idea. But the new ‘grip’ line feels like something that’s still at the literal stage, waiting to be translated. See this thread with Jan Moran who’s working her line which has the same issue: http://bestsellerlabs.com/attract-readers-with-a-lighthouse-author-brand/#comment-6773
            ~Jonathan

  • May 9, 2013 at 7:12am

    Great post! Thanks so much for sharing. Simple ideas that seem to produce great results.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 9, 2013 at 7:17am

      Angel
      Your timing is uncanny given the nature of the previous comment.
      Also, love your blog header image and introductory prose “I’m obsessed with the magical world of books…. ” Me too.
      ~Jonathan

  • Janet says:
    May 9, 2013 at 11:58am

    Hi Jonathan – I am a relatively new “author” and got the link to your blog from one of the author forums I am in.

    I have 2 books currently in the Kindle marketplace both of which are health related – one on stress and another on gluten free diets – I was wondering whether this system can work for health related books and whether you have any advice to give regarding self help books v novels in this respect.

    Thanks

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 9, 2013 at 12:09pm

      Janet

      This approach is really for creative writing – stories that an author builds up over a lifetime with a style they become known for by their fans. (Their brand.)

      In your case it’s much easier to sell your books, because people actually put their hands up and identify themselves as looking for such information (This never happens for new fiction authors!)

      You need to use SEO on your website, correct category listings on Amazon, supply articles to relevant online magazines with a link to your work included, leave comments on related health blogs, do a deal with a gluten free food company – just a few of the whole array of places online where your information can easily be exposed.

      ~Jonathan

      • Janet says:
        May 9, 2013 at 7:34pm

        Thanks Jonathan that is really helpful advice

  • May 9, 2013 at 1:44pm

    Morning Jon,
    It’s morning here anyway.
    When I began my writing career I used 3 pen names and my own name. That was very confusing for people coming to my signing table. I got tired of explaining and moved everything to my own name.
    You see, one pen name covered science fiction and horror.
    Another covered erotica.
    Another straight contemporary.
    And my own name for my memoirs.
    Now I’ve also started a series of short nature books written for ages 3-103.
    I’ve never tried writing the same stories; I write what comes to me.
    I really like the idea of a tagline, maybe. “He writes something for everyone.”
    What do you think?
    Thanks, Jon!
    James W. Nelson

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 9, 2013 at 10:20pm

      James
      The debate over whether to use a pen name has been raging forever. You don’t HAVE to use a different one for each genre. If you’ve written 10 books and each is for a separate genre, that would be impossible to manage and your own ‘author name’ needs to rule the day. It’s case by case thing. See reply to closely related question about theme tagline:
      http://bestsellerlabs.com/attract-readers-with-a-lighthouse-author-brand/#comment-6840
      ~Jonathan

      • May 10, 2013 at 3:22am

        Thanks Jon, I do look forward to your refreshing material every time!
        James

  • May 9, 2013 at 3:23pm

    Jonathan, this is an excellent article, although I am confused about your advice regarding the ‘Look Inside’ feature. I get that your eBook shouldn’t be cluttered up with a lot of front matter but how do I end on a cliffhanger when Amazon takes a percentage of the total book and offers that as a sample? Are you suggesting that I write the book in a way that the sample pages will end just where I want them? Thanks so much.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 9, 2013 at 10:11pm

      Steven
      I can help you with this.
      A year ago (or maybe more) I asked Amazon’s help desk if an author could finish a ‘Look Inside’ sample specifically at the end of a chapter, and also strip out any superfluous material in the sample, such as blank pages. They said it could be done but would take longer. However I see that their latest instructions simply indicate they take the ‘first 10%’, so I’ve asked the question again. If choosing is no longer be possible I’ll have to update my article. I’ll drop the answer into this comment tomorrow.

      Steven. UPDATE: Turns out Amazon won’t do this for authors at the moment, but are considering it for future updates of their service.

      ~Jonathan

  • May 10, 2013 at 2:03pm

    Gosh, your posts are becoming like my own personal writing/branding bible passages. Thanks for sharing this information with us.

    I wonder if you have any insight about song lyrics versus common phrases. I’m a romance writer and I use my Italian heritage in most of my work, so I was thinking about using the phrase “That’s Amore” for my theme-tagline. It’s basically a signature song of Dean Martin’s, but it’s kind of a common phrase for people to say, too (at lease, in my culture). Is it safe to use, or should I just choose something else?

    Thanks again.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 10, 2013 at 10:53pm

      Staci
      There’s no question ‘That’s Amore” would be a brilliant line for you. If it was me, I’d use it immediately. Love it. I find it unlikely there’d be any rights attached to the phrase itself – if it’s a common expression in Italy. Best to check first, and you have to get permission to use the song of course.
      ‘That’s Amore’ By Dean Martin. You Tube
      ~Jonathan

      • May 11, 2013 at 3:16pm

        Great link! I love Dean Martin.

        I’m going to start working on the new theme-tag and header immediately. Thanks.

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          May 11, 2013 at 10:42pm

          Staci.
          It would be best not to rely on me as your final copyright guide. (I’m not a lawyer.) I would check that ‘That’s Amore’ isn’t being used for another author first.
          Search Google properly etc, and also look up the basic word mark search at Tess for trademarks for example. On a quick look there is one in TV and entertainment – about the 7th down in the results list #77370760. This may or may not collide with your idea! Suggest check with a lawyer. If you’re successful, your brand could become very large, so pays to get it right first.
          ~Jonathan

          • May 13, 2013 at 1:22am

            As always, you’re so right. I’m taking your advice. I’m toying around with a new design, but in the meantime, I’ve already started talking with an attorney. (It’s handy when you’re related to one!) Thanks again.

          • Jonathan Gunson says:
            May 13, 2013 at 2:05am

            Staci. Good to hear that professional steps are being taken, because your idea is a thing of beauty.
            ~Jonathan

  • Eddie says:
    May 10, 2013 at 2:54pm

    Great article, but I am still searching for the best way to market my very first ebook. I do not have many followers, neither blog subscribers. Do you think I should wait and build the network first prior uploading the non-fiction ebook to Amazon?

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 10, 2013 at 11:22pm

      Publish now Eddie. Then promote and add your books as you go along. Your popularity is a build-up will take time as you will see in this article. Fortunately Kindle books keep on selling forever, unlike those in a bookstore. Authors now have time to grow their readership – slow at first, then growing far larger later. Here’s why: http://bestsellerlabs.com/why-your-amazon-kindle-book-will-be-far-bigger-than-you-imagine/
      ~Jonathan

  • May 10, 2013 at 5:33pm

    I’m so glad one of my publishers sent me a link to your blog. Boy, do I have a lot to learn about branding. (smile) For some time I have been using a quote from Cicero on some of my promo material, as well as my sig line for e-mail. The quote is “A room without a book is like a body without a soul.” Obviously that does not brand me, although people are accustomed to seeing it, and I do get comments about it. I am going to have to think about what I can use as an author tag line.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 10, 2013 at 11:14pm

      Maryann
      A fine line. Make it yours before someone else does!
      ~Jonathan

  • May 10, 2013 at 5:56pm

    Brilliant article, thanks so much for sharing. I will be encouraging all my clients to be work on these, and will share your article. However, I completely stand behind the need for authors to choose 1-2 social media outlets and engage to find new readers. Also, don’t underestimate the power of bloggers and their collective reach. But I agree, it’s all about the author branding, and their writing, to hook them to keep them returning for more! Thanks again!

  • May 10, 2013 at 8:32pm

    Thank you for what is, for me, one of your best posts to date. Pure, lean, writing machine help. And what a bonus to get input from the great Joanna Penn on your post!
    Having said that, I must tell you that I learn even more from your responses to comments than I do from the content of your posts. Your capacity to give everything you can in response to each comment is inspirational.
    Like many of the other comments, the bit about the tagline resonated the most with me. My first novel, soon to be published, is entitled ‘Mamud’. It tells the story of an attempt to assassinate Nelson Mandela just weeks prior to his release. My tagline is:
    “Freedom is at the heart of all happiness.”
    What say you? I know I can rely on you for an honest opinion… Thank you. John.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 10, 2013 at 11:04pm

      John
      Lovely inspirational line. I tossed it around and thought it might be shortened to ‘Freedom is the heart of happiness’. But while that might have the virtue of brevity, it seemed to lose its magic and deeper meaning. It’s perfect as you have it in my opinion.
      ~Jonathan

      • May 11, 2013 at 5:52am

        Thanks for the feedback. I am encouraged. BTW, what’s your tagline for ‘The Merlin Mystery?’ Is there a series to follow?

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          May 11, 2013 at 6:08am

          John

          ‘The Merlin Mystery’ was a richly illustrated contest for a prize the ‘Wand of Merlin’, and all the gold collected grain by grain with every book sold. The promo lines were… ‘The Secret Lies Inside’ and ‘Who On Earth Will Win?’ It wasn’t part of a series of course, although hundreds pressed me for a sequel.

          The project I’m developing now is a children’s book series with animated effects for iPad. And yes, the series has a tag line.

          Stand by two years for the reveal.

          ~Jonathan

  • May 11, 2013 at 4:45pm

    This is an EXCELLENT post. And I totally agree that readers are most apt to buy more of your books as soon as they finish one. I have to remember to link to BABY GRAND at the end of my second novel, once it’s published. Thanks!

  • May 14, 2013 at 9:43pm

    So I said to myself, “Self, it’s time to get back online before all your virtual friends think you died. Or joined the French Foreign Legion. (Is there such a thing anymore?) Or decided to chuck this writing insanity and get a real job, maybe become a taxidermist’s assistant or install sump pumps.”
    Have devoured your post and can report success or progress all around.
    My publisher is redesigning all my book covers. (You’ve seen the one for Sudan; the other six are in the works by the same DYNO-MITE designer.) That checks off book cover continuity and two others—the same new bio and website pic will go on all of them, as will links to the other books, and I already have the look-inside feature. That leaves the BIG ONE.
    I’m of the opinion that anyone who can come up with a reeeally good author brand on the first try is a witch and should be burned at the stake. I assume my tagline is “suspense colored with hope.” Yes? And I should incorporate that with the 9e that’ll go on every cover. Yes, again?
    If the answer to either of those questions is no, please tell me and just as soon as I stop sobbing, I’ll start over. (I’ve considered and discarded dozens of tag lines and slogans so at least I’m in no danger of being burned at the stake.)
    Keep the great ideas coming.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 15, 2013 at 1:02am

      Ninie

      Always enjoy your splendid, splashy comments. But I also sense that you’re holding your breath in a state of terror waiting for an answer to your question. (Gulp!)

      Nevertheless, I shall venture where angels fear to tread. Tell me, what does ‘Suspense Colored With Hope’ actually mean? I have no idea. Does it translate as suspense stories that also have a positive message for mankind? Or that they have a happy ending?

      The great advantage of applying the genre word ‘suspense’ to your work is that you’re promising you’ll scare the crap out of the readers, and only at the very last moment, step in and let them off the hook. Readers of crime, suspense, mystery, horror all LOVE this – and the scarier the better, because the eventual relief is so much greater. In light of that, my concern is that ‘Suspense Colored With Hope’ might be misinterpeted as ‘suspense stories that are not as scary as usual.’ I imagine this is not what you want to telegraph … or is it?

      To be continued…

      ~Jonathan

      • May 15, 2013 at 10:29pm

        “Does suspense colored with hope actually mean suspense stories that have a positive message for mankind?” you ask. Bingo! Give that man a cupie doll! Yes, all my novels have a positive message, deep themes about what really matters in life. The power of forgiveness, courage and heroes in unlikely places, the inspiration of great sacrifice, told—I hope!—so artfully that the message goes down painlessly with the story. I don’t write the kind of dark suspense typified by early Stephen King where you felt like opening a wrist after reading the last page. But my stories are NOT the bloodless, one-corpse variety of fiction, either. My characters are broken. There’s terrible pain in their past, frantic desperation in their present and terror in their future. My characters get hurt, they die—some quite gory and painful deaths. They are stalked by madmen, terrorized by criminals and battle the elements, too—tornadoes, massive fires, dam-bursting floods.
        So, no, I don’t want Suspense Colored With Hope to be misinterpreted as “suspense stories that are not as scary as usual.” (One reader commented, “Your books should come with a warning label: ‘Don’t read this at night!’”) Do you think “less scary” is the natural response to the phrase? Which means…duh…should I come up with something different to convey my message, or shape-shift this one to be more accurate?
        Nobody asks you easy questions, do they?

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          May 15, 2013 at 11:11pm

          Ninie
          The deeper message in your books is quite clear to you, and the current phrase accurately summarizes this understanding. (Suspense & murder with heroic sacrifice, forgiveness etc.) But without that prior understanding it simply comes across as two ideas in collision: Murder and Hope. The real meaning isn’t instantly conveyed, at least it wasn’t for me, so I had to think really hard about what it might mean and then guess. Potential readers aren’t going to do that.

          But you might be able to get away with it through a clever evolvement of the line. These two comments may help:
          http://bestsellerlabs.com/attract-readers-with-a-lighthouse-author-brand/#comment-6817
          http://bestsellerlabs.com/attract-readers-with-a-lighthouse-author-brand/#comment-6971

          Jonathan

          PS. ‘Don’t Read This At Night!’ is terrific yes? (!)

          • May 16, 2013 at 4:57am

            That’s a good one! “Don’t read this at night!” is indeed a great tagline for suspense. As an avid reader, I totally get that kind of books! They are usually must-buys :-)

            As a thriller writer, I’m still trying to find my own elusive tagline so I’m glad to read in the comments that I’m not alone in my quest. Some day, my tagline will come. Good to know!

  • May 16, 2013 at 9:20pm

    I think I took the “no, the tagline Suspense Colored With Hope” won’t work” rather well. I didn’t get hysterical. Didn’t break anything or hurt anybody. (We didn’t really NEED that parakeet, anyway. Or the goldfish. Been wanting to feed them to the cat for a looong time and finally had an excuse.)
    So I have to massage Suspense Colored With Hope into something that works, huh? Goody. In truth, I didn’t come up with it to begin with. The designers of my website created it after I described my books to them. The same thing happened to you. Once I explained my books, that tagline made sense. Looks great on the website, too. But if the reader doesn’t get it…
    Ok. I’m in. I’ll give it more thought. Surely, there’s some sucinct, catchy phrase that will hook readers so my stories can reel them in. I shall go looking for that phrase. (And I’ll try not to take my frustration out on small animals this time. Still … we do have those gerbils…)
    9e

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 17, 2013 at 9:03pm

      9e… ‘Don’t Read This At Night!’ is pretty darned good.
      ~Jonathan

  • May 17, 2013 at 1:08pm

    Sorry I have only just got around to replying. A great article, lots of helpful advice as usual and lots of things to put into practice. Thank you

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 17, 2013 at 9:03pm

      Shirley
      Saw the handy piece of live research on your blog re the power of Amazon promotion:
      “…My three day FREE promotion on all three of my books has been very successful. Novels – Every Why and Be Mindful and Heartfelt, a book of poetry. I notice sales increase after the promotion finishes… people have missed the promotion deadline but buy it any way…”
      Revealing result.
      ~Jonathan

  • May 17, 2013 at 9:22pm

    Don’t read this at night …. hmmmm.
    I’m on it.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 24, 2013 at 11:01am

      KNEW you’d go for it.
      ~Jonathan

  • May 22, 2013 at 3:08pm

    Great post! It’s interesting that I found this now, because I just came up with my tagline: “Romancing the Thriller.” I’ve self-published my first romantic suspense novel on Amazon and am in the process of learning how best to “get visible.” It’s a struggle, but I’m learning, and I think I’ve come to the right place to continue that educational journey. Thanks for sharing all your great experience and advice with other writers.
    ~Jane
    P.S. My sister spent 18 months in New Zealand (North Island) recently and loved it to bits. I hope to visit one day. What a beautiful country!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 22, 2013 at 9:15pm

      Jane
      18 months in Middle Earth? I hope your sister went to Hobbiton.
      ‘Romancing The Thriller’ is spot on – unique, and immediately communicates the genre with great flair.
      ~Jonathan

  • AC Townsend says:
    May 23, 2013 at 3:03pm

    I just discovered Bestseller Labs on Facebook, which led me to this article. Thank you for sharing this information. I am planning to self-publish the first novel in my trilogy this summer, and this is exactly the kind of information I need right now!

    My next series is outlined for six books. They will be of a different genre, so I’m having fun this morning bouncing tag lines around, waiting for “the one” that will encompass current novels, future novels, and me. :)

    ~ Angela

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 23, 2013 at 9:20pm

      Angela
      Great to hear of your upcoming books. I sense unbounded enthusiasm, so keep me posted. Note: When dreaming up ideas for a tagline, be aware that it may take time – you can’t force it. Tag lines are done in two stages: 1) Technically describing the work. 2) Creatively translating this technical description. See comment re Jackie Collins’ line:
      http://bestsellerlabs.com/attract-readers-with-a-lighthouse-author-brand/#comment-6817
      ~Jonathan

      • AC Townsend says:
        May 31, 2013 at 1:44pm

        Thank you! Jackie Collins’ tag line is perfect. I’m still sorting through ideas. I’ve gone through so much with the trilogy. Research and writing took more than five years. The trilogy has been edited by a friend who is a professor of English at the local college. With her insight, I did some rewriting and made some changes that really fine-tuned the storyline and the characters’ points of view. I would urge any writer to have his or her work edited by a professional. We are too close to our own work and we know our story too intimately to be able to edit objectively and to see our work from the perspective of a brand new reader.

        I want my tag line to be “just right.” Like you said, it’s going to take some time, and though patience is not my forte, I know it will be time worth taking. My trilogy is character-driven, but those characters live on the inside of conspiracy theories that tie a series of historical events together, from the Trinity Test to Roswell to Area 51 and so forth all the way to the year 2000. I am outlining a sequel that begins in 2013 from the POV of the great-granddaughter of one of my original characters.

        The series of six books that is competing for my attention right now will be along the lines of Christian fantasy – think Frank Peretti – but also has a conspiracy theory thread in the storyline.

        Thanks again for sharing so much vital information on your web site. When I finally come up with a tag line, I’ll post it here for opinions/critiques/suggestions. :)

        ~ Angela

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          June 1, 2013 at 2:41am

          Angela
          Looking forward to hearing the tagline result. Something dead simple is usually the best. (Don’t force it.) And I agree absolutely re writers needing an editor, I’ve come to suspect that most editors were Gods in their previous incarnations.
          ~Jonathan

          • AC Townsend says:
            June 6, 2013 at 10:42pm

            Still working on that tag line. My best efforts so far:

            “Join the conspiracy.”

            I like this because it nails the Trinity Trilogy and the sequel. My upcoming series, however … not so much.

            “Join me on the journey down Trinity Road” was the closing line I used in query letters to literary agencies about three years ago. So my second thought is:

            “Join me on the journey.”

            But that sounds too cliche’.

            But I think I’m getting there…

            (Tangent: Though I read repeated assertions on various writer web sites that no new author ever-ever-ever receives personally written rejection letters from literary agents, I did, on three separate occasions. All three were encouraging letters complimenting my work, but one agent did not believe the topic would sell in the current market; one was no longer representing fiction, apologies that the his web site had not been updated to reflect that fact; and the third did not take clients who were not already published.)

            I am confident in my writing. I’ve been a writer all my life, and am currently employed as a feature writer for a local newspaper. My marketing skills, however, pull vacuum. Your site is a godsend.

            ~ Angela

          • Jonathan Gunson says:
            June 7, 2013 at 1:26am

            Angela
            Off the top of my head I’d say you’ve cracked it with ‘Join The Conspiracy’, because it embodies a double meaning; It not only offers a covert, almost irresistible invite to an illicit, hidden world, but is also an intriguing invite to read the books. That is normally extremely hard to devise. Well done.
            ~Jonathan

          • AC Townsend says:
            June 7, 2013 at 9:08pm

            Thank you! I hadn’t thought about it in that context, but from that angle, “Join the Conspiracy” will work for my next series as well. I’m going to go with that. It’s first appearance will be in the heading of my web site, which I am working on right now.
            :)

  • May 24, 2013 at 9:54am

    Just discovering your excellent web site, thanks to your following me on Twitter.

    This posting comes exactly at the right moment for me. I have tag-lined on twitter and my web site, trying to stay pithy and consistent with what I do. Difficult since I have both “academic” and more general audience books. Although moving more in the direction of the latter and away from the former, I don’t want to bury the academic books.

    So, came up with the tag line “historical and contemporary women’s stories with a personal-is-political twist”.

    The constant cover design will be a challenge as I plan to move from memoir to fiction in the not-too-distant future. And the two memoirs won’t have same design. Similar enough, I think, though.

    Anyway, thanks for the excellent posting.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 24, 2013 at 10:38am

      Kathleen
      Enjoyed your website, with its flowing quotes on the home page.
      Re “Historical and contemporary women’s stories with a personal-is-political twist.” This is is not actually a tagline, but a straight forward description so readers know what your books are about – a vital function. A tagline by contrast is integral to your brand, and usually involves a level of memorability or wit. Having said that, you don’t have to use a clever line, but it does help the memorability of your books. Partly depends on how literary or academic your work is. The more ‘genre fiction’ the writing is, the more relevant this becomes.
      ~Jonathan

      • May 25, 2013 at 9:14am

        Thanks, Jonathan. Helps a lot to have the clarification. Not doing genre fiction at all, at the moment. Might get into historical fiction, then tagline becomes, as you say, more relevant. My older work is more academic; the newer stuff, more literary. Definitely not genre. I am learning a lot from your site and various others, including Joanna Penn’s

        Much appreciated!

        Kathy

  • May 30, 2013 at 12:12am

    Jonathan,
    I think this post might interest you. http://bit.ly/9eTellEveryFan Have wanted to say it for a long time and I communicated everything I wanted to say. Now, let’s see if it makes any difference.
    9e

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      May 30, 2013 at 1:38am

      Ninie
      Re Word of Mouth… entirely agree. The authors job is to ignite that process.
      I’ll Tweet out a link to your superb post. (http://bit.ly/9eTellEveryFan )
      ~Jonathan

      • May 30, 2013 at 11:06am

        Thanks! The post is hitting the sweet spot with lots of writers. Readers … wish I knew.

  • May 31, 2013 at 4:40pm

    Hi Jonathan! I just discovered you because you followed me on Twitter. So I decided to check you out. Truthfully, I was fifty-fifty whether I’d follow you back because lots of people are selling stuff to writers and …. anyway, this article was so compelling that it really spoke to me… YOU spoke to me. And that’s what I want to do with my readers. I’ll be back for more. Thanks for everything you do.
    A-9/Elaine Ash

  • June 12, 2013 at 8:39pm

    I began with your Twitter for Authors course and it has led me on a great journey. I now know that my focus audience is clergy of all stripes and faiths. While my non-fiction work follows the tag line Healthy Clergy Make Healthy Congregations, my new efforts in fiction follows the tag line: Building Respect for Clergy One Story at a Time.

    In preparation for the release of my mystery novel, “A Star and a Tear” about a pastor who assists the police in tracing down a serial rapist who has a religious fixation, I have developed 3 volumes of short stories under the general title: Clergy Tales–Tails. The first volume has the subtitle, “Who Wags the Dog.” The second has the subtitle “Wagging is Welcoming but Exhausting,” and the third “When God Wags the Tail.”

    All of this began with your course for which I am very grateful. I definitely want to access your new course on blogging and the future one on facebook. I will be away next week but hope I can check in and access your bargain offer on the blogging course. If there is a way to sign me up, please do so. Regardless, I remain grateful for all that you have stimulated in the development of my journey.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      June 25, 2013 at 11:52am

      Steve
      I’m elated to hear that you’ve identified your audience so clearly. Plus you have a tagline. All good progress. Thanks also for picking up the ‘Blogging for Authors’ course. There are more courses to come, but don’t hold your breath just for now – they take absolutely AGES to create – not unlike a novel.
      ~Jonathan

  • June 29, 2013 at 5:16am

    Jonathan-
    ok…so I’m hooked…read your weekly emails and bought your blogging for authors, which is fabulous! thanks. am following each detail.

    i write true stories from a mother’s heart. my tagline….writing true stories from a mother’s heart. is that catchy enough? and where would you put the author photo/bio; in the front or the back of the eBook?
    thank you. you are a wealth of information-
    Caroline Flohr, http://www.CarolineFlohr.com, writing true stories from a mother’s heart

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      June 29, 2013 at 10:02am

      Caroline
      Thank you for the kind review comment re ‘Blogging For Authors’.

      Re your tagline: It is what I would call a direct tagline. i.e. Directly says what you write about in a very obvious way. Normally the ‘direct’ needs translation into something more arresting. But it seems to me that you can get away with your tagline as is, because on looking at your blog, the line is clearly extremely heartfelt, and speaks volumes. So no translation or a witty interpretation is required. So go with it. It’ll be fine – and it’s rather beautiful.

      More crucially, the real question to answer re your blog is who is your writing aimed at? Once defined, (and it needs to be very precise) then your blog should be written for that group.

      Re Bio & Photo. With a traditional printed book, normally it would go on the jacket flap or on the back. But with an eBook, there is no ‘jacket’ or ‘back’. So put your bio and photo at the front of the book. The main reason I say this is so that at the back of the book, immediately after the last page of the story, you can place a link to your other books, and people will click on them without being distracted by the bio. See: http://bestsellerlabs.com/goodreads-ceo-reveals-how-to-sell-more-books/

      Keep in touch Caroline. Let me know how it is going.

      ~Jonathan

  • July 9, 2013 at 12:29pm

    Hello, Jonathan,

    When your name appears in my inbox I know the contents will be quality. Of all the author advice mails I get yours are consistently the best.

    I am patting myself on the back for I have already implemented many of these 7 points. Didn’t think of the themed tag, though. Now I will. I am meeting with a pro photographer in a week’s time. I said let’s do a half dozen portraits for different occasions, but I now I think it will just one iconic picture.

    Currently, I have out a WWII heroic adventure ebook, Island of Steel, the first in a series subtitled Operation Hawkwind; and three ebooks in a Victorian crime series, The Detective Ladies of Baker Street. Because the latter is laced with humour, the covers reflect this.

    But I have encountered irritation with some readers of Island because it too has comic undertones they didn’t expect. But not enough to warrant changing its cover or that of the next in the series I am on with. Should I put out some sort of strap line? The world of Indiana Jones meets World War Two. Or, Action! Adventure! Amusement!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      July 11, 2013 at 9:52pm

      Peter
      Sounds like you’re heading in the right direction with a strapline. Plus “The Detective Ladies of Baker Street” as a series idea has the hall mark of success.
      ~Jonathan

  • Melony Dixon says:
    August 7, 2013 at 2:06pm

    Thank you, Jonathan for the great advice. I am almost finished with my first novel and have started looking into publishing. I soon found, that there is so much more to this business than writing a great story! Because of your helpful spirit, you are making it easier to understand this business.

  • August 22, 2013 at 9:25am

    Loved your article. I was also reading through the comments and this jumped out at me. “More crucially, the real question to answer re your blog is who is your writing aimed at? Once defined, (and it needs to be very precise) then your blog should be written for that group.”

    Will remember that for when I’m writing my blog. Just set mine up a few days ago. I’m in the process of writing a novel, the first of many to come hopefully, for a very specific audience though I hope it has broad appeal. Your advice is of great help to me so thank you:)

  • September 19, 2013 at 12:24pm

    Great post, Jonathan – really enjoyed it!

    About the “Look Inside” feature – I’ve found that many books are so full of the standard legalese at the beginning of a book, that the sample doesn’t contain enough actual content to intrigue browsers!

    Have you run into this problem?

    Do you know if it’s okay to put all the legal stuff at the BACK of the book?

    Thanks, bud!

    Bolaji O | BraveLittleHeroes.com

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      September 19, 2013 at 12:33pm

      Best direct your question at Amazon Bolaji.
      ~Jonathan

  • October 1, 2013 at 7:05am

    I am so glad I found this site and this article. I’ve been trying for a long time to come up with a brand and your article spurred the brain muscles into action. Thank you!

    I’d previously used on my website Myth, Magic & Wonder, as I write a Native American Historical series with heavy use of mystical and a second series just starting that is NA HIst. Paranormal. I’ll also be bringing that series into a contemp world.

    So my new tag for the website will be Myth, Magic & Wonder, Susan Edwards delivers.
    For promoting historicals, I have the Myth, Magic & Wonder, susan breaths life into the past.
    For contemps, Susan Edwards delivers paranormals filled with mystical, magical and wondrous elements with a twist (or just filled with mystical and magical elements (not sure on the twist part for either.)

    Any comments? Again, thanks for your great post.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      October 1, 2013 at 9:57am

      Susan
      A suggestion: Simplify this for brand consistency.

      Myth, Magic & Wonder scans well and has a ring to it. Therefore I would use that in both cases to develop your brand. Plus have a one line description for each. Something along these lines:

      Susan Edwards – Paranormal Myths, Magic & Wonder
      Mystical, Magical and Wondrous Paranormal Tales… With A Twist.

      Susan Edwards – Historical Myths, Magic & Wonder
      Mystical, Magical, Wondrous Tales That Breathe Life Into The Past.

      Jonathan

      • October 1, 2013 at 10:07pm

        Wow, to the heart of the matter. I’m glad that my instincts with the MM&W was good–was worried it sounded rather silly even though it’s been on my website for a few years! What you suggest is exactly what I’m looking for! Thank you. I feel like I’ve made major progress (after 12 books and 18 years published) and not totally off base!

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          October 2, 2013 at 1:11am

          Susan
          Once finalized, stick with it and NEVER change it. It will gradually become familiar to readers – a long term investment, because the brand is held in their minds.
          ~ Jonathan

  • WriterSideUp says:
    November 14, 2013 at 4:11am

    Jonathan, you put THE best stuff out there for us :) Thanks!!!

  • November 19, 2013 at 1:43pm

    Okay, here goes. Ryan Holmes – Pages of fantasy bound to a spine of science.

    Too corny? Too general? Thanks for offering to help.

  • April 2, 2014 at 1:11am

    I am a writer of many genres from Sweet Romance to Sensual Romance, Thrillers and Family Drama. I write screenplays of those genres as well. Taking your advice, I created my own tag line, which encompasses most of my work. I have embedded it on my blog, Facebook Author page, my Amazon Author page and into my books. I look forward to the phrase on everyone’s lips: Brianna Lee McKenzie~She stimulates more than your heart!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      April 2, 2014 at 4:38am

      Brianna
      Found you on Twitter. I’m going to Tweet that tagline out immediately.
      ~ Jonathan

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