What is a brand? At its simplest, a brand is an image that evokes a response in consumers. When it comes to authors and their brands, it's the ability to convey the essence of your books to readers at a glance. When you see a book by Stephen King, J.D.Robb, or James Patterson, you know exactly what you're going to get inside. You might read the book description to find out the details, but you already know that you want to buy it, based on what you know about these authors. You may never reach this level of fame as an author, but your brand can entice thousands of readers to buy any future books you write. Readers are comforted by knowing the book they buy is one they'll enjoy. Buying an favorite author's books is the most common way of doing this. Give your readers the opportunity to get to know your brand using these five critical elements for solidifying your brand.
If all your books are set in the same basic geographical reason, readers will slip comfortably into them with very little effort. Think of Stephen King's Maine stories or Carl Hiaasen's comedic novels set in Florida. Whether your books are set in the same town or the same state, a sense of familiarity will entice more readers to buy your next book.
Your writing style is what's natural to you. Don't try to change it when you start another book. If you're known for breezy sweet romances, that same voice in literary fiction would never be convincing. Authors who specialize in military science fiction have a hard time using that same voice to write murder mysteries. Choose a writing niche and stick with it.
The actual look of the book, either a physical object or a virtual book cover online, must be consistent. They all have to look like they belong together. Keep one key element as a constant throughout all your works, whether it's a font style, color choices, or the layout of your photographic elements. Your books should all look like a set when laid down next to each other.
Choose one main character, one situation, or one type of event for all of your books. Janet Evanovich has Stephanie Plum, her wisecracking bounty hunter. Diana Gabaldon has Jamie and Claire, lovers from across time in the 18th century. The stories may change, but one thing remains constant throughout the series. it can be as simple as a school that all your characters went to or as complicated as the lives of an extended family, but there should be something to tie all these stories together.
This is arguably the most important of these elements. When you establish a tone or detail about your work, it's like making a promise to your readers that you'll deliver this same thing every time. If you produce three romance novels a year, don't go eight months without publishing another. You'll lose thousands of readers. If you present yourself as a literary author with characters who live juicy, complicated lives, don't turn around and write a quick piece of chick lit. One deviation from the norm and you'll ruin the hard-won branding credit you've worked so hard to create. If you get to be as big as JK Rowling you can write what you want after your Harry Potter series, but even she's still involved heavily in those fans. Branding works, but only as long as you work it.
Keep the Faith and May the Force be with You!