Hello interwebs! It’s been a heck of a month here in book land. I’ve been gearing up for the Canary Club pre-launch (the 3-6 month marketing period before a book releases) and some really cool things have been happening on that front. If you are interested, the best place to keep up to date with it all is over on my FACEBOOK PAGE, only becasue things are happening too often and too fast to put it on the blog every single day. But highlights include my upcoming feature in Publisher’s Weekly (in MAY, the Book Expo edition) and the new book trailer which just dropped!
But that’s not what I want to talk about today. What I want to discuss today is the changes coming to my website and to my overall brand. (Not sure what an author brand is or how to create one? Check out my post HERE.) Now, I’ve worked hard to build my author brand over the years and I have created a recognizable author presence with it. So when I say changes, I do NOT mean a complete overhaul. When people see my name on a book, they (mostly) know what to expect. I write in many subgenres but all under the umbrella of YA/NA, so people don’t come in expecting lit fic or horror or any of those things. I worked hard for this, and the last thing I want to do is confuse readers or disassociate myself from my brand.
But, and this is key, a good brand should be fluid. It should be able to grow with you as you grow. Sometimes as we write and publish more, who we are and what we’re writing evolves. A great brand evolves with you. Which is why its key to do routine brand maintenance and updates. Just as you should be refreshing your website design every year to two years, you should continually be reevaluating your brand. Does it still fit? Are you sending the message you hoped to send with it? Is it functional for you and your readers?
If not, its time to do a little tweaking.
If you haven’t changed your website design (not just updating content, but the actual layout and images), its probably time to do a little tweaking.
Now, my only word of caution is this, you want to avoid changing things so much that you change your BRAND. You don’t want to go from a brand like this to a brand like this. You see what I’m getting at? Again, your brand isn’t just your logos and colors and fonts, its YOU, its what you write and how you present yourself to your readers. If you go from being a fun loving, cat meme posting YA author to a naked dude posting, steamy erotica author, that changes your BRAND. Its a fundamental change of what people expect from you, both online and on the page.
However, updating your site is important, so how do you do it and keep your brand in tact? A good example can be found here. Scroll down and see what Lauren Oliver’s site USED to look like, then click the link to the current site to see the update. She has updated her brand to include not just her teen books, but her adult and young reader titles as well. But, it hasn’t changed so much that she has confused her fanbase or muddled her brand. She’s changed her logo, evolved it. But you still know what you’re getting when you navigate to her site (or to any of her online accounts) which is key.
So on to what I’m doing here. Over the next week, all my online accounts, beginning with this website, will be changing. We have created a new logo and will be changing up the basic design of it all. The logo change comes for a number of reasons, partly becasue I’ve outgrown the current one, and partly becasue it was brought to my attention that another author is using it as well. This happens, especially when you’re dealing with stock images. No need to get upset about it (though I may have whined to my graphic designer about it for a day or two), best to just move on and focus upward. The new logo is everything I love, its sleek, a little edgy, and full of subtext. Plus, when I asked my fans what they thought of when they thought of me, the overwhelming response was “royalty’ or “crowns”. So, we went with a crown. But not just your basic, run-of-the-mill tiara. I wanted something a touch more unique than that…
And the new logo:
What I kept was the fonts, the basic color scheme, and the tag line. In my banner I also kept the clouds and the very whimsical vibe (which is just my personality), and I plan to carry that over to the website as well.
You may (or may not) notice one other change. I dropped the D in my name. So why was it Sherry D. Ficklin in the first place? Well, when I began publishing many years ago, the first thing I did was google my name, to make sure some author wasn’t already using it. And to my surprise, there was. A wonderful lady with my name was the author of several nursing articles and journals. She occupied the first full page of google search results. Not wanting to be confused for her, I added the D to my name. But now, nearly a decade later, even if you search just Sherry Ficklin, I occupy the first 30+ search pages. So, I figured it was time to let it go. It doesn’t help that some of my books are listed on retail sites as simply Sherry Ficklin, as well as my website being sherryficklin.com (with no D.) So, with very little fanfare, I leave my middle initial by the wayside and simplify my branding.
Make no mistake, updating can be tricky. Deciding what to keep and what to change, wanting to be on trend but not ‘dated’. Not to mention the expense of ordering new business cards and new banners, etc. My advice is this, get your fans involved in the redesign as much as possible. Talk about it online, show them logos and get their input. Make your tedious upkeep an fun event for them to be a part of. Remember, your author brand is one of the few things in this industry that really does get to be all about YOU, so don’t be afraid to let your personality show!