For Writers & Authors

Writing resources, the business side of writing, and writer and author branding.

It’s great to have a plan, but in order to actually execute the plan, you need to make room for it in your life. Here are a couple of tools that have helped me execute time and again.

Time Blocking & Batching are concepts that have personally helped me work way better and get more done with less stress. I did not invent these strategies, I’ve learned from others. But I will tell you this–they are game-changers. It’s easy to dismiss a host of small decisions as “not that big of a deal,” but people who get shit done, KNOW the power of batching and time blocking. Try it out. I swear, it truly helps you regain precious time to spend on the things you value most.

Time Blocking

Time blocking this is a concept that is used a lot in the business world. It can be a really great tool to help you get things done. And as we know our lives are scattered frenetic disrupted focus and progress really comes by doing one thing at a time. Most of us have a lot of things going on, right? So we need to find ways to simplify. So that our brains can can handle (and excel) at the task at hand.

I love this quote by Cal Newport of the author of Deep Work:

“A 40-hour time-blocked work week, I estimate, produces the same amount of output as a 60+ hour work week pursued without structure.”

So that gives you just a little bit of perspective of how much more efficient this way of looking at calendaring out your time. But what is time blocking exactly? Here’s an illustration that compares what a typical work day might look like for most folks versus a day structured by larger blocks of time spent on each type of task.

example of time blocking versus a typical workday schedule of tasks

As you can see on the left, we have a typical day. Maybe this is a writer who starts their day pitching and then they move on and have some meetings and then they’re doing a little bit of writing and then they’re posting on social media and then they’re pitching and then they’re doing meetings, etc. You get the idea.

It’s very broken up into small pieces and kind of all over the board. And what happens is that
our brains are really NOT built for multitasking and code switching or process switching like that. So in between each of those tasks we’re losing precious ability to focus, make decisions, and the time lost in getting our minds back into gear to focus on the next thing.

Blocking Out Time & Tasks

So if we block time out for specific tasks and only focus on those during the designated time period it really can helps us to work in synchronicity with our own physiology. In turn, we end up being more efficient, focused, and accomplish more meaningful progress.

I’m not saying this works for everybody, but I I definitely helps me. I’ve been using time blocking for probably almost two decades now and it’s a godsend, especially if like me, you have ADHD Inattentive Type.

Sometimes if I have a big project I will even block out a whole or half day just to get solid, less distracted time on it.

You can apply this to most any task or project in your life. In fact, I encourage my clients to block time out every week where all they are working on is their brand.

For instance, let’s say you’re gonna work on your author brand-building or platform-building every Monday morning from 9 am to 10 AM. The to-do list may change but the focus is clear.

That’s the basic premise. To learn more about this method, please check out this in-depth guide on Time Blocking (

Time Batching

Now the next productivity method in a way, is really similar to blocking. The difference is that you’re collating or “batching” activities together. So let’s take a look back at the previous infographic. Let’s say you’re time blocking 8am to 11am to work only on writing. Perhaps you have an essay to write and you are also working on your book. You could combine those two tasks into this one block of time if they are related.

Now, let’s say you take an hour to meal plan every Sunday–you are batching the time, research, and creativity it takes to plan out 14 meals, but because you’re doing it all at once rather than parsing it out each day, your mind can focus and be more efficient, leaving more room for other things you want to prioritize.

So when it comes to your author branding, perhaps you’ve set aside that hour every Monday morning. This is when you can batch things like:

  • creating all of your social media posts for the week at once and scheduling them to post
  • researching your Ideal Readers and putting together an Ideal Reader profile
  • writing your weekly newsletter

Batching is most commonly used for recurring activities that can be lumped together in less frequent iterations.

One of my favorite things to batch is checking my mail. I don’t need to check my mail every single day of the week. Usually, I can just do it once a week, say every Friday.

What that does is it frees my brain up for being able to think about less things on a daily basis, which in turn helps me focus on what’s most important.

Watch this short video by Tim Ferris on batching. His book, The Four-Hour Workweek is where I first learned about this game-changing concept.

Just before throwing a party at my house last spring, my 25-year-old son said, “Mom you’ve grown so much, you’re not as stressed out like you usually would be back in the day.” I laughed and thought for a moment. Yes, I’d grown some, but there was something else—family members helped prepare for the day, cleaning, setting up lights, offering to pick up ice, etc.

“Yeah, I feel better because I feel supported.”

Growing up in the U.S., I think a lot of us have internalized the malignant message that we’re supposed to be independent above all else. That our independence is more important than showing up as the whole, imperfect humans we are. That somehow we’re supposed to be perfect and the more we take on the more impressive we are. As if interdependence is a weakness.

How many times have I thought, “Wow, I don’t know how she does it!”?

And the answer, most of the time is actually, “She doesn’t.” I mean sure in the gleam of social media content it might seem like everyone is doing better than I am, but deep down I think we all know it’s bullshit.

After a lifetime of this “hyper independence” training, it can be difficult or even excruciating to ask for help. Why? Because maybe we feel like we’re admitting defeat, or at the very least admitting that we can’t “do it all.”

The thing is, asking for—or even accepting—help can trigger a whole host of negative emotions because at its core there’s risk in placing your trust in someone else. And if you happen to be one of those kids who grew up too fast in order to take care of others (it me), that act can be triggering on a primal level.

Before I cover how to move past that, I’d love to share how doing that has helped me.

Here are a few examples of how opening myself up to support has made a difference:

  • When I listened to the intuitive pull I felt to move closer to family during the pandemic and engaged carefully in reconnecting, I felt a wave of building support that I haven’t had in decades.
  • When I found the right mentor and took the risk to hire her, my business and life changed for the better—dramatically.
  • When my clients have taken the risk to hire me and invest in their growth, they have had breakthroughs beyond what they ever expected.
  • When I invested time and effort into the friendships and professional relationships with people who showed me their goodness, we all received the kind of breakthroughs, support, and growth that compounds beyond the sum of our abilities.

Now, have there been people I placed my trust in who didn’t deserve it? Who screwed me over? Or hurt me? Yep, you betcha. But I’ll say that in every one of those situations, the core of my actions were based in fear. The signs were there, I just missed or ignored them. And that’s okay too. Because, it taught me how to pick myself back up, where I needed to heal, and eventually be brave again, but also, it showed me who THE REAL ONES are in my life. The people who had my back anyway.

This is why it’s so important to do a gut check, of course. I find that if I’m actually listening to my intuition, I’m much better off. That gorgeous bitch is always right. LOL.

So what does all of this have to do with author branding?

Well, everything in a way. Of course, our mission when we work together is to help you get the clarity you need about what makes you so awesome and who and how you serve, and how you can own that and show up for your people in a completely different and powerful way. This work is amazing and challenging, fun and explorative, and it requires support, kindness, and a “we’re in this together” mentality.

True transformation doesn’t happen in a void. Even if it must happen on an individual level, it’s always connected to our own interconnectedness. It’s not just about learning the skills or tools you need, it’s about having support. It’s about being able to be vulnerable enough to grow, together.

Where in your life could asking for help potentially create a major positive shift?

Real Talk: When is the right time to work on your author brand? First of all, I’m an author brand strategist, so that means at least two things: 1) I should know what I’m talking about (lol) and 2) if I’m doing my job right, I am going to give you honest advice–even if that means the time might not be right for you. I’m a firm believer in integrity and there’s no reason to tell you to work on your author brand if it’s just not the best timing.

Ready? Here goes.

Of course, there is more than one “right time” to work on your author brand. Some of these might be obvious, but some may surprise you.

It IS the Right Time to Work on Your Author Brand When:

#1. You get a book deal

You got a book deal! High-five, that’s no easy feat. After you sign that dotted line, you’ll want to start thinking about your author brand. It’s important to figure out how you want to position your personal author brand along with your book’s brand.

If you want to be more than a one-hit wonder, it’s time to decide on and consciously create your author brand in a way that works well with your book. After all, your book is a part of your brand–not the whole brand. When you take the time to do this foundational author branding work you’ll have a better understanding (and plan) for how you want to use this book to set you up for future goals.

Once you have the philosophical and strategic planning done, you’ll also want to start setting up your brand assets (like messaging, website, audience-building support systems, etc.). All of this will help give you more confidence in what you want and need during the publishing process. Plus the earlier you start here, the more influence you’ll likely be able to have over decisions like: book cover design, book description, blurbs, pre-sale incentives, marketing strategies, and even how the book is positioned for PR.

💕 Plus, your agent, and your publisher’s marketing and PR team will love knowing that you’re committed to building your brand.

IG Live 3 Myths About Book Marketing w Leigh Stein Andrea GuevaraThink that your publisher will just handle all your marketing and you won’t have to worry about a thing? I don’t want to poke a hole in your boat, but it’s better to know the truth. Watch this IG Live with me & book development expert, and author, Leigh Stein.

#2. You have 6-12 months to publication day

Despite what you may have heard from your publisher’s marketing and PR time, you need to be working on your branding and marketing strategies ASAP. Remember, they are working with multiple authors so on their end, they already know what they’ll do–most publishers kind of follow a formula of what usually works for the types of books they are publishing. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s no need for them to reinvent the wheel every time. HOWEVER, it is important that YOU are taking action to make sure that you have your author brand figured out as well as how you want to position your book and where. Regardless of whether you’ve had a meeting with your publisher’s marketing and PR team yet, it’s crucial that you’ve begun working on your brand.

Honestly, the same points as #1 apply here too, except that as you get closer to your book publication day you’ll also have a specific timeline to roll out your branding AND marketing plans.

#3. You have less than 6 mo. to publication day

Of course, the same points in #1 and #2 apply here, but since time is of the essence in this situation, the best way to decipher what you need to focus on most at this phase is to have a conversation with an expert (oh hello 👋) who can tell you what is most important for you now.

Obviously, the more time you have to strategize, plan, and implement the better. But even if you only have 3 months left, we can do a lot to set you up right and set a great author brand foundation not only for your book launch, but for your goals afterward.

#4. You’ve been an author for a while

Okay, maybe this isn’t your first book. Heck, maybe you don’t even have an imminent book launch. Maybe you’re switching gears to a different type of writing, or maybe you just feel like you need to refresh your brand or focus.

Personal brands—like people—can evolve and it’s important to have a brand that you feel proud to share and promote. There’s no shame in getting a brand tune-up or makeover. It can actually be a lot of fun to re-think your author brand especially since you already have an idea of what has worked (or not) in the past. This can be a great opportunity to uncover gems you forgot about, reconnect or better connect with your readers, and create meaningful positive change for your career overall.

#5. You’ve already published before but your launch, career, or income just isn’t where you’d like it to be.

Maybe you launched a book and it didn’t go as well as you would’ve liked. Or maybe you’ve published more than one book, but your career just isn’t where you thought it would be by now.

You may need some fresh eyes and strategy for how to best leverage your work and continue to build your empire. This is why I think it’s so important to infuse every author brand strategy with both strategic business planning tools and mindset shifts. And the good news is you’ve already got a wealth of material for us to draw upon and leverage in a more effective way.

Hey, sometimes, we all just need fresh eyes from an expert to make big shifts. I’ve definitely hired experts when I needed them and every time I did, I was like, “I wish I’d hired them sooner, doh.” Haha.

🤓 It MIGHT ALSO be time to work on your author brand, if:

You have an agent, but no book deal yet

Sometimes part of the problem in not securing the book deal is that you may have a branding and/or positioning issue. It might be time to take a serious look at how you are positioning yourself as an author, especially when it comes to how publishers look at you and how this book fits.

You are querying agents

It can be wise to figure out your author brand so that you’re making the most of your efforts. You might have a great manuscript but it’s not translating well or you haven’t figured out how to position yourself as THE AUTHOR for this book. Agents can help you, but let’s face it they are massively overworked. You’re much more likely to get an agent if you’ve already done the legwork of figuring out how to position yourself and your book.

You’re publishing short form (essays, articles, etc.) AND have a book in the works

If you’re getting your name out there in the bylines and have a book in the works–and I’m talking pretty solid, not just a vague concept–it can be a great time to figure out how you want to brand yourself so that when the opportunity comes to get an agent or pitch publishers you’ve got it nailed.

🚫When it’s probably NOT the right time to work on your author brand:

When I first started writing with an aim of getting published someday (and learning to write better), I was utterly overwhelmed with any talk of marketing strategies, hell, even pitching agents. Looking back, I think that was the right reaction in my case, haha.

I straight up wasn’t ready to start thinking of that stuff. I needed to do the work of finding my voice and what my stories were actually about, etc. There is NOTHING wrong with this phase. In fact, it’s crucial to becoming the writer you truly want to be and publishing work you are proud of.

So if you’re in one of these phases, don’t work actively on your author branding right now:

  • If you aren’t sure what you want to write about. Maybe you’re writing about a lot of different things. That’s great…but you’ll need to have some core concepts before you’re really ready to start working on your author brand.
  • If you are new to writing for publication and aren’t ready to publish your work yet. No shame in that. We’ve all been there.
  • If you aren’t ready to commit to doing what’s necessary to succeed in the industry. Or you’re struggling with deadlines. Again, no shame. I mean, be honest with yourself.
  • If you aren’t sure what your book is truly about yet, even if you’ve finished a draft.*

I’ve seen what can happen when a book is rushed to publication. Sometimes you need to figure out your work/art first, then think about your brand when you have a better grasp on what you offer or want to offer the world.

Either way, I’ve got options for ya. 😊

If the time IS RIGHT for you to start working on your brand, book a mini brand consult with me or check out all the ways I can help, on my services page.

If it’s NOT the right time for you, no worries. At least you can take a breath and focus on what’s best for you right now. In the meantime, if you want to stay connected so you can learn or circle back when you’re ready, two options might work for you: join my email list where you’ll get Author Branding Digest 1/mo. and/or simply follow me on Instagram for periodic info.

In any case, I hope this was helpful and I look forward to seeing you do your thing!

The right time to work on your author brand





*If this seems oddly specific, it’s because I’ve done that. My first full draft of my memoir was still miles away from a coherent story line.

What’s the real reason you’re not marketing yourself? Maybe you hate social media (or at least you do when it comes to promoting your book or yourself). Let’s face it, it’s more fun to post pics of your cute dog, or your vacation than it is to come up with a thoughtfully crafted post enticing someone to get excited about your new book, or class, or essay, yet again.

A lot of us don’t like the way it feels to “sell,” or we don’t like the stigma attached to it anyway. I hear it all the time from my clients: “I don’t want to look or feel salesy.” I get it. I don’t either. It’s gross. We don’t want to be one of “those people.” You know the ones that are so overtly selling their thing, over and over. (eyeroll) What’s even more gross is when they’re trying new tactics that just feel so obvious.

And yet the rub is that we do also want people to know about and buy our work. We do, in fact want to make a living with our creative work. This dichotomy is nothing new, generations of artists have been lamenting about it.

So, how do we find a way around it?

After over twenty years as a creative and entrepreneur, I can tell you I’ve tried most every way of getting out of it. LOL. The funny thing is, that drive—to find out better, more true-feeling ways to connect to my people without feeling like a used car salesman—is actually what brought me to the work I do today.

This tension between sharing our work confidently versus feeling like a sleazeball, actually has a lot more to do with psychology, mindset, and social influence than it does with marketing tactics themselves. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve designed fun, effective, totally doable marketing plans for clients (or even myself), that barely get executed. Here’s why.

How to get past “the ick”

In order to get past the ick we feel when carrying out our marketing we have to first realize that it’s a mindset issue. And we have to take a look at why we feel what we do, understand it, and recalibrate. Let’s look at this on a micro-level, ONE singular Instagram post.

Sample Instagram book launch graphic post & all the worries that come with it - The real reason you're not marketing


Maybe you can relate to some of these ideas. Now, let’s look a little deeper at what causes all of these anxieties.

Sample Instagram book launch graphic post & why we worry - The real reason you're not marketing yourself

Are you beginning to see why there might be more holding you back than just not feeling like marketing yourself or your work?

In my experience, you need the following elements in order to lay the foundation for an effective branding and marketing strategy:

  • You need to understand the value and uniqueness of what you’re doing
  • You need to understand who your audience is (readers are) and WHY they want what you have to offer
  • You need a plan for how to reach them effectively
  • You need to work on your mindset hangups around self-promotion
  • You need a no-brainer implementation system so you’ll stop making excuses and just implement

But, what about Overnight Success Stories?

I’m going to let you in on a little secret; the reason you often hear, “I don’t know how I did it,” or “I just got lucky” from many “overnight success” authors and artists is that they had someone in their corner who saw, understood, and took up the mantel on their behalf. Either that or, they just focused so much on the work and genuinely got lucky with it hitting the right market.

In both cases though, they (whether they did it themselves or not) built a loyal audience, distributed their work, and showed up repeatedly. While there are things to learn from those folks, it’s not a cohesive recipe for success for most of us.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there are two ways to be successful as an author in our culture: 1) work hard + get lucky, or 2) work with experts, come up with a strategy + work it hard to put yourself in the way of luck.

Now that’s not to say that some of these mega successes didn’t work their asses off too, but that’s a discussion for another time. I don’t have a magic wand to grant you that kind of success. Man, I wish I did. But I do have the next best thing: over 20 years of branding and writing experience to equip you for way #2.

So let’s get back to what you can do today, right now.

Right here and now, we’re ONLY looking at the mindset portion of this success equation. This is because it is likely the real reason you’re not marketing yourself or your book effectively. If this is true for you, it might show up something like these examples:

  • Feeling overwhelmed when it’s time to come up with social posts
  • Not sure where to start, or what the best method is for promotion
  • Feeling like you don’t want to spend a bunch of time, money, or energy on something that may or may not work
  • Feeling frozen when it comes to deciding what to post on social, or how to share your work with your audience

I want you to do a few quick exercises to help you unpack what’s holding you back. And I created a handy-dandy worksheet to make it even easier. You can download that here:

#1 Next to each concept, I want you to write down how it makes you feel.

For this exercise, we’re going to use the simple example of posting something on your favorite social media platform—whatever that is. Imagine you’re going to post the ideas that are on page 1 of the worksheet.

Here’s an example:


(Screenshot of section of worksheet)

It’ll only take a minute or two, so go ahead and try it out.

#2 Once you’ve done that, I want you to go back and next to those emotion words I want you to write reasons you might have for feeling this way. (AKA the reasons you’re not marketing yourself)

No one is grading this, so be honest with yourself. And if you can’t seem to figure out why, just keep asking why til you get down to the core. (Here’s how to use that method – link to article?)


(Screenshot of section of worksheet)

#3 Now, on the next page, I want you to write out next to each post idea, what might be possible if you post it?

Here’s an example of what that might look like:


(Screenshot of section of worksheet)

#4 On the final page, are two questions.

First, I want you to write in your own answer to What might be possible for your work and career, if you became more comfortable with promoting yourself in a way that feels good to you? (Think of your work, sales, speaking, or teaching, interviews, income, better book deals, happy readers)

When you begin to see what’s possible it’s a first step to reframing how you feel about a situation. At the core though, most mindset issues trace back to your own sense of self-worth and place in the world. That’s why I have one final question for you:

What’s really at stake here if your readers can’t find you? How do they lose if you don’t share your work? This is important for you to realize.

It might sound cheesy for me to say it, but you and your work are worthy of recognition. You know how I know? Because you took the time to read this far (and do this work) in an article about trying to figure out what’s holding you back. That’s progress my friend, and that means you’ve already got a growth mindset going on. And when you’re open to growth rather than stagnating in a fixed mindset, you can change. You’re my kinda people. 😉 This is the kind of mindset stuff I infuse all of my methodology with because there’s no point in learning branding and marketing methods unless you’re going to implement them.

Now, this one exercise isn’t going to solve all your mindset issues around marketing. But it’s a start. I’m hoping that it’s helped you get closer to the heart of the real reasons you’re not marketing yourself or your work.

The real reason you’re not marketing yourself in other ways too…

While this exercise was just focused on one area of marketing: social media posts, the same mindset concepts can be applied to other marketing methods, or even how you think about branding yourself. After all, branding is the foundation for all of this. You don’t have to have all the answers and you don’t have to use gross methods to promote yourself. I work with authors every day who are finding ways to be true to themselves while also furthering their vision and career. I hope you’ll choose to shift your mindset to empower yourself to get your work out there. You have this passion/drive/vision/dream for reasons. I believe that. And what a better world we’d see if we were all able to step more fully into the beat of our own drums.

Next steps…

Now that you know the real reason you’re not marketing yourself, it’s time to make that shift. Your next step, should you choose to accept it, is to write down ONE way you can start showing up more in your marketing. Maybe it’s posting to social media, maybe it’s writing an essay and pitching for publication once per month, or maybe it’s being more consistent with emailing your email list. Whatever it is, pick just the one thing to start, block time on your weekly calendar to work on it, and make a commitment to yourself that you’ll do this thing you decide on for 6 weeks. Check-in with yourself once per week to make sure you’re doing the thing you set out to do. Do your best not to worry about the numbers, just focus on the value you bring and how you’ll enrich the lives of the people you serve. And I guarantee, you’re going to see some good results.

If you’re an author and you’ve enjoyed this piece, you may want to sign up for my monthly email Author Branding Digest. And if you’re not an author, but you enjoyed this, you may want to sign up for my other monthly email called Keep Going—which is all about tools, perspectives, and stories to help you on your journey even when life is lobbing lemons at you.

You’ve dreamt of the day your book would finally be printed and in the hands of readers. Maybe that idea is often the thing that kept you going when you were in the depths of the writing or editing process. But now that the time is almost here…it can feel overwhelming too. It’s kind of like planning a wedding, right? You’re all excited, you go through the process of making a million choices to make it go right, and then the day comes and whew, it can feel like a lot. Here are some tips I give my clients when that joyous yet stressful publication week comes.

Publication Week Survival Tips

First, in order to help keep your head properly screwed on each day:

  • When you wake up in the morning DON’T reach for your phone first. Give yourself at least the first 10-15 minutes of your morning to:
    • Do some 4/4/8 breathing. Slow breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, breathe out slowly for 8 seconds – this activates your parasympathetic nervous system enabling you to enter the day more calm and grounded. Repeat 3-4 times. You can also pick up this practice whenever you feel like you’re being wound too tight.
    • Take a moment to write down 3 things you’re thankful for and then 3 things you’re proud of yourself for. You could even buy a little notebook just for this special time.
    • If you can, go for a walk, even a short one, and drink a glass of water.
  • Make a list of your to-do’s & appointments each day in the morning and schedule them out on your calendar so you see visually what you actually have time for. Anything you don’t, ask for help, reschedule, etc.

7 Days to Publication Day:

  • Remind your readers that if they pre-order your book they will have it the day it comes out! (And that this helps boost sales orders). You can do this both through email to your list and social media.
  • If you have any events or promotions (i.e. presale promotion, or sneak peek chapter download, collabs, etc.) this is a great time to remind your readers via email or social media.
  • If you have help, this is a great day to just make sure your assistant, social media manager, publisher, etc. have anything they need from you (promo graphics, book club guide, Q & A, media kit, etc.)

5 Days to Publication Day:

  • Breathe. Maybe look back at some of your old notes or journals to see how far you’ve come and remind yourself of the time when this book was still a dream.
  • If you have Brand Brief or Brand Messaging kit review your bio, elevator pitch, and media talking points to re-familiarize yourself with your important concepts and messages that you want to convey.

3 Days Before Publication Day:

  • IF YOU WANT to be notified whenever something NEW is posted online about your book: Set up a Google alert for the following:
    • [Book title, author name]
    • [Book title & genre]
    • [Book title & publisher name]
  • Get a massage if you can, or a mani-pedi, or whatever. Give yourself a little self-care in whatever ways will help you slow down and appreciate the moment you’re in and release stress and anxiety.

Publication Day (woooo hoooo!):

  • Announce it on social media! And share and reshare when others share about your book.
  • Be sure to tag your publisher every time you post.
  • If your publisher is doing a giveaway and/or advertisements, share that too if you want.
  • Send your publication day email announcement to your list of email subscribers.
  • Try to take moments throughout your day to consciously BE IN THE MOMENT and remember how good the good feelings feel. This is exciting. This is what you’ve been working so hard for, so enjoy it.
  • Have a helper update your website to reflect that the book is now available (and not coming soon).
  • Update your social media profile taglines to reflect that the book is now available.

Post-Publication Day:

Share on social media each day and email your email list once per week:

  • Any upcoming public book-related events
  • Any other awesome press/reviews/shares you get
  • Photos of you at events or with friends at said book events
  • Add pertinent events, reviews, and press to your website as needed.

I hope these simple, practical tips help you keep your wits and enjoy your book publication week to the fullest! You’ve done something incredible, so celebrate.

If you were to Google the phrase “How do I find more readers for my book?” you’d end up with approximately 461,000,000 results. There is no shortage of advice out there.

I’m going to share with you the ONE thing that you absolutely need to do first to find your readers.

You’re likely thinking: Where are they exactly?

This can feel like an overwhelming question, right? Like you’re sitting there imagining these millions of readers milling about in the ether who are all getting hit with tens of millions of messages and ads and who knows what else. Like how in the hell do you find YOUR people?

Trying to figure out where to find your readers can feel a lot like bobbing for apples or playing darts blindfolded.

But as with most things, the answer is rarely where the problem lies.

So, instead of asking where they are, we need to be asking: WHO they are.

Grab a piece of paper and start by answering these questions about your readers. BUT WAIT, before you do, I want you to imagine your Ideal Reader™ the one who LOVES what you write, how you write, etc. We ARE NOT looking for ALL the readers. Bestselling writers do not set out to write something that appeals to everyone in general—they are specific, even if their appeal is widespread (more on that another time).

For now, imagine that one reader person as best you can and ask yourself:

  • What do they prefer to read? (both what’s related and unrelated to your writing)
  • Where do they buy books? (And what does this say about them?)
  • Do they primarily read books on Kindle or a device, or print, or a combo?
  • What do they subscribe to?
  • What kinds of other media do they consume (TV, movies, etc., be specific)?
  • Where do they live? Does this play into why they would like your work?
  • How old are they? And how much education have they had?
  • Who do they follow on social media, on podcasts, elsewhere?
  • What other authors or writers do they like? Why? And how are they similar or different from you?
  • Where do they get their news?
  • What causes do they care about?
  • Do they rate books on Amazon, Goodreads, elsewhere?
  • What does this person like best about your writing? (You can straight up ask some readers, or you can look back at emails, comments, etc. that you’ve received to see what common threads exist)

Imagine this reader is a character in a novel, build them out—preferences, quirks, values, etc. Just make sure that this archetype actually fits your kind of writing and isn’t just who you hope your readers are. Be honest with yourself. And be sure to recognize that your reader is NOT YOU. Don’t use yourself as an example because if she was you she wouldn’t want to read her own stuff, right?

Okay, now you can think about where they are.

Once you start to formulate a picture of who this reader is, you can begin to brainstorm where they hang out both on and offline. For instance, if I know that my Ideal Reader™ is into practical feminism let’s say, then I can start to piece together what kinds of social accounts she may follow, what organizations she may donate to, what kinds of events she attends, and then even extrapolate more ideas on her habits. For instance, perhaps she gets reading recommendations from the Feminist Book Club, or maybe because she is super busy starting her own brand she doesn’t like rambling podcasts and prefers ones with focused interviews with insightful, yet emotionally intelligent thought leaders like in Brené Brown’s Unlocking Us.

As you flesh out where she “hangs out” just jot it all out on paper or Evernote, or whatever, and then go back and think about the places where she’s most likely to take action and read or buy your work.

Decide which 1-3 places you actually have the bandwidth to look into and work. And then schedule that research into your calendar.

For instance, if you have an idea of what social media folks they follow take a deep dive to see what kinds of content they share, how often, etc. and then look for other accounts that are similar but maybe have a smaller following and do the same (you can’t copy the strategy of a celebrity on social media, for instance, they operate from a different rule book because they are already famous).

If you know what other kinds of books she reads go on Goodreads to look at those books, see what people say, and who reviews. This can help you get clues to where and how they get books and what they are looking for.

How you’ll reach them once you connect is another strategy altogether, BUT the first part is finding where to show up and then show up. Show up with a helpful attitude. My friend, you’re playing the long game, so even if you’re just there to observe and help others at first, you’re learning. We’ll talk about more ideas on HOW to show up next time. But if you’re ready to explore that a bit, read this: How to Get Readers to Actually Remember You.

I hope this was helpful and gives you something to work on, and if you ever want hands-on help from someone who does this every day, well, you know where I am. 🙂


Your website has the potential to show the world why they should pay attention to you and your writing, yet most authors and writers treat it more like business card, or skimpy brochure. The truth is, your website should be making you money, whether that is through direct sales of your books (and/or services), referrals, clients, or maybe helps you land an agent, editor, publisher,  interview, or a even a book deal.

Your author website can be a dynamic 24/7 representative of your personal brand. Done right, it can help you change the trajectory of your career. Done poorly, it may actually look less professional or legit than you are! I am willing to bet that you, like me, would rather be in that first category. If you want to create something bigger and better for your author brand, then it’s time to take your website seriously. Take the time to do what most of your competition won’t: think it through and invest in it.

Let’s stop leaving money on the table and implement some ways that your website can be working better for you. I’ll walk you through some of the must-have features for your author website, based on my 20+ years of experience building websites.

#10: Communicate Clearly

The 3 Second Rule: Who You Are & Why They Should Care

Imagine you’re visiting your website for the very first time. (Also imagine you’re not “you” obvi.) Now, as you’re looking through it, ask yourself these questions, honestly:

      • What does this person write?
      • Who are they? What makes them special?
      • Why should I care?

If you cannot answer those questions within the first 3-5 seconds of landing on your homepage, you have some work to do.

Your visitors are losing patience and interest. As a result, you’re losing money. Why make it so hard for people to understand your value?

Let go of the old idea that you need to “sell them” first. People are inundated by advertising and marketing all day long. The last thing they need is for you to advertise before they even know what you are selling. Now, I’m not saying you can’t use any marketing tools, just make it easy for your visitors to know what you do and who you are. If your head is too deep into your own work, ask 5 friends–preferably ones who may not yet buy your books or know what you write–to visit your site and tell you what the site is about. You may be surprised at their answers.

Here are a few quick fixes that can help communicate who you are and why they should care:

Make sure your name or logo is simple and communicates who you are and what you do.

This should be at the top of your website, on every page.

Use a succinct (max 7 words) tagline under your logo/name to help communicate what you do.

If for some reason you aren’t able to edit your own site to put the tagline directly under your name or logo, you could also add it as a headline. Just make sure it’s near the top so peole don’t have to scroll down to see.

Here are some examples of two types of taglines we’ve developed for our author branding clients:

Stephanie Land:

“Unflinching Writing About Poverty & Motherhood” (work-based) & “The New York Times bestselling author of MAID” (role-based)

Sarah Vogel:

“Fighting for the people, at the crossroads of agriculture, policy, and law.” (work-based) & “Advocate, Attorney, and Author of The Farmer’s Lawyer” (role-based)

Kari O’Driscoll:

“Driven by the exploration of human connection” (work-based) & “Author, Educator, & Founder of The SELF Project” (role-based)

Make it easier for visitors to find what they are looking for.

Make sure the titles (and corresponding link) of each of your web pages are short and to the point, and geared toward your audience. For instance, it’s much clearer to have a page link titled “Books” rather than “Work” in most cases.

#9 Ways to Engage with Visitors on Your Website

Now that your visitors know who you are and what you’re doing in 3 seconds or less, take another look at your site and think about these questions:

      • How can people engage with you or your writing?
      • What are your paths toward a sale, share, or contact?
      • In what ways can visitors ask a question or find what they are looking for without having to?

If your answer is that they can only engage with your author brand in one way, perhaps by emailing you, you’re missing out on connecting with your readers and that is or will hurt your sales and brand long term.

I’ll never forget a worthwhile tip an internet marketer shared with me many years ago: people have different preferences when it comes to taking action, so you must give them as many opportunities as you can. Some people (like me) hate the telephone, others loathe email, some want to chat online, still others prefer to fill out a form, follow you on social, or sign up for your email list. The point is, if you want to connect with readers consistently, you need to reach out to personality types that might not think the same way that you do.

A few methods of connection that should (at a minimum) be available on your website:

1. An easy form to sign up for your email list. (You’ll need to communicate the value you offer here and what readers should expect) — this could include a gift or complimentary “lead magnet” to entice readers to join your email list.
2. Follow links to your social media profiles
3. An up-to-date list of events (on or offline) that you’re a part of
4. Key contacts such as agent, publisher, and PR on your Contact page
3. Contact form to contact you (keep this minimal: name, email, comments, submit button)


ROI (Return on Investment) for email marketing is $44 for every $1 spent. 


#8: Be Memorable, Be on Social Media

Listen, it’s a necessary evil, okay?

I’m not gonna lie, most writers I talk to don’t really enjoy promoting themselves on social media. But here’s the deal, you may have heard the saying before: “People are talking about your brand, it’s just a matter of whether or not you want to be a part of the conversation.” For those of you who remember good old-fashioned, hand-shaking networking, social networking is basically the same thing…only on steroids, and from the comfort of your keyboard. I’m not saying you need to be posting everyday, but you need to at least secure social profiles under your name (at a minimum so someone has a harder time impersonating or damaging your brand) and then once you’ve picked which 2-3 you’ll post to (do that), make sure they’re linked to on your website.

Some visitors may or may not be ready to buy your book, or maybe they already have and want to know when your next one comes out. Make it easy for them to connect and then update them through your social profiles.

A few quick tips:

      • Make sure that your brand’s social profiles match the look & feel as well as brand messages of your brand website. Consistency is important!
      • Keep posting simple. Use my 30/30/30 rule: 30% share other people’s good content, 30% something about your writing/books, etc., 30% interact with others.
      • Set aside a specific time every day or week to engage socially. Having a social profile doesn’t account for much if you aren’t posting updates.

#7: Dress to Impress — Good Design for Your Website

We have all seen author websites that just, well, look like something you might scrape off your shoe. The layout is funky, the colors are atrocious, you can’t find what you’re looking for and oh yeah, there’s that delightful elevator music that auto-plays in the background, the kind you can’t shut off. I don’t want to call anyone out here but there are quite a few famous authors with websites that look like they were designed in 1996 and never updated. Please, for the love of Pete, DO NOT look at those and think, see [Insert Famous Author Name]’s website is lame and they are still famous and have a great career!

There are several reasons famous authors can get away with having shitty websites (and you cannot):

    1. They built their brand during a very different time when author websites didn’t matter so much.
    2. They are ALREADY famous, they don’t NEED to present themselves well. (Though they are totally missing out on making more money by leveraging their brand, but that’s another article.)
    3. They have enough money to have other people market for them. (Though again, they’d do even better with a better website.)

As technology and our industry continues to evolve, it has become more and more important to have a truly professional website. Readers today, more than ever, will make purchasing decisions based on the professionalism you portray on your website. And let’s face it, if you’re trying to sell a non-fiction book you’d better have a serious platform and followers or you won’t even get the book deal.

48% of people cited that a website’s design is the No. 1 factor in determining the credibility of a business [or brand]. (Source: Blue Corona)

You wouldn’t go to a meeting with a big New York publisher in an old t-shirt and cutoffs–so why would you let your website look unprofessional? It’s time to WOW people. Spend a little extra on having a well-thought-out compelling layout and design and you will have better results.

Quick Tips:

      • If you have a tight budget, website builder platforms like WordPress, Squarespace, and Wix can be good options when you’re first starting out. They have templates you can use to build your own, clean website.
      • Once you’re ready to have a website that is fully “you” you can hire someone to build a customized site that is strategically designed to implement all of the features in this article.

#6: Brains & Beauty = Usability

An attractive website doesn’t count for much if visitors can’t find what they are looking for. You may have noticed that many websites fall into one of two categories: beautiful but barely functional or usable but just plain ugly. This disparity is largely due to the two main types of people who build websites: designers and developers. You know how it is, the designer is more art-brained and creates a beautiful, but perhaps confusing website and conversely, the developer creates a functional website that is boring or maybe even…repulsive.

The reality is that in order to have a website that fulfills the need (and it is a need, trust me) for beauty and brains you need to turn to someone who understands both. Look for a website designer with experts in not only design and development, but branding as well, so they are able to take a 360° approach to creating a website that is beautiful, easy to use, and custom-designed for your ideal customer. And again, if you can’t afford to hire a firm refer to the quick tips in #7 of this guide–these can be a great way to start.

To determine the usability of your site, try these simple steps:

      • Write down the top 3-5 actions you want people to take when they visit your site
      • Now visit your site and try to do each task
      • Ask yourself honestly how easy it was for you to find what you needed to find
      • Decide what you need to change to make it easier

Don’t forget to check on mobile! Finally, be sure to view your site on several different types of devices, including a phone and a tablet in addition to a desktop or laptop computer.  Sometimes a site that works well on a desktop computer turns into a beast of burden on a little smartphone screen. It’s important for you to check that and fix it.

#5: Don’t Leave ‘Em Hanging – Calls to Action (CTA)

Don’t be afraid to help people take the next step. Not only is it important to provide value and communicate what you do or why someone should buy your book, product, or services, but don’t forget to let them know when it’s time to take action. People are busy and even if they want to engage with your brand, buy your book or stay in touch, sometimes they need a reminder to just go ahead and take the next step right then.

I don’t believe in being pushy, but if you’re too passive you will miss great opportunities. There are times when you may have a great pitch or book idea or whatever, but you aren’t getting any bites. While there may be many factors at play (cost, timing, etc.) don’t let a missing call to action be the reason they don’t buy. And hey, if you’re like me and you don’t want to be the obnoxious salesy-pitch-type that’s okay, just ask for the sale or the email sign up in a confident way that feels right for your customers.

Never be afraid to ask for the sale, respectfully.

Quick Tips:

      • Make sure at least some of your calls to action (i.e. Preorder my new book!) are “above the fold,” this means that call to action appears near the top of your page on your website, without the visitor having to scroll down the page to see it.
      • Your CTA doesn’t have to be a “buy now” message, maybe it’s “join my email list” or “join me for an AMA (Ask Me Anything).” Be helpful.
      • Do a little research. There is a wealth of information online these days about how to increase conversion rates on websites. Do a little homework and try some of the different methods suggested. There are folks who do nothing but study this stuff all day; learn from them. Some websites to start at:

#4: Be Fresh with Your Content

We’ve all been there–you visit a site looking for some pertinent information and it’s so blah that you’re suddenly seized by a bout of uncontrollable yawning. I think this is actually one of many authors fears when they are trying to come up with what to put on their website. Like, how do I come up with fresh, exciting content and not have to update my site every damn week?

The reality is that we don’t have an excuse for outdated websites anymore. Gone are the days when you had to contact your webmaster to update a paragraph on your About Us page and then wait a week for him to change it. These days website platforms like WordPress & Squarespace make it easy for just about anyone to update your site or blog.

So, what should you write and how often? Well, of course, it depends but here are a few pointers:

      • Visit your website at least once per quarter to just see what’s out of date, or what might need adding. Ideally, I’d do this monthly, but quarterly should be a minimum.
      • If you’re in non-fiction, write about your niches, keeping your readers in mind (what would they want to know?)
      • If you’re in fiction, maybe share some other author’s work that you like, or write a piece about the behind-the-scenes process of your own writing, or even about the setting or time period you write about in your upcoming (or previous) book.
      • Rekindle that passion you have for your work and think about why you started writing in the first place. When you write that passion will come through.
      • Just set aside an hour a week, heck even two weeks to do a little research, make notes and share this information on your website, social media, and to your email list.

#3: Don’t be a Needle in a Haystack

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Accessibility

It is actually quite shocking how many websites are built completely devoid of any search engine optimization. The search engine optimization (SEO) field is an information-rich, strategically varied industry; I will not even attempt to address all of its facets here.

However, there are three key points I hope you will glean from this section:

1. Websites should have “on website” SEO built-in.
2. Many SEO methods will actually help disabled people enjoy your site as well.
3. You either need to become an SEO aficionado or hire one if you really want to get ideal results on search engines.

To my first point, here are the basic SEO elements EVERY site should have (at the very least):

      • Title & header tags for each page
      • Page descriptions
      • Keyword-rich page content
      • Descriptive ALT tags for images
      • A Google sitemap & Analytics setup

Now, if you are serious about building organic search engine results (naturally occurring, not just paid Adwords ads) then you either need to become an amateur expert or hire a legit one. It’s not cheap, and honestly, it’s not worthwhile for most new authors. However, the good news is that you can at least do some basic things yourself to improve your site’s ability to show up in search results. If you’re hiring a website designer, they should do these minimum items for you.

Quick Tips:

      • If you have a web designer or are hiring one, ask them if you have “on website” SEO in place and if so, have them show you where. If your site doesn’t, ask what it will cost to have them update that ASAP.
      • If you use WordPress for your website I recommend that you use the Yoast SEO plugin and then follow their instructions to configure your settings. The basic version is free and will provide the minimum requirements I listed above.
      • If you use Squarespace, refer to their guide on SEO.

#2: Make a Name for Yourself

Your domain name (the URL you type into your browser’s address bar, i.e. needs to be short and easy. And it shouldn’t be your book title*, it should be your author name. You should scoop up your domain name even if you don’t have a website yet. I also recommend buying the domain name for your book as well because the more brand ownership you have the more leverage you have when it comes to protecting your brand(s). And domain names only cost like $5-20/year depending on the name.

With domain names there are a few quick rules to keep in mind:

  • The shorter the better; try to keep it to 2-3 words max. Ideally, your first and last name if available. If not, consider adding “writer” or “author” at the end.
  • Don’t be afraid to buy a few versions of your domain name (i.e. .net, .org versions as well as common misspellings of your domain name)
  • *If you have a specific landing page for your new book, for instance, consider buying a specific keyword-rich domain name specifically for that page. (i.e. “”)
  • Watch out for names or words that blend together when spoken, or are hard to spell. For instance, when you tell someone your domain name it should be instantly recognizable, not confusing. Remember that “f” can sound like “s”, etc. so make sure your name is clear and doesn’t sound like another word when spoken, and if you can’t avoid that because it’s your name, make sure you make that clear when mentioning your website address in interviews, etc. For instance, when I say “” I mention “G like garage.”

#1: Have a Vision for Your Website

What is the purpose of your site? What’s the point? If you don’t have a bigger vision for the purpose of your site, guess what, no one else will either. Your visitors want to be part of something bigger, something exciting, something they can be proud of. Of course, you want them to be a part of it too! Building community helps build a reputation, and that’s a very good thing.

As you take an honest look at your site (and your writing career honestly), think about where you would ideally like to see it. Once you have a vision in mind, start creating actionable steps to work toward that vision. Think about some of your favorite personal brand websites–someone you admire or really resonate with. They don’t need to be in your industry at all. I would be willing to bet that every single one of them has a vision–a bigger purpose than just selling a book, or a thing, or whatever.

So what is your vision?

What value do you truly offer, and is it something that people can get excited about?

Are you excited about it? What passion do you bring to the table?

Sometimes vision can be the hardest part. Maybe you have several visions, and you aren’t sure how to fit them together. Or perhaps you aren’t really quite sure where you want things to go. In any case, I encourage you to take some time and really think about where your website (& brand) is going.

Think of your author website like a place to for foster a continuing relationship with your readers. What do you want that to look like down the road? Perhaps it starts with the reader visiting your site, then liking your brand on Facebook, then buying your book, then months later they buy another, or maybe they post how much they love your writing on Instagram, or perhaps a year later they buy several books as gifts. You get the idea–what is the long-term vision for how you will win and retain readers?

Once you know that you can begin to create a plan on how to get there and make adjustments along the way to best serve that vision.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. If you’d like to do some brainstorming on your vision and your brand, you can get instant access to my Creating Your Brand, Hero’s Journey Style, a brainstorming worksheet:


Another option for further help is to sign up for my Author Branding Digest (below), 1x/mo. email full of useful info and inspiration for building your brand and career.

For many years I felt like an outlier in the business world, hell, in life. It’s no secret I’m a “heart-centered strategist” as several clients have called me. I have never really bought into the idea of business as usual. I’ve learned what I can from teachers and authors and mentors who had important business skills to teach, but whose personal lives I did not admire. For decades, I’ve wondered where the mentors who prioritized business AND people are. To be sure, I have found some along the way and I cherish them, but it’s often not the norm.

Over the past few years, I’ve just been “over it” in terms of any attempt to fit into that stale business mold. More and more, I’ve leaned into what my heart and skillset tell me are important: people. I’ve also worked on my own limiting beliefs about what is possible for someone like me who wants to make both a difference and a small fortune. 😉 And you know what happened when I made those shifts? My business grew. My network of “my kind of people” has grown. And it’s just the beginning.

I’m telling you this because if you’re feeling frustrated with the way business has been done, there is so much hope for change right now.

And you know what? It’s about damn time that caring people start leading a revolution of how business and government is done in this country!

Right now, I want to share just a few wonderful things to help you in your roles in changing the world:

#1 Get Arlan Hamilton’s book It’s About Damn Time, and if you’re ready to take serious next steps Join her free Mastermind. I met some AMAZING entrepreneurs in there. Arlan is an absolute gem of a human being. If you haven’t heard of her you will very soon. She is the kind of person I’m talking about: making a difference in her work, genuinely helping people, while also making bank.

#2 Black people, get free, expert advice for your business/career. If you are a Black person, check out this list of CEOs and professionals who are donating their time/advice to Black people right now. Jump on this.

#3 Finally, I have a little Juneteenth announcement:

I am donating branding one-on-one sessions with me to Black people for the month of August. Sign up for your spot here if you’re ready for some laser-focused branding advice:

Okay, that’s it for now. And if you’re Indigenous, POC or single mom, don’t worry I’ll have more resources for you too. I just really want to help keep this momentum of Black power moving right now.

Q: I want to start a website to gain followers and make money with my writing. I’ve identified a niche, but I’m wondering how to get started branding myself. -Trish


Understand Yourself & Your People

Before you do anything else dig down deep and articulate who you are and what the overarching themes will be.

Next, figure out who your audience and what they are in to on a deeper level. I’m talking micro, like what kind of food they like to eat (i.e. are they granola, or junk food). This will help you identify what they are into, where they like to go and what kinds of things they’ll want to read or see.

Develop deep knowledge and show it off.

I think the most important thing is knowing about your subject matter on a deep level. Demonstrating that you are a “go-to” person for your niche subject matter will help a lot.

I recommend making a list of six months worth of content ideas. Then break up those ideas based on how you want to write about them. For instance, some ideas might be better for blog posts while others might be best to pitch for publication. Blog posts are great for once people get to your website and can also be useful for SEO (search engine optimization), and getting pieces published elsewhere online can help drive traffic to your website as well as give you more credibility.

For the website itself:

If you don’t want to hire someone to create a WordPress site for you, depending on your technical skill, I suggest just setting one up yourself at, or setup a site with Squarespace, though I prefer WP.

Keep it simple, but make sure you have these elements:

  • clean design,
  • quality content (decide on that beforehand),
  • an email list sign up,
  • links to your social media,
  • SEO driven content (you can find a great guide to some of the most popular SEO plugins for WordPress by heading to the Victorious website).

Make Time for Your Brand

Next, schedule regular time for promoting yourself. Quality and consistency are the most important factors in building up an audience.

Collaborate with Others

When you’re first starting out and don’t have an audience yet, it can be really helpful to partner up with folks who have similar audiences that are already built. Whether it’s a podcast, a webinar, a guest post, or an event, you can build your audience by giving valuable content to sister audiences. Start reaching out to others that relate to your niche–people or brands who have a bigger audience and figure out ways to collaborate. And always make generosity a priority. What will they get from you, if they partner with you?

If you implement these things it will give you a great start on building your writer brand.

Do you have a burning question about branding your writing or creativity? The business or psychological side to pursuing your dream of supporting yourself with your creative work? Please email it to me. It just might get selected to be featured on this blog.


Q: For writers new to the idea of writing as a business, what are some of the mistakes to avoid when thinking about branding? —Gabrielle

Andrea: Great question.

One of the biggest personal branding mistakes is trying to be everything to everyone. A lot of this is based in fear–that if we have too narrow of a focus, we won’t appeal to enough people. But something important happens when we go deep on the things we truly care about: we gain clarity, and that makes us more appealing to others as well.

We’re often told that branding is all about our audience–not ourselves. In other words, we’re supposed to appeal to what they want in order to be successful. And while that is true to a degree, we also have to be true to ourselves.  I think that’s actually where we should start.

More and more, readers crave authenticity. You can’t have authenticity without deep self-knowledge. But you don’t have to share EVERYTHING either.

in general, writers should have a layer of separation between who they are as a person and who they are as a brand. You can use your voice, style, talent, personality, and knowledge to express the parts of yourself that you are willing to share publicly.

For example, you might be interested in a variety of subjects but most want to write about only one or two, in this case, your focus should be there. That’s only one example though, you can differentiate yourself from other writers in subject matter, approach, voice, and other ways.

Keep the focus on what you want to build your brand around, not being “all the things.” Zero-in on one primary throughline to your work and once you’ve established yourself there, you can always add new priorities/facets, down the line.

Do you have a burning question about branding your writing or creativity? The business or psychological side to pursuing your dream of supporting yourself with your creative work? Please email it to me. It just might get selected to be featured on this blog.