A recent tweet by bestselling novelist Joanne Harris made me wonder how many indie authors have consciously adopted an author uniform, or at least a dress code, as a conscious marketing ploy. Putting the question to the ALLi hive on our members forum elicited a wonderful array of examples across a wide variety of genres. I hope sharing these examples will help inspire you to develop your own author uniform to suit your books and your target audience.
Why Wear an Author Uniform Anyway?
Having a prescription for what you're going to wear gives you one less thing to worry about when you prepare for an author event.
- A uniform consistently worn will make it easy to recognise you at an event.
- The appropriate choice will help you create the right atmosphere for your books, whatever their genre.
- In time, you'll find you adopt your author persona just by putting it on – particularly handy if you're shy of public events.
If the concept seems over-the-top to you, think again: it works/worked for Terry Pratchett, George R R Martin and Barbara Cartland. Even the Queen of England takes this tack, always wearing a solid, bright colour with matching hat, to make sure it's easy for fans to spot the diminutive old lady in a crowd. (I wonder whether as soon as she gets home, she changes into florals, polka dots and checks?)
Some authors are very thorough about their author uniform, such as Karen Myers, who even created a colour chart to help her match her clothes to the palette of her new website:
Others, myself included, pick a single signature item. For me, it's hats (berets in winter, sunhats in summer, with rural clothes to reflect the setting of my Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries). Going hatless in high summer at a recent event, I was approached by a puzzled-looking member of the audience, saying “Don't you usually wear a hat?” Next time, I shall feel undressed without it!
Dan Holloway‘s trade mark is a distinctive red lace glove, who says “There was even a point where someone who had come from Germany for an event said he knew he had found the venue after being lost because he spotted my glove through the window.”
Chrissie Parker favours mismatched shoes and socks.
Bright colours are a good choice. Alison Morton has a signature apple-green jacket, as I discovered when chatting to her before our recent panel at CrimeFest. “I must dash,” she said, still jacketless. “Someone's just messaged me to say they're trying to spot me in my jacket!” Note also her subtle ALLi branding via her lapel badge, and the book cover image of her Roma Nova series hanging round her neck!
Phil Burrows goes one step further with his logo on polo shirt, jacket and baseball cap, for himself and for his partner, branded with the logo for his series.
Some genres cry out for a distinctive author uniform – steam punk, scifi, fantasy, children's, historical novels, and so on. Below is a fine selection of ALLi authors dressed for action.