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Book Marketing Tip: Choose Your Author Uniform for Live Events & Photos

Photo of Debbie Young in sunhat that is her summer author uniform

Debbie Young channels her inner Paddington Bear in her summer “author uniform” hat

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.

 

screenshot of Joanne Harriss tweet about author uniforms

Why Wear an Author Uniform Anyway?

  • photo of Wendy Jones in military uniform

    Wendy Jones takes the uniform concept literally, wearing her old army uniform to address cadets

    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:

screenshot of colour chart to match book covers with author uniform

screenshot of Karen Myers website showing its inspiration for her author uniform

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!

Debbie in tweed beret

A hat for all seasons is Debbie Young’s motto

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.”

photo of Dan in his author uniform red lace glove

Single red lace glove? It must be Dan Holloway!

Chrissie Parker favours mismatched shoes and socks.

photo of mismatched trainers

Mismatched shoes keep Chrissie Parker on her toes

Alison Morton in bright green author uniform jacket

Alison Morton, ready to stand out in a crowd

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.

Phil Burrows n branded polo shirt

Branded! Author Phil Burrows

Photo of Joe Malik pointing at a screen with the tip of his sword

The perfect author accessory helps Joe Malik keep his audience attentive.

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.

Marie Cope sitting on a stool in black and red with top hat

Marie Cope has a complete outfit to reflect her genre

Kate Cunningham thinks the decision is easier when you write for children – and her orange kirtle makes her look like shes stepped out of the pages of a storybook.

Jude and Lamby in matching t-shirts

Jude Matching t-shirts for author Jude Lennon and Lamby, one of the endearing characters in

photo of Santa-like man

“I pretty much resemble what I write about anyway,” says Joseph Patrick Moore. Ho ho ho!

4 Responses to Book Marketing Tip: Choose Your Author Uniform for Live Events & Photos

  1. KHC October 9, 2018 at 2:10 am #

    Love this post. I just shared it to my author facebook page. For me, it’s wearing some of the super bright colors on my book cover.

    Request: Could you possibly do a post on ‘how to give a novel talk’? Maybe reach out to indie authors for their ideas like you did with this story?

    Love your blog.

  2. K.S. Trenten August 1, 2018 at 5:02 am #

    This is funny, because I think I have developed a signature style of wearing pendants. I often wear very simple, functional clothing and a distinctive pendant. I have glass pendants, shells, although I occasionally break out into necklaces of beads. Most of the time it’s about the pendant or the scarf if it’s winter. When it’s cold, I shift to a scarf.

    If I’m a convention, though, I sometimes wear T-shirts to tell others what my fandoms are or interests.

  3. Helen Prochazka July 21, 2018 at 11:50 pm #

    I happened upon a fabulous orange Mongolian cashmere scarf, fine enough to fit through a wedding ring. I team it with any of the many black items in my wardrobe and this has become my author uniform, colour matching me to The Mathematics Book. Nobody notices the black clothes, only the very distinctive scarf. Recently, on my way to an event, someone in a busy street called out “It’s the maths lady!”. (And I only wear the scarf for “work” occasions.)

  4. Claire July 20, 2018 at 3:48 pm #

    Sarah McIntyre and Philip Reeve are a fantastic double act (illustrator and author) at children’s events, mine have loved seeing them, they’re so colourful, fun and memorable. Google them if you need to, you won’t be disappointed!

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