//Building An Authentic Author Brand With Amber Swenor And Kristy Boyd Johnson

Building An Authentic Author Brand With Amber Swenor And Kristy Boyd Johnson

PRP 222 | Authentic Author Brand


In a world brimming with people and ideas, it is not anymore a shock to find every industry crowded. Just as important as standing out is finding your niche. And there is nothing as effective as connecting with your audience. How do you do that? Our guest in this episode believes in the power of being authentic. Juliet Clark interviews Amber Swenor, the founder of Soul Seed and the author of Unleashed, about her passion for working with leaders and authors on building an authentic author brand. She breaks down some misconceptions about what it means to be authentic, especially as it relates to how you are bringing it to your leadership and business. Adding more to the discussion, Amber then shares a presentation with tools and assessments to help you identify your alignment and the beliefs holding you back from showing your authentic self to your brand.

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Building An Authentic Author Brand With Amber Swenor And Kristy Boyd Johnson

We have Amber Swenor here. She is with Soul Seed Strategy and the author of USA Today and Wall Street Journal’s best-seller, Unleashed. She’s going to talk to us about brand alignment for authors. None of you have a brand before you get here with your book. It’s very important to make sure everything is in alignment. Amber, welcome.

Thank you for having me. As Juliet shared, my background is in business, brand growth, and brand strategy. Also, over time, I evolved to work with the leaders behind the brand in transformational coaching. That’s what I cover in my book. In this episode, I’m looking to help bridge that gap for authors and you to be thinking about what your authentic brand message is and how you more authentically connect with your audience. Look at whether you are pre-booking or you have a book that’s already out or wherever you are in the process, how to make a bigger impact, and be more strategic through that process.

I want to start with a little bit of a story. You can find it in the book. When I was growing up, one of my big goals was I wanted to become Miss America. It might seem funny if you know me because now I’m a front person in a metal band, which doesn’t exactly correlate to Miss America. I wanted to go to college. I learned that you could earn scholarship money. I ultimately became the first generation in my family to graduate high school even and then also go to college. I wanted to compete so that I could earn scholarship money. I was also impressed with the confidence and poise of the contestants.

I went to college. I studied abroad. I even volunteered abroad in other countries. I was doing all these things to build my resume and check the boxes of what I thought would make a great Miss America. I came back to the States. It was my senior year of college. I had two years left to start competing in the pageants. I went into that world, started doing it, and quickly learned that the largest portion of the score was talent. Even though I grew up singing along to my cassette tapes to Nirvana, Joan Jett, and Pat Benatar, I had no classical training. A lot of contestants were dancers and singers. They were very talented. They played instruments. I didn’t have that background.

I gave my best foot forward. I always rocked it in the interview. I did great in the onstage speaking. Unfortunately, that was only worth 5% of the score, so it didn’t get me very far but I tried and tried harder. I worked with pageant consultants. I tried harder to fit the box of what I needed to do to win. I noticed myself over those few years feeling more deflated like the harder I try to be what they want, the further I get. I was like, “I can’t even win a local pageant. How will I ever become Miss America?” There’s some relation here. It’s the times we try harder to be what people want us to be.

For the final pageant ever, I was present to that and decided, “I probably am not going to win because I haven’t been winning all along. What do I have to lose by choosing my joy, being my true self, getting out there, and singing what I’m good at?” That day, I walked onto the stage with my 7-inch heels, sparkly leather pants, and sparkly top. I sang a version of Pat Benatar’s Heartbreaker. If you don’t know the song, it’s pretty rock and roll from the ‘80s. “Your love is like a tidal wave, spinning over my head.” I will never forget the looks on their faces. The pageant moms and directors in the auditorium were like, “What is this pageant talent?”

Needless to say, I didn’t win but gained something so much bigger that day. It took me years later in my journey as I moved into my career in television advertising. I did a number of sales jobs. I started a brand strategy marketing firm and then moved into business coaching. It wasn’t until years later that I was doing the deeper threads of brand work, which is what we are going to be talking about.

I was able to pinpoint that as such an important moment for me in my journey that came all the way, full circle for me in becoming an author. That was recognizing the moments that I chose to step deeper into my authenticity because I realized what it was costing me not to do that. What I mean is it was costing me something so much greater by pretending to be who I thought I was supposed to be in the pageant world.

I didn’t win the pageant crown but gained so much more. That was my confidence, my truth, and my authenticity. Interestingly, even at the end of that day, a few people came up to me as I got off stage and said how awesome it was and how much they appreciated it. It was only a sliver of people but that right there is another one of those lessons about how when we are in our truth and authenticity. It’s not about being all things to everyone. It’s about resonating with that niche.

That has been fun for me in this journey with creating my book, being able to look back and see how this has played out in parts throughout my journey. I want to invite you to think of that where in your journey you are waiting for someone to give you the crown to give you permission to say, “You are the author. You can make an impact. You have a message,” and where you can claim it and choose to put on your own crown Whatever that looks like for you. This is about you walking more boldly and powerfully in that. If you try to be all things to everyone, it’s watered down. It gets missed. When you narrow your focus, the wider your message, book, and impact will go.

I wrote on LinkedIn Live, “It takes so much more energy to be inauthentic than it does to be authentic.” What about those people who are hiding behind a corporate brand? That’s what I did at first. I was afraid to step out, so I hid behind that corporate brand and realized, “People were hiring us because of me, so I had to get out there.” What would you say to those people?

This authenticity is the path forward for everything in business and leadership. I’m going to segue not to divert the question but this is the perfect lead-in over to what I want to share here to address that. This is extremely important that comes up for so many people. Especially in the corporate world, people get blocked. I’m going to get to Juliet’s question here in a moment but we are talking about how to ignite your author brand. When I published my book, I talked to my local Barnes&Noble and had them get my book there. I then went and did my own photo shoot. That’s me being my authentic brand. I had to get my pictures in the bookstore.

When we are in our truth and authenticity, it's not about being all things to everyone. It's about resonating with that niche. Click To Tweet

I already talked a little bit about who I am and what I do. We can round back to that at the end. I am also the front person in a metal band. In this episode, we are talking about why you need to be more authentic, what the foundation for your brand is, how to let your genius lead the way, how to become more strategic with your book, and how to be in action.

Here is to answer Juliet’s question, which is perfect about corporate people who might be feeling that or even anyone if you are feeling that it’s not okay to be more of your true self. Being authentic does not necessarily mean that you need to come into the office, to your team, or all over social media and reveal everything from top to bottom what’s going on if you are having challenges in your relationship, health issues or struggling with something. You don’t have to do that.

It’s important that you are supported, and you know your safe communities were to do that but this is where sometimes people misconstrue authenticity in the journey in leadership and business. What it’s about is understanding your values and living and leading in alignment with that. Maybe for you, it is candid transparency in every aspect of your life. Those are some people’s brands. If that doesn’t feel aligned for you, that’s okay. It doesn’t mean that you need to do candid transparency about everything from top to bottom.

What are those values? Is it around empathy? Is it team building? For me, I realized that my top personal values are authenticity and personal freedom. Personal freedom is defined as any space that I’m in. I’m able to show up as who I am and not feel like I need to wear different personas. I’m creating spaces for my team to do the same. I set the definition of what it meant for me and our team, and now any decision is filtered through that. It makes it easier to live into my values.

I’m loving this so much because this is a thread that has been true for me for years that I’ve spoken and taught about authenticity. The business world is finally catching up. That’s a personal side note, all the years that I self-doubted and gaslighted myself thinking, “Does anyone take this authenticity thing seriously? Does it seem like a soft topic?” Isn’t that interesting that when I was finally ready in the year I put out my book, this is one of the most talked about topics? This is in Forbes and Entrepreneur. It’s everywhere. All the articles are about why authenticity is the most important asset that a company can possess. I saw lots of headlines about why that’s one of the most important things for leaders to possess.

Harvard Business Study came out and talked about for C-Suite positions. It has become less about the ability to manage efficiency and finances. More C-Suite positions are hiring people for what used to be called soft skills, and that is the ability to be authentic and have empathy. One article called it a fish-out-of-water ability that those leaders lead better. What that means is vulnerability and the ability to be authentic and acknowledge what they are not great at and what they need help with. This has been studied extensively, especially through the pandemic, that there’s that element of authenticity in your job that helps make you more successful.

Let’s say you are leading a group or even if you are a solo entrepreneur, when you are authentic as a brand, that builds trust with your audience and allows you to create genuine connections, greater alignment, engagement, and respect. Organizations that foster authentic behavior are more likely to have engaged and motivated employees. If you think of yourself as a leader, even If you are one person and you say, “I work as a coach or consultant. I don’t have a team,” you are still leading your community. When you are authentic, this encourages more open sharing.

For anyone who does coaching or consulting, it helps your client be more open so that they can get a better result. If you can’t see behind the veil, it’s difficult to help them. Also, it has been tied to preventing burnout, the more authentic that we can be with ourselves and our teams. As an author, it’s the same thing. That helps you build relatability, credibility, and genuine connection when you are being authentic. Do you feel that answered the question?

Yes, it did. It did from the standpoint that when you hide behind that corporate brand, people don’t know who you are, and they are hiring you. That is especially in that coaching space you were talking about.

Thank you for adding that. You are still a brand within a brand. If you work for an employer, you work for them but who you are goes with you wherever you go. I have a framework that will help people. It’s coming up in a little bit. My book is titled Unleashed. It’s all about authenticity. For me, that means being free from chains of expectation, conditioning, and everyone else’s ideas of how you are supposed to be. It makes so much more available when you can come to that place of values, alignment, and being in the flow. Also, as an author, it will help you come into your vision, voice, and path and track the difference you want your book to make and why you are writing it.

The question is, “What prevents people from choosing this?” There are a whole lot of things that can come up with that. There’s fear, limiting beliefs, and so many things. I created a framework that can help you start to recognize if you feel that you want to be more authentic or show more of a side of yourself but you are holding back. It’s often rooted in 1 of these 3 things. It’s either in what you are thinking about yourself or about being authentic. You are having some thoughts around your mindset that you might be telling yourself, “If I do this, then that.” Usually, that’s tied to a deeper belief or how you feel.

PRP 222 | Authentic Author Brand

Unleashed: A Been-There, Rocked-That Guide to Radical Authenticity in Life and Business

Is your issue with your mindset that you have a negative mindset where you are waking up and saying, “Today is going to be as bad as yesterday.” Is there something holding you back in how you feel or some belief, that you have that if you speak up boldly, it will make people think that you are too loud and bossy? That’s a limiting belief. That’s planted there from conditioning, which I talk a lot about in the book. It’s things like, “If I’m a musician, no one will take me seriously in business or if I’m not successful in making money as a musician, do I look like a deadbeat artist?” There are all these different limiting beliefs, and then there’s what we do. Sometimes, we need to be in action and do the thing.

There’s a Law of Polarity, which says, “For the potential for one, there is a potential for the opposite. If there’s a potential for lack, there’s a potential for abundance. If there’s a potential for love, there’s a potential for hate. It’s the same with anyone growing a business or a brand. For the potential to be fully authentic and aligned, there’s the potential to be inauthentic. You get to choose which end of that spectrum you want to go to. Often, what I see happen is people can be strong in 1 or 2 of these areas but something is off in one of them, or at different times, a block comes up.

What I invite for people is that if something is out of alignment or not flowing, pause and evaluate. You look at yourself as if you’re outside of yourself and say, “Is something going on in my mindset? Is it a limiting belief in how I feel or is it something off in my strategy?” Clients will come to me a lot, thinking that there’s something wrong with their marketing strategy. When we backtrack it, they haven’t gotten clear in how they feel about the work they do in the world and why their brand exists. There’s usually something off in one of those other areas.

For those who are business owners in the room, which a lot of people who are authors are, you somehow have a business tied to your book. It’s okay if you don’t. This is an alignment assessment that you can do for your business. I will walk you through how this works. This can help you recognize where you might have blocks. We are talking about the brand. The brand is the foundation that feeds the whole of your business. Sometimes, it can be difficult to uncover where your actual gap is or where your problem is.

Sometimes, people come to me, and they have a strong brand. They have the mission, vision, and values but they are not making any money because they’re not doing anything for sales or marketing. I talk with a lot of authors and see that sometimes, it can be confusing about where their gap is. How you do this is to look at each area. If you think about yourself as the author, what do you think about that? Rate yourself from 1 to 10. Would you rate yourself that you have a good mindset and that you know that you are meant to be an author? How do you feel about it? Are you waffling?

Maybe you are having limiting beliefs if you can be a success. Give yourself a score. Action, what action are you taking to write or publish the book? You go through that for each of these areas, your brand strategy, the sales that you do in your business, your systems and operations, people management who support your business, and your mindset. Think about mindset. What do you feel about mindset, and what are you doing about mindset? Put that in there because that alone is such a huge one until you get conscious of it. A lot of people don’t realize how much they are preventing themselves from winning the day before it even begins.

This is a tool that can help you start to break down where some gaps might be in your journey as you are building a brand as an author. It is a holistic journey. This relates to those who have a business related to their book. If you somehow want your book to support your work in the world, even if you are a team of one, all these things go into it. If you are like, “I want to have a book so I can make money,” you have a business. These are the core elements that go into that business.  I’m curious if there are any questions or comments on that before I move on. Do you have thoughts on how it might help your community?

I love that you’ve given the assessment. This is not only getting into your authenticity. It’s a little bit of getting rid of that Impostor syndrome.

It allows you to get out of overwhelm and look at it objectively. I think of it as a bird’s eye view. Imagine that your business was here in your hands. I’m calling your book your business if your book is what you expect to drive your business. You are observing it. You are like, “I’m observing and tuning in with what I think, feel, and do with this judgment-free.” It is not that anything is right or wrong. It’s a tool to support the journey. That can help us get out of that Impostor syndrome when we let ourselves be curious about it.

As humans, we get wrapped up in our business because it does become so much a part of ourselves, especially if we are hard-centered entrepreneurs. This will help when you can step back and go, “I see where I’m a little off the mark,” without judgment. “How can I be more authentic and aligned?” I love that. That is a huge thing that people forget. Thank you for saying that because that’s well-needed in this world for us entrepreneurs.

It can be so overwhelming when there are many aspects that need to be in place when we put a book out into the world. Our hope and intention here are to chunk it down to help you stay focused on what areas need some attention. Let’s shift into helping everyone connect a bit more with what your brand authentically is.

For the potential to be fully authentic and aligned, there's the potential to be inauthentic. Click To Tweet

I’m doing some exercise. Make notes to yourself. There’s no right or wrong. This is an example to see what could pop for someone. We’ve got Apple and a lot of popular brands and figures. We’ve got Oprah, McDonald’s, and Walmart. These are very notable people and brands. We have Donald Trump, the Disney Company, and Starbucks. I did invite you to consider when you do that exercise what stands out. Usually, when I’ve got a room of people, I get feedback, like, “In some, I have a visceral reaction. There are some I love and some I don’t align with.”

The exercise is that there’s none that are right or wrong. It’s that every brand, person, and thought leader exists to serve a certain end of the market. They serve people. It’s not that you need to be concerned about being divisive. It’s about being a beacon for those that your brand is meant to serve. Your brand creates a feeling. It’s not the logos, fonts, and colors. Those are assets of your brand.

However, the things that move the needle that help you sell books get paid, and make a bigger impact are what people think and feel about your business. It’s what they would say about your business. If you are not in the room, would they make a referral for you or not? It’s by getting intentional to consider what you stand for and who you serve that helps you channel this a bit more focused.

I realize not everyone will align with what I have to say. That’s okay. My lesson is to take away from it for yourself how you can be more authentic and confident. I share and aim to teach about that through my book journey to help you recognize where you might be holding back and not realizing it. A lot of those pitfalls that end up happening are we think we don’t want to exclude or offend anyone.

What I would invite is that you being true to your brand doesn’t mean that it’s trying to offend anyone. You can’t be responsible for controlling everyone’s reactions. It’s impossible. It’s beautiful that we are made up of a bazillion different opinions and types of people in the world. That’s exhausting to try to manage everybody else’s opinions.

I have to wholeheartedly agree with that. I’ve noticed that as a book developer, I so often have to say, “I can’t tell who you are talking to.” Here, you are talking to this audience, “My book is for everybody.” “It’s not.” You have to get clear on that. Usually, what I do is I say, “If you have 3 audiences, write 3 separate books that each focus on that audience if you don’t want to exclude. Don’t try to do it all together because it doesn’t work.” Thank you for saying that.

What else is true here is I tell our book people all the time, “There are probably at least 1,000 people who do what you do. People are going to hire you because of who you are and how they resonate with you. One person might be offended by what you say but ten people may love it and hire you. You have to have a firm grasp on who your people are and who they aren’t because when you take people that aren’t your people, it’s a rough ride for everybody.”

It’s amazing when we can have networks. We are in networks together. It becomes about then supporting and making referrals to someone who could be a better fit. It all comes back around. It’s good for everybody. Another of the big pitfalls are people thinking they are too small to have a brand. Even if you are an individual person, everyone has a brand. Even if you haven’t thought about it, you have a brand. You get the opportunity to be more intentional with defining what that brand is.

There’s something I wanted to say. Juliet, you made me think of this. Anyone else who may relate to being a bit sensitive, heart-centered, or feeling that fear, I will share that I was extremely sensitive. I was that person where even through high school and my twenties if someone didn’t like me, said something bad or picked on me, and we got a lot of online criticisms as a musician, I would feel awful for weeks.

I would cry for days. I would shut down. I’m sharing this from my lived experience as one of those people who has transformed. It’s possible. Some people don’t have this issue. If you are like, “I’m going to be myself. I don’t need to do work,” that’s cool. There are a lot of us out there who have been told a whole lot of ways we are supposed to be. I want to make that known because you don’t know me, and I’m skipping a lot.

I started my business a couple of years ago. It was just me. Did I learn a whole lot? I had a whole lot of things happen but at one point, I grew it to a million-dollar business and ten team members. That took stepping into leadership and walking the walk of everything I’m teaching. I’m not saying it’s easy. However, it becomes easier the more you do it. I would never not do it. I’m so grateful that I chose to step into the fear, trust this, and do it.

PRP 222 | Authentic Author Brand

Authentic Author Brand: It cost me so much more to pretend to be who I thought I was supposed to be in the pageant world.


Here’s the thing. If you are an author, this may not be the most empathetic thing to say but you need to toughen up because the reviews sometimes can be tough. I remember in one of my mystery novels, someone said, “This is a great story but who edited it? A monkey.” I was so hurt because I didn’t know that the editor that I chose wasn’t that good. I didn’t have it edited. When you are putting yourself out there, this is very personal but you also have to toughen up. Probably 50% or maybe even more of the people who critique you have never done what you’ve done. There’s a flip side to toughening up and being proud that you put yourself out there.

Another one that comes up is that we think we don’t have money to invest in the brand. What I encourage is that you can’t afford not to. It doesn’t mean you need to go and necessarily hire people to help you with it but do the work, even if you can get free or low-cost resources or books. I’m plugging my own book. I can say that because it has been pretty cool with the feedback I’ve gotten from people who’ve started businesses and made changes in their businesses. Also, I hope any author takes it away. It more relates to nonfiction but how cool is that that your book can help someone? Even if it’s fiction, that’s awesome too because it’s bringing joy. It’s bringing people taking breaks away from devices. Don’t let the money thought to hold you back. You can invest as you go.

I’m glad you said that. Fiction is transformative, too. I was a teacher for many years. I can’t tell you how many times a book changed someone’s life. A kid would read a book, and it would start a whole discussion and exploration in the group. It was amazing to watch that change and transformation happen from some interesting thoughts. Don’t doubt yourself if you have fiction because that can be as powerful.

Thanks for calling that out because now that you say that, I’m reflecting and thinking the same. Some of those fiction stories and what I learned from them open your perspective. That’s awesome. I’m so entrenched in the nonfiction personal development world.

This is important, what you are sharing here.

Fiction can be very cathartic. When I wrote my fiction novels, I was going around killing people but I had no anger when I was done.

For me, it’s a good breakaway. I love working on businesses. I love working on myself. Sometimes, you need a break, and that’s okay too. We are shifting into how you let your genius lead the way. It’s all about tapping into yourself a bit more. As a pop quiz, think of your favorite service provider. It’s anyone that comes to mind. It could be a massage therapist, mechanic, daycare provider or pet sitter. Think of a few favorite service providers that you’ve worked with over the year. It’s anyone who has provided you with a service. It could be your editor, coach, or whoever it is. Notice why they are your favorite.

This is an exercise I love where I make notes on who are the ones that stand out, I consistently want to refer business to and work with them over again. If you think about that, usually, it’s not because they are cheap. I’ve never had someone give that answer. When I ask this in a room, they don’t say cheap. They usually say things like, “They are trustworthy. I feel safe with them. They are empathetic. They are understanding.”

Ultimately, if you reframe this, people are not buying your products and service. They are not even buying your book. They are buying your brand. A brand is what provides value, and people want value. It’s about the experience you create. How to create that experience is by connecting who you are and what your brand stands for and connecting it to your audience.

Not to sound harsh but nobody cares about your book. They care about the impact that’s in it for them. They care about the story. The impact would be more related to nonfiction. Relating this to fiction, they care about what this experience and journey that this book is going to take them on. How are they going to feel? Is it romantic and juicy that they can’t wait to read it on the girls’ trip or a trip to the beach? Is it suspenseful or adventure? It helps to lean into that because this is what will inform your messaging, how you talk about your book, and how you market it to the world.

It gives you things to talk about that are interesting. It becomes less about, “Here’s my book. Buy it.” It becomes more about, “I’m taking you on this great adventure. Are you up for an adventure? Are you looking for something to light up your world again?” I don’t know if there’s anything you want to add from all the coaching you provide your authors.

Every brand, person, and thought leader exists to serve a certain end of the market. It's not about being divisive but being a beacon for those that your brand is meant to serve. Click To Tweet

Juliet and I worked with a gentleman who did this book that scared the crap out of me. It’s all about this technology, and the way technology is headed. It’s all real, and it was terrifying. It was worse than Terminator because Terminator was just a movie. This was a fiction book, but not.

It was crazy. I said to him, “Is this real?” He sent me a video from one of the big aerospace companies. I can’t think of who it is but it’s a whole movie about the murder bots that are in his book. It’s a real scientific talk where they are talking about this and doing a demo. I was like, “I had no idea technology was like this.”

Relating to that, it’s not that people care about the book. It’s people who care about ethics and technology or care about what line we could be crossing with the advancement of science and tech. That’s what I hear you speaking into.

He’s very into STEM for women. He’s a former NSA, a very intelligence-based professional. He believes that women are better at cybersecurity than men because of their intuition. The whole thing was interesting.

That’s an interesting reframing of how we think about tech and intelligence. Our opportunity is to unlock your genius. It’s about unlocking your genius so that you can get to that point of standing in what your brand is. A book is a cool tool but about delivering the message and the impact of what would make someone want to pick it up.

If you have been thinking through this, particularly if you are an entrepreneur or in a business somehow related to your book, this is one exercise. You can make columns. There’s also a version of this called Ikagai. You can make a list of everything that you enjoy that gives you purpose. It’s everything you are good at as it relates to your career, your business, what you get paid for, what’s the best ROI for time spent, and then what the world needs or what’s that bigger impact or mission. This can be helpful to help people hone in on your genius. It’s not just what you are good at but what drives you and what you feel passionate about.

A lot of times, I end up working with people who will say, “I’m good at this or I’m getting paid well for this but I feel called in X, Y, and Z direction.” I’ve noticed with a lot of author friends I talk with that they’ve had some pivots in their life at some point. By getting aware of this, it’s not maybe about what you get paid for or not what you love doing. It’s about bringing it all into alignment, connecting all that into your brand, and standing firmly in that place.

I have this epiphany here with what you said because that’s directly connected to when you are clear on your brand. You attract the people you are aligned with. The impact then becomes exponential. It’s amazing. I’m having chills.

You are coaching your people well. We have the same thoughts about all this.

Here’s the other thing about it. We find this when we do the quizzes with people. If in your mind you are not clear on this, then your message isn’t going to be clear. The people you attract when you are unclear are going to be unclear as well. There’s almost this domino effect of, “I’m not getting clients who I’m aligned with,” because you don’t know who-who and what you are aligned with.

I’m going to shout out a couple of quick things to help people no matter who they are and what stage of the journey they are at on how this process translates for a non-author and an author. There is this amazing woman, Coz. She had a single-location bakery in Madison, Wisconsin, which is where I’m primarily based. They were forced to close during COVID.

PRP 222 | Authentic Author Brand

Authentic Author Brand: When you’re authentic as a brand, you build trust with your audience and create genuine connections, greater alignment, engagement, and respect. Organizations that foster authentic behavior are more likely to have engaged, motivated employees.


They almost went out of business. She’s given me permission to share all this because she’s so amazing. She invested her last amount of money into coaching and strategy. We focused on everything I shared in this talk about getting to the heart of her brand. What brings her the most joy? Where can they make the most money? Where can they stand out in the market?

Long story short is that she pivoted during COVID, even when they were forced to be closed, and pivoted some of their offers. They were able to come back more profitable through the pandemic, and then she profitably sold her business. I share this because sometimes, we think these brand things are nice to do but we don’t tie the necessity to how it translates to the results. You may or may not care about becoming a best-seller but it’s all those things that got me to that point. It’s all this.

There is an example of Melissa, who is an author. It’s similar. She had a successful, thriving business but wanted to go in another direction and be her personal brand, which aligned with who she is as an author. It was the same thing. We worked the system. We went through the brand strategy process. It helped her get out of major debt and start paying herself more. She’s out there being her authentic self in the world.

To anyone here who might read who is thinking about making a pivot, it’s possible to do it. I know that it can feel scary. If you are like, “I’ve had this corporate career over here doing this but I see myself doing this other thing. I want to write a book in that direction,” it is possible to make that pivot. All these things that we are talking about with brand, you can apply to wherever you are at.

Even if you are in one business or career and want to go another direction, these exercises are imagining as if it’s that other brand. It’s going to help you make it real. That helps people sometimes see real-life examples. I’m going to move into some strategy. Is that sound good? It seems tactical. I’m relating this to business so much. I probably should have said, “How I can relate this to some of the more fiction authors,” but that’s the lens I look through a lot. Insert whatever else. It’s business goals, too.

It’s both.

Think about how your book will advance your goals. It’s important. I’m guessing that you’ve each encountered this. I’ve talked to a lot of friends and peers that sometimes, we have this idea that, “I make the book, and then it goes and sells a whole lot.”

“Build it, and they will come.”

I’m going to skip ahead for a second. Getting the book launched is the start. Here are some things that I’m suggesting are things that you might do after your book is launched. There’s a whole bunch we need to do before the book is launched. I don’t know if we want to free-flow talk on that but I’m going to talk about some things for those of you who maybe have already launched or you are close to launching.

These are things you can do for months afterward to help build momentum. Guest speaking in other people’s communities. Get reviews from book reviewers not just at launch time but the whole year after, and then publish those reviews or reshare them on social media. If someone is writing something on Amazon, how are you cross-posting it on your LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok or wherever your audience is? Just because it’s out there on Amazon doesn’t mean that all these other people are seeing it. We want to get savvy about how you would always be cross-sharing to amplify the reach of your book.

Be your own best marketer. You could host your own book study. That’s something I did where most people who came had bought the book or they bought it during. You can make it however you want. I made it where, “You don’t have to have bought the book.” What happened is that some people came to the virtual book studies, and then they learned enough about it that they wanted to go and buy it. You can host your own workshops around the content. It’s around the content. It’s not, “Come to my workshop and buy my book.” It’s, “Come to the workshop about X, Y, and Z. We are going to have a conversation about X, Y, and Z.”

People are not buying your products and services. They're buying your brand. Click To Tweet

There are also media and subscription boxes. You might want to do promos early on for the lower-priced eBook. Whatever Juliet and Kristy recommend, go with what they say. I’m doing the first chapter for free. We are building our email list where you get the first chapter free. If you like it, then you are more likely to buy it. There are bundle packages and social media. You have to be thinking about how you do all this work for your brand but once you get the foundation, your work is not done. You want to amplify that impact out in the world. Be savvy.

Even for introverts, you have to be savvy.

It’s also a personal choice. What I want to say is that for a lot of authors, I recognize that you feel proud, and it’s an accomplishment to get it done, and that’s amazing. If you don’t have that specific goal about a certain amount of impact or sales, that’s okay. If you are someone who does want bigger reach and expansion, from my perspective, it is possible. We just have to be the ones to be willing to do the work for ourselves. It’s no judgment if you aren’t interested in that.

I have a number of friends who are like, “I felt called to get this book in the world, and once it’s out there, my work is done.” That’s beautiful. What I don’t want is for people who want it to help them write more books, get a publishing deal, become a speaker or build a coaching business and then they are wildly disappointed when that doesn’t happen. My perspective and advice are that it’s like building a business. It’s going to take constant care and nurturing.

This is not just the after. These are things that you should have planned out that year before the book. You don’t get the book out and go, “Now, I need a workshop.” Your book is that nurture tool that when people read it, they understand that you are their person. What do you have for them? That is the next step. That’s probably the biggest challenge we have with our authors.

A lot of times, you don’t get the ROI directly from the book. You get it from what that next step is. You have to have that plan in advance and say, “We will launch the book in September, and then we are going to do our first workshop in November.” You have to have everything laid out in advance. If you wait until the very end to do this, you will be so overwhelmed that nothing will be successful.

I’m very much a planner and have the support of a team. I worked on the book for a few years and planned for a year. I could have used more time. As much as I am a progress-over-perfection, and I write about that in the book, it’s about managing your expectations and what you want to come from it. I knew I wanted a certain level of oomph from it. If there is someone like that, be prepared to put all that effort in and give yourself a proper runway.

For me, that looked like moving the launch back a few times. You have to reach a point where you are like, “I need to quit delaying this and get it out there in the world,” but is it better to be like, “I need to delay this for 3 to 6 months so I can have a better runway. I at least know that I did these steps.” It will take you so much further.

The thing with an author platform too is it’s about the brand and social media and getting all that marketing the content into place. I’m a planner too but one of those I plan, God laughs type of planners. It’s good because I have a plan, so at that point, I’m working on the obstacles that have been put in front of me instead of reinventing the wheel.

Not a lot of things go to plan but when you have the plan and get out ahead of it, at least this is what I’m hearing, it gives you that roadmap. Even when the issues pop up, you still know that you have a roadmap that you are moving toward. Part of that is building in some buffer for things that might not go exactly to plan. If everything needs to be exactly with your edits or you are finishing things at a certain timeline, you have no space in there in case if life happens or someone gets sick. We are not setting ourselves up for success with that. I would recommend to people on this journey with your brand that it’s evolving, do not be afraid of the change that brings your brand into alignment. My brand evolution has been quite a journey.

With that brand evolution, you are going to have a brand to start. You have to understand that as you grow, your brand grows. You are going to go through a few transformations. My brand looks nothing like it did when I first went into business many years ago. It’s nothing like it.

PRP 222 | Authentic Author Brand

Authentic Author Brand: If you want bigger reach and expansion, it is possible. We just have to be willing to do the work for ourselves.


I may keep evolving but the thing that is true for me are the values, the guiding principles, and the core heart of the brand. No matter how I get paid or what I do, my brand goes with me everywhere. People know me for authenticity and for helping people align to who they authentically are in their life, their business or their workplace culture.

I work with people in different ways, with individuals and companies. It all roots back to the alignment of authenticity, whether you are a human or a company. I do have a couple of ways people can work with us. From October 6th to the 8th, 2022, is our retreat from home, Unleashed Live. Depending on when people read this, you might have time to join us. We have a code to get $88 off. Use the code UNLEASHED.

It’s virtual. It’s a Thursday night and a Friday, and a Saturday morning. You will have experiential activities, so you are not just behind the screen the whole time. To anyone who is navigating some element of internal change so that you can have greater external success, it’s anything you are walking internally to become who you authentically desire to be as an author or as a leader. That’s what that is around. Unleashed Live is meant for that to help you embody at your next level who you authentically are.

We can go to UnleashedLive.com?

Go to Soul-Seed.com/unleashed or Soul-Seed.com. The event, Unleashed Live, is on our website.

You gave us a discount code. Use the discount code UNLEASHED.

Thank you for the reminder. If anyone reading this is exploring and feels that we might support you in your journey, either from a personal aspect or the business aspect, reach out. Through our website, you can book a consult. I have a year-long container, particularly for visionary entrepreneurs. We have a lot of authors, speakers, and people of thought leader brands.

We include in-person retreats. It’s meant to be supported in the community while you are building your brand. For people who want to take that brand to a new level, I would be happy to help people. Put on your own crown. At my book launch event, we performed. I sang the Pat Benatar song as I did all those years ago. My husband is on the guitar, and I put on my own crown, and that’s what the journey is for everyone.

You looked like you were having the best time.

I’m grateful that me, a few years ago, I thought, “How arrogant would I be to think that I could have an event that’s around my book where we sing music? Who would ever come?” As I was on stage, I had a surreal moment where I was like, “I’m fully walking the walk of what I teach in this book. At this moment, I’m embodying it.” It was amazing because it was creating a community. There was value for people, and I was just a conduit of it. It wasn’t about me. It was about the experience for everybody else.

That’s a great transformation. That’s beautiful.

PRP 222 | Authentic Author Brand

Authentic Author Brand: Your brand is evolving. Don’t be afraid of the change that brings your brand into alignment.


Amber, thank you so much. This was fantastic.

Thank you for inviting me. This was so much fun.

Go over to Soul-Seed.com and use the code UNLEASHED. What kind of discount does it get you?

It’s $88 off.

It’s $88 off the $333. You and your numbers. Why $333 and why $88?

They are angel numbers. If it makes it $245, you will get an awesome gift from us in the mail. It’s coaching. You are getting some one-to-one support and some experiences built in.

That’s awesome. Thank you so much for doing this for us.

Thank you. It was great to meet, see, and hear you talk.

It was fun.

We will see you next time.


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About Amber Swenor

PRP 222 | Authentic Author BrandAmber Swenor is the author of Unleashed: A Been-There, Rocked-That Guide to Radical Authenticity in Life and Business; and the Founder and Brand Strategist of Soul Seed Strategy, a marketing firm that partners with small-medium businesses as their outsourced marketing departments.

After working in marketing and sales for years, she started an award-winning brand strategy and marketing firm in 2015 as a solopreneur and grew the business to a team of nine and $1M+ revenue, in less than three years. As a musician, it was important for her to grow a business that would work for her lifestyle and today, she helps badass entrepreneurs to create the same!

As a first generation high-school and college graduate, Amber has had her share of money stories, limiting beliefs and bad decisions, all of which inform and empower how she holds the space for leaders to walk their transformation journey. And oh, that voice that pops up that makes you question your big bold ideas? That never totally goes away, but overtime, your empowered voice will become stronger! It’s her mission to help heart-centered leaders rise up into their authority and claim the vision that they have for themself and for the communities they impact!


About Kristy Boyd Johnson

PRP 222 | Authentic Author BrandKristy Boyd Johnson is an award-winning children’s author, and has ghostwritten over 30 books for entrepreneurs over the years. She is a sought-after developmental editor and transformational book coach. She recently launched Starseed Journey Retreats because she can’t imagine anything better than being a beautiful location with beautiful people who want to reconnect with their deepest selves through writing.



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