Umbrella Marketing Strategies for Authors

An umbrella is a covering that includes your main and sub-products. As creatives it’s easy to want to branch out and not stay within one niche. But many times editors and agents want us to have a single brand. Look around at businesses including McDonald’s known for its burgers and Campbells known for soup and note that they also sell many other products but stay tied to the umbrella of fast food or wholesome easy to prepare at home. Thus, they have a core message but branch out in what they sell. They maintain a common thread that pulls the products together. Most such companies started with a main product and then, once established, added other products.

With authors, your core message may be peace or overcoming abandonment, but you may do that through fiction, nonfiction, children’s books, and Christian Living books. For myself, I’m all about helping families thrive. My books include ones for women, children, and families, plus I’m on the team of Tim Mahoney’s documentary and film company that produces documentary feature films for adults and youth films to watch as a family. People quickly understand that my goal is to help families bond to one another and God. It takes the right strategies to promote your umbrella of books.

Build on Your Strengths

One important aspect of umbrella branding is to use the author’s best-known book to help launch others. Pam and Bill Farrel’s book Men are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti, as her top seller, is a great one to pull out a quote to introduce a new book. She has books Bible studies, so she can use book quotes from that flagship book on faith and studying the Word as a couple. She has books on joy, and can use the book’s quotes about joy to launch those books.

Search your best-seller to find quotes related to the topic or massage of your newer books. You may think, “But I’m switching to a children’s book, so how does that help?” Remember that the parents, especially the mom, still buys the books for children, so those quotes target the buyer. You might add to a post, if your main topic is marriage, “Joy makes a difference in your marriage and can also make a difference for your child.” I used bookmarks for my books for girls that sold so well, and brought some of the ideas in those bookmarks when I wrote a parenting book. The cross promotion with a little connection helps the mom/buyer see your values are the same in your other books.

Segment the Audience

Consider various lines of books as audience segments that provide a unique benefit for that segment. So your audience may be moms, but some may want help with organizing their home and day while others want help communicating with their teens or they may have different aged children. You can use a quiz to divide your audience, and website visitors, according to their needs. Match the products that best suit each audience and create email sequences and messages best suited for each.

The segmenting allows you to email the ones most interested in your next book to receive the first emails about it. Later, as that audience starts to buy, you can tap into the entire email list for a blast where you connect your values that underscores all your books to promote to everyone, and use a quote form a read about the new book.

Know Your Common Thread

Campbell’s uses words like delicious, simple, well-crafted, and foods you love. They build on people trusting their food, so they showcase the nutrition and affordability of the products. They share the benefits continually, and that makes it easier to introduce new products.

Identify the common thread or core message in your writing. If you write fiction and nonfiction, you likely have a core message such as hope, belonging, or family. Be sure to post often about that core message. 

If you always bring hope, then use quotes on hope, share from a reader’s perspective how hope you gave helped, and give them tips on hope. Also leader with your best-selling books people know to inspire them to tread other books. Thus, ‘If you love [ABC], you’ll find the same (quality value in that book] in this new book XYZ.

Use Some Visuals

Take photos with your best sellers and your newer books, or divide books if you have a lot, into categories and take a photo. You might even get a rainbow umbrella and write words that tie the books together or add iron on photos of your covers and snap a shot. Use a logo that expresses your values rather than one book. That makes you the brand and helps people associate what they like about your writing that they can expect in any title under your umbrella.

It’s easier to start out with one book, build it up with similar books first, and then branch out as you articulate your umbrella’s core message and share how it flows from your early books.


Karen Whiting (WWW.KARENWHITING.COM) is an international speaker, former television host of Puppets on Parade, certified writing and marketing coach, and award-winning author of twenty-seven books for women, children, and families. Her newest book, The Gift of Bread: Recipes for the Heart and the Table reflects her passion for bread and growing up helping at her grandparent’s restaurant. Check out her newest book Growing a Mother’s Heart: Devotions of Faith, Hope, and Love from Mothers Past, Present, and Future. It’s full of heartwarming and teary-eyed stories of moms.

Karen has a heart to grow tomorrow’s wholesome families today. She has written more than eight hundred articles for more than sixty publications and loves to let creativity splash over the pages of what she writes. She writes for Crosswalk. Connect with Karen on Twitter @KarenHWhiting Pinterest KarenWhiting FB KarenHWhiting.


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