Friday, August 16, 2013

Creating Your Persona

Recently we conducted a "Push, Pull, POP: Seamless Self-Promotion" training class for our local RWA chapter, the Rose City Romance Writers.  (This class is taught via a combination of small group case study work and PowerPoint. So, we had loads of fun designing Push, Pull, & POP marketing for our fictitious case study authors!)

During this training class, two of the participants asked questions about building their author persona - which led us to think: "How did we create our author personas?"

Morgan Says: I have two author personas, C. Morgan Kennedy (CMK) and Morgan Mechan (MM).  I needed two personas, because C. Morgan Kennedy writes VERY adult, futuristic Urban Fantasy, while Morgan Mechan writes young adult Steampunk.  These are two audiences that I don't want to mix!  It's okay for the adults to read both, but promoting my adult fiction to YA-ers is out of the question! CMK is more sassy.  I draw heavily from my upbringing in Cleveland, Ohio and my corporate background for CMK.  In fact, CMK is all about business!  MM is a grown up version of the little girl in me that is fascinated with machines.  MM draws heavily from my mechanical engineering training.  MM wears corsets and other fun Steampunk costumes.  MM travels into the past and re-imagines history.  CMK travels into the future.  Both are into gadgets and technology.  Both are enhanced versions of the real world C. Kennedy with particular emphasis on specific aspects of my interests, background, and personality.  Each persona has their own business cards and web presence.  
Creating a persona is more about editing aspects of yourself than it is about building a new person from the ground up. Another way to think about this is that the real you worries about paying bills, taking care of your family, treatment for your latest ailment or injury, etc. Your author persona's is concerned about creating positive customer interactions, generating buzz / interest, and selling more books!
Therese Says: My two personas are not as distinct nor were they deliberately chosen. As Therese, I am a "Get Over It and Get On With It" disgustingly efficient business woman who has raised four daughters, and all are now stellar women and respected professionals. In 2008, I "had written" a memoir about my parents and I created a website, with pictures and other stuff, for all the friends and family who were interested in my progress. I also began exploring the new forums and online communities as they could be of value for promoting my memoir. Terri Patrick actually developed her persona online, via blogging. In reality, I didn't want to be "known" as my parents daughter who wrote their story. I wanted to be ME but had no clue who that was as a Writer Persona, or why my posts would be interesting to read, so I kept it simple with short quips about my life and interests. As this was early in 2009, blogsphere was still small and it was fun to connect with other bloggers. I was engaged because - as a mother of 4 girls - I was used to being ignored in my home. But as a blogger I now had friends around the globe who were interested in my quips and I unleashed my wacky and whimsical side more, and more. This has now spilled over into my romance novels, as you will have a chance to sample This Fall!  

Always be genuine!  People know when you are being phony.  Readers ignore, negate, and turn their backs on phonies - which is the exact opposite of the raving fan response you want!

Questions to Ponder:

  1. Who do you want to be?  Using your current interests, skills, and personality traits, which ones are you going to bring forward when in your persona?
  2. How do you want to be perceived?  As Stephen Covey would say, "Begin with the end in mind."  Sometimes it's helpful to start with how you want your audience to think of you.
  3. Who is your audience?  If you write YA, you don't want to pretend to be a teenager (which would be not be genuine), but you don't want to discuss your menopausal hot flashes either.  Find a common ground with your audience and add that to your persona. (Examples of common ground topics might be: music, art, fashion, dance, cooking, slam poetry, Etsy, Pinterest, or any other activitiy, hobby, sport, etc. that you passionately enjoy.)

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