Friday, February 7, 2014

Why a Cartoon Works as an Erotic Author Persona

Therese & Morgan Say: Are you still cringing at the thought of doing a photo shoot for an author portrait? Well, here is an alternative for those of you who may be camera shy or otherwise have a specific reason for not wanting to have your picture floating around the internet. We reached out to our dear friend, Sabrina York for her thoughts on why she chose to use a cartoon illustration instead of an author portrait. 'Her Royal Hotness' was an early supporter of our efforts and we will forever love her!
Sabrina Says: For the last century or so, I have worked in government for a very conservative organization. (Well, it seems like a century.) What I write is not conservative in the least. So I knew as soon as I sold my first steamy romance, I would need to use a pen name. It would serve as a tool to keep my personal and professional lives separate and would also allow me to write in other genres under another name if I so desired.

Because this separation between my worlds was so important to me, I hired a company (Visual Quill) to help with developing  a branding strategy. We defined a profile for my core customer, and from that designed a logo and tagline, which I would use for all my marketing.

My core customer is, like me, a little reserved on the surface, but with a playful and naughty side. She has a snarky sense of humor and loves bling. These elements are all incorporated in my persona.

What are the hallmarks of an effective persona?


My philosophy as a newbie author was this: “Begin as you mean to go on.” It was my intention to be a bestselling author and I decided to behave like one from the very beginning. My thought was, this is big business. And big businesses have logos. They do not rely on photographs of their CEOs. 

“But Sabrina,” you may ask. “How can a cartoon logo be professional?”

And I will respond, “Stop interrupting.” But then I will go on to share that any cartoon can be a professional logo…if it illustrates your brand. KFC and Wendy’s are two that pop to mind, but I won’t mention them because then I’ll get hungry.


A logo is far more recognizable at a glance than a photograph. As we all know, a customer must see your logo three times for it to sink into their consciousness (new studies reflecting our shortening attention spans suggests that number is closer to 17). By using my logo as my “face,” people see it over and over again on Facebook, blogs, marketing material, Goodreads, Pintrest, Twitter…and so on.

It has recognizability. They know, immediately, who I am. And if they’ve read my books, they know my brand.

On that note, for those of you who regularly change your profile picture on Facebook, realize you are losing a little chunk of your brand recognition every time you do so.

A Shield

Because I use my logo rather than a photograph in my marketing efforts, it is easier to maintain personal privacy, or at least some distance from my personal persona. This may not seem important when you are just starting to build your fan base, but when 75% of your followers on Facebook (and closer to 95% on Twitter) are people you do not personally know, this becomes essential.

Friends of mine—erotic authors—who use their personal photograph as their profile picture, spend a lot of time fending off advances from individuals who think Facebook is a dating site. Apparently these charming fellows think erotic authors need a date…which is far from the truth. We are all too busy writing to date.

Other authors have shared even more disturbing stories about being stalked (and not in a good way), and fans who “friend” their husbands and children as a way to connect with them. It is an excellent idea to keep your personal business off social media—especially photographs of your children. If this is your business, treat Facebook, and other social media outlets, like a business site.

Advice on how to create your own persona

Think about who you are and what you write. What image do you want to portray? Is there a unifying brand you can apply to your persona? For me, my tagline, Her Royal Hotness, ties into the tiara in my logo. To extend the thread, I do a regular tiara giveaway and my promo pens are festooned with bling.

Everything ties together into a neat package. A package readers can recognize in an instant.

And if you were wondering why I felt the need to keep my private life private from my conservative employers, download a copy of my free teaser book and see for yourself:

Happy reading!
About Sabrina York
Her Royal Hotness, Sabrina York, is the award winning author of over twenty hot, humorous stories for smart and sexy readers, her titles range from sweet & steamy erotic romance to scorching BDSM. Connect with her on twitter @sabrina_york, on Facebook or on Pintrest. Check out Sabrina’s books and read an excerpt on Amazon or wherever e-books are sold. Visit her webpage at to check out her books, excerpts and contests. Don’t forget to enter to win the royal tiara!



Follow me on Twitter @sabrina_york
Follow me on Goodreads
Check out my Pintrest boards 
Check out my Barnes & Noble Author page
Follow me on Ellora’s Cave 

Gary D. Robson Book Signing Tips
           Don’t limit yourself to only bookstores. I’m a huge advocate of bookstores (after all, I own one), but sometimes gift shops, fairs, and other venues can actually work better. My two best signings (in terms of books sold) were at a trade association’s annual conference, and in the lobby of the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone Park.


  1. Thank you for letting me blather on about why a persona is so important... And why every author should have a pen name!

    What a pleasure to be here...

    1. Thank YOU, Sabrina, for being so supportive! We love you!

      All hail Her Royal Hotness!!!

  2. Great post, Sabrina, and great info! :)


  3. I completely agree.
    Plus pen names are fun.
    I feel like a super hero.

  4. Thank you Sabrina for sharing your thoughts. I find that using my real name allows me an opportunity to bring in some promotion through my hometown since I write stories that take place in them.

    1. Well, Melissa, I have to agree there are situations when using your own name is a benefit...especially if you have a platform that demands it. Each author should make their own decision, of course, based on their particular needs and circumstances.

  5. Interesting post, Sabrina. I have gotten some men saying they want to get acquainted even with my picture. I just ignore them.

  6. Interesting information. Since I don't write over the top hot (yet!) my pen name wasn't meant to protect me from the wrong sort of attention. But around the time my first book was ready to publish, things were pretty ugly in one of my other lives, and I want to keep "that" away from my writing.
    Now I'm in a conundrum since not everyone links my personal self with my writer self and I worry about losing sales. Hmmmm

    1. Monica, I had trouble at first, when I liked my friends on Facebook and they didn't know who I was. (Some of them reported me and I ended up in Facebook jail for a while--I know, deep confession time).

      It helped to let my friends know my pen name in a private manner.

      If you are comfortable sharing your personal identity, you can tag communications with: Your Name, writing as Monica Stoner.

  7. Your professional approach to your business is well thought out. The point about recognizability, whether a pen name or a real name, is a reality we often forget about.

    Excellent advice Ms. Hotness. My tiara is off to you.

  8. Thank you Lucy! Brand is everything...especially in a world where people are deluged with information and have limited capacity to remember things they are TRYING to remember. (And no I am not talking about me) (Yes, I am)

  9. That is an interesting story. Know I know the story behind the logo. Thanks for sharing :)

  10. Excellent post, Sabrina. And of course, I think Her Royal Hotness is a brilliant logo and the cartoon is way cute!

  11. Thank you so much for the shout out in your blog!!