Persona

Myth busting 101: You gotta have a platform, you gotta be a brand.

You have published novels and that makes you an author. That is your platform. The type of novels you write is your brand; mystery, romance, thriller, paranormal, etc. So no matter how literary you may be, you are standing on the platform of commercial fiction author. Your brand is the type of books you write. 


How do you stand out from the crowd? When you use social media as a promotional tool, how do you make it effective?
  1. It begins with a stellar book. As an author, writing your books is your primary focus.
  2. Develop your author persona that you take to book signings and into cyberspace.
The Author Persona = You
                                      Who do you want to be?
Anna Mae Bullock is a quiet, homebody, who loves to cook and practices Buddhism BUT when she steps on stage she becomes Tina Turner, a singing and dancing tour de force.

  • The Author Persona is the enhanced you, your PERSONA interacts with your readership.
  • Your Persona is who you are for all communications with readers and fellow publishing professionals.
  • Your persona is FACE-to-FACE with your customers at book signing events, on your website, and through all social media. 
  • Be Genuine!  Protect your Reputation!
Morgan says: Have you ever wanted to reinvent yourself or redesign your life? Well, here is your opportunity to at least act ‘as if’ - here is your opportunity to create a hyper-realized version of yourself. Be Genuine - remember at your core you are still YOU, people will be able to sense your discomfort if you are not being genuine.
  * Note: We strongly suggest that you develop different personas if you write in multiple genres. For example, if you write erotica AND children’s books, you probably want to have different personas, pen names, and websites (non-linked websites). DO NOT promote your erotica on your grade school or teen focused website.
     Look at how some of the successful authors have done ‘it’ and learn! Nora Roberts has two different promotional photos and tones for her romance author persona and her J.D. Robb persona.

The Author Persona = Audience Connection

  • Who is your audience? 
  • How did they find you?
  • Based on what your audience read in your books, who do they expect to meet?
Your audience trusts your author persona. Your first contact with your audience is through the book you present to readers. READERS fell in love with your characters and their journey within the world you created in your STORY. The STORY is what they VALUE - not your journey to become a writer or your promotional angst.

Therese says:  Even if you are an old lady, your online presence is your connection to your audience.  Imagine you write teen romances and girls across the country love your stories and want to connect BUT they go to your online persona and are treated to menopausal meanderings. Instead, you need to be the COOLEST old lady that teen has ever met. There is a trust between the reader and author; the reader comes to your site / personal appearance / blog to meet the CREATOR of the world they entered in the STORY.

Marketing with the Author Persona
Myth busting 101: SEAMLESS Self Promotion - Not “shameless” - YOU are your biggest FAN

To catch your reader’s eye, write a great book and make sure it is a stellar product. Create a great experience for your audience even before they open the first page of your book. Engage your potential readers and entice them to make an impulse buy.

Morgan says:  Take a moment to think about your last retail experience.  Whether you were buying clothing, food, or dish detergent you were surrounded by marketing that bombarded you with a variety of SIMPLE messages. “Eco Friendly”, “Sparkling Fresh”, “Rich and Meaty”, “On Sale”. These are clear messages that can be picked up by a shopper both consciously and sub-consciously to convey specific messages through words and images.

Therese says:  No one wants to meet someone who isn’t a FAN of their product - you have to be your own biggest fan. Ring your OWN bell! You were passionate about your story; characters, themes, and world, to spend months or years creating your book. Bring that passionate spark to your persona and you’ll truly enjoy engaging with the readers who are thrilled you created the story for their enjoyment.

Author Marketing 101:  Exercises to Create your Persona

Exercise #1: - What do you write?
Let’s begin with your product / your books. 
Write a brief description of the types of stories that you write.
1.                  Tone of your stories
2.                  The look of your world
3.                  The feelings you want to convey


Morgan says: Here is where you get to create your PERSONA. This is how I created mine:
-          My pen name is C. Morgan Kennedy.  I chose my pen name, because it is androgynous. I write futuristic suspense with romance elements.  I enjoy all forms of music and the music industry plays a role in my first novel.  I want to be perceived as urban, hip, vivacious, and intelligent.  So instead of being my usual curly haired, hairy legged, nature girl self, my persona is sleek and urban. I will wear black pants, black shoes, and a stylish top.  I will wear my hair pulled back, sport large hoop earrings, and wear makeup.  With regards to props, I had a necklace created that features a heart cradled in two guns.  This necklace will be used as a giveaway for upcoming contests to promote my first book.  I use images of urban skylines, street scenes, and multicultural people.

Therese says:  I want to be 36. But while I cannot turn back the age clock I can reconnect with the energy of who I was as a professional, and as a mother of school age children. I was the poster child for multitasking with style! And I loved it. That's the key. You have to love your Persona even if you don't want to live it 24/7. So while my energy now is focused on putting a grandchild before me in my kayak, and floating around the lake, I still bring that power woman energy to my books and my persona.

Exercise #2:  - What images and colors come to mind?
Take a moment to think about your Exercise #1 answer.
These colors and images will be used for your POP (Point-of-Purchase) banner, website, blog tone, and other promotional materials.
What images do you think of for your books? 

List 3 to 5 items, or 12, until you feel you've got the right flavor. 

If your books have multi-species shape-shifters, getting-it-on in sleek vehicles screaming through the galaxy, a website papered with clouds of rose petals may not be the image your readers expect for the creator of a high tech, erotic, space opera. 


Exercise #3: Creating your PERSONA 
Think about WHO you want to be …
  1. What will you wear?
  2. What are your props?
  3. How well do you match your PRODUCT on your banner colors and the tone of your website?
Blend your Author Persona
  • Your author persona has the same voice as the author of your books
  • Your author persona creates relationships with readers and other writers
  • Your author persona has a sense of purpose and is dedicated to certain topics
  • Your author persona is a business professional with style
Morgan says: We strongly recommend that you take steps to formally separate your public persona from your personal life. Have a separate email, Facebook, etc accounts for exchanges with family and friends. Start the professional practice of keeping your public and personal lives separate (unless some aspect of your personal life adds credibility to your stories).
  * Note: it is key that your persona be rooted in your true nature.  Your readers will know when you are genuine.  You will lose their trust and respect, if they sense that you are a phony.  How would you feel if you saw a staunch and vocal vegan, chowing down on baby back ribs with a side of veal?

Therese says: Marketing is the CONTENT so your author persona becomes the content of your professional identity that you present to the media and your audience.

Exercise #4: Making your Persona your Presence
  1. How do you want to be perceived by your audience? 
  2. For the timid, you are protected by the “shield” of cyberspace. 
  3. Act “as if” you ARE the hyper-reality of who you choose to be.
  4. Take the time to formulate a character sketch for your PERSONA as you do for characterization
Morgan says: Spend a week or two thinking about your persona and online presence as the author of your books. Again, for my readers, I want to be perceived as urban, hip, stylish, smart, and vivacious. Within the writing community and publishing industry, I want to be perceived as professional, fresh, timely, smart, and passionate. I also want to be seen as a good investment of time and money.  And I want to be a ‘go to’ person for marketing information, advice, and strategies.

Therese says: People are always making assumptions from who they are and your persona is who you want them to see. Think about someone or some situation where you really wanted to yell – That’s so NOT me! This is your chance to prove it on your website, in your “tweets”, and through email and blog comments. You now have the opportunity to edit, polish and practice this persona before you take it live to the stage so get wild with it first. Then tone it into something you are PROUD TO BE. 
  * NOTE: Friends and family who are always uplifting you are a good source of insight into what makes you awesome. BELIEVE THEM and create the persona that lives up to their perception of you.

The Genuine Author Persona
  • Your persona is the glue that ties all your marketing together
  • Your persona is who inspires and delights readers with memorable content
  • Your persona is the extension of you that dwells happily in cyberspace
  • Your persona is who readers want to meet
  • Your persona is your reputation
This is the Enhanced You – not the personal you. Pick descriptive names to describe your family for privacy instead of real names.

Morgan says: Let me also add that your persona does not air dirty laundry in public forums like blogs, websites, or social media.
Therese says: Your product and persona are to create a great experience for the reader.
  
SUMMARY
So we’ve discussed your PRODUCT and got you thinking about your PERSONA.  Your product and your persona are the key components of your MARKETING CONTENT.  Now we will discuss the tools you will use for SEAMLESS self promotion. Venture forth into the Push-Pull-POP page to understand Marketing with the Author Persona in your business as a storyteller.

EXAMPLES: 

MORGAN'S PERSONA CHOICES

 My pen name is C. Morgan Kennedy.  I chose my pen name, because it is androgynous. I write urban fantasy suspense with romance elements and Steampunk.  I enjoy all forms of music and the music industry plays a role in my first novel.  I want to be perceived as urban, hip, vivacious, and intelligent.  So instead of being my usual curly haired, hairy legged, nature girl self, my persona is sleek and urban with a Steampunk twist.
When giving presentations, talking to readers, or pitching to agents and editors, I will wear black pants, black shoes, and a stylish top.  My accessories and blazers will incorporate Steampunk or futuristic elements.  With regards to props, I had a necklace that features a heart cradled in two guns.  This necklace will be used as a giveaway for upcoming contests to promote my first book. For Steampunk events, I will wear a fun costume!All of my books are multicultural, include interracial couples, and feature a strong female lead.  My first manuscript takes place in 2073 and features an undercover, female, DEA agent.  My second manuscript is set in an alternative, Steampunk world in the year 1860.  The lead character is a female, escaped slave. 
Like my own personal journey, both story lines explore how inner strength, self-discovery, love, and friendships can help you overcome incredible odds.  Since I am a mechanical engineer, my books include fun gadgets and all manner of ‘geekery.’ My ideal reader is an urban, professional woman between the ages of 21 and 45 years old.

THERESE'S PERSONA CHOICES 

My birth name is Mary Therese Kramer and that double first name, with no middle name, is why I’m very happy being Mary in private and Therese in public. At the age of 12, I chose Patrick as my last name because it was my daddy’s middle name and I considered the surname Kramer as boring. Therese Patrick was born in the 1970’s and she has a history of her own that mirrors Mary Kramer’s but Therese Patrick is now a published author but Mary Kramer is still a writer. How’s that for a dual personality?
My public persona flavors my favorite time of life, the age of 36, when I was managing a national service company and my four daughters were all in school. We were living the American Dream with a nice home in a private lake community. My husband was still cute and a hobby pilot. I love business professional suits, and heels. I am not a basic black type person and my enhanced hair color makes sure I stand out from the woodwork. My contemporary romances are flavored with generational relationships in relatively happy and functional families.
I love nature magic, esoteric and eastern philosophies, so my characters have these interests as well. As yet there are no guns or dead bodies in my stories and any knives are handled by chefs. As evident in my memoir, I am very comfortable having characters in wheelchairs or with traumatic stress triggers. From my family and own experiences I have a wealth of wounds and baggage to draw on for my characters to grow up and become functional members of society. For those stories, I write as "Terri Patrick."