March 5th, 2018

4 Ways to Create Your Author Persona

Donna Galanti

When it comes to creating your author persona, some refer to this as your “author brand.” Understand that you aren’t branding your book – you’re branding YOU. Simply put, your author brand is about connecting with your readers on a person-to-person level.

Everyone’s persona (or brand) is unique (just like you) and it’s your own personal story that you choose to convey that will draw your readers to you. As Dr. Seuss said, “There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” After all, it’s so much easier to be you than someone else!

4 Ways to Figure Out Your Author Persona
Ask yourself these questions to create your unique story and message that will create a strong emotional connection with your target readers and, in turn, increase their loyalty and trust.

  1. Do soul searching. Ask yourself … Who Am I? What do I have to say? What matters to me? Why do I write what I do? Where am I going? Look to … your passions and purpose for this. You are a storyteller and want to create an appealing author story (the story behind the story). We need stories to make sense of the world around us and to feel a sense of belonging. This is why people read! 😊
  2. What are your unique strengths and qualities – and what are your flaws? Base this on … where your confidence shines (for me: sharing what I learn to inspire others), what is important to you (for me: self-improvement), most passionate about (for me: my son), and fumble with (for me: patience).
  3. Who is your target readership? Base this on … Your book’s genre and the age range of your readers. For example, I write fantasy for middle grade (8- to 12-year-olds).
  4. What keywords and phrases do you want people to associate with you? Base this on … your standout traits.

Go-Deeper Exercises:

  • Conduct a survey of family and friends: Ask them to describe you in 3-5 words. What are the positive things about you that draw them to you? What are your quirks? Circle what resonates with you.
  • Look to your long-term goals: Where do you see yourself in 3-5 years as an author? Having written more books in the same genre, conducting school visits, doing book clubs, etc.
  • Set boundaries: List all the things that make you uncomfortable about the life of an author. What are you willing to do – and not willing to do?
  • What authors do you admire?: Why are you drawn to them? Why are others? What traits do they possess? Can you draw similar connections toward yourself?

From all this research and soul-searching, create your public persona that is an extension of your writing and who you are. Your persona will then be the words and images that people associate with you.

After gathering your research, write a one-page story from the heart about yourself. Read it aloud. Share it with your family, friends, and writing peers. Does it feel natural to you – to them? Are you passionate about what you’re saying?

Polish your genuine story. Once you’re comfortable with it, share it. This is “who you are”! Now you can start building a community of writers and readers by sharing your persona online and in person.

Rookie Mistakes:

  • Using multiple headshots across social media platforms. Make sure people can recognize you.
  • Thinking you should create different personas for different audiences if you write across genres or age-ranges. Find themes that cross over to all the stories you write and create one persona.
  • Posting on social media or blogging outside the scope of “who you are”. For example, if your persona is to share travel stories and books you love, then you won’t suddenly be talking about parenting tips as your growing audience won’t expect this from you. Be genuine and consistent.

Go the Extra Mile!
Find similar authors. Connect, follow, and engage with them. Do some friendly stalking and see where they hang out. Discover how they brand themselves, connect with readers, and promote their books. Some of their personas may resonate with you that you can model yours on.

Your author persona is a promise to your audience. Promise them your unique self, consistently deliver on it, and they will come to expect it.  Now use your creativity and imagination (just like your writing!) to create that author persona that best fits you.

Are you struggling with your author persona? What techniques have you tried to create one? Have you found what works for you in branding yourself as an author? If so, share your success with this!

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About Donna: Donna Galanti is the author of the bestselling paranormal suspense Element Trilogy and the children’s fantasy adventure Joshua and The Lightning Road series. Donna is a contributing editor for International Thriller Writers the Big Thrill magazine and blogs with other middle grade authors at Project Middle Grade Mayhem. She’s lived from England as a child, to Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer. Donna enjoys teaching at writing conferences and presenting as a guest author at elementary and middle schools. Visit her at www.elementtrilogy.com and www.donnagalanti.com. She also loves building writer community. See how at www.yourawesomeauthorlife.com

Connect with Donna:
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/DonnaGalanti
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DonnaGalantiAuthor/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5767306.Donna_Galanti

31 comments to 4 Ways to Create Your Author Persona

  • Thanks for having me on Writers in the Storm today! It’s so much fun creating a genuine persona to put out there in the world as an author. Building a network of writers and readers around you can also help reinforce your persona and fuel on your confidence with the public you 🙂 . I love seeing new authors come into the world and share their personality forged from their writing and genuine selves, all topped with the sparkle of their unique shine.

  • Ooh, I love the term “author persona” instead of “brand. While I understand the latter, it feels less personal, and your phrase taps into our unique personality and writing voice.

    I especially like the idea of asking close friends and family for feedback. When I did that, it was very interesting what they said about my writing, and it helped me consider what image I wanted to project.

    Great post, Donna. Thank you!

  • carrienichols

    Good tips! Thanks.

  • mrwrites55

    I’m with Julie, I like “author persona” though I understand writing and book selling is a business and the word “brand” seems appropriate. Timely article for me as I just finished created my author website. Thanks!

    • Thanks for chiming in! Yes, selling our books is definitely a business we need to take seriously but personalizing it can really make our brand stronger – our books and our author selves. People really can buy into us often long before they buy into our books! I’ve had book bloggers support my thrillers for adults and then follow me on over to my children’s books as they enjoyed what I put out there – in writing and in person.

  • You’re using both terms though, Donna, aren’t you? “Brand” for your books, “persona” for you? One thing I’ve done right is the photos—no glam shots for me. Every time I go to a book club, people say “I’d know you anywhere!” I also think “real” would be one of my keywords, so it makes sense for me. Hadn’t thought about keywords before though, and I like the going deep exercises. I look forward to doing them!

    • Hey Kathryn, I often think of brand and persona as the same thing. As a former marketer and sales person, people always bought into me first over my product or service. And people do this now before buying my books – or can find my book and then connect. I think we can tie what we write with who we are to deliver a full package, if that makes sense. Offer a promise to readers of what they can expect from you and your books – and they will want more! If you look at many authors you can see this cross over of what they write with the genuine self they put out there – and how they put themselves out there. And very smart of you to ensure your photos make you recognizable from online to in-person. So many times I cannot recognize someone from there online photos – yours I definitely can! 🙂

  • Thanks for clarifying! I understand what you’re saying, I just learned different terminology. I think the main thing is that you’ve thought these concepts through and are making use of them, right? It’s why I have an author name website—it’s all my brand. I just think of my bio page as the subset of that that’s my persona. But I am not schooled in marketing, that’s for sure! It’s just how I create a boundary in my mind, perhaps for self-preservation: I am not my books.

    • Oh yes – and creating boundaries is good! What we are willing to share or how to put ourselves out there indeed. I totally understand the self-preservation part. For me, I feel I am so a part of my books as so much of me is infused in them with themes that connect to my life. However, this can be true for many authors but some may not want to blend themselves and their books together. This is a great example of using what works for you as an author to connect with your readers while keeping lines drawn ! 🙂

  • These are fantastic questions to ask ourselves as authors. I have a fair idea who I am and what message I want to send out about me, but after reading this, I can see I need to dig a little deeper. One thing I’ve always struggled with: Where do I find authors like me? I write historical fiction about strong women.

    • Gillian, you bring up a great point! Where to find authors similar to you to connect with for cross promoting, industry advice, etc. I would say definitely try to connect with an organization within your genre. Women’s Fiction Writers Association might be a good place for you to start. I am sure they have subgenres of writers you can connect with related to what you write. http://womensfictionwriters.org/

  • When I first came across discussion of this concept, I pondered what mine should be, especially since my writing interests cover a huge variety of subjects, as well as tee shirt and novelty item designs. I finally realized I had already come up with it under the name of my blog – Words Are My Life (https://dragons4me3.com/). I now use it on my online shop as well. Words are my life. I have loved using them, discussing them, telling stories, jokes, singing and writing songs, and having debates about their meaning since I learned to talk. My author ‘persona’ is revealed in my blogging and my discussions.

  • Donna, I love this post. It’s so hard on many of my introverted author pals to know what they need to DO when it comes to their persona/brand. This has such clear-cut steps and questions to ask, that I know this will be a resource many will use for years. THANK YOU!

    • Jenny, glad to offer a simple guide that does not seem so overwhelming! So much about marketing ourselves and our books can be overwhelming (and it’s very easy to avoid doing it then.). The great thing about this is that it doesn’t happen overnight or in a few weeks – we can do this in baby steps. Steps to add up to “mile”stones. 🙂

  • What Jenny said. And: me! I’m an author having trouble formulating my persona! Introvert. Just starting out. I know what topics interest me; it seems what’s missing is what I’d get from asking friends to give keyword feedback. Ouch. Pull off the bandaid.

    • Gabriella, I know it’s so hard to put ourselves out there. Am sure your friends and family will have great things to say – and maybe some insightful ones too. Being an introvert makes it more challenging – but then you can work around that. Do more things online vs. in-person should make it a bit easier to start putting yourself out there. Maybe pick one area – like a blog, or a social media platform and build that up. Test things out. Try something new if one thing doesn’t work. It’s all a work in progress. And keep in mind that DONE is better than PERFECT! Some people fear that their website must be perfect and put it off. Start with the basics. Many of the things that are part of your author persona and platform will evolve. But they can’t evolve if you don’t start somewhere. 🙂 Good luck!

  • jamesr403

    Donna, thank you so much. I read your essay and — at every point — thought “Yeah!” That’s the good news. The, uh, other news is, “Ask my friends to describe me?” “Write about myself and show it to friends?” Excellent suggestions, but the sound you heard was my comfort level bottoming out. I’ll work on it. Ask them to read and comment on my work — no problem, none whatsoever. I guess I’m about the story, not the writer, and I realize that’s something that will require some work.
    Thanks again!

    • Hi James, figuring it out in small steps can make it seem manageable. As authors we have to sometimes get out of our comfort zone to write, and when we put ourselves in the public eye we must often get out of another comfort zone – and get into a “community” comfort zone, I like to say. And once we start putting ourselves out there is does get easier! Plus, as an author you’ll have so many wonderful opportunities to do public events online and in person to connect with readers and writers. And it’s good to figure out how you want to present your genuine self in these moments. Good luck!

  • […] For many authors, book marketing is a chore. Sandra Beckwith explores what to do if you are uncomfortable with book promotion, Greer Macallister delves into the art of the author interview, and Donna Galanti shares 4 ways to create your author persona. […]

  • soul searching can lead to guilt

    denise

  • good tips here. thanks for this!

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