Personal Branding for Authors: Part IX

Last week’s post covered the five main types of personal information that authors chose to share about themselves: their personal profile, their qualifications, craftsmanship information, unique value they added to their books, and unique aspects that differentiated them from others. There are three more things that authors tend to share about themselves that don’t fit with any other types of information. In other words, these three are important enough and different enough to stand by themselves. What are they?

First: Giving Advice to Others

Whatever their personal brand is, and whatever other types of information authors share about themselves, it is unrelated to whether or not they help other people who are less far along in the field. This is good to know! On the receiving end, you can know that you likely won’t tend to receive help and advice disproportionately from authors who have one personal branding style than those who have another. Of course, the type of advice you might receive – or give, if you’re farther in your career – will likely be different based on the type of brand you have. People who are more open about themselves and their lives might give advice that encourages other authors to connect with their readers in personal ways, to create valuable relationships, and to always be authentic with their readers. People who focus more on craftsmanship might focus the advice they give to other authors to the realm of nuts and bolts of writing, editing, and publishing a book.

In short, just because a person has a particular type of brand doesn’t mean that they’re more or less likely to be willing to help you out. On the flip side, if you have a particular image you’re going for, you don’t need to feel like you have to offer the same kind of advice or help to others as people do who have entirely different brand images. Figure out what makes most sense with the image you’re trying to portray!

Second: Showing Passion for Your Work

Passion has long been known to be a key defining element for entrepreneurs, artists, authors, and others who pursue a vision. Whatever people’s personality, whatever brand image they have, people are just as likely to show passion for what they’re doing. Why would it matter whether someone is passionate about their work? Well, for one thing, passion gives us cultural permission to talk about our work. It’s expected that people will talk about the things they’re excited and passionate about, so if you’re passionate about writing, about creating worlds, about crafting dialogue, or about making people laugh until they cry, you can talk about how you work to do that in your books and people will be willing to listen to you without feeling like you’re giving them a sales pitch.

Another benefit of expressing passion is that it gives people a reason to trust us with their time and hard-earned money. If someone is passionate about the work they do, they aren’t likely to be trying to trick us. If someone is just doing a job to make money, we question the quality of their work. We anticipate that they’d try to cut corners, or that their work isn’t really better than anyone else’s. In contrast, creator passion is hard-wired into our brain as a heuristic of quality and trust. We like people who are passionate about their work. We trust them to do a good job – more than we should, actually. (There are many passionate authors who are not highly skilled and as a result, end up with disappointed readers.) But when you are of high quality, people expect you to be passionate about your work as an indicator of that quality. If you aren’t passionate about what you do, no one else will be. So don’t be ashamed of what you do – go out and be excited, and your excitement will encourage other people to take you seriously and check out your work!

Third: Expressing Your Personality

Interestingly, authors’ perceptions of how much their customers know about their personality was not influenced by other types of information that authors shared with customers. Personality, it seems, is different from the brand image you portray, from the qualifications you have, from the advice you give, the causes you support, and what sets you apart from others in your field. Personality is unique, and can be treated as such. As an author, you can decide how much to share about yourself separately from whether or not to let people know what you’re like as a person. It’s actually easier to express personality than it is to tell people more specific things about you or to build a focused brand – just talk with your customers for a few minutes, share a few updates on social media, or write an “about me” paragraph for your website, and your personality has the chance to come through. It doesn’t have to. Some people choose to be strictly professional online, and to not let readers know what they’re really like. That’s okay too. But whatever you choose, whether or not you display your personality doesn’t have to be linked to the type of brand image you display.

As you build your brand, think about these three factors that are independent of other types of information you might choose to reveal about yourself. How much do you want your readers to know about your personality? What, specifically, are you passionate about? Do you want to be known as someone who gives back to the community and helps others? If so, how do you want to incorporate that into your brand? Leave a comment below with your thoughts and experiences!

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