Personal Branding for Authors: Part VII

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been discussing authors’ motivations for incorporating personal information into their brand, or the way in which they present themselves to potential customers. Why would authors share different types of information about themselves with readers, and what types of information do they share? We’ve talked about authors who build a person-focused personal brand, a product-focused personal brand, and three of the four motivations for sharing personal information: establishing competence, building trust, and adding product value. The last motivation that authors have for sharing personal information with customers is differentiating themselves from competitors.

Differentiating Yourself Through Sharing Personal Information

If you are writing and selling books, your competitors are all other writers that your target market (potential readers) might choose to buy books from instead. We all know that there are thousands of people every year who write and self-publish their work. There are hundreds more who are published by traditional publishing houses and have professional marketing help to promote their works to the public. All of them want people to read their books, just like you want people to read yours. So even if you’ve written the best book of the year, how likely is it that readers who would like your book will pay attention to you long enough to give your book a shot? That depends on how much you stand out from all the other writers in your space.

So how do you stand out? One way is through sharing personal information. No one else has your unique story and background. No one else has your unique set of interests, quirks, and personality traits. If you flip through the author pages of ten different fantasy authors, you might read that some of them are married, some have a dog or a cat, and so forth. But then let’s say you read about an author who lives on a house-boat and writes books while sailing across the Pacific Ocean. Huh. That’s different. That catches your attention.

And that’s the point. Catching a reader’s attention is the first step to their stopping to actually read about the books you’ve written. Many authors, then, try to use their unique life story information to stop browsing readers in their tracks – or just to stand out in the reader’s mind if they’re trying to find you again in the future. “I read this fantastic book by a small-press author,” a reader might muse a year after reading your book. “I don’t remember exactly what the title was, but I remember that the author was a retired police officer who is a prize-winning rose gardener.” With that information, your reader can likely look you up and find out what else you’ve written.

Similarly, unique or specialized information about you can make you uniquely attractive to a specific market segment. For instance, pastors’ wives can uniquely reach other pastors’ wives with books that are relevant to their unique struggles. Career military who are also writers can more easily sell their books to other people in the service, because they come from a similar background and seem like family. For me personally, my background as a homeschooled student from K-12 has helped differentiate me to the homeschool community from the other myriad of fantasy novelists in America, and has led to offers of speaking engagements and more sales of my book than I would have had otherwise.

How are you different from other people who write your genre? What unique life experiences have you had that don’t really impact the quality of your book, but might make you stand out to customers? What groups are you a part of that you could speak to about your experiences as an author, or what types of people might uniquely resonate with your unique background and point of view? The answers to these questions might help you identify parts of your story that would be useful to share as part of your personal brand.

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