Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Marketing Your Persona

No one wants to buy or read the proverbial off-brand story. 
Readers want the vibrant voice of the real author embedded in the page.

Lynn Austen spoke at the first writing conference I attended. That was more than ten years ago, and yet, above any other speaker I've heard since, I can still remember she wore a red business suit, she spoke with the gentle, knowing voice of a first lady, and her message was taken from the story of the alabaster jar. Why did that presentation stick with me? Because the same voice appeared on the pages of her books.

1. Lynn presented her persona in a true and honest way. 

Lynn Austen is a biblical and historical fiction author. She has won numerous awards. These awards basically had little impact on my decision to purchase her book, Gods and Kings. What caused me to buy, read, and buy more was her voice. What she said at the conference. The way she spoke to people in the lunch room. 

Her writing sucked me into the story. Even though I knew some of the account (like we would reading a Titanic story) the fresh revelation of truth spoken in an honest way unfolded on the pages and touched my heart. I finished the series then bought copies for Christmas gifts. 

I now know and expect that when I buy a Lynn Austen book the story will be told in her true and honest voice.


I attended an awards dinner for writers last year. The recipient of one award (I can't remember what it was for) walked to the podium to give an acceptance speech. From her first word to the last, the entire audience laughed. How did this writer turn a mundane appreciation speech into pure entertainment? Her persona. Her voice, her words, her facial expression, her body language, everything said: I am happy and I want to make others laugh.

2. This debut author's book hit the stands this year. Guess what? Her historical story was bursting with amazing wit and humor. I literally laughed out loud so many times. This alone did not prove the value of her book, I also had a basic knowledge of the period of time. Had something in the story not rang true, the humor would not have fixed the problem. She had done her research and crafted an entertaining story true to the historical time frame.

I now know and expect that when Kristi Ann Hunter's second book is released, the story will be told in her entertaining and well researched voice.


Ruth Logan Herne has been running an amazingly creative and unique series on Facebook. Each day the next saga of the Mighty Finn (her young grandson) has visited the homes of many readers. Recently, the Little Princess has joined the posts. These creative posts have lured readers to look for Ruth's posts in the newsfeed. 

3. Not every writer has the opportunity to speak. Not every writer wants to. However, I think we've all had fun on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. Writers can show their persona in what they choose to post in social media. The point is not to post. The point is not to be a presence. The point is to reveal your voice. When I see a post from Chandra Pierce, I expect something funny. When I see a post from Kay Arthur I expect something spiritual. When I see a post from Ruth Logan Herne I expect to see creative and unique. Why? Because this is their persona. Their voice. What I will find in their books.

I now know and expect to find Ruth Logan Herne's creative and unique voice in her books and am so excited to read her stories.

A year or so ago, my son told me he didn't want to watch any Tom Cruise movies. I asked why. He said, "Because what he says and stands for." (referencing outside the movies)

Then I wondered, how does our persona attract or turn people away from our stories. 

A good cover can sell one book. 
An amazing title can sell one book. 
But a good author's amazing persona can sell as many books as he or she can write.


What questions do you have?

How can we help you?

I can't wait to read your comment(s)!

 Photo Courtesy-permission to reuse with modification 

If you found any typos in today's post...sorry about that. 

Mary writes young adult mystery/suspense Christian fiction, is honing marketing and writing skills, and loves to pen missionary and Bible adventure stories on her ministry blog, God Loves Kids. She has finaled in several writing contests.

Visit Mary at her website and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter


Jill Kemerer said...

Great post, Mary! I agree. After hearing Robin Jones Gunn speak in Indianapolis a few years ago, I immediately purchased her nonfiction book, Victim of Grace. It really moved me. I've been a fan of her fiction, too, but listening to her speak sealed me as a lifelong fan!

Mary Vee Writer said...

I remember that time. Her spirit was clearly displayed in her word, her tone, her body language. We couldn't help but be drawn into her message then desire to read more.

Yes! This is the key!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Mary Vee, thank you so much for using me as an example! In my experience, most folks use me as an example of how NOT TO do something, and if you asked my children, they'd nod with understanding, so now I'm going to send them this link to show them the error of their ways!

The Mighty Finn is more popular than his grandmother. He's more popular than half of my friends put together. He is a delight, and you know why?

He's natural. We could all learn from Finn, and this is something I've tried to bring through in my facebook page, my books, my blogs, my farm website. People love the genuine article. They love the real deal. There are lots of great authors around, but I always remember being drawn to the ones who seemed real. So that's exactly what I do... While exploiting small children and baby animals for monetary gain, LOL!

Finn isn't a ham. He doesn't pose for the camera. He doesn't do funny things on purpose. He's just himself, a little old man in a toddler body, with a gentle personality. My other grandkids will probably disown me, but Finn's mother sends the pics because he's Finn... He's always doing something, trying something. We can all learn a lot from The Mighty Finn!

Mary Vee Writer said...

Ruth, I hate to say this to burst your bubble, but there's even more to your posts and your books than this creative side you show. You have whit and humor, a smile and compassionate heart. All of these show in the presentation of the Mighty Finn. We all see the cuteness in our children/grandchildren...but I am hoping to one day see a collection of Mighty Finn short stories in one book written by the creative eye of Ruth Logan Herne. (Have you thought of this? It'd sell big time). Because this book will help us to see even more of the creativeness in our own kids.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Hahahahah! You are so kind....

And yes, actually, people keep clamoring for a Mighty Finn book, so we're looking into it because I can totally see little kids relating to Finn as he trots around, doing this, that and the other thing! How stinkin' cute????

This must be a God's timing thing today, because yesterday I did an interview with Melanie from The Catholic Stand. Melanie is a contributor to several blogs and she wondered if me being me was a marketing plan....

Honestly, the idea that I'd be SMART ENOUGH to have a marketing plan was just marvelous, wasn't it???? It's kind of like that old saying: What's easier? Telling the truth or remembering what you said?

Well, being me is so much easier than trying to be somebody. Or an image of somebody, so you guys get The Real Deal. I'm so sorry about that, really!


Pepper Basham said...

Still laughing Ruthy

Great post, Mare!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

And I'm still missing Julia Reffner... she moved and I don't see her ever and I barely see her online.

She probably has A LIFE.


Pepper Basham said...

In all seriousness, I'd love to have marketing be a natural extension of personality instead of what if FEELS like most of the time...lots of work.

WTG, for those who have figured out the secret behind matching personalities with marketing...or stumbling upon the perfect fit between the two.

Pepper Basham said...


I hope Julia pops in today. She'd love knowing she's missed :-)

and I love being able to look at your 'life' through FB and celebrate the place where you are after lots of years of juggling 1200 things AND writing!

Mary Vee Writer said...

I think Ruthy sums it all up. Yah just gotta be real. Be the real you. Well the real public you. There is a difference. I mean shower, brush teeth, run a comb through the hair, chug a cup of Joe first. LOL

The question is, we have many sides to our real self. Which one tends to seep through in our writing? That's the one we want to show in our marketing.

Anonymous said...

I hate marketing. LOL I feel so darn awkward marketing my own self/writing but will happily and enthusiastically market friends' books. :P This is a goal for the rest of this year, 2016 and beyond: to grow in confidence in being me AND in what I write both real and authentic in online and real life.

Mary Vee Writer said...

You go, Meghan. And we will help cheer you on.
Between now and then think about the voice you are portraying in your manuscripts. If our voice is what makes a manuscript strong, that is the same voice that needs to shine in your networking.
Who are you?
Who do others think you are?
This is the foundation and the golden key to knowing how to market your work. Don't fear marketing yourself. You're not. You are marketing your books. Your voice. Your calling.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Mary, I think you've nailed it there. I keep my somewhat snarky side leashed online. A hint of snark is okay, but who likes a bossy, know-it-all? I worked to leave the know-it-all Ruthy behind in my 30's and early 40's because I realized (SHOCKER!!!!) I didn't really know it all, LOL!

I love how Pope Francis talks about the joy of having faith. That's it in a nutshell. I want that joy of believing in God, believing Christ died for every single unworthy one of us, and the utter happiness of such a thing should just shine through our faces! So that joy, that warmth is what I try to bring to writing, to marketing, to speaking.

I look at Mother Teresa, and she was never without that smile for people.

I love that sacrificial nature.

Remember when Jerry Lewis used to do the Labor Day telethon in the 80's? And he would talk about how giving should be ranked as one of the most selfish things going, because we feel so good when we give!

I just think he's absolutely right, the more we give, the more joy we create.

Your question to Meghan is clutch: "Who do others think you are?" Right there, we see how we're presenting ourselves to others.

We might think we're positive...

Others might see Eeyore!

We might think we're hard-working.

Others see whining about all we have to do!

Their perspective is way more important than our own because our vantage point is so very different!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Have I insulted anyone over here, yet?


Oh, man, this is a GOOD DAY!!!!! :)

Mary Vee Writer said...

LOL, you're going to have try harder to insult someone, Ruth.

I think writers struggle sometimes with knowing the answer to the question I asked. One tip that could help is to look at the responses. If the commenters joke back, they thought what was said was funny and etc. I've been surprised at responses to things I've said. In the insecure inside of my heart I didn't think I radiated that characteristic/quality.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

This has been so fun! Thank you for chatting about your fellow authors and The Mighty Finn over here. Ya' gotta love the Alley cats!!!!

Mary Vee Writer said...

Yeah. Got some awesome kindred sisters here, and amazing Alley pals which now includes The Mighty Finn and The Little Princess.

Angela said...

Loved this post!

Mary Vee Writer said...

Thank you Angela! So nice to chat with you today!