Refine Your Author Identity in Four Steps
First, we created, and now we’re refining. There are four steps because some of them are a little harder. But take heart. Gold and silver are refined by fire. You’re up for a challenge, right?
1. Define your goal as an author.
Is your goal to make money, entertain your friends and family, gain personal satisfaction, or achieve recognition as a best-selling or award-winning author? Or another goal? When you understand your goal, you can focus on it and measure your success in your own terms.
Knowing your goal helps with other decisions: traditional or independent publishing or the amount and where to budget for expenses, for example.
2. What is your primary genre? Your secondary genre?
If you write romance stories or historical fiction, your genre is probably clear to you. If you write mystery, suspense, action and adventure, thriller, paranormal, science fiction, urban fantasy stories, you have the opportunity to hone in on a primary genre.
Pick two or three genres where you think your book fits. Start with books you like to read. Do you see a pattern? How would your book fit in? Perfectly? fairly well? not even close? Read books in another genre. When you’ve come up with two fairly well genres, look at the covers of the books. Which genre does your book cover best fit in?
Every genre has loose “rules.” Find the rules for your primary and secondary genres. Do you break most of them or a few of the cardinal rules? Not a good fit. Only some of them and none of the cardinal rules? Might be a good fit.
What if you decide on a genre and three months later realize you made a terrible mistake? Change it.
3. Author Photo
Did you add a photo to your Amazon Author Page and your Goodreads author profile? Are they the same pictures or different? Now that you’ve settled on your genre, does your author photo support your genre? A romance writer photo may look different from an urban fantasy or steampunk writer photo.
You won’t go wrong with a headshot photo with your face and eyes visible, and you don’t have to have a professional photo. Cell phones do a great job these days. Don’t include your partner, dog, cat, or snake. And not a selfie.
Use the same photo everywhere – the back covers of your book, your website, your online profiles. Only change your photo if there is a drastic change in your appearance – like you lose thirty pounds. Otherwise, let it be.
4. Author Tagline
This might take a little more time. We writers love to highlight our stories and our characters, but ourselves? An author tagline gives readers an insight into your perspective and your purpose. A tagline is short, precise, and simple. The tagline is about the author, but with the reader in mind. What is unique about you that you want the reader to remember?
You might put your tagline on your business card, your website, and your promotional material. My business card says My imaginary friends love my stories. My website says My imaginary friends love my stories and laugh at my jokes. My banner and promotional material say Let your imagination fly. None of these taglines match any rules. I’m still testing to see what fits.
Judith A. Barrett