By Beth Barany
We all want more book sales.
To that end, know that the number one step in all sales is to generate curiosity.
So, how do you do that?
One way to do that is to create your author branding statement: a concise, one-sentence description of your book or of your body of work.
There are four ingredients to constructing this sentence.
The goal of this exercise is for you to design a statement that easily rolls of your tongue and answers the questions we get at meetings, conferences, parties and even in the grocery store checkout line: “What do you write?”
You’ll also be able to use this sentence online.
Firstly, your Author Branding Statement is meant to engage. Not to explain your story. It’s a hook, not a story summary.
Secondly, you don’t want to bore your listener or reader. You want them to get excited and come closer, or say, “Not for me.”
Next, I’ll walk you through how to nail down the four ingredients, which are:
- Your genre
- Your audience
- Your audience’s desired result or experience; what they want
- Your intended action upon your readers
What is your genre?
Stating that you write “romance” may be good enough for some of your listeners. For others, you may want to be more specific, like “paranormal romance” or “historical romance,” etc.
You could say “mystery” but readers of the genre would much prefer something like “cozy mystery” or “hard-boiled mystery” or “police procedural.” (Here’s a fun resource on the many mystery genres.)
For example, I state my genres like this:
I write paranormal romance, young adult fantasy novels, and science fiction mystery with a slow burn romance.
For this exercise, I’d choose only one of these genres. I like “young adult adventure fantasy.”
When choosing how to state your genre, think about where your readers would find your book in a brick and mortar or online bookstore. Browse libraries and stores to determine this. Ultimately, imagine how your readers would categorize what you write. Or ask them!
Q: How do you create a clear author branding statement if you write more than one genre?
A: In today’s world of writing multiple genres, provided they are different enough, I recommend as an initial step, you create an author branding statement for each genre that you write.
#2 and #3: Your Audience + What They Want
In some Author Branding Statements it may be useful to explicitly state who your books are for. But in most cases, you may just want to state your readers’ desired experience.
As a starting point declare who your intended readership is. You could say: men, women, children, but be specific. You could say women over forty; or children between the ages of eight and eleven; or men just out of high school.
Good. That’s a start.
But what’s really important is what they want from a book like yours.
Let’s put together your audience and what they want and create phrases like this:
- women who want an out-of-this-world adventure
- middle-age Midwesterners looking for a sweet escape
- savvy women desiring a smart adventure
- young women who want to be the hero of their own lives
- men looking for new definition of being a man in the modern world
If you’re not sure who your readers are because you haven’t published yet or because you haven’t connected with your readers, then describe yourself.
Draft a few phrases that describe this experience. If you’re stumped think about what you get when you read your favorite novelist.
For example, I love reading Elizabeth Moon’s space opera because it’s such a delicious escape, a thrilling ride, and I get to spend time with awesome, brave women spaceship captains.
#4: Your Intended Action Upon Your Readers
Once you know your genre, your audience and what they want, look at your intended action upon your readers.
When I get to this part in workshops, I often get quizzical looks, so I’ll start with an example of how I answer the question: “What do you write?”
I write young adult adventure fantasy to empower teen girls to be the heroes of their own lives.
In this statement, my intended action upon my readers is to empower them. In fact, this desire to empower my readers permeates all of my writing—fiction and nonfiction.
What do you want to do for your readers?
- Other?! The possibilities are only limited by your imagination!
Pick only one verb.
Put all four ingredients together into one sentence. Here are some examples for fiction and nonfiction writers.
I write romantic suspense that invite women to experience the heart pounding rush of danger, action and romance.
I write middle grades stories that develop kids’ self-acceptance and self-assurance through love of horses and country life.
I write suspense that thrill adults interested in Jewish themes to challenge their personal relationship with Judaism.
I write inspired stress relief books that help attorneys and other overwhelmed professionals thrive purposefully 24-7.
I write about the history behind the mythology of original sin to inspire truth seekers.
My audio tutorials guide fantasy writers to draw on the wisdom of their extra-conscious resources to develop compelling, character-driven stories.
Are you curious about any of these? Notice what grabs you and what doesn’t.
Practice your Author Branding Statement. Say it a few times so it becomes natural, a part of you. Then practice with friends, family, and colleagues. Revise as needed. Then practice some more.
When you mention to acquaintances and strangers that you’re a writer and they ask, “What do you write?” practice your Author Branding Statement on them. Notice how they respond.
Are they curious? Great!
When people express curiosity, ask them for permission to add them to your promotion lists. Or, if more appropriate, invite them to check out your books or connect with you online.
Use your Author Branding Statement as part of your author bio, online and in print. Adapt it for your social media and in your signature line of your email.
We’re all waiting for your stories. Spread the word!
Share your Author Branding Statement in the comments for feedback and support. I look forward to yours.