I coached an author and writer we’ll call Mavis. She’s an indie publisher, with ebooks in several areas, and she’s blogging to promote her ebooks. All good so far, right? No, sadly. Mavis’s ebooks are low in Amazon’s Best Sellers Rank; she sells just a few copies a week. Her goal is to make a good income from self-publishing as soon as possible.
Looking at her publishing plans for next year, I can’t see it happening unless Mavis lifts her visibility. She’s an excellent author. Her nonfiction’s good, and her fiction’s engaging. However, thousands of other authors are exactly where she is. She needs an integrated strategy to lift her out of the sales doldrums.
Blogging’s Great, but You Need a Strategy
I’ve been nagging you for years to blog. Now everyone’s blogging, and “blogging to sell my ebooks” is a hit and miss affair. You need a strategy to make it work.
Every author is different, and needs a different strategy. We’ll use Mavis as an example, so you can see what’s involved in developing a strategy to gain visibility, attract the readers who want to buy your ebooks, and make sales.
To date, Mavis’s published:
- Four ebooks in the health and beauty area (I won’t narrow it any further than that. Mavis is protective of her niches :-));
- Four horror novellas which she published three years ago, and wants to turn into novels;
- Three cosy mysteries.
The health ebooks are under her own name. She’s using three pen names for her fiction, so that makes a total of four names for which Mavis needs to get visibility. I suggested to Mavis that she choose ONE name for which to get visibility. She can choose her own name, or another. Alternatively, she can choose an entirely new pen name, and corral her pen names under that one brand name.
Mavis has plans to write another three mysteries, with a new sleuth. She’s incorporating paranormal elements into these mysteries. She’s also planned another four health ebooks.
Personas: One for You, and One (or More) for Your Readers
In copywriting, we talk about What In It For Me (WIIFM.) So, when they buy your ebooks, what’s in it for your readers. More to the point… Who are your readers?
Mavis and I chatted, and we decided on the first persona (personality, if you like) we’d create for her readers. “Personas” are fictional, but they represent your readers. It’s better than thinking of your readers as “everyone.” Mavis’s initial reader persona is female.
- a working mother, 25 to 35 years old;
- who has two children, both at school;
- her income, combined with her husband’s in the $100K to $150K range;
- she reads Oprah magazine, and oprah.com.
We gave this persona a nickname: Sally. This benefits Mavis, because now when she’s thinking about one of her ebooks, or about promotions, she can ask herself:
- Would Sally read this? Why?
- Does Sally need this information? (for her nonfiction);
- Where does Sally hang out? How can I reach her so that she’ll buy this ebook, or read this blog post, or join my mailing list?
A Persona for You, the Author
Now that Mavis can think about her readers more strategically, because she’s personified some of them into Sally, we need to turn our attention to Mavis.
Who does Mavis want to be as Mavis, the author? You have multiple aspects to your personality. Mavis needs to think about the persona she’ll use to gain visibility.
When we got to this stage, Mavis asked whether she would be creating author personas for each of her pen names. No, it takes too long. If Mavis were a publishing company with a marketing department, and the company was publishing ten books or more each month, then sure… But Mavis is a solo author. She’s writing and publishing, AND she’s promoting.
Her writing comes first, so she needs to build a persona which will appeal to Sally. Then she can choose ONE name which she’ll use to gain visibility. Let’s say she decided to use the name, Marion Evie Smith as her “brand”. The Marion Evie Smith author persona would have a blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, etc.
As long as Mavis crafts her author persona carefully, she can promote ALL her books under that brand name — “Marion Evie Smith writing as ___ whoever”, and over time, she’ll get visibility. She’d make it known on her website and blog that her other names are pen names, but she can happily promote everything she writes solely under the Marion Evie Smith author persona.
Currently, we’re working on developing the “Marion Evie Smith” persona. It’s close to her own personality, but we’re turning her adult children into school-age children. At first, Mavis was a bit doubtful about this. Wasn’t she being fake?
No, she’s constructing an author persona. Certainly not with the care with which Hollywood personas are constructed, but she’s getting herself into the mindset of her readers, so that she can give them what they want. Of course, you don’t have to create an author persona if you don’t want to. However, this marketing exercise is valuable. Your aim is to get visibility for your author persona.
In conclusion, if you’re still thinking in terms of “blogging to sell my ebooks”, give a little thought to reader and author personas. You’ll be amazed that developing both author and reader personas will show you opportunities for writing, publishing, and promotion that you haven’t recognized before.
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Updated: March 24, 2017
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