Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Selling Books: The Author Persona

by J.C. Lynne

Discussing the subject of my writing persona emerged with the Beard after this year’s Greeley Readcon. The collection of writers at the book signing offered an eye-opening perspective into the marketing techniques of writers.

If you’re S. King, T. Morrison (who just released a new book BTW) or J. Patterson, there’s no need for strategy. The rest of us have to build our audience, nurture a connection and develop ways of getting our books to readers. 

The room stood bountiful with authors, historical fiction authors in period clothing, authors in 18th-century garb for no apparent reason, mystery authors, cookbook authors, and children’s books authors all peddling their wares. Did you know there’s a horror, soft-core porn genre? 

We parked near a writer, Rachel Weaver, who pitched her book as an Alaskan adventure novel. On the other side of Rachel,  sat author, Emily Kemme, who authored a novel about family and sushi. The discussion of conferences, book sales, and publishing illuminated each of our different paths. 

As I schmoozed and pitched, the Beard said, “Maybe you should create a writer persona.” He gestured to the author wearing a black 19th-century hat with a nesting bird. 

“Can’t my persona be ‘I write a good book’?” I countered. 

“Go with badass, tattooed writer.” He suggested.

Being tattooed is complex. I’ve craved a tattoo since I was young. I heard, “You’ll die of ink poisoning.” regularly. Myth, by the way. My friend, Betsy, had a delicate tattoo of stars and planets just under her armpit. It was lovely and inspiring.

I was engaged. Long story…too young, too naive, and too wrong. My fiancĂ© held powerful objections to tattoos having grown up in a less savory environment. He equated tattoos with drug-addled, biker chicks.

By the end of ten years, the marriage dissolved and I’d also acquired four tattoos.

An aspect of being tattooed is, frequently, one is not enough. I’ve also learned to go big. I have some work where I feel the piece could be larger. 

Life moves forward. I met the Beard. He has zero body work and zero interest in having any. He never objects to my tattoos. My tattoo artist friends love our mixed marriage. He’s upstanding and depending on your perspective, I’m a tattooed rock star, a tattooed harlot, or a crazy, biker chick.  

I’ve received mind-bending assortments of responses to my tattoos. 80-year-old men tend to admire my ink and tell me about their tattoos. The average folk do one of two things….they grab their children and hide from me OR they say, “ I’ve dreamt of having a sleeve.” My writing partner regularly asks me to disrobe for people. Yay smartphones!

Get a sleeve. It’s empowering. I’m Wonder Woman with her golden Amazonium cuffs. The Beard reminds me I’m not bullet proof.

 If you see me around town, I’d love to chat with you about the book.

I promise, I'm friendly even if I’m the one with the ink. 


Lillie said...

Breaking boundaries in writing and social stereotypes! The Essau Emergence is so reflective of your badass personality!

JC Lynne said...

Thanks! Now I feel obligated to work on the edits....sigh.

RichardK said...

My writing persona is that of a frazzled father of five with a publishing company. Or a unicorn. I'm unsure of which.

April Moore said...

This is great. Having a tattoo sleeve myself, I've gotten all kinds of reactions--most very kind. One person told me, "Well, it's not something I would ever do . . . I mean, I just would never do it, but as long as you like it . . ." Ugh.

JC Lynne said...

April, in all of the times we've talked, I've never seen your sleeve. I'll be looking for it!

JC Lynne said...

Unicorns...not that publishing companies aren't great too.

April Moore said...

It was my summer "project." You've inspired by next blog post--I may have to reveal my secret sleeve.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I'd get a tattoo if I didn't know it would hurt. But then, I was also afraid to get my ears pierced. Volunteering for more pain than that is something I won't do.

However....I love tattoos on other people. It's cool!

JC Lynne said...

Patricia, I'm more reluctant to get piercings. I know that sounds crazy.

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