Build Your Personal Brand and Sell More Books

Table of Contents

Develop a Brand Statement

The process is straightforward enough: describe what you do, not merely what you are. Instead of saying you’re an author—one among millions—describe a specific outcome. “I help parents raise healthy children.” In a few words, explain how your content benefits the reader or buyer. Then close with your brand statement. You could be the Chairman of Child Development, the Professor of Productivity, the Master Motivator, or the Top Dog in the pet industry.

A strong, well-managed personal brand benefits you in countless ways. It sets you apart from the crowd, especially among the targeted readers who matter most to you. It can also expand your network and attract new opportunities. On a deeper level, building a personal brand can help you uncover, celebrate, and share the unique abilities you bring to the world. Here are five steps to help you do that.

1. Define Your Purpose

Start by asking yourself why you wrote your content. What difference did you intend to make for your target audience? What benefits did you plan to deliver to your readers? Then explore how your intentions connect to your mission, passion, and vision.

2. Perform a Self-Assessment

Identify the characteristics that impact your brand. These could be your credentials, such as your education and significant personal experiences and achievements. This also includes the professional expertise you’ve developed through your career, interactions, hobbies, and interests that give you the credibility to claim your brand position.

Use your self-assessment to create the first draft of your personal value proposition (PVP). This statement has four components:

  • The group you will target
  • The problem they want to solve
  • The solution you provide
  • Your distinctive capabilities

It goes something like this:

“I help [your target readers or buyers] who want [the problems they want to solve] get [the benefit of your content] by offering [the unique, memorable, meaningful value you provide].”

For example, my PVP is, “I help authors and publishers who want to sell more books get large, non-returnable sales by offering help through my experience making profitable sales to non-bookstore buyers.”

3. Develop Your Personal Brand with Intention

You already have a personal brand, whether you know it or not. However, by not developing it intentionally, you allow others to define it for you. Find out how people describe you and then decide if you want to change or reinforce that image.

Do this by identifying your key audiences (target readers, colleagues, family, and friends) and selecting people from each group whom you trust to give you honest and objective feedback. You can also try to include someone who has rejected you (a publisher, distributor, or retail store manager). Monitor your social media to learn how people describe you in their responses to your posts (“That was a creative post” or “You always share insightful information”).

Ask open-ended questions, such as “How would you describe me to a stranger if I wasn’t with you?” Do not ask leading prompts like “Do you think I am a good writer?” Then compare their opinions with your own assessment. How do they align or differ? If they are different from your self-assessment, how might you align them?

4. Construct Your Personal Narrative

A brand is built on the actions you have taken and that your audiences have processed. Use that information to refine the first draft of your personal narrative. Think about times when you have felt most authentic, alive, positive, and productive; when you have stood out from others; when your uniqueness made the difference between success and failure; and when you fully embodied the brand you want to have.

Create your personal narrative to follow your four-part PVP. After you recite it, what will you say when the person says, “Tell me more?” Your PVP becomes more memorable, accessible, and persuasive when you convey it with a story.

What would you say when an interviewer asks, “How did you get started?” You could describe your writing process, which probably will not interest people. Or you could tell a brief story. “My first book was about how to get a job. I started selling through bookstores because I thought that was the only way to do it, one book at a time. I soon learned about large distribution discounts and returned books. There had to be a better way. So, I thought, ‘who else could use the information in my book?’ and that led me to sell to colleges and 50 state departments of labor, both of which buy in large, non-returnable quantities.”

The interviewer may ask, “Where are you from?” You could answer with a simple “New Jersey.” Or, you could say, “A suburban part of New Jersey, where I spent my childhood making money by mowing lawns and shoveling snow.” This shows that you are industrious and resourceful without explicitly saying so.

Embody Your Brand

At every touchpoint—store events, online engagements, interviews—make sure that your actions and words are consistent with your personal brand. Remember, your brand is not just what you say about yourself; it’s what others say about you after your interactions.

For more expert tips on personal branding and selling more books, visit our website at BookFuel and subscribe to our YouTube channel at BookFuel YouTube.

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