Writers for Diversity class (2021)

Class Materials

The following is a downloadable PDF of the handout for the WfD class offered online on 26 June 2021.

Here are some books if you'd like to dig deeper into the topic of author branding.


On this site, you can also find additional Book Recommendations and check out a selection of short exercises designed to amp your promo strategy.

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If you're interested in our book on genre promo, you can check out samples and more info at all major book stores online by clicking here.



Why are games fun? There are certain types of interactions we each enjoy and jackpots we pursue. That’s true for board games, team sports, and giant multiuser arenas like online roleplaying games, paintball, and yes, even genre promotion. So what prize are you playing for?

No two authors approach the challenges of a genre fiction career the same way or for the same reasons. Identifying your strengths, habits, and professional interests allows you to play the best game you can and helps you strategize with your colleagues. We believe that promotion works best when it's communal, interactive, and joyful.

Think of your play style as your piece on the A-game board. The play style (and path) you choose will change the discoveries and rewards you’ll encounter along the way. Play for what matters to you  Get specific about the kind of success which would mean the most right now. Knowing your goal (and play style) gives you skin in the game and helps you play well with others.

Remember: promo always requires a team effort. Cooperation and reciprocation help the entire genre community. Awareness of your own style will help you form meaningful partnerships with a likeminded A-gang that fires on all cylinders. Help folks help you.

Go with your gut. None of these play styles are inherently negative or positive and none of them are more or less likely to succeed. There are humble Performers and selfish Socializers. Over your career you will probably operate as all of these at one point or another. What distinguishes each type of player is what motivates them and what they want to accomplish. Each of us has shown all of these behaviors at one time or another. These player styles literally arise from what interests you and what you find rewarding.

What’s your primary focus right now? What kind of a promotional strategy appeals? What sounds like the most fun way to develop your career? What kind of success do you want?

In other words, what kind of an A-gamer are you?

Performers: FlexibleImage & theatrical

Players who take charge by showmanship and persuasion, advancing via influence and maneuvering their fans and colleagues. They enjoy the stimulation and excitement of the game, and they’ll claim center stage through charm, confrontation, and interpersonal politics. They can be sweet as pie or psychopathic, but they’re in it to win it and they will run the show.

Action: Impacting (choose / make / control) Impression: Commands attention
Social impulse: Express Solution: Performance
Bait: Influence and celebrity Goal: Authority
Mode: Tactical Principle: Power
D&D class: Rogue Keirsey type: Artisan (SP)

As a Performer, you are going to always look for new ways to express yourself, claim attention, and influence others. Take time to consider intangible benefits. When faced with any opportunity, remember that the flashy or enjoyable rewards may not be readily apparent. Even if something seems boring or difficult at first, look for ways to own it and use it to showcase your unique power.

You’re probably emphasizing attention, influence, interpersonal politics, and establishing authority. Your progress depends on the balance of subtle maneuvers and aggressive action that maximize your impact on other players in your genre.

Achievers: competitive & practicalImage

Players who want to impress others by winning public challenges while developing their prestige, skills, and renown in structured, measurable ways. They enjoy the social status acquired by completing tasks and winning badges and titles; they view these prizes as reward for diligence and proof of mastery.

Action: Striving (win / prove / compare) Impression: Earns attention
Social impulse: Compete Solution: Persistence
Bait: Prestige and awards Goal: Accomplishment
Mode: Logistical Principle: Security
D&D class: Warrior Keirsey type: Guardian (SJ)

Achievers advance logically. When faced with a possibility, establish a measure of success immediately so you have a clear criteria for all your decisions. Take time to map out a strategy, breaking the overall campaign into manageable tasks. Don’t be afraid to color outside the lines and step beyond the well-worn path. Try not to expect proof (and praise) before you’ve taken the necessary steps. Generally, you’re going to look for the sequential steps you need to climb the hierarchy, so make sure you’re pointed up the right ladder.

You’re goal-oriented and focused on competing for status and ranked recognition in your public pursuit of mastery. Every step you take climbs in the professional hierarchy and advances you toward tangible proof of your accomplishments…

Socializers: poetic & personalImage

Players who focus on connecting with their cohorts, building relationships that extend beyond the confines of the game. Socializers seek to help their community and transform the world. They enjoy discussing the conduct and accomplishments of themselves and others. Empathy fuels their work and they thrive in trusted groups with emotional connections.

Action: Relating (meet / join / connect) Impression: Shares attention
Social impulse: Collaborate Solution: Persuasion
Bait: Fans and contacts Goal: Cooperation
Mode: Diplomatic Principle: Guidance
D&D class: Cleric/Mystic Keirsey type: Idealist (NF)

As a Socializer, relationships are your lifeblood so use your diplomatic skills to create the right kind of support and access the necessary resources. Cultivate moments of detachment so you can ask the hard questions. Abstract causes may exhilarate you, but consider the logic and specifics necessary for a real world payoff. Even if someone you trust convinces you a plan is an E-Z no-brainer, keep your eyes peeled for flaws and traps. Call upon your formal and informal networks for facts, advice, and clearheaded support.

You love to stay engaged with colleagues and the community, forging bonds, building bridges. Your best moves will emphasize relationships and ways to connect with others that expand your network with fans and pros.

Explorers: abstract & experimentalImage

Players who prefer to investigate their environment, discovering hidden rewards and accumulating knowledge about the way the genre works as a niche and an industry. They enjoy solving puzzles, improving the status quo, and often learn more about the game than the folks in control because they never stop searching for answers and solutions.br>

Action: Thinking (know / learn / discover) Impression: Invests attention
Social impulse: Explore Solution: Perception
Bait: Insight and predictions Goal: Immersion
Mode: Strategic Principle: Wisdom
D&D class: Wizard Keirsey type: Rational (NT)

Explorers dig for treasure, testing and probing the possibilities of the genre community. While their discoveries are invaluable, they can also lose track of the personal connections that hold the industry together. Try not to dissect your gut instincts and emotional links. When someone suggests an opportunity, don’t let your prior experimentation or preconceptions about the genre get in the way of the human element. Credentials, research, and statistics count, but they aren’t infallible.

You probably like to gather intel and inside scoops that give you an edge, learning the lay of the land and pieces of the puzzle. Your moves may veer off on tangents as you dig for treasure and peel back the industry curtain…

Player faqs

Why do you want to pigeonhole authors with these goofy play styles?

We don't! If anything the play styles were our solution to the problem of different authors needing different kinds of information. No two people share identical career paths or notions of success. Genre fiction promo requires creativity and flexibility and so we wanted our book to do likewise. We included the play styles to help folks focus on what mattered most to them at this moment. In six months, your goals may have evolved, but focusing on what's important is never a bad idea.

What if none of the play styles fit me perfectly?

We're glad to hear it! None of us are clones or insects. Your complexity is what makes your writing special, and people rarely fit into tidy categories. The purpose of the play styles is not to dictate your behavior, but to help you identify the goals that excite you at the moment. Think of your play style as a lens, not a box; it's only there to help you look at your career efforts.

Should I worry if my writer buddies and I use different play styles?

Not unless you feel compelled to work in lockstep with them. Embrace the unique spark that makes your writing stand out and let them do the same. Most people tend to look for complimentary relationships...people whose play styles supplement their weaknesses and vice versa. That's true of any group you encounter (and every ensemble story too, natch.) The key to a great A-gang is finding a balance of goals and strengths so you can all rise together.

What if I decide to change play styles partway through the book or a promo campaign?

Go for it! Again, your play style simply identifies what you seek out in your career. Deciding you want something different means you've evolved. On the flip side, if you find you're jumping around, then the play styles aren't helping you focus, so their benefit will be minimal. As always, we want you to use what works for your A game.

I feel like I might be a certain play style, but I want to read through the whole book first before I commit. Is that okay?

No sweat! Just bear in mind this beast makes for some tough chewing and might feel dense once you've ingested a healthy portion in one sitting. Don't hesitate to take a break and let things break down a bit before diving in for another round.

Okay, just between us...which is the best play style?

Anyone who tells you they know the one true way for you to pursue your career is likely a shyster or a con artist. Each of us has operated with all of these play styles at different points in our lives, varying by year and sometimes minute to minute. The truth is, the best play style for you is the one that will let you go after the rewards you value in a way you enjoy.

How did you come up with this archetype and play style stuff?

We both have a lifelong love of studying archetypal systems, but we owe the greatest influence on our A game play styles and archetypes to Richard Bartle. You can learn more about his game theory player types on the web and in:

What’s the difference between an archetype and a play style?

Both are abstract ways of categorizing patterns of behavior for the purposes of analysis and strategy.

For our purposes, play style is determined by your personal goal as a genre professional, and archetype is determined by what you enjoy about being an author in a public setting.

  • A play style is your game piece on the board, your lens through which you view and comprehend marketing and promotion.
  • An archetype is your game face, the public role you take on while actively promoting your work and your brand, the persona you adopt. It might be an extension of your play style, but it might be something entirely different.
How many people should I have in my A-gang?

As many as you need. When you’re first starting out, you might have only two or three, but as you progress through your career, you'll discover the people you can trust in any circumstance to support your A game. Over time, your network is likely to become quite vast, but your A-gang will be the close-knit, die-hard support network that keep you sane and safe. Rather than asking if you have enough people, we suggest you ask if you’re A-gang feels complete. If not, use the questions above to identify who you’re missing and seek them out.

What if my play style and archetype don’t match up?

No worries. Remember, play style represents your current approach to promotion and marketing as a task, and archetype is the role you take on when you enter the arena. Play style is internal, whereas archetype describes your external impact, how others see you.

Can I change archetypes?

There are no hard and fast rules about how your career evolves, but generally coherence and consistency have way more impact than brand-new-cherry-flavor trendhopping.

  • If you’re asking if you can be someone you’re not (try to be a Gambler even though you know it’s not who you are), then no.
  • If you’re asking, though, if you might naturally drift from one archetype to another as you and your career evolve, then the answer is absolutely.

What are your archetypes?

  • Damon is a full-on, died-in-the-wool Networker. Because he's extroverted and rowdy, he’s often mistaken for a Rebel, and he definitely borrows some nuance from that archetype when need be, but his heart and soul align when he’s making connections and working a room.
  • Heidi is a Pioneer. She’s worked a Politician archetype in the past, and she still pulls out that persona at times, but she’s learned she’s so much happier when she’s off exploring. Part of the reason she borrows the Politician persona is because if she had her druthers, she’d never leave the house.

This line of inquiry was one of the most illuminating discoveries of our writing process, because of what it revealed about our careers.

So you’re in each other's A-gangs?

Absolutely. Heidi relies on Damon for connections, and Damon taps into Heidi’s love of studying the market and assessing events and organizations. At an event together, Heidi is the one surveying the room, and Damon is the one weaving through and shaking hands. We have some overlap in our individual A-gangs, but they aren’t exactly the same.

No one A-gang should be entirely closed off. Overlapping networks improve everyone's professional efforts.

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