Every reader who discovers your work begins with a basic question: Why should I bother?
For most folks, genre fiction is an impulse purchase. It entertains, intrigues, and inspires them. The minute they pick up a story, they expect a return on their investment of time, money, and attention.
If someone buys your book, you owe them that unforgettable ride. Ergo, if you want humans to buy your book with actual dollars and bother to read it, then you better make certain that every element of your branding makes it clear exactly what you offer, which is where your unique value becomes critical.
Readers care about themselves; they only begin to care about you after they read your work, and only if you kept your word. Time and patience are essential. Provide consistently unforgettable value, and you gradually earn their trust, loyalty, and affection.
A personal guarantee specifies exactly what you offer to anyone who commits to reading your work. Before they pick up a title, you want to establish what incredible power, virtues, and appeal they can expect you to provide every time you publish something.
This personal guarantee doesn’t express what you think is special about yourself. Rather, it explains the special experience you can promise to provide them with any of your work they purchase. In a sense, it’s a promise that your books must honor by default.
As you begin to get a handle on your brand, take the time to write a personal guarantee that describes the feelings you will deliver to each of your readers. Answer five questions about the ways your books benefit your readers and your genre:
- Audience: what segment of the public are you trying to access?
- Value: what does your target audience admire and acquire?
- Distinction: what distinguishes you from similar authors they know?
- Impact: what unique emotional ride do your books provide?
- Proof: what evidence supports your claims?
First, answer those five questions as honestly as you can. Use those replies to boil your appeal down into clear statements of significant value.
A couple options to get you started. Try finishing one of these sentences:
- “In every book, I offer _____________.”
- “My writing stands out because of _____________.”
- “My work always makes my readers _____________.”
- “I can promise that every one of my books _____________.”
- “My readers love my books because _____________.”
Here are a few more things to consider:
- If you’ve got work out in the market, describe the emotional rides reported to you by people who’ve read your work.
- List three unique, positive qualities that reviewers or fans mention consistently about your writing.
- Write a one sentence advertisement that distills your authorial voice/style and sells it to a nonreader.
Emphasize emotional appeal of your work, and make liberal use of active verbs that describe the effect on any potential reader. As always when defining your brand, avoid clichés, negatives, and vague or complicated language. Keep your personal guarantee simple, punchy, and precise.
© 2016 Damon Suede & Heidi Cullinan, All Rights Reserved