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Author Branding Lesson 3: Taming the Dragon Part II

As we begin taming the marketing dragon, we’ve been looking at who we are: what stories we enjoy, what stories we write, which authors we admire, what people say about how our writing affects them. Although it doesn’t always come directly into play in marketing an author and their books, there’s another piece that is more important today than ever: your personality.

Yes, I’m talking about who you are, as a person. As a Facebook friend. As someone to bump into at a conference and strike up a conversation with. As someone to follow into battle against monstrous dragons far wilder than the ones we’ve already tamed together.

Ha ha — yes, I’m talking about Hiccup again, and this time using an example from How to Train Your Dragon 2. All of his life, Hiccup felt out of place and disconnected from the others in his village, and especially from the one he most wanted to know and love him: his father. This undermined his confidence and produced doubts that plagued him throughout his young life. And then he made a startling and wondrous discovery.

Hiccup's Mom and Toothless

His mother was alive! (Oops, sorry. Spoiler, huh?) And she understood and loved dragons even more than he did! As they got to know each other, Hiccup began to see why he was who he was, where his temperament and tendencies came from. It gave him confidence and strength.

You are not alone

No matter what kind of personality you have, the Internet and social media has made it easier than ever to find “your people”. Are you the eternal optimist, a lover of romance and happy endings, always looking on the bright side of life? Perhaps you feel most comfortable in the dark, a lover of the night and creepy crawly things that hide in the shadows, always certain that the cake is a lie? Do you enjoy cat videos? (Come on, we all know there are two kinds of people in the world. Those who smile at cat videos and those who admit it.) Are you a master of sarcastic snark? A proclaimer of doom and gloom? A fount of kindness and love for all?

You don’t have to hide who you are in order to be successful. You don’t have to be like that other guy or gal. Many, many different kinds of people have found ways to connect with fans and sell their work. From the cutest fluffy bunny personality to the snarkiest in-your-face critic, there are successful creatives whose personality infuses their work — and their brand. Their authentic self (sometimes amped for effect) is part of what attracts their audience.

Find your unique combination and unlock your brand

Many times, it’s not just one thing that makes a personality brand pop and sizzle. It’s two or three contrasting and/or unique things.

Fearsome enemy -- or loving mom?

Hiccup’s mother, Valka, was not just a Viking mom. Not just a bleeding-heart dracophile. She was also a fearsome hunter and formidable foe. And, to the relief of all those rooting for a reconciliation with Stoick, she was a woman whose heart could still be wooed with the songs of her youth and the love of a man willing to forgive her failings.

The contrast of her three major roles (wife, mother, dragonrider) made her unique and fascinating, and drove the plot of the second movie. Not everyone appreciated the choices she made in her life, but that’s another good lesson for you: You’re not going to please everyone. No matter how hard you try. So don’t try — you’ll only lose the ones who resonate with you the best. As you pursue who you are and what you want to stand for, you may need to leave some people behind. Even when this is done in love, it can be painful. Be strong.

Action Item

Time to add to your lists! What are the three most common things people say about you? The three most common words they use to describe you?

What are three topics that you are passionate about? It doesn’t have to be world peace. It could be coffee, and getting the perfect grind on a perfect roast. Pick three things that you never tire of. Ideally, find something that is different, unique, or interesting. A passion for medieval castles. Fixing old cars. A love of lost languages. A fascination with pretty things, like roadkill and praying mantises. Oh, wait, that’s me. Go find your own!

And don’t forget to leave a comment and share your three words and three topics!

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