Your Clear Message: Get Your Potential Readers Curious Now by Beth Barany

Many authors think that book promotions are about giving away tchotchkes — like bookmarks, key rings, coffee mugs, and the like — to get attention for their books. But actually, book promotions start with one of the most powerful yet overlooked methods to promote your books to your readers: what you actually say.

Word of mouth still sells more books than any other promotional tool out there.

And aspiring authors: You can use this tool now. Promotions for your author career begins now.

If you just state what you write in a way that generates curiosity, then you can get more people engaged with what you write. Ultimately they will become your avid fans and book buyers. Bonus: All on a zero budget!

What if you could you share what you write in one sentence and immediately know if your listener was curious, or not?

Once a potential reader is curious and wants to know more, then you can ask for her email for your newsletter list (you have one, right?), or if appropriate, invite her to your online home of choice (blog, website, Facebook page, etc.)

So, how do you generate curiosity?

You learn to talk about your story in a compelling and interesting way. You create a Clear Message, or Author Branding Statement.

There are four ingredients to constructing this concise, one-sentence description of your book.

The goal of this exercise is for you to design a statement that easily rolls off your tongue, and answers the questions we get at meetings, conferences, parties and even in the grocery store checkout line: “What do you write?”

Nail down the four ingredients to create your author branding statement:

  • Your genre
  • Your audience
  • Your audience’s desired result or experience: what they want
  • Your intended action upon your readers


Download this handout to write your answers as you go through this lesson on crafting your clear message or author branding statement.

Click to download.

(Right-click to open in a new window.

Then click “Save as…” to download to your device or computer.)

Your Genre

What is your genre? Stating that you write “romance” may be good enough for some of your listeners. For others, you may want to be more specific, like “paranormal romance” or “historical romance,” etc.

For example, I say, “I write paranormal and fantasy young adult novels.”

When choosing how to state your genre, think about where your readers would find your book in a brick and mortar or online bookstore. Ultimately, imagine about how your readers categorize what you write. Or ask them!

Since some authors I work with struggle to answer this question, here is an Action Step.

Action Step: I recommend you browse the bookstores and libraries to pinpoint exactly where your book would fit.

Q: What do you do if you write more than one genre? How do you create a Clear Message is that’s the case?

A: In today’s world of writing multiple genres, provided they are different enough, I recommend you create a Clear Message for each genre that you write.

Step 1: State you genre as specifically as you can.

Your Readers + What They Want

When I present this part of the of the author branding statement to romance authors, they often struggle with it.

My audience is just women, right? They ask.

Well, yes, and let’s get more specific, because we know that not every novel appeals to every person.

Ask yourself: What kind of readers does your work appeal to the most?

Action Step: Describe your audience by specifying what they desire when they read they type of book you write.

For example, your readership could be “women who want an out-of-this-world adventure,” “middle-age Midwesterners looking for a sweet escape,” or “savvy women.”

What most readers want when they read fiction is an experience. It’s your job as the author to pinpoint and describe that experience as powerfully and succinctly as possible.

Remember: The goal of this exercise is to be able to easily say out loud your author branding statement.

Q: What do you experience when you read your favorite novelist?

A: I get the experience of a delicious escape and a thrilling ride. (That’s my answer. What’s yours?!)

Step 2 + 3: Describe the experience readers want from your kind of books.

Your Intended Action Upon Your Readers

Once you know your genre, your audience and what they want, look at your intended action upon your readers.

When I get to this part in workshops, I often get quizzical looks, so I’ll start with an example of how I answer the question: “What do you write?”

I write young adult paranormal romance to empower teen girls to be the heroes of their own lives.

My intended action upon my readers is to empower them. In fact, this desire to empower my readers permeates all of my writing—fiction and nonfiction.

What do you want to do for your readers?

Here are some verbs to get you going:

  • Inspire
  • Motivate
  • Transport
  • Challenge
  • Help?
  • Guide?
  • Other?! The possibilities are only limited by your imagination!

Step 4: Pick your verb. In your first draft, generate a handful of verbs that attract you. Then narrow it down to one, powerful verb.

Now that you have brainstormed these four pieces:

  1. Your genre
  2. Your audience
  3. Their desired experience
  4. Your impact upon the reader

… it’s time to put these parts together. First draft time! Your job is to scribble and draft and do a fabulous time making a mess. Because it’s your first draft. Play. There are no mistakes here.

Here are some examples to inspire you from my branding and marketing classes with authors:

For fiction:

I write romantic suspense novels that invite women to experience the heart pounding rush of danger, action and romance.

I write middle grades stories that develop kids’ self-acceptance and self-assurance through love of horses and country life.

I write suspense novels that thrill adults interested in Jewish themes to challenge their personal relationship with Judaism.

I write historical and contemporary romances to awaken the soul and ignite the imagination of women of all ages to realize their own potential.

I write erotic urban fantasy for savvy men and women to experience more vitality in their lives.

I write sensual paranormal romance that inspires women to feel rapture and the power of true love.

And for nonfiction:

I write inspired stress relief books that help attorneys and other overwhelmed professionals thrive purposefully 24-7.

I write about the history behind the mythology of original sin to inspire truth seekers.

My audio tutorials guide fantasy writers to draw on the wisdom of their extra-conscious resources to develop compelling, character-driven stories.

Are you curious about any of these?

Notice what grabs you and what doesn’t. Okay, authors, your turn!

Action Steps:

  1. Put all four ingredients of the Clear Message together into one sentence.
  2. Then say it a few times so it becomes natural, a part of you.
  3. Then practice, practice, practice with friends, family, and colleagues. Aim for at least 10 new people.
  4. Revise as needed.
  5. Then practice some more.
  6. Next, spring it on acquaintances and strangers. Aim for another 10 people. Online included.
  7. Notice how people respond. Are they curious? Great!
  8. When people express curiosity, ask them for permission to add them to your promotion lists or invite them to take some action. For example, invite them to connect with you online.
  9. Optional: If they’re not curious, you can ask why.

What’s Next for Your Author Branding Statement, Your Clear Message

On Social Media

Post your author branding statement as part of your online bio on Twitter and Facebook, as part of your bio when you’re a guest blogger.

In Email

Use it in your signature line of your email.

On Your Author Site

Use on your author site in multiple places:

  • Your author bio
  • Your home page
  • Your site headline as a tag line

Compass directions

Your North Star

A workshop attendee and author, Sharon Hamilton (, shared with me a unique way she uses her Clear Message. She said that she uses her Clear Message has a honing beacon to guide where she wants to go with her writing. “[My Clear Message] is the standard,” she added. “The personality of my writing.”

You can use your Clear Message to guide your writing as you write and to generate curiosity in your community and beyond. We’re all waiting for your stories. Spread the word!

c. 2010-2021 Beth Barany

First published in the Promotion Posse  column in Heart of the Bay newsletter, spotlighting promotional strategies for authors, written by members of SFA-RWA with a knack for PR. Author, book coach and consultant, Beth Barany, raves about books, authors, and the ever-changing publishing and book marketing world at

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  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by BethBarany, BethBarany. BethBarany said: Your Clear Message: Get Your Potential Readers Curious Now […]

  • Melinda B. Pierce says:

    Great article Beth. I always think of you when I start to set goals “be specific” echoes from the chats I’ve attended with you.

    Thanks for all the great information!


  • Karen Cioffi says:

    Beth, great post. Knowing your intended audience/market is a must.

  • Karen Cioffi says:

    Oh, your Twitter Follow Me, on the sidebar, didn’t work. I tried twice.

  • Beth Barany says:

    Thanks for letting me, Karen. I’ll work on fixing it. So annoying with the tech we love doesn’t work, isn’t it?!

  • Beth Barany says:

    Thanks Melinda! Being specific is so important when we set goals.

  • Beth Barany says:

    Karen, Yes, and knowing our audience/market helps us target our communications. All for the greater good of giving our audience/market something that would benefit them.

  • Stuart Land says:

    Concise, important info, Beth. Thanks.

  • Melissa says:

    Great information, Beth! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  • this is the best post \I’ve ever read on this topic of generating curiosity in the reader by promotional sentences. well done! and thankyou

  • Revital Horowitz says:

    Thanks Beth for the insights. For a freshman as me it a must!

  • Beth Barany says:

    Thanks Stuart.

    Melissa, You’re welcome for sharing.

    thea, you’re so sweet! rockin!

    Revital, You’re welcome! You get to see what I do from the inside out!

  • Man. I feel like it should’ve cost me money to read this. It’s that powerful and informative, seriously. Thanks, Beth!

  • […] My audio tutorials guide fantasy writers to draw on the wisdom of their extra-conscious resources to develop compelling, character-driven stories. Are you curious about any of these? Notice what grabs you and what doesn’t. Okay, authors, your turn! I write about the history behind the mythology of original sin to inspire truth seekers. Writer's Fun Zone » Blog Archive » Your Clear Message: Get Your Potential Readers Curious Now […]

  • Beth Barany says:

    Angel, Thanks for adding this article to your pearl tree!

    Cyndy, Glad you liked it!

  • […] light in all your social media activities on my blog, the Writer’s Fun Zone called “Your Clear Message: Get Your Potential Readers Curious Now” […]

  • Jules Bronte says:

    Thanks Beth – it reinforces again the importance of knowing our specific audience.

  • Beth Barany says:

    So true, Jules! Thanks for starting by!

  • […] Your Clear Message: Get Your Potential Reader Curious Now by Beth Barany […]

  • […] Crafting a compelling message article […]

  • I found this helpful. Now I need to get busy defining what I’m encouraging my future readers to experience. Carolyn Rae, Romancing the Gold, a jungle trek with a handsome photographer.

  • Beth Barany says:

    I look forward to your resulting Clear Message, Carolyn!

  • Beth, What a great post. You really had me thinking and I thought about my one liner, which I would love to share with you.
    I write historical fiction and cozy mysteries for women like me with a touch…or more, of grey hair who like to be entertained.

  • Beth Barany says:

    Susan, Nice! Your Clear Message is very clear about what you write, and who for, yet I’d love a stronger word than “entertained.” or maybe a detailed phrase like “who desire a few good laughs” — something specific and stronger than “like” and “entertained,” to evoke emotion and incite to action. Hope that makes sense!

  • Dear Beth, everytime I read you I go one notch higher in my quest to be a author. Thank you:-)

  • Beth Barany says:

    Dear Olarotimi, you’re so welcome 🙂

  • Thanks for the clear and helpful workshop at the Fiction Marketing Academy event.
    I write in several genres, so I’ve crafted TWO different branding statements for your feedback.
    I write emotional women’s fiction to remind Christian women of any age that they will make it through the hard times.
    I write allegorical YA fantasy to transport teenagers to an exciting vacation from reality.

  • Beth Barany says:

    You’re so welcome! My pleasure!
    So cool that you crafted TWO different branding statements for my feedback.

    For: “I write emotional women’s fiction to remind Christian women of any age that they will make it through the hard times.”

    — What you made “remind” stronger? Like “awaken [something]” or “spark/ignite”?

    For: “I write allegorical YA fantasy to transport teenagers to an exciting vacation from reality.”

    — I enjoy this one a lot “exciting vacation from reality”, made me chuckle, though will your audience know what “allegorical” means? I would argue that all fantasy is hugely allegorical. So is there another more emotional or telling adjective you could use instead?

    Test both with your ideal readers to gauge their response!

    Hope that helped!

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