Write It Sideways

How to Make Yourself and Your Writing Stand Out

We know that the vast majority of people old enough to hold a pencil dream of writing a novel one day. With self-publishing becoming increasingly popular and bringing even more writers into the game, how can we make ourselves stand out amongst the crowds?

Because authors these days are also marketers, we’re not only marketing our writing, but ourselves.

Here are some ways to make yourself and your writing stand out amongst millions of other aspiring authors:

Don’t be in a rush.

In a recent article called Why Are So Many Writers In Such a Hurry?, Author Jody Hedlund wrote: “With the ease of self-publishing, it’s all too tempting to rush the process of publication, to think that getting your first book out there will make you happy.”

At some point, most of us give in to the temptation to submit our writing too early—that is, before it’s polished. The result is almost always rejection, followed by a drop in the writer’s confidence.

Instead of being like everyone else and rushing your work out there, remember that there’s no time limit on getting published. Things in the industry may change, but your opportunity to be published isn’t going anywhere.

Forget about what other people write. Write what you’re good at.

Maybe there’s some author out there you’ve always looked up to. You might read their work and wish you could write just as well, or just as fast, or just as funny.

Stop trying to be someone else. Forget about what other people are writing, or how other people write, and focus on writing what you’re good at. Focus on writing like no one but yourself. Develop your writer’s voice or your personal style so others will see what makes your work different and special.

Act like a professional.

Present your writing-self in the same way you would present yourself to a potential employer. Be professional in all things—in communicating with readers, writers, agents and editors, in maintaining social networks, in blogging, and especially in accepting criticism.

There’s nothing more off-putting than an author who can’t accept feedback or who fails to acknowledge when they’ve made a mistake.

Although it’s never fun being criticized, accept others’ opinions with grace and humility. People will respect you for it.

Have a user-friendly website and blog.

A blog or website doesn’t have to be fancy to be effective, but it does need to be clean, user-friendly, and address the things people are looking for when they open your site.

Steer clear of dark backgrounds with light texts, unusual fonts, and colour schemes that can be hard on readers’ eyes. Ensure your sidebar contains links to everything your readers will need to find, but limit them to essentials to avoid clutter. Have a nice photo of yourself on your About page, and let readers know who you are and what you do.

And while it’s okay to talk about yourself and delve into certain aspects of your personal life on your blog, do be focused on why the reader is there and tie those personal tidbits into useful information for the reader at the same time.

Remember you’re always a student.

Every career path in life requires ongoing professional development, and even multi-published authors acknowledge that when it comes to writing, there’s always more to be learned.

Celebrate your successes as a writer, whether that be publishing a short story, winning a writing contest, publishing a novel, or completing and self-publishing a book—but always be looking for ways to improve yourself, too.

Read another book on craft. Take another writing course. Attend a conference. Join a critique group. Find a writing mentor. By cultivating an attitude of lifelong learning, you’ll show others just how committed you are to your writing career.

Do You Stand Out?

It might seem like these points are just common sense. Don’t all aspiring authors do these things?

Not by a long shot. There are plenty of writers out there who violate these points every day.

What makes you stand out from the writing crowd? What others ways can you set yourself apart from the masses of people who share your dream?