Rosanne Dingli

Rosanne Dingli

Saturday, August 20, 2011

How to be a Special Writer

There are 68,200 bloggers who identify themselves as writers or authors on Blogger alone. Think about it: it's a spectacular number. It's especially spectacular if you are an author who blogs using Blogger. I am one. There are 68,199 others.

Image representing Blogger as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBaseHow on earth am I going to stand out, and bring my work to the notice of readers? The thought does occur: are there more than 68,200 readers out there ready to purchase and read my novels and short stories?

How on earth can any writer seem special, or worthy of note among this competition? There must be a number of ways.

One can have outstanding book covers. A good book cover sells itself. There is much written about colour, size, typography, illustration, layout and meaning of book covers. Reading up on that aspect is important, and should be a major consideration on the part of anyone producing a book: author or publisher.

One can devise a brilliant marketing plan. Raising awareness of one's book is a major task, which is time-consuming, sometimes baffling, and always exhausting. Before marketing, of course, a writer ought to identify the market. Isolating the people most likely to want to buy and read a book is not an easy task, but it is possible, and should be undertaken early - perhaps even before the book reaches the final production stages.
An author can write strictly within a genre, and write for a particular ready-made audience. There are some very popular genres: romance, mystery, sci-fi, fantasy, urban myth, historical, and post-apocalyptic spring to mind. They are everywhere, and seem to assure the author there is a bottomless pit of readers seeking new material to feast upon.

The writing must be good. No question about this - it's got to be invisible: conveying the content - whether it is fact or fiction - in a seamless error-free way. It ought to pack punch, show style, experience, knowledge. It ought to shine in form and content. Not easy at all, but some authors manage. There is a wealth of excellent writing out there, and many readers have found it. Whether we can continue to improve and achieve is a question of effort, striving for improvement and putting in the hard miles.

And then there is the question of quantity - in my mind, one of the most important factors in the life of a writer. One must keep producing material for an audience that seems to latch onto the work of a particular author, once they have liked one example of their work. 'Gee, I could not put this thriller down. I must find more by this author.' The search is on. Any writer is expected to turn out more than just one book. Being a one-book wonder is every author's fear. Publishers do not like one-book wonders, and that is the first question they ask when wooed by a new author: is there more where this came from?

Being a special writer means all this and more: but the last facet is the most important. It is much easier to market nine books than it is to publicize and promote just one. The books of any one author seem to sell each other. A reader browsing for material clicks on the author's name more often than we tend to guess. Authors' names are important, because they are like brands - readers go back for more of the same if they like what they read.

Write more: that seems to be the ticket. If you want to be a special writer, you need to be a prolific one. It is probably more useful to write the next book than to chase the publicity and promotion wagon. It all starts on the next page, doesn't it?

If you are a reader, please tell me if you seek books by writers whose one example you read was pleasing. If you are an author, let me know if you are seriously pursuing inspiration and material for that next title.

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  1. A thought-provoking piece, Rosanne. You suggest that unless a new author follows a publication success with an immediate start on a new work, the laurels will soon become thistles. That notion spurs me on! Thank you.

  2. Yes, Stephen - and for some authors the laurels do not start to sprout until book three or four!

  3. Great post, Rosanne! Glad I stopped by after seeing you featured over at The Desert Rocks.

    This gives me a lot to think about, and strive for. I've been polishing one book and worrying so much about platform and all that yada-yada.

    Thanks. Please consider me a new follower. I love all things Aussie!

  4. Bryce - I'm glad I wrote something that struck a chord with you. Providing readers with a body of work that shows adapability, flexibility, and a variety to choose from or look forward to is a definite plus.

  5. Tell Bryce to "Just Do it!" and maybe he won't whine about all the wonderful books he probably has inside his head. Of course Rosanne, you can tell me the same thing! Great post.

  6. Rosanne, you are so right!

    You've reminded me that I have to finish the manuscript I've been nursing along for the past two years....

  7. I'm both a writer and a reader, Rosanne, so this post was very interesting to me. As a reader I do seek out more books by writers I enjoy - and even sometimes those I find challenging but which stimulate me. I'm about to go to the bookshop for the latest Joe Abercrombie book for exactly that reason.
    As a writer, like so many others, I find the writing world I thought I understood is in complete turmoil. I've been taking steps to lift my profile but you have got me thinking about how I can promote myself and my writing better. Thanks for making me look at other ways I can do this.