Trying to stand out in a dying industry amongst thousands upon thousands of other authors is not an easy task. Maybe you’re hoping to be the next Stephen King or Terry McMillan, or at least match their success and longevity. So what is it about you as an author that will make you stand out amongst the rest? What do you offer that will keep your readers coming back for more? Here are a few questions you may want to ask yourself if you’re seriously considering staying in the author game for the long run.
What is your writing style?
Is your style flat, bland, or prosaic? Or is it more poetic, colorful, or raunchy? Deciding what your writing style will be throughout each story is important. You want to consider your audience and what will keep them engaged. If you’re targeting a teen audience, you don’t want to be too explicit or graphic. You may not want to write “over” your audience’s head or use overblown language that may turn some people off. On the other hand, if your audience is more sophisticated you may want to go that route. You also want to stay consistent throughout your story with whichever style you decide is appropriate for each character.
Has your story been written already?
As an author you want to stay abreast of what’s already out there in your genre. Make it a regular practice to search for new titles in your genre. Read what other authors are writing. Of course you can’t read every book that’s out there, but reading short descriptions or previews can give you a pretty good idea. You don’t want your book dismissed as just another same ol’ same ol’ type of story that’s been done already.
Who is your audience?
Knowing your audience is probably one of the top 3 important things in marketing and promoting your book. It can also be one of the hardest areas to define. You want to make sure the audience you are pitching your book to is actually the audience who will read your type of book(s). Trying to convince a sci-fi reader to read a coming of age novel probably won’t work. Try to envision your target audience as one individual. Once you’ve narrowed it down as much as you can, research where these types of individuals hang out and what types of activities they enjoy. Finding a way to work this information into your story helps the reader to relate to and identify with the characters.
What do you offer in your story that’s unique to your target audience?
You’ve decided on your writing style. You know your target audience. You know what genre your book falls in, but what makes you stand out in this particular genre? Are you bringing something new, some flare or twist to the genre that hasn’t been done yet? Fans of a particular genre look for this. What is it that the reader will expect to receive from you once they see your name on the book? What is it that will make them select your book out of the others sitting next to it?
How do you want your readers to feel during and after reading your book(s)?
Telling a story or providing information isn’t that hard. However, evoking emotions while doing so is more challenging. You want your readers to do more than just read words. You want them to feel something. Decide what those emotions are you want to be felt and at what points throughout the book you want them to be felt. Then execute. This may mean character development, storyline development, or dialogue development.
Are your readers getting their money’s worth?
At the end of the day, any purchase a person makes is an investment of some sort. Whatever is being paid for, the consumer expects something from it in return. When deciding where your book should be priced, stop and think if what you’re providing in your book is worth it. Is the reader being entertained from start to finish? Is the book long enough? Will the reader be satisfied after finishing the book?