I read a fabulous quote yesterday on a calendar at the doctor’s office that struck a chord with me. “If you want to stand out, don’t be different; be outstanding.
As a writer I am always thinking of ways to draw attention to my writing. Writing is a crowed, competitive field, and it becomes more so every year. Someone suggested recently that a writer could gain attention by sending her book to Oprah. There are over 175,000 books released in the United States every year. It is very unlikely that Oprah would ever see yours. Chances are if a celebrity is going to endorse a book, she’ll choose one by someone she knows and who has already gained a degree of national attention. I know for a fact this is how Oprah chooses books to endorse.
Check out any of the current bestseller lists. Sadly you won’t find my name there. At least not today. I haven’t yet stepped out of the pack. Maybe you are in the same situation on your job. Or at school. Or with the opposite sex. Or wherever it is you desire to be noticed.
In many fields, writing included, those trying to break in look for a current trend or theme to mimic in hopes of selling their product. This week in writing the popular trend is vampires. Publishers and agents are inundated with books trying to capitalize on the success of the Twilight series and others along that vein. The only problem with that method is tastes change and by the time you finish your first draft, what’s selling today may be out of fashion.
Other writers decide the best way to get noticed is to be different. They thumb their noses at convention by not ending their romance happily. That only works for Nicholas Sparks. Or they’ll write a book about a flesh eating alien who runs for the U. S. Senate and adopts a child from a third world country. That only works for Angelina Jolie.
While there is nothing wrong with exploring new avenues and thinking outside the box, there is probably a reason why few publishers would be clamoring for the aforementioned works.
It is best not to reinvent the wheel. In fiction, most genres have certain rules and guidelines aspiring writers should adhere to, such as letting the guy get the girl or bringing your villain to justice. As your popularity and visibility grows you will have more opportunities to push the envelope. But for now keep it simple. Rather than worrying so much about being different, we should focus our talents and gifts on being outstanding in whatever we do.
Write the best novel you can write. Put together the best presentation. Put everything you have into you next demo. Whatever you do, don’t be different; strive to be outstanding. Only then will you stand out in the crowd and gain the attention you seek.