I probably don’t need to tell you that being a writer is a competitive business. Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, it’s a crowded pursuit.
I remember talking to a fellow freelance writer and he said something that stuck with me even to this day.
Writers are just like dogs all going after the same bone.
So true. That bone is assignments, a publishing contract, or readers for your indie published work.
What can you do to stand out from the crowd?
Figure Out What’s Been Overdone
This is aimed at fiction writers, but non-fiction ones take note too. Check out what sort of books are being published and go in another direction. It used to be that editors or agents would tell you when they were seeing too much of the same type of plot but now people are self publishing more, there’s no one offering that advice.
In romances, I’m seeing women either breaking up with someone or being widowed and returning to their home town. Or returning home and dark secrets come to light.
I’m seeing nothing but current or FBI agents chasing serial killers in mystery novels.
If you really have your heart set on an FBI agent being your main character or a serial killer on the loose, or want your heroine returning home, sit down and brainstorm about how you can make it different.
Maybe the FBI agent is really the serial killer or he or she doesn’t catch the serial killer. Maybe the heroine doesn’t return home but to someplace she’s always wanted to go.
A brainstorming session can never hurt.
Put Yourself in Someone Else’s Shoes
This one’s more for freelance writers but it’s just a nice gesture in every day life too. My late father always use to say if you’re thinking about doing something and not sure if you should, think about it’s effect on someone else and if you’d want someone to do it to you.
If you’re working with an editor who gives you a deadline, don’t think you can turn your story in a week later. And if you have a valid reason for missing your deadline, let the editor know before deadline day. It makes their life easier and the easier you make their life, the more you stand out from the crowd.
Which leads me into one final tip…
Author, writer, whatever you call yourself, don’t be a diva, be easy to work with and go the extra mile to hand in work that goes above and beyond what you told the editor or agent you’d do.
When I was a publicist, one of my clients was an actor (yes, another competitive business). One day we met for lunch and we got onto the topic of acting and how tough it was to make a living. I mentioned some actors always seem to get parts in movies or TV series and asked if that was down to having a great agent.
His response was…
The actors who get repeat work are they ones who are easy to work with. They make everyone’s life, from their fellow actors to the director, smooth sailing.
Always be easy to work with and you’ll always stand out from the crowd!