7 Ways to "Put Yourself Out There as a Writer"
Was there ever a more generic piece of advice to writers than “put yourself out there”? I hear this constantly, and yes, I often say it myself.
It’s worth investigating what it really means to “put yourself out there as a writer.” Which writers are putting themselves out there, what does that look like, and how can other writers follow their example?
Stake a claim online. If someone searches your name + “writer” online, you want search results that showcase your work. Lots of writers think that they need to create a website, and faced with such a huge task (and one that usually costs a bit of money), they put it off. Another great option is to create a Book Country profile. Add a photo of yourself (a non-selfie, professional, and friendly headshot), a short, sweet author bio, and a few lines about the kind of reading and writing you like to do. Link out to your blog + Twitter if applicable. Viola! You’re a Google-able writer, and you’ve also made it easy for other writers to connect to you.
Social media. It’s easy enough to set up your account. But you have to create engaging content in order for these accounts to be worthwhile. A great first step for creating content is to share about what you’re reading. Use these posts to learn how the social media platform works, follow other writers with similar literary interests, then start opening up about your own writing. Authenticity is everything on social media. Making public pronouncements as a writer can be intimidating at first, but it’s opens up a chance for others to learn about you and your work. If people don’t respond at first, that’s okay. Remain approachable and enthusiastic about the conversations that are happening, and followers will, well, follow.
Online workshopping. There’s no better way to showcase yourself as a writer than to post your writing for peer review online.It says to the world, “I’m a writer and I want to find readers for my work.” You don’t have to post your whole book if that’s too scary right now (or if the book isn’t done yet). Start with the first chapter and add more as you gain confidence and gather feedback from reviewers. When someone asks you, “How can I read your work?” you can easily send them a link.
Introducing yourself in your online writing community. Don’t wait for others to come find you–start a thread to say hi. I’ve seen lots of Book Country connections develop this way. Not a member of an online writing community yet? You’ve come to the right place. You can sign up for Book Country here, and you can introduce yourself here.
Attend a writers conference. Many writers are introverts, and it’s hard for them to imagine an entire weekend of networking. But there’s no better place for aspiring authors to go to learn about the publishing industry straight from the source, and there’s something about wearing a badge that announces you as a writer that really helps you to own the moniker. Even if you feel nowhere close to publishing, a conference will inspire you to keep writing. (Read how Book Country member Janice Peacock found her publisher by chance via her first writers conference.)
Sign up for a pitchfest. At many conferences, you have the chance to pitch your book to an editor or agent. Whatever the chances of these pitches leading to publication, these “pitchfests” teach you how to talk about your work in a way that engages the pros. One of my favorite aspects of the San Francisco Writers Conference is the “Pitchathon” sessions. Writers use these to practice their pitch with a panel of editors, agents, and authors in front of an audience prior to the pitchfest. It takes a brave soul to pitch their book to a room full of strangers, but the expert feedback is worth the brief spotlight. Your pitch will be stronger, and the rest of the room just learned about your book. In fact, Audrey Greathouse learned about Book Country at a YA Pitchathon at SFWC 2015, used the feedback she got from members to revise her book, and was picked up by a publisher later this year.
Guest blog. Lots of writers believe they need to start their own blog to be taken seriously as a writer. Like creating your own website, starting and maintaining a blog is hard work, and thus writers put it off. Why not dip your toe in by asking established bloggers if you can write a guest post? A guest post gives you the chance to expose your writing to a whole new group of blog readers, and gives you content to share on social media. On Book Country, we love when our members want to guest blog for us–not only do Book Country writers have great ideas for blog post topics, but it also helps the entire community get to know those writers and their books. Here’s a round up of fantastic guest posts by our members. Have an idea of your own? Share it with me at Lucy@BookCountry.com.
What are some other ways you’ve “put yourself out there” as a writer? Share in the comments below.