Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Getting the Writer Noticed Before the Book is Published

I have already done a post on giving our books visibility,  refer to post  Effective Marketing Strategy to Give  Books Visibility. But there are a lot of writers who are unpublished. This post will cover the points on giving a writer visibility, though I prefer to call them aspiring authors rather than struggling writers.

 As writers there are many ways we can ensure that atleast some people are familiar with our names before our books are published.
    1.  In India most writers take the newspaper route: we (including me) start our writing careers by  contributing to newspapers and magazines that accept freelancers. This is one of the best ways to get visibility: contributing regular features, articles  and short stories ensures that we write often, our regular bylines make many people familiar with our names and ofcourse  when a cheque arrives in the mail it’s a wonderful feeling and seeing our work in print is sheer joy. All the newspapers and magazines accept email submissions. I have noticed  that few regular contributors have ended up with columns.

2.      Participating in short  story, poetry, haiku and flash fiction competitions is a    
      wonderful  way to get noticed. Even if the writer does not win the top prizes, 
      but gets just a special mention or  comes in the top ten, editors,   
      publishers and agents  take notice. I have seen several writers who win
      prizes, bag  book deals from publishers. Nowadays there are several online
      writing  competitions  that one can join without worrying about postal
      issues. Many don’t even have an entry fee and one can submit from any part
      of the world.

 3.  Starting a Blog is  one of the best ways of expressing oneself and building
      relationships  with other writers and learning and sharing knowledge, all
      from the comfort of our homes. I have read that many editors and agents  
     ( in India we don't  have agents) search for an  online presence for the writers
      whose manuscript lands in their  inbox. And of course it’s an amazing platform
      and hones our writing skills.

4.  Building a Website is one of the best thing writers and authors can do.
     Though I have been toying with that idea I am not sure I will go for that right
      now. Writers can even put up samples of their previously published
      work for editors, agents and publishers to go through. But, don't ever make the
      mistake of  putting anything from unpublished books or stories. As once its
      read  no one will be interested in publishing it. Both the blog and the website
      looks good in the Writer/Author bio.

5.  Almost all publishers bring out anthologies where several writers (yes even
     unpublished writers are invited) and authors are  asked to contribute a story:
     sometimes based on a theme. If the publisher is big then this turns out to be a
     prestigious thing to mention in the bio. I have been a part of several Penguin
     Anthologies. Many times writers  contributing in anthologies  are offered      
     book deals or commissioned to write on different  topics by  publishers.

6.  Contributing articles in prestigious Journals that have a reputation in the 
     literary world is a wonderful way to get noticed. Such mentions in our bios   
     do make the agent and editor sit up  and take notice. To write a book takes a
      long time, so if in the interim a few publishing credits roll out it’s a good thing.

Do you think its important  for writers to get noticed even before their books are published? What are all the things you are doing to get yourself visibility? What do you all  think writers should do to get noticed. Please share. It will be of great help to everyone.


  1. excellent post. It IS important to get yourself out there. When we contribute to newspapers and magazines we learn the processes that go on as well.

  2. Great post. Although I have a website and blog, I haven't done much newspaper writing in a long time. I loved doing feature stories a long time ago, but found it that newspapers in my current location don't accept freelance contributions.

    I think the competition for writers in the U.S. might be more fierce than in India, but I could be wrong. I wonder how much the location affects a writer's marketing and platform.

  3. Great tips, Rachna.

    I think one of the most important things for writers to do is to figure out their platform, meaning that they have to know why they write and what they want to accomplish with their writing. Readers are drawn to writers who have clear messages and those writers become well known.


  4. An Excellent post, which I need to get my mum to read. It doesn't matter how many times I explain that submitting my stories to anthologies and competitions is for exposure she is convinced I'm being taken for ride. As far as she is concerned they're out to make money and I'm being used. She doesn't see that most of these small press publishers are struggling to stay afloat and many are doing it to give writers an opportunity to be published. I'm not disagreeing that they want to make money - who wouldn't? But I'm not paying someone to publish my work and the only cost to me is the cost of the anthology, usually at a discounted rate. I just wish she could understand!

  5. I agree with all of these except the one about putting writing samples up. It's okay if these are just miscellaneous and are not taken from your book that you are trying to sell. Never put anything from your book on your blog.

    I have a website. Mine needs a bit of reworking. It has the first page of my MG novel and that has changed. My site is actually geared to the kids. There's some things I want to take off and some things I want to add. But getting name recognition is crucial.

  6. Yes some regular columnists get noticed fast..... like The Busybee from Bombay.
    Sigh . . . . . . yet to come across someone like him in this era.

  7. Yes, I think it’s very important, but both for visibility and for keeping your writing muscle alive and keeping your spirits up. That’s why now that I’m between novels I’m trying my best to churn out essays and flash fiction pieces. If they get published, good for me, but if they don’t, I know I have a lot of hard work ahead of me.

  8. This is a great list of things writers must do today to get noticed. Sure there weren't so many hoops say ten years ago, but then there probably weren't as many writers. With home computers, spell check, and lots of free time, competition just got bit more stiff.

  9. Rachna,
    I agree with you.This is necessary for every new writer(not only new but old one also)to be popular before their book is published.Because at least reader will recognise him before start reading him.
    I started my writing from very small news paper,radio and local magazines--then magazines of national label..i also participated in workshop mode writing----and after all i got proposals from publisher.
    So i think it is important for writer to come in front--before his books comes in market.
    And so many other ways are also to come in touch with authors,illustrators and publishers--like writing for radio,T V,stage,puppet,workshops,internet and so many others.Really nice discussion ..i liked it.
    Best wishes.

  10. good post. yes we need to get out there on the www

    Hi, here by way of Jai's blog

  11. Rachna, you have an award at my blog!


  12. Good advice. Yes, I do think it is helpful to have some visibility before a book is published. Not crucial, but helpful.

  13. Hi friends...I think we are all in sync that writers both published and unpublished need visibility. Today we have to be active participants in marketing. Our job does not end with writing a book/novel. In fact the tough part begins after we finish writing.

  14. a very interesting blog, please visit my blog too ... thank you

  15. You set these stages so clearly, Rachna. I do agree that it is important, more so now than ever before, for writers to have visibility. Here is where I struggle, as I use a pseudonym for the blog, have published articles under my real name, and am rather torn as to which name I go with. Sometimes I wish I didn't start with the pseudonym but it felt so free in the beginning to be annoymous. And now I am 'Jayne'... it makes life a little complex!

  16. I wrote a lot of nonfiction before even tackling a book. I wrote for magazines and newspapers and anthologies--anything to get my name out there and to build my credits. But I know if one writes a great book, you don't even need to do that until afterward but the support wouldn't be there either.

  17. Your article is right on target! I think, especially in America where there are so many unemployed writers who now have the time to write their fiction, that it's important to stand out in an even MORE competitive market. The tactics you mention all help. I believe both my contest awards and publishing history have helped my query land in fewer slush piles! The one area I didn't know about was the 'anthology' route. Thanks for the eye-opener !I, too, started out in newspaper reporting, by the way. Tweeted your post on Twitter today!

  18. I think it's a great idea to get out there before a book. I figure, I love writing, I might as well write and get a feel for different markets. I've done online and print magazines, which has been a great experience. LOVE having the blog and meeting nice people like you. I have a web site, which is mostly my home based for the published pieces. I think all of this helps, and even if it doesn't, it sure is fun!