Blogger: Michelle Ule
Sitting in for Janet Grant
In our media-saturated world, discoverability is one of the most important needs of a writer.
The ability to be discovered can be more important than quality of writing, particularly when you are starting.
That’s a sobering thought.
So, what’s a writer to do?
Give some thought to how they can be discovered, or at least become known enough someone will want to read their book.
Here are six ideas to boost your discoverability.
“What does your daughter want to be when she finishes school?” I asked a fellow soccer mom some years ago.
The woman sighed. “She wants to be famous.”
“I know. She spends all her time reading People Magazine. That’s her goal, to be in the magazine. I told her fame was fine, I just did not want her to be infamous.”
A casual glance at the bestseller’s list show plenty of books by well-know people, whether famous or infamous.
The quality of the writing itself, or even the story if not biographical, can be good or bad–often depending on the ghost writer.
I, personally, would rather not have a family tragedy catapult me into fame, so I’ve never sought this method of discoverability.
You choose for yourself.
Sometimes our work can become well known–and thus discoverable–because of who we know.
And you never know who you know will be the key to an editor, publishing house, newspaper reporter or even a People Magazine writer, in presenting you to the world.
The nerd from high school, the boss’ spouse whom everyone hated, your second grade teacher, a non-descript soul you met at a writer’s conference, all can be helpful.
So, be polite, kind and interested in even the most unlikely of characters.
Let people know you want to be, or already are, a writer.
A woman I worked with 30 years ago sent me an email out of the blue one day 15 years ago. “You always wanted to be a writer. Have you heard of the Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference?”
I had not. I hadn’t even heard from her in years.
But I trusted her opinion and looked up the conference. I attended that year and my life changed in innumerable ways.
It never hurts to win a prize. I was a finalist one year for the ACFW Genesis award.
Barbour Publishing liked to award a contract to a new writer each year at the ACFW conference. Because I was a finalist, I got a chance to send in a proposal for one of their collections.
Becky Germany liked my proposal for The Dogtrot Christmas and offered me a contract –which she awarded at the conference.
Participating in A Log Cabin Christmas Collection has been a blessing to me ever since in countless ways.
Discoverability can be improved if your subject matter catches attention–as in the subject has a large following.
Or, if an anniversary is approaching that you can link to.
2017 is the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation; people are gearing up for a big celebration.
My friend Michelle DeRusha published a biography Katarina and Martin Luther, earlier this year.
The Luthers are of great interest in 2017 and little has been written about Katarina–making her project discoverable and interesting for many.
Look ahead to big anniversaries coming up in, say 2022 or 2023. Can you write a project connected to them?
(Here’s a hint for 1922: formation of the USSR; first insulin treatment given in Canada; Lincoln Memorial dedicated.
1923: King Tut’s tomb discovered and opened; the republic of Turkey established; Time Magazine published for the first time).
Discoverability chances improve if you have done your homework and write an excellent project.
They also improve if you have cultivated your relationship with God and with other people–so you are known as a quality person.
Be kind, giving, work hard and allow the fruit of the Spirit to flow out of your work and your heart.
Sometimes God puts a book idea, experience, or patron into your life at a special time for purposes only He can ordain.
Perhaps a famous person meets you and asks you to write their story.
Discoverability can come out of nowhere if God is involved, and there’s nothing you can do about that except pray with your heart and mind open.
What other ideas do you have about ways you can become well known–as a writer and a person–without resorting to infamy?
6 ways to improve your discoverability as a writer. Click to Tweet
6 keys to discoverability–as a good person and writer. Click to Tweet
Michelle, great post!
* I guess I’d add ‘relevance’ (though it might fold into subject matter). As an example. Beverly Lewis’ Amish novels began appearing in the late 1980s, after the success of the Harrison Ford film “Witness”, which illuminated the Amish life (with considerable Hollywood license) for mainstream America.
* For myself, I try to write from the heart, with the hope that I can be discovered by just one person…and that person finds a lost faith, and comes to know Christ.
Wise observation, as always, Andrew.
I had not put together Witness and the Amish onslaught, but you may be correct at the beginning (what? 25 years ago?) I know the penchant for Scottish historical grew out of a survey a publishing house did about the same time. No one saw that coming!
Writer Lynn Vincent once told me the same thing, is there any point to writing a book unless it nudges someone in the direction of God?
Blessings to you, as always.
Your posts are always thought-provoking, Michelle. Thank God for the old friend who planted a Mt. Hermon signpost on your path.
* “Be famous” isn’t on my bucket list. I think fame is like the weather — if it comes, I’ll deal with it. Arranging it isn’t my job.
* Prize-winning / subject matter / quality: all a matter of writing the best that I can.
* God-ordained! Yes . . . the final outcome is in his hands. Whether I am published or I am the encourager who puts useful signposts on other writers’ paths — it’s all about obedience, willingness, follow-through and faith. Thanks be to God, the Author of my story.
Very true, Shirlee, and when I start feeling envious about the success of others (particularly those whose projects are awful in my opinion), I like to remember that God is at work in ways I cannot guess.
We need to follow where He directs, focus on what we can influence, and leave the outcome in His hands. Even if I had never published, I’d still be thankful for the wonderful experiences and people I’ve come to know over the last 14 years.
Nodding my head with this thread. Shirlee and Michelle, your words spread an aroma of encouragement today.
Amen and amen, Shirlee and Michelle.
Damon J. Gray
Tremendous insights, Michelle. Thank you for sharing.
As to the question regarding ideas I might have, really, I’m something of a dry well in that respect. If I had those ideas, the “discovery” would already have happened. So I trust in the wisdom of those who know far more than I do, continue to be faithful to the holy unrest within me, and keep walking the path I’m on. When it happens, it will happen. If it does not, I’ll go to my grave with peace in my heart.
Excellent attitude, Damon.
I ask myself, “what’s the price of fame?”
When I look around and see what the world provides, I’ll take anonymity and the fruits of the spirit!
I thoroughly enjoyed this, Michelle, thanks for sharing it! Glad to have “discovered” you today!
Excellent post ma’am.
*Be famous – not anymore. I’m so tired of this because it doesn’t just work. In the pursuit of fame, it’s so easy to be infamous.
*Prize-winning – well, write, write, write; read, read, read… It’s all I’ve been doing, hoping it works.
*God-ordained – now, this is it. This is my only hope and my final hope.
What else could I add – nothing…
Michelle, such a great post. I chuckled at the story of the girl who wants to be famous. Isn’t that a desire that passes through many young girls’ hearts sometime in childhood? 🙂
*I can’t really add to what you said. Ultimately, whether we are discovered depends a whole lot on God’s plan for our lives, our writing, and our yielding to such. We will find contentment when we seek Him first, do the work, and trust Him to do what He knows is best for our journeys.
*Thanks for the idea of checking anniversaries. I like that thought. 🙂
Yes to Michael and Jeanne, both, with a literal nod to Meghan. 🙂
“He has shown you, oh (wo)man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you: to do justice, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
He will take you on the paths for your life that suit the gifts, talents and abilities He has poured into you. That doesn’t mean a guarantee of any sort of success we might be looking for, but peace that comes from knowing we are in His will–the very best place to be.
As many of you know, I’ve written a biography of Mrs. Oswald Chambers. She had a call to put her husband’s teachings into print. It was a vision he cast in their engagement. She had the shorthand skills, God gave Oswald the words.
He died seven years into the marriage, leaving her with a couple trunks full of notes–no pension, no home, she and their four year-old were in a YMCA camp surrounded by ANZAC soldiers in Egypt in the middle of a world war.
She repatriated to England in 1919, still penniless and homeless but with a vision and a calling. She had no guarantees anything would ever come of those notes–and yet the books she produced (as a self-publisher 80 years before it became more normal) blessed people time and again.
The big one, of course was My Utmost for His Highest.
We cannot know what God plans for our work. Many have labored in obscurity forever, but have remained true to the calling God put on their life. The question for all of us, really, is what would be success for us?
I think Andrew has stated it well.
Andrew, also, has spent the last 18 months of his life giving the rest of us perspective and insight into the experience of a person who is dying. That’s invaluable–and something I know I will use and have already used with dying friends.
Is Andrew famous? Well, he is to us. 🙂
But his work which, unfortunately, will outlive him and the rest of us, has great value.
To me, that makes it meaningful–even if the lost world is missing it.
Off the soapbox for me! 🙂
Michelle, I’m overwhelmed, and honoured beyond measure. You’ll given bright illumination to what has been a dark and difficult morning.
Michelle, thank you for sharing more of Mrs. Chambers’ story. I didn’t know these things. I just know I’ve read, My Utmost For His Highest, many times, and gleaned from it with every reading.
*Your words are true. We don’t know the work God will do with our words. And the question of what is success is crucial to answer before we can know if we are successful. 😉
*I agree, Andrew is famous, and an inspiration around these parts. His wise words and raw-honest perspective have inspired and challenged me time and again.
Beautiful, Michelle. We love our Andrew. His words will definitely dwell in my heart as long as I live.
Michelle, some good ideas in that one. I’ll differ slightly with you on winning awards–I’ve won or been a finalist in a number of them, including the Carol, Selah, and some others–and I don’t know that it’s ever resulted in a single sale. But, on the other hand, like chicken soup, “It couldn’t hurt.”
Oh, and I think you mean “ghost writer” when you talk about books by famous people. Then again, “ghost rider” conjures up some interesting visions. : )
LOL. We all need editors–I’ll make the correction, Richard. Thanks.
The thing about a contest–and of course it depends on the reputation that contest has over time–is it gives you a slight toehold up in discoverability among editors.
I read bestselling books at times and think “who thought this was an interesting story/well written/fill in your own blank.”
But often I pick it up because it was a bestseller–what is the market buying these days–so I have a working knowledge of what is popular.
Publishing houses want at least a little guarantee that someone will buy a book because they’ve heard of you–for whatever reason.
Thanks for your insight.
Jaxon M King
I’m pretty much relying on God to see where He wants to take me in my writing venture. I just try to make myself available to be used as much as I can. Thank you for your post, Michelle.
Elizabeth Bohan (Betsy, ej bohan)
Thank you for your post Michelle, and especially the acknowledgement that our books can be inspired by our lives and by God. I was reminded so much to never say in a interview that God gave you your book. But,.truly, God did give me my book and my desire to Bri g the gospel and healing to the hearts and minds of both the believer and unbeliever. My book I am seeking a publisher for is, “Losing My Mind, Finding God’s.”
I have not had an easy life and have had PTSD for over 50 years. I won’t go into a long history, but trust me when I say I have learned how to forgive other’s really bad choices and have learned how to suffer well. I have also had to teach this to my son, and am currently mentoring three women who have all backgrounds of various trauma, with husband’s who also have come fro. Less than ideal situations. They trust me because they have come to know me and my husband .
I can teach and explain trauma and how to heal in a way that those who have not experienced what I have are unable to. God has given me a gift with words that convey important concepts in easily understood terms. I know how to be compassionate, yet challenging,.both couched in an obvious love for God as the One I AM, but also as Father, Son and Spirit, which is very important.
My current concern is not if I become famous, but following the path the Father is direct g me on. I am not one that uses people just to achieve a goal. They are people and situations I could jump on to propel myself forward, but I am very prudent in my choices because these are not just books and words to me…it is my very life poured out on the pages.
Elizabeth Bohan (Betsy, ej bohan)
I’m so sorry for my typos. It’s a combination of using my phone that isn’t always sensitive to my touch, and my eyes. It is frustrating to me because I hate to have typos. I guess, I may have to use my laptop to avoid them.
Mary Kay Moody
Thanks, Michelle. I appreciate your reminders ~ and your examples from your own writing journey. ‘Tis always encouraging.