three simple steps toward standing out online as an author

There are all kinds of writers out there trying to make a name for themselves on the internet. How can you stand out in a vast sea of creative work? It’s simple:

  1. Define what you’re about.
  2. Put out curated content.
  3. Make your readers’ lives better.

1. Define what you’re about.

You’re a dynamic person with varied skills and interests…which means you’re complicated, so when someone meets you for the first time, it’s hard for them to get to know you. If you don’t make it easy for them to remember you for one thing, they won’t remember you for anything.

What is that one thing you want to be remembered for? Take some time to explore why you write what you write. What motivates you? What is the message you want to share with the world? Brainstorm, mind map…and then narrow it down to one sentence. You might refer to this as your “why.” For me, that sentence is this:

I write to uncover beauty in the ugly places.

Don’t rush this process, and don’t feel like you’re married to the resulting sentence. I’ve written and rewritten mine multiple times over the past year, and I will continue to refine it, but for now it’s something I can hold on to and focus on, and it’s something other people can hold onto as well. I am becoming known for it.

2. Put out curated content.

Curating the content that you put out means only publishing pieces that reflect what you want to be known for. If someone reads the last three blog posts that you wrote, will they have an idea of what kind of writer you are? What about your social media pages? Does the content you share reflect your “why?”

I’m always seeking out better ways to express my “why” through the content that I publish, especially here on my own website. Consumption is a novel about Karina’s pursuit of beauty in the midst of her OCD and anxiety. #31poems is a series about writing poetry to create beauty out of all kinds of circumstances. Even this blog series about marketing reflects my “why” because my goal is to show you that marketing doesn’t have to be an ugly word; you can use marketing to give beautiful gifts to your readers!

3. Make your readers’ lives better.

If all you do after reading this article is define your “why” and start curating the content that you publish so that it reflects that “why,” you will be ahead of most writers. If you take it one step further, though, you will be on your way toward really standing out and being remembered.

If you shift the focus off of yourself and onto your readers, they will remember you and come back to you. Instead of simply blogging about the process of writing your book, share excerpts that will interest your readers or include takeaways that will make your readers’ lives better. Focus on what you can provide for them instead of what they can give you.

This marketing series came about because as I interacted with fellow writers, I realized I had marketing knowledge to share that would benefit them. I’m writing on this topic because I know it will help the kinds of people that I want reading my blog. In fact, today’s post is a result of two conversations I had with writers that I met through Twitter. Since I interact with my readers and learn what their struggles are, I don’t have to guess what sort of content will benefit them!

how (and why) I made Consumption a purple cow

The first time you see a cow, you notice it. But after driving past dozens of brown cows, they cease to be exciting. If a purple cow shows up, though — now that’s remarkable.


Seth Godin’s 2003 book Purple Cow initiated me into the world of marketing. In it, he makes the case that in order to sell something it must be literally “remark-able.” The idea or product needs to be easy for people to talk about and share, and it has to be remarkable enough that people want to talk about and share it. Like a purple cow. If you saw one, wouldn’t you tell somebody?

Marketing has been a hobby of mine ever since reading Seth’s book. There are all kinds of marketing ideas out there, but the best ones boil down to one thing: focus on your audience.

And so, when I set out to write and publish my novel, Consumption, I set out to create a purple cow that will better the lives of the people who read it.

A novel is a brown cow in a field of brown cows. The first step toward creating a purple cow was to make my novel different, but I didn’t want it to stand out simply for the sake of standing out. I wanted to make my novel outstanding in a way that would benefit my readers. So instead of writing twenty-some normal chapters, I broke my novel up into eighty-one vignettes that are easy to read, even in our internet culture of short tweets and digital screens.

Now that I have written Consumption, I’m using “purple cow” concepts to guide how I publish it. Brown cow novels are published in their entirety as ebooks, paperbacks, or hardbacks. My purple cow novel will be published here on my website as a serial, one vignette at a time. The story takes place over the winter of 2016-17, so my audience can read the story as it unfolds, beginning tomorrow under the full moon on Karina’s 18th birthday.

Choosing to publish Consumption online for free this winter makes it easy for my readers to share it. If a vignette touches them, they can share it on social media. If they know someone who would enjoy the story, they can text them the link.

Consumption won’t be available for free forever. Eventually it will become an ebook and a paperback that people can buy in order to support my work. By then I will be on to creating my next purple cow as I come up with more ways to make the lives of my audience better. Because in the end, that’s the point of a purple cow: providing people with something that makes their own lives more remarkable.

why you need to start marketing your book before it's published

You have a story to share with the world. A story that will breathe life into the people who read it. The thing is, it’s not quite ready to publish yet.

So you put your head down and write and rewrite and edit and revise. When you finally have a beautiful book to share with the world, where are the readers? Are people eagerly waiting for your book’s release? Are they as excited as you are that your book is available to them to read?

They should be.

And they will be if you have prepared them.

It’s never too early to begin building readership. Before writing a first draft or even an outline, you can begin to build relationships with people who will eventually buy your books.

Good marketing is exactly that — building relationships. If there are people in the world who want to read the sort of book that you are writing, you have a responsibility to find them and tell them how they can get their hands on this book! Marketing is not a necessary evil, it’s a gift to your readers.

Of course, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about marketing your work. The right way focuses on the readers, and the wrong way focuses on yourself. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing more on this topic. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss it! I’ll also send you a guide that I wrote: {3 ways to stay inspired when you don’t feel like writing}