Putting yourself out there – Jane Linfoot

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By Jane Linfoot

Hands up if you’re the kind of writer who’d prefer to tick the “no publicity” box?

For a lot of us, the great part about being a writer is that our books do the talking, while we type away under our invisibility cloaks. And while most of us would rather have our teeth pulled than come out from behind the laptop, when we send off to publishers and agents they’re looking to get a picture of the writer as well as the writing. However scary that thought is, if we can sparkle when the spotlight hits us, it will help us get a contract.

When a publisher is glancing through our submission letter we have a nanosecond to make an impression. “Ms/Mr Mediocre of The Midlands…” isn’t going to cut it here. But if we take the same approach we use for our books, and describe ourselves through our own ‘unique selling points’ it’s a fast-forward way of making a connection, expressing who we are, and being memorable. All at the same time.

So how can you make yourself sound spectacular? A good starting point is to find things that are special to you. You might not be lucky enough to do lion taming as a hobby or to have scored a quadruple PhD from Oxbridge. And not many people are married to a pop star. But most of you will have something unique about you that will make a weary editor smile or raise an eyebrow. Then sit up and take a closer look.

It doesn’t have to be anything huge. Small things can be just as effective in speaking about who you are… Your collection of dog teeth. The time you went backpacking in Asia and made one roll of Andrex last six months. Your Saturday job selling chocolate fountains. A penchant for stilt walking at weekends. Meeting your OH in an ice hotel. Michelle Obama following you on Twitter. Getting the idea?

For best results choose snippets that give snapshots of your personality, rather than ones that make you seem like someone you’re not. It’s important to get the right feel for the genre you’re writing in. Avoid coming across as too ditsy if you’re targeting literary fiction, or super-serious if you’re writing rom coms. It’s also good to fine-tune your choices depending on the age and interests of the person you’re writing to.

However much you might cringe at the idea of putting yourself out there, describing yourself in a creative way will work wonders. And if you don’t hit gold with your first submission, this way the editors and agents will definitely remember you for next time.

Jane Linfoot is a best selling author who lives in a muddy cottage, up the steepest hill in Derbyshire, with her family, their pets, and a lot of spiders. Her latest books are a series of stand-alone novels, published by Harper Impulse, based around a seaside wedding shop in Cornwall. The Little Wedding Shop by the Sea, Christmas at the Little Wedding Shop, and Summer at the Little Wedding Shop. The most recent, Christmas Promises at the Little Wedding Shop is already out in ebook and is now available in paperback.


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