Writing: Be yourself

Ever seen the “it’s like [popular author/book]” lines on a blurb? In this post, I’ll talk about those – and why I think they are not good for the writer.

I believe many writers would like to be known for their books, have a huge fanbase lining at their signings and whatever else comes with reaching the top. Yet, I believe it’s better to be known as yourself, not as “the next [someone]”. Being compared to a famous writer might sound as praise but it’s a double-edged blade.

Hence, I’ll paraphrase a line I’ve seen somewhere (my apologies to the author of the line for not being able to remember it and not having it bookmarked) as an advice: “Don’t be the next [popular author name], be the first [your name].”

Why is this used?

If a book is, in style or any other aspect, similar to something popular, this might be a good way to attract the right readers. Especially if the book is backed by a massive promotion campaign that can then hook gazillion of readers of said popular author/book. It’s probably simpler than creating a catchy hook from scratch, more so for a debut novel.

Why it’s potentially bad?

Comparing a fresh work with something popular is a dangerous stunt – it might set very high expectations that will be hard (or impossible) to fulfill. It sets expectations that the book will be similar in some way – and if the way you imagine it being similar is not the way it actually is similar, it can lead to disillusion or even disappointment. In the worst case, it might lead to negative ratings/reviews for these unfulfilled expectations.

It might also scream lazy and unimaginative in regards to the actual marketing while missing what I’d like to believe to be the main point of a book: to stand on its own ideas and qualities instead of riding the hype train of something else.

And lastly, not all associations will be positive. A book that led me to spark these thoughts is compared to Sanderson and Rothfuss. What are these two known for the most, for me? 10+ years of waiting for the last sequel. Does that mean this author will take the same time finishing the story? That the eventual ending might not live up to the hype caused by massive fandom?

All of that should be considered.

Stay yourself, don’t be a copy.

That’s what I wanted to share today. Feel free to add your thoughts on that matter.

4 thoughts on “Writing: Be yourself

  1. Great post, writers are unique creatures with their own distinct voice and style. We should strive to become the best version of ourselves and not someone else.
    That being said, agents and publishers want comparison titles so it’s worthwhile knowing the market too.

    Liked by 2 people

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