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A + B = You (The Secret Equation Every Author Needs to Know)

Who are you?

I don’t mean in the sense of your name, age, or personality.

I mean, as an author, who are you?

If you had to describe your writing – not a specific book, but just your personal writing style —to a stranger, what would you say?

It’s okay if you don’t know the answer right now.

photo by dbrekkeBecause by the end of this post, you will, thanks to our two secret equations (Yeah, that’s right, you’re getting a two-for-one!).

Defining who you are as an author is about more than just your genre, your book, or your blog.

It’s about what makes you unique.

And once you know what makes you unique, you can find the right readers who will appreciate your unique appeal.

So how do you find out who you are as an author?

Easy – you just have to do the math.

Don’t worry, I’ve got two simple formulas to help you along and all tests will be open book and open notes!

Both of these equations will give you two key elements:

  • Something fans can relate to (in this case, a well-known author)
  • Something that makes you unique

It’s up to you which one fits your writing personality best (Or, if you want to get really crazy, you can use both!).

1. The Unique Twist Algorithm

Start this equation by choosing a well-known author with a very similar writing style and genre (it has to be someone fans of your genre would definitely know and like).

Now take that author’s work and add a twist that describes why you are not only different, but *better* than that author (yeah, it’s bold, embrace it, my friends).

So you’ll wind up with a declaration something like one of these:

  • I’m like Nicholas Sparks, but with more laughs and less tears
  • I’m like Stephanie Meyer, but with stronger female characters

2. The Love Child Theorem

This second equation is my favorite. If you straddle a couple of genres or feel like you sort of embody a mix of two completely different styles, this one’s for you.

Start again with a well-known author who shares similarities to your writing style and genre.

Then, add another author.

Someone very different from Author A. Whether it’s in terms of genre or writing style or subject matter, just choose someone different, but who is also similar to you in some way.

Put those two authors together and proclaim yourself their simply unique lovechild.

I, for example, consider myself the lovechild of Joshilyn Jackson (smart, Southern, sassy) and Carl Hiaasen (fun, colorful, Floridian).

Try it out! You’ll come up with a statement like one of these:

  • I write science fiction like Ray Bradbury, but my characters are more like something from John Steinbeck.
  • I write a mix of fantasy and political thrillers like the love child of Stephen King and Brad Metzler.

So, which equation fits you best?

Try’em both on for size and figure out which one highlights your unique author attributes the best, and then share it with us in the comments!

Once you have a short synopsis of your writing style, you’ll have a much easier way to introduce yourself to new fans. Even better,  you can do a little internet stalking/research on your new author doppelgangers to find out who their fans are and where they hang out!

  • Very Nice to think about and try out! I’d love to be a “successful as Jodi Picoult and prolific as Stephen King,” but I actually fall MUCH more in this camp:

    “Fans of Sophie Kinsella and Jennifer Weiner will enjoy Lauren Clark’s fun, flirtatious storylines. Follow along as her plucky heroines get un-stuck from life’s problems, springboard into new challenges, and find a little love along the way.”

    xx Great exercise, Gals!

    • I like both of your examples Lauren! I think we’d all love to be as successful as Jodi Piccoult, right? :-) And your second example is dead on, a very good comparison to good authors whose readers would love your work as well. Perfect!

  • i’m like a happy hemingway collaborating with an undistracted fitzgerald. put another way, i write like mccarthey but with longer sentences, or like joyce, but shorter

    • I like that you’re sticking with the classics, Neal! Big aspirations, but that’s a very good thing, and your unique twists (longer sentences/shorter narrative) are good, quantifiable differences. Excellent job! :-)

  • Terry Pratchet crossed with Stephen King a la the Dark Tower series.

  • Linda Katmarian

    I’d like to think I’m a cross between Janet Fitch (White Oleander) and Louise Erdrich (Love Medicine, The Beet Queen, etc.) but I’m thumping my fist against my forehead and rolling my eyes. How outrageous!

  • I’m not just a writer. And I’m pretty sure this is the Nyquil and the 104′ fever talking, but I think I could best be described as the love child of Ralph Nader and Audrey Hepburn. What a hoot!!!

    • LOL — I got a good belly laugh out of that one, JA. I feel like I need to put that into one of those celebrity baby photo generators to see what comes out :-) You rest up and get better now, you hear?

  • Right now I feel a bit like Lee Child the morning after I had a drink with William S. Burroughs. But hey, the day is still young.

  • People always tell me I have a distinct voice/style but I honestly don’t know what it is! Isn’t that horrible? Next time someone says that, I’m going to pin them down and say…what author does my style bring to mind?

    • Not terrible at all, Linda! Sometimes it’s harder for us to evaluate ourselves than it is for others to label us :-) Definitely get some details about that next time you hear it, though!