Recently a friend asked if I would speak to his brother, Scott, who had written a novel and wasn’t sure what path to publication he should pursue. I agreed and had a brief email chat with Scott to set up a time to meet for coffee.
Scott had a link to his website in the signature of his email (smart!), so I clicked on it to have a quick look. Not knowing what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised by what I found: GOOD WRITING. The site was just one page and sparse on copy, but what was there was crisp, and engaging, and funny. It wasn’t a sample from Scott’s book, but it was a sample of Scott’s writing, and Scott’s writing made me want to read Scott’s book. See how that works?
I told Scott as much when we met in person, and he was surprised. He hadn’t thought of his website copy as a “writing sample.” He didn’t even think of himself as a real writer, because his book hadn’t been published. But he is a writer. He wrote a novel, and he should be proud of that, no matter what happens next.
In previous blogs I’ve recommended putting the first chapter of your book(s) on your website, as I do on mine. Much like in an ice cream store, offering potential customers a free taste increases the chances that they will want more—assuming they like it. But in addition to the first chapter, I encourage you authors out there to think of all the words you put out into the world, be it via your blog or your bio page or your Twitter posts, as a writing sample, as a chance to capture the interest of potential readers. Getting someone’s attention is hard, so why not use all the tools available to you?