If I say the word footprint, what's the first thing that flashes through your mind? Leaving yours on a sandy beach, in a muddy field, across a snow covered terrain, or imprinted into cement on the sidewalk next to your house?
As an author, what types of things do you write? Books, magazine articles, blogs, newspaper guest editorials, software manuals, poetry, recipes, screenplays, or advertisements? You get the general idea.
According to Merriam Webster, two of the definitions of footprint are: "a marked effect, impression, or impact; something that identifies."
When growing your reader base, it's important to bear in mind that your audience wants to hear your unique voice as they turn each page from cover to cover. Your voice can be likened to your footprint. It's what identifies you as an author.
Just for grins, try this: pluck your favorite book (other than one of your own, of course) off your bookshelf. Write down the author's name, title of the book, and in three sentences or less write out your description of his or her footprint.
Here's an example: One of my favorite authors, Francine Rivers, has left her indelible footprint in many countries around the globe. Her writings convey redemption, encouragement, grace, God's love, mercy, and faithfulness among other things. She's been given many awards which attest to the strength of her footprint.
I'm reminded of a Biblical passage regarding a footprint as well which pertains to the tribe of Asher. Turn to the 33rd chapter of the book of Deuteronomy for the blessing which reads, "Now this is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death. And he said: . . .
(Verse 24) "And of Asher he said:
Asher is most blessed of sons;
Let him be favored by his brothers,
And let him dip his foot in oil. "
When one dips his foot in oil, it would no doubt leave an indelible impression. Are your writings depositing something similar?
A companion verse to the one above can be found in Genesis 49, "And Jacob called his sons and said,
"Gather together, that I may tell you what shall befall you in the last days: . . .
(Verse 20) "Bread from Asher shall be rich.
And he shall yield royal dainties."
To implement an analogy from the above verse, when people read your writings, do they feel like they've eaten the finest loaf of bread made from the most excellent, nutritious grains?
Could your words be considered royal dainties ~~ those which are attractive, appetizing, satisfying, and wholesome? Royal dainties imply they are not common, everyday edibles. It's something that people would desire -- something special, a royal treat.
A suggested exercise might be to read some of your wording aloud to another person who would be honest but not discouraging. Pretend you're offering this person her favorite dessert. If your few paragraphs or chapter tasted like bland, ordinary food, what would it take to kick it up a few notches to the royal dainty category? Some spices or flavorings? Extra seasonings or a layer of satin frosting? Restaurants spend a considerable amount of time, energy, and money pairing foods with appetizers, beverages, entrees, and desserts. Novelists could apply the same principle of sorts. Back to your favorite author or book for a second. Does the author do an excellent job of pairing characters and plot or setting and theme? If the book lacks tension, I guess they could add the equivalent of some cayenne pepper!
Applying the aforementioned, are there ways in which you can implement these principles into your writings if you're not already doing so?
Be encouraged in the fact that developing your author footprint takes time and practice just like anything else in life worth having and doing. Rome wasn't built in a day. Most likely, your book wasn't written in a day either.; however, you just might want your readers to plow right through it in less than one. If this is your ultimate goal, study your existing footprint. Plan your work and work your plan as to how you can add strength, dimension, richness, indelibleness, (I just made that one up) and satisfaction to your writing.
Happy Reading & Writing,