K is for Kenspeckle

letter kSure, we could have picked out some other words, but this one is far more important than the rest. If you (and your book) are not kenspeckle, you will not sell one copy.

Kenspeckle: \ˈken-ˌspe-kəl\ conspicuous, distinctive, easily recognized.

You and your book want to be all of those things.


In a world where we are known frequently by our associations, it is easy to take You write like _______ as a compliment. Do, however, only to the extent you want to be associated with _______.

What are the given names of the last three celebrity impersonators you saw?”

The problem with being like someone else is multifaceted.

First, you will be held to the standard of the author to whom you are compared. Someone tells you your writing is like Dean Koontz, over time they are going to wonder why you have not been churning out books and selling millions of copies.

Second, you fall prey to the same criticism, even if it is undeserved. Having your poetry likened to Mary Oliver is likely to get you put on poetry readers’ repetitive memes list, even if you only market your poetry once per week and never do interviews.

Third, deviation is not a considered option. When your reputation is built on the fact you can emulate a popular author, developing your true style (or actually releasing your independent work) turns away groupie fans who only bought your books based on your ability to be a surrogate to their favorite writers.

In the end, being inextricably linked to another author means you fall into the vast morass of impersonators whose sole claim to fame is the ability to emulate someone of genuine acclaim.

Easily Recognizable

They all look the same, inside and out.

They all look the same, inside and out.

While the list of best-selling authors whose style you do not want to emulate grows exponentially, one credit each deserves is they are easily recognizable. Whether it is simile-laden, meandering sentences or painstaking pounding of pretentious peculiarities, they each have a trait you recognize even on ripped books.

Developing a truly original style is difficult given the enormous number of preceding authors. It is possible to stand your ground on plausible idiosyncrasies. Choosing one which is a component of good literature is the safest gamble:

  • In depth character development
  • Uncluttered language
  • Disguising the divining of minutia
  • Masking scathing social commentary with humor
  • Weaving a smooth fabric of an entertaining story


Unmasked. Obvious. Noticeable. Prominent. Outstanding. Attention-grabbing. You want this, no? Sure you do. All authors do. No one writes to be at the bottom of the list, be it genre, new release or talent.

Being conspicuous is not as much of a Catch-22 as you may imagine. It does require having the answers to some specific questions:

  1. Who should read your book?
  2. What does it offer them others do not?
  3. What is the primary function of your book?
  4. Is your pricing on par with the competition?
  5. What evidence do you have?

The last question seems like you need someone else to give you these answers. You do not.

1. You chose your audience. You catered the point of view to them. You delivered in language befitting their education level and life experience. Answer the question.

More than 130 of them.

More than 130 of them.

2. There are more than 130 million books. Chances are good you have not read them all. However, knowing the contents of your direct competition is a good idea. The piece of information you have no one else pressed is your hook for readers who would pass on your book because they read the competition first.

3. If the primary reason you wrote your book was to get it out of your head, you are fighting an uphill battle. Does your book provide for social awareness, offer discovery of a little known situation or fact, ease stress with humor or entertainment, enlighten your audience to a new path to the enjoyment of literature, challenge readers to think independently, …? Something?

4. The Mine Principle will convince you your book is priceless. Be reasonable. The book-buying public is frankly uninterested in your personal investment in your book and extremely interested in getting a demonstrable value for their purchase price.

If you book’s advantage over the competition is kenspeckle, buyers will purchase to get only the aspects where you exceed the competition even when they had been convinced the competition would satisfy their needs.

5. Would you walk into a stock broker’s office and ask for $50,000 worth of shares in the ACME Buggy Whip company? Why would you invest $50,000 worth of hours into writing a book having no idea if it is a redundancy which will never sell?


  • Be distinct from the celebrities.
  • Be easily recognized for your style and authority.
  • Make your book the conspicuous choice for readers.

What makes your book kenspeckle? How do you break away from insistence you write like someone else?

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  1. In Tierra del Oro, characters, setting, and plotlines make my books different, because they were in my head and nobody else’s before they hit the paper. My covers are different because the spines don’t show the title, but have a distinctive flying hawk logo at the top of each one. The forewords and author’s notes tell a bit about how each book came into being, and offer a brief background of the more obscure sources and interesting details.

  2. I waited two days to answer this question because I knew my book was different, but I had to think it out. I love the word kenspeckled, too! Your A-Z is going by much too quickly. I savor and think about each post. My memoir is kenspeckle because it is written from a child’s point of view during a catastrophic illness, polio. I cover issues of fear of losing my parents’ love if I don’t recover fully, disability in classrooms before the ADA, and family dynamics when there is a trauma all from the point of view of a five-year-old. It seems different, and appeals to people as a story as well as a memoir.
    Gail Thornton recently posted..The Regret of a Flower Giveaway by Gail ThorntonMy Profile

    • Yours is kenspeckle. I am glad you took the time to think about it. Those are the marketing tools you can use as hooks.

  3. As you and I talk through why I don’t write a book, this is perhaps the most relevant reason. I haven’t determined whether it is or not, kenspeckle that is.

    While ideas float in my head, they are not fully formed. So now I have the word for it.
    Valentine Logar recently posted..One of those DaysMy Profile

    • I think there is more to your story than you initially perceive. We need to talk about it. Remind me.

  4. Gotta admit, I never heard that word before.
    Kenspeckle has Norse origins apparently, which for some reason it felt like, but I can’t say why. For whatever reason, words descended from Norse appeal to me. Maybe because I identify with adventurers….
    MJ Logan recently posted..L is for LimburgerMy Profile

    • That sounds plausible. 🙂 Glad you picked up a new one! Thanks for stopping by. I know how busy your A to Z has been!

  5. Kenspeckle…emmm, interesting word and interesting post.
    I have thought about all of those points and will probably in-box you with the answers, when the time comes.
    I think we (writers) all have to believe, to a point, that we all unique and have a unique style.
    I like to read the works of others, especially if they fall in other genres of writing.
    I tend not to read books and Blog posts of similar genre to mine, while I’m working on particular posts or my book.
    This way, I can keep my mind clear of their style and topics and remain genuine in my approach to my work.
    This does not stop friends and relatives informing me of others who have done something similar in my particular genre…something which slightly irritates me.
    I’m hoping for a time, after I’m published, to be able to ask them, if they have read my work and how they think it differs to those they previously referred to.
    Phil recently posted..Matrimonial TestimonialsMy Profile

    • You are actually in the minority. Going practice is to devour as much in your genre to broaden your perspective. I personally do not subscribe to such logic for some of the reasons you outline. I have found my products may bear a mild resemblance to others in their genres yet are kenspeckle not only for my perspective but for the aggregation of the components.

      Your irritation is to be expected. In our search for endorsement, we expect those in our innermost circles to defer to us rather than those who are outside the circles for information we readily dispense.

      • Red, I do actually visit other relationship sites & Blogs but I tend to browse those and not really read in-depth.
        When I complete a particular post or project I’m more than happy to visit, read and comment on Blogs similar to my own.

        I understand that we can’t be 100% original but we can do our best to be as close as possible by not absorbing too much of others (especially when working on a project).
        Phil recently posted..The importance of sharing.My Profile

  6. You write like you have lost your mind, someone said that to me once.

    Nicely done, new word with definition that makes sense. I love learning.

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