(I know, my puns are the worst. I just can’t help making them; it must bed some kind of compulsion, or character flaw.)
Today I’m going to take a peek at what makes a book–and its author–distinguished. Now, if you haven’t used this word recently in a sentence of your own, you might be thinking of ball gowns and tuxedos and those nifty eyeglasses that attach to one’s watch-pocket by chain. You might even be thinking of particularly thick mustaches, and a well-maintained Model T Ford. The word is straight out of Victorian literature, but I would make the argument that it has continued relevance today. It is defined as:
And as you can see, it actually lies a touch above the curve in terms of popularity–Merriam Webster places it in the top 40% of words according to usage. At least it’s not … fulvous … with envy of those more popular words.
If being “distinguished” simply means some rough equivalent to “being excellent,” then why not just say so? Why use a slightly dated word, other than to add a little buff and polish and appeal to an idea we cover each and every day here on Self Publishing Advisor in some way, shape, or form?
There are connotations to pursuing a distinguished persona or book that do not apply to something simply “excellent.” These connotations include, for the word in question, a sense of superiority, of fine texture, make, or production quality–and of course, the connotation of public presence. After all, even the Victorians understood that a very fine frock or overcoat wasn’t about keeping warm; it was about putting on a good show for others.
A distinguished self-publishing author is more than just “getting by.” He or she thrives under the heavy thumb of freedom which is pressed upon them by the choice to ditch traditional publishers–heavy because there is a cost to pay, in that so much of the burden of marketing and promotion falls on the author–and stands out from other authors by virtue of his or her attitude. That’s par for the course; so much in life comes down to attitude, doesn’t it? To be distinguished also has, of course, connotations of gentlemanly or gentlewomanly behavior, hence the terrible pun at the beginning of this post. The most gentlepersonly person I’ve ever met was a lumber salesman, a truly distinguished fellow who treated the world and every person in it with kindness, generosity, and respect. This most certainly holds true for self-publishing authors, however, since the average author has to navigate hundreds of relationships and social contracts in order to publish and market a book successfully. May you be distinguished by your curiosity, your kindness, and your intrepid spirit in pursuit of the best possible life as an author,
So, too, may your book be distinguished in all of those little ways which will help it stand out from the herd: quality design and production value, a beautiful feel in the hand and look on the page, perfectly copyedited content and fiercely individualized material, as well as its accessibility to all of those potential readers lurking out there in the ether.
It may not seem like much, recommending that you look into the nature of distinguishment, but in fact it’s everything. As mentioned earlier, it’s an attitude which encompasses everything else you could possibly be or make or do–as an author, and as a human being in general. It’s on my heart and mind today that we live in a world which is often hostile to the point of making us focus on the struggle for survival far more than living well, and while survival is necessary, so too is emerging on the other side proud of who you’ve been and become. We’re here for that, and we’re here for you.
You are not alone. ♣︎