Thursday, May 27, 2010
Who ARE those readers of yours, anyway?
The Kiddo allowed earlier this week how she wanted to write a book.
"Mommy," she asked from the back seat of the car, "can you write a book and not have it be, like, you know, your books, and have it just go to people you want it to go to?"
"Sure," I said. I thought about my veritable collection of trunk novels. I surely didn't want anybody but a highly select audience to see those! "I have lots of books like that on my computer. Or do you mean with a cover?"
The Kiddo seemed to consider this. "It doesn't matter. But can I type it?"
I had another question. "Why don't you want everyone to see your book?"
She shrugged her shoulders. "Because. You know. I just want FAMILY to read it. Not everybody. Can I do a book like that? And can I type it? On your computer?"
I'll keep you posted on how the WORST DAY IN SIXTH GRADE develops. I'm delighted to say that she has already plotted out the chapter titles and is now figuring out what is going on in each chapter. I have a plotter!
But she's done something else equally important, something I didn't think about until, well, I guess my second serious attempt at this novel writing business.
The Kiddo has thought about who her readers will be. Not just thought about it, but she's picked them out already.
That's powerful proactivism there, folks.
Who exactly will read your books? No, I'm not talking about the agents you query. I'm not talking about the editors you hope will one day see it. That's important, sure, but it's not THE question. The real question is, who will be standing in the bookstore, at the cash register, with your book in hand?
Think about them. Get to know them as well as you know your characters. Are they men? Are they women? Do they like funny jokes? Are they secret foodies? Do they love fashion? Or are they more comfy in jeans and a T-shirt? What (eyebrows waggling here) will they let you get away with? What (very serious here) would be the equivalent of a broken promise?
I'm not talking about writing to a market. I'm talking about finding like-minded people and announcing, "My books may not please everybody, but these folks? Well, it will knock the socks off these folks." Then get to know your new friends. If they like what you like, you may like something else they like. And it may just be something you'd like to write about and they'd like to read.
My CP Tawna Fenske has done this without, I don't think, really realizing how good she is at it. She's married her quirky voice with her blog. If you don't like her blog, you won't like her books. But if you like her blog? Well, her books are gonna knock your socks off.
My books? If you don't like slice-of-life stories that are a roller-coaster of emotions, if you've never laughed because you don't want to cry, then you probably wouldn't be interested in my books.
And you know what? That's okay. I wish you did. But it would be a mighty boring world -- and library and bookstore -- if we all liked the same book.