Excuse this sort of stream of consciousness post. I’m all worked up from reading about other authors’ successful sales. Earlier this week I was invited to a movie and lunch. Magic Mike was the movie. Most of you have either seen it or decided not to, so I’m not going to review it. The movie was fun—because gyrating men do make me laugh. But the point of this post is not the movie or the lunch that followed, but my reaction, as an author, to being in the company of women who are in my target readership.
One of the women in that group is from my generation and the other two are of the next younger generation. None of them are writers, but they are avid readers and movie goers. They didn’t discuss Magic Mike except for a few joking comments, but as we ate, I listened to them discuss several other movies and books they had all seen or read.
Listened is the operative word.
Most of the time, I could only listen because I had seen few of the movies and read even fewer of the books they named. As I listened, I felt as if I’d grown antennae and a few extra eyes. How could I be so alien to their entertainment world? Or more importantly to me as a writer, how can I write fiction that appeals to them when I’m such a misfit?
That was not the only time I’ve discovered I’m on the outside looking in. I’ve joined several reading groups on Goodreads, populated mostly by women, to find that I don’t read the same books they do. Writers are told to grow your reader base by joining such groups, not to sell, but to let them get to know you as a person. But I join and then remain silent because I have nothing to add to the conversations.
I could force myself to read the books they read, but then I’d have no time to read the books that truly appeal to me. And writers have to read, right? Yes, I know. We should write what we love to read. But when you’re a misfit like me, is that good advice?
Of course I’m not going to start writing political thrillers or something else completely foreign to me. Nor am I going to start writing “mommy porn” just because it’s selling through the roof. That’s the rub. This would all be moot if I quit thinking about how to sell more books.
If I could just not care about that, I could be happy in my little misfit world—and return to my study of Magic Mike’s character arc.