Fiction, Marketing, Reader, Writing

Misfit Writer

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 oddthem 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.

Fiction, Fun Fridays, Marketing, My Books, Novel, Reader, Real Life, Recipes, Writing

Friday Fruit Salad

Today’s post is both literal and figurative … and yet, the whole thing is virtual because this resides on the Internet, which doesn’t really exist. Yes, I’m going to talk about how I make fruit salad in my kitchen, but I’m serving up a mixture of topics, so it’s also another kind of salad. You can figure out the Internet on your own.

I’ve been craving fruit salad lately. Everyone has their own recipe. The mixture of fruits in mine changes, depending on what’s in season and what I have in my refrigerator and pantry. Pineapple, mandarin oranges, and bananas are staples in my salad, but it also contains one or more of these: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, grapes, kiwi, apple, pear, peach in natural juices maybe with a bit of the syrup from the canned mandarin segments. Simple, colorful, delicious.

I’m deep in the beginnings of a new novel, but I have only this weekend to work on it before I take a break. Family activities will take precedence during the month of July. I may have a few normal working days, but for the most part, I’ll probably only manage to keep up with blogging and email during the next five weeks.

What will happen to my fledgling book? I’m going to trust that my Muse will keep working on it. From experience, I know that sometimes, when you take the pressure off, fantastic things happen: a plot problem unknots; a key scene, clear and complete, slides into view; a brilliant twist is revealed; a perfect line of dialogue floats to the surface. Stealth writing.

Okay, time for a little fun. I’ve been following Cathy Yardley’s series at Rock Your Writing on forming a profile of the “right reader” for your work. One of the ways she suggests doing this is to know which authors’ work is similar to yours. She shared a link to this tool: Gnooks Literature Map.

Actually, the Literature Map was designed to help readers find authors they might like. When you type in your favorite author’s name, it will appear in the middle, with the names of similar authors floating around it. Books by the authors who hover closest to your fave, should be ones you’ll most enjoy. Go now, play with it.

Feedback, Fiction, Marketing, My Books, Novel, Promotion, Reader, Writing

Who is your target reader?

Recently, I read a post about knowing the “right reader” for your work. Cathy Yardley of Rock Your Writing wrote it, and you can read it here. I would like my novels to appeal to everyone, of course, but that’s not realistic. How many books can you name that appeal to everyone?

At the least, I’d like to say my writing appeals equally to both women and men, but that’s not true either. As far as I know, even though the main character is male, no man has read The Brevity of Roses. Maybe, if I took the word roses out of the title …

Seriously though, it’s supposed to help you focus your writing better if you know your target reader. You’re writing for yourself, of course—and if you’re not, you have my sympathy. I can’t imagine the drudgery of writing what you don’t love to read. I digress. You’re writing for yourself, so is that a good indicator of your target reader? Maybe; maybe not.

Ms. Yardley lists questions that writers can answer to help form a character sketch of the “right reader” to aim for. Her first is about gender. I do think my ideal reader is a woman, so I know that much. The next question is about the age of my target reader. I’m stumped on that one because I’ve had positive feedback from readers aged 16-65, so should I average that? Is my target a 40-year-old woman?

I have no idea how to answer some of the other questions she asks. What does your target reader do for fun? Is she social? What music, movies, magazines does she enjoy? Is she tech savvy? What are her hobbies? Gee, I wish I knew.

I could try polling, but I don’t think I’d get enough responses to form an accurate picture. Where do I find this woman and her clones anxiously searching for my novels? When we find each other, will I be fortunate to discover they’re all members of huge book clubs?

I guess I’ll imagine the answers, create an ideal reader in my mind, and write for her. For the heck of it, I’ll also imagine she has huge international influence and the paparazzi will photograph her reading my books.

What about you? Do you know your target reader?

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