Saturday, April 25, 2009

Hot Topics

Allow me to repeat a comment that Charles wrote in yesterday’s excellent entry:

Customers don’t want to hear what you want to say. They want to hear what they want to hear. In other words, if you are not saying the things that resonate with customers, they are not interested in your product.

This is the absolute truth.  However, I have no idea what customers (readers) want to hear.  I know what I want to hear, and that’s what I write about.  This is why I have my own avid and loyal following, but am not a best-selling author. I know what I like, but I don’t have a clue about wooing the general reading public.

I have heard publishers, as well as more well-known authors than I, say that if you want to get published, study what is being published.  Familiarize yourself with the books and authors on the best-seller lists, and be advised.

I am a great advocate of learning how to write by reading and studying excellent authors.  If you read a book that you enjoyed so much that you cannot get it out of your mind, then go back over it and try to figure out how the author did it.  Take notes.  What was it about the story that spoke to you?  The beautiful language and lingering description?  The fast-paced dialog?  The steamy romance, or the twist at the end?  If you enjoy reading it, you’ll probably enjoy writing it, and your love for your story will show in your writing.

I’ve learned all kinds of things from the works of master authors, even those who write the kinds of books I love to read but have less interest in writing myself.  I learned the proper technique for busting up a room from Lee Child.

As for trying to write about a topic or in a genre that is really hot right now, but doesn’t really speak to you ... I don’t know.  It takes so long to write a book and have it published, that when it finally sees the light of day, your hot topic isn’t going to be so hot any more.  If you really want to write a vampire book, then do it, but don’t count on the fact that by the time you finish it, vampires will still be the biggest thing going.  

If you set out to write a novel in a genre that doesn’t excite you, simply because it’s popular, I would think it might be difficult to create something memorable.

When it comes to promotion, much like Charles’ worldwide leader in the home security field, my “ads” for my stories tend to run on about aspects that I find fascinating, but as I pointed out earlier, I don’t really know what people who are not me want to hear.  

Not that I don’t care whether people buy my work, because I do.  I want readers to be fascinated by what I have to say, and I want to be able to create blurbs and ads that entice mobs of people to stampede to the bookstores demanding to buy my books. 

What to do?  Learn your craft, study and write continually, and write what you love.  Write the very best book you can, promote it to the best of your ability, and if you can afford it, hire a professional publicist.