PEARL DIVING, GENRE JOSTLING and WINNING THE LOTTERY

I’ve heard it said that writers often pitch their fiction wrong.
     Could it be that it is wrong to pitch our fiction?
     ‘Who is your target audience?’ we get asked.  Now, this is fair enough if the answer is as broad as, say, children or teenagers.  It also works if you have a narrower target such as knitters or wood-workers or butterfly-wing collectors. 
    
But it seems that an answer along the lines of ‘people who like to be surprised by fiction’ doesn’t cut the mustard.  ‘Someone who has no preconceived notion of what this story is about’, does not float a publisher’s boat.  What about ‘a reader interested in journeying into fields unknown?’  No cigar.
     Don’t get me wrong.  There is nothing wrong with fitting tightly into a genre, if that is where you want to be.  If a reader is in the mood for a romance guaranteed to produce – despite a lot of angst and more than a few misunderstandings – an ending where the heroine ‘gets her man’, then isn’t it wonderful that they can grab a Mills and Boon? 
     If you want to get your rocks off with a little hanky-panky, its hard to go past a Best of Erotica anthology or you could take a dip into Toshba Learner’s  Quiver.  Some brilliantly-researched, good quality gore and suspense?  Patricia Cornwell.  A scientifically-believable eye-opening tear-jerker? Jodi Picoult perhaps.  Clever and Witty? Jasper Fford.
     Sometimes, though, isn’t it just enough to know that the author has written for an adult audience? 
    
Personally, I  don’t want to read ‘something like I read last summer’. 
    
Just because you might have enjoyed  Twilight,  doesn’t mean you want to read everything written by Stephenie Meyer or, indeed any story from  the ‘new Stephenie Meyer’. 
    
I don’t really want to be told ‘If you liked  Frankenstein: revenge  then you’ll love A monster called F. 
     
Am I the only person who wants to pick up a book, weigh it in my hands, scan the blurb, read the first line, and then make a decision to buy or not to buy?  Are there really not millions of readers who would like to give something a go and see if they like it? Aren’t we clever enough – or daring enough –  to trust our instincts? 
    
The more I consider it, the more I think,  perhaps I am alone.
     You see, I’m the same with DVD’s.  I love to browse the aisles of ‘Video Ezy’, looking at the cover pics, reading the blurbs, and then – horror of horrors – taking a $4 gamble ($2 on Tuesdays) and taking something home to watch.  I might be bored beyond words by a Where the Wild Things Are or completely surprised by a Whip it.
    
I know that purchasing a book is a far bigger investment than renting a movie but I still think we should all take the gamble.  I mean, pulease, people buy lottery ticket’s  don’t they?  According to  WebMATH*, the odds of winning the lottery are 1 in 8,145,060. 
     I have done my own ‘extremely scientific’ research (read: I’ve chatted with friends about it) and I can tell you that the odds of purchasing a book that you enjoy and would recommend to others is quite high.  For every random book that we have selected, we reckon the odds are six to one:  six ‘brillos’ to every one ‘dud’.
    
So in the words of self-confessed ‘queen’ Molly Meldrum, ‘do yourself a favour’ and grab yourself a copy of whatever book takes your fancy.  See where the author can take you.  See what the story makes you think about. 
     See how fiction can change the way you look at the world.

*WebMATH also brought forth this little gem:  someone eating an oyster has a 1 in 12,000 chance of finding a pearl inside.    Diving, anyone?

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “PEARL DIVING, GENRE JOSTLING and WINNING THE LOTTERY

  1. I’m totally with you. I’d rather purchase a new book than shop for new blouse. A very interesting post about not trying to fit into a genre. I think that’s best too…..to go with the flow 🙂

    • karenleethompson

      Yea, don’t even get me started on shopping. I wonder why women have a reputation for enjoying shopping. Maybe my genes (or should that be jeans) aren’t what they should be. Or maybe I’m a chromosome short of a ? what ? Shit, I should have paid more attention in science class and then I would have been able to finish that sentence with a flourish. More likely, I think someone along the line has confused shopping with actually owning nicely-made, well-fitting, flattering attire. What I would like is someone who is exactly my size, shape and colouring to go out and shop for me. Hmm…I fell an idea for a future post coming on.
      Thanks for your comment.

  2. Having done a lot of work with ebooks, I know that when you are trying to sell something you want to find the smallest possible niche in this brave, new world. However when I read for enjoyment, I like to do the exact same thing that you do.

    The only author who delivers 100% of the time for me is King. He could write about a lampshade for 900 pages and I’d keep reading.

    • karenleethompson

      I’ve been a little tardy.
      I like Stephen King’s work and have just searched my bookshelves to make sure I have at least something of his (I have ‘Carrie’ and ‘The Tommy-Knockers’ and the collection ‘Nightmares and Dreamscapes’) but I am not a die-hard fan (not like my friend who seems to talk of nothing else).
      In the context of this post though, I see why you would invoke his name because, with King, you pretty much know what you will get, and you get it always. Imagine how disappointed some people would be if they bought his latest work, only to discover that it was a family saga of love and loss with not a skerrick of fear of even a hint of a goose-pump raising sentence.
      Thanks for responding to my post.

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