Recently I went shopping for a new watch. Thankfully, I later discovered I could have the old one repaired and am taking that route. However, since I’m a literary agent, I can relate everything to books, so here goes.
At high end stores a salesperson was immediately available. While I was trying on watches, I was given statistics such as, “This watch is Swiss made. The band is solid 18 karat gold, and the face is mother of pearl, with diamond hour markers.”
At department stores, I often had to hunt down a salesperson, who took a watch out of a crowded case and let me try it on. “We are having a pre-sale of 40% off regular price. If you use your store card, you can take off an extra 15%.” On to punching numbers on a calculator. “Your final price will be $78.”
The huge difference in approach is indicative of the type of consumer to whom the stores cater, in this case, quality and status seekers versus bargain price hunters. Likewise, it’s important for authors to know their audience. For example, nonfiction readers are looking for felt need and great takeaway value. They are looking to learn something from a reliable source, or to explore ideas. Fiction readers are looking for quality entertainment that evokes emotions. Sometimes consumers of novels will read primarily to be up to date on the latest books and therefore appear smart and well-informed. Others just want to escape into their imaginations for an afternoon and couldn’t care less what anyone else thinks of their taste. At different points in time, I’ve been all of these consumers. Haven’t you?
If you write nonfiction, how will you let readers know you are an authority on your topic?
For nonfiction, what will your readers take away from your book?
If you write fiction, do you write deep stories that teach a lesson or convey a moral, or do you write for those looking for sheer entertainment?
Have you ever read a novel just so you could discuss it at a party? Was that effort worth your time?