Why? And What?

Once again, as I’m traveling down my winding writing road, my book club happenings have started me thinking on several fronts. And as before, I’m posting my thoughts here in the hope they will help readers understand what goes into an author’s mind in getting a book out there, and maybe a few other writers might be having similar thoughts of their own? And I’m also publically airing a tad of self-pity (smile.)

Why do I read a book? These days, mainly because my book club tells me to! This month’s selection was a book I would not have thought of as a reading selection on my own, but that’s one of the great parts about book club—to read outside our own readings “ruts.” My rut, of course is mysteries. Well this month, our book was How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming, by Mike Brown. Not a book that would have crossed my reading horizon by itself—and I loved it! Even ended up doing Google research and further reading. The topic, the writer, the style, the information—all were wonderful!

From there my mind went to other sources of reading suggestions, like author reader/author posts (Of course Writers in Residence suggestions are the best!), recommendations from friends and relatives, bookstore promotions, social media platforms like Facebook, and in the far past, even grocery store checkout displays.

All of this is leading to the big questions in my post here—why would anyone want to read my books, or said a different way, what would entice a reader to want to read my book? My past answer to these questions has often been—Location – Such as, what is the Pacific Northwest like? What is the Mojave Desert like? Why are these characters living there? And why does “what and why” matter to me right now? Well, besides being an interesting writing knowledge topic in itself—which always interest me, my book sales are very low and I want to fix that. If I can(smile)

But there’s more, and not about me. It’s partly about the concept of reading is a wonderful “thing” in itself, and also that there is a “twinkling something” in a reader and writer’s mental world. That “something” that causes us to recommend a book to a friend. Brings a smile to our faces.

Is it the title? What I’m working on now is tentatively titled Mojave Gateau. A chocolate gateau certainly gets me salivating…but is it enough to buy a book? I’m thinking not.

So what and where are my meanderings leading me to so far? Well, as I have tended to think in the past about location, the desert does still tickle the fancy, but it’s not enough. I’m also still clinging to the concepts that characters and scenery are the keys to good writers. And that might still be true, for me at least. But, what’s the good of a great story that no one reads? Is it enough I’ve written the darn thing and my editor, even a publisher or two think it was worth the effort? Hmmm???…

Maybe there is no magic bullet. Just a lot of good hits on multiple fronts? Paid publicity, titles, word of mouth, cover, implied adventure, puzzle solving???…All thoughts are welcome!

Happy Writing Trails

19 thoughts on “Why? And What?”

  1. What a wonderful place the mind is. All those possibilities you mention. All the flights of fancy we can embark upon with the merest mention of a place, a word, a feeling. Your post is a great inspiration. Thanks!

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  2. Oh, Jill, you’ve started my day off on such a wonderful high! And sooo right you are about those flights of fancy…you’ve really gotten my mind engaged for the day…thank you!

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  3. Wow. Deep thinking. How to get people to buy and read a book (or anything, really) that we’ve written.
    Well, one thought at least for Book Reading Challenges, have a title that begins with or has one of these letters in the title: Q, X, or Z. Another is to make sure it clearly (strongly) sits in a specific category and genre. Some of the categories in my current reading challenge that I’ve had trouble finding a book for are – has a bilingual character, 2nd person narrative, had chapter titles (or photos inside), a job title in the title, an author published in more than one genre, addresses a specific topic, title includes a club
    Okay, I know I haven’t been very helpful so I’ll quit. Haha.

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    1. Oh, Jackie, you did help. I’m adding into my mix of things to consider, especially for me are sitting “squarely” in a genre and topics readers might be looking for. Thanks!

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  4. Mad – what a thought-provoking topic… I’m reading all sorts of things at the moment. Lots of research topics – World War I and II novels, and my go-to-escape ‘light reading’ set on sunny Mediterranean shores.
    And as for how to grab readers and sell our books, I recall that when an unknown writer, J. K. Rowling, was first published, (after so many rejections) her Harry Potter book was launched simply another kids’ book. But, I heard, that nurses and parents were reading this new book to kids in hospitals and became hooked on the story themselves. So word spread to other adults. Word got out… and the rest is history.
    So, whether it’s the title, the eye-catching cover, or whatever – the story and the characters still need to grab our attention, our imagination, and get us hooked. And your locations our always a terrific hook, Mad! Thanks….

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    1. Thanks, Rosemary, and you’ve re-emphasized in my mind, how characters and location can really grab readers…especially in the long run…hmmm… (What a success story for J.K. Rowlings!

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  5. How to get people interested in reading our books? Great topic of discussion! I hope people are interested in mine because they always contain romance and some mystery or suspense, and whenever possible, dogs! Those themes are my favorite kind of reading too. And I like the idea of location. My latest mystery series is set in Alaska and features a naturalist who loves wildlife. I appreciate both! Thanks for an intriguing post.

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    1. Alaska–I’m shivering already Linda! Back to location again. And characters–especially when it comes to dogs! And knowing what genre–clarity…that thought is coming up in comments a lot.

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  6. They, whoever “they” are, say the cover sells the book. Some others say the title does that. If you write a series and your main character is somebody you want to spend time with, the reader might buy the next book in the series. But you still have to sell that first book. So cover, title, and character need to entice the reader. And maybe that thing a writer does to sell a movie to a producer: the elevator pitch. Those few words that sum up why the story is so good. Put that on the cover or the back cover. It might get a few more books sold. Thanks, Mad, for making us think about this.

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    1. Yes, Gayle, I completely forgot about our “elevator” pitches. Good title, turn book over and find a pleasing picture(smile), and a good elevator pitch…thanks for mentally moving me along(I think!)

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  7. Okay. First, I want to get the book you mentioned. Great title. So, maybe the title does have something to do with grabbing the reader’s attention? There are classes on getting found by Amazon’s algorithms, suggestions about cross-promotions with other writers. Mostly, it’s being in a place where readers can discover you…and it’s almost as much work as writing the book. Not very heartening, perhaps, but we writers are tough. I think Mojave Gateau could be a great title depending on the cover art. 🙂

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    1. Yes, Jacqueline, I definitely think getting yourself and your book out there is soooooooo important. Unfortunately not going out much(or wanting to go anyplace) hermit mentally, and age related minor aches and pains, are limiting some promotions. So when my book does show up someplace, real world or online–I need to get double attention!

      I’ve got a lot of Mojave Gateau laid out in my head…but actually writing is another story(smile) But your kind words have buoyed me up, and I’m off to writing next. Thank you!

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  8. Lots of great input here. Cover, title, setting, story (of course!), word of mouth (the Internet is a BIG mouth)—it’s all important, like baking a cake requires lots of ingredients, most of which you can’t leave out. And that brings me to your chocolate gateau — great story idea! Thanks for a thought-provoking post, Mad.

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    1. Maggie, you’ve moved me along thought wise even more! I used to bake cakes a lot (especially chocolate!) and it’s all the ingredients that add together, and knowing a good amount of which, such as 2,3, or 4 eggs, one stick or two sticks of butter…now I’m salivating! Thanks, I think(smile). Looking at my book as a good “recipe” is, I think, a good concept…

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  9. Wonderful topic, Mad, and much to think about. I don’t have an answer, either. I guess it’s like taste in any sense – it depends on a combination of ingredients plus a presentation that appeals to you. Titles I’ve read through my book club have varied, but their selections have introduced me to some wonderful reading.

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  10. Yes, Miko, you’ve continued me down the “taste” line of thought…which makes “what” to read a very individual matter, which though leaves me with how to tantalize as many individual tastes as possible! Yes, on book club, I love the concept, and the great exposure to books it provides.

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  11. Nice post, Mad. I recently went to a webinar where a marketing pro suggested, among other things, reading positive reviews of books in your genre (on Goodreads, for example) and then following/friending some of the readers who wrote nice things. You don’t even have to leave home to do this, and if even one or two of them follow/friend you, and see your latest book, they may tell their friends. Word of mouth plays a huge part in growing an audience for our books. But it’s still a heck of a lot of work.

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