15 October 2009

So Many People to Please

The people who will come in contact with our novels are incredibly diverse. Everyone has specific tastes, past experiences, and present desires that influence each reaction to our books. But they really all can be summed up in four different types of people, which is exemplified in the judges panel of American Idol.

So shall we create the analogy? We'll call it American Writer, just to keep with the theme.

First, there's Randy. His role on American Writer is the publisher. He's worked with all the literary greats. He knows what he's doing. He knows how to read the market, he consistently takes the pulse of the literary world, and makes pretty accurate predictions. Sometimes he uses language we might not understand, because unless we work for a publisher ourselves we won't necessarily be able to fully comprehend the process and the industry behind putting our books on the shelves. But he does. He knows exactly what to do and how to fine tune our work so that it will fly off the shelves. He worked his way up over a long career and he too loves to write. He knows exactly what he's doing.

Then, there's Kara. In the American Writer world, she's... well, us. She speaks as a writer. She understands Art and craft like only we can. She's experienced the angst and the thrill of the creative pursuit. She loves what she does and she does it well. Her comments are vital because she can speak life as only a fellow writer can. Her passion for her work always comes through in her comments; however she is highly protective of the written word. She doesn't accept just "okay". She gives constructive criticism. Kara can be that writing mentor, the close author friend, or those of us in the blogging community. She believes in us, offers hope, and encourages us when we need it. Most of all, she's honest.

Third, there's Ellen, who represents the reader on American Writer. And it so interesting that she was just now added as a judge on Idol. It's symbolic of the reader becoming more active in the writing industry and in voicing what she likes. Ellen wants a good read. She believes in you so much that she spent money (hopefully) to read your book. And if you delight her, she'll come back for life. While she might not speak the lingo like Randy, she has a very important place on the panel. She represents the majority--not the business or those with a financial interest in the state of your book. She is the one eager to read, eager to buy, and lives everywhere you can imagine. She's your family and friends, the strangers on the bus and the lady behind you in the check out stand at walmart. She is the public voice, the voice that hopefully the entire industry listens to. Because while she might not be able to use all the correct terminology to say why she liked something, that she liked it is vital. Of all of them, she might be the most important voice of all.

And then, finally, there's Simon. He represents (ha!) the literary agent. Sometimes this agent might come off as a bit brusque with his form rejection letter, but he's good at what he does. He know what he wants, what will sell and what won't. He knows what personalities he will click with the best and which person has "it", the mysterious "x" factor that launches a person from the slushpile to a partial request--and finally, an offer of representation. He's not your mama. He's not going to baby you. But he believes in you so much that he will make you as ready for publishing as you can be. After all, his livelihood depends on it as well. Above all, he will be honest with you. And the truth is, he's a pretty decent guy. He has a passion for writing just like you do. His job is just on a different part of the entire process. We need him, his experience, and his wisdom. We need his name behind us, to get Randy to even give us the time of day--so Kara can one day endorse the novel that Ellen will one day read.

Inevitably, all of these people will speak about our work. They will tell us what they think, what they like, and what they want. Some of these comments can vary greatly, because even in these four people there very vibrant--and different--personalities. Maybe one person will hate the book and the other will love it. Hopefully not. Hopefully we will get all of them--including Simon--on their feet applauding.

But in order to get their input, we need to keep writing. We need to put ourselves out there and give ourselves the chance to fail--or succeed beyond our wildest dreams. Even then, while we stand before the panel and hear that critique, in that terrfying moment right before Randy opens his mouth, we need to remember one thing: that this moment doesn't have to define our careers for the rest of our lives. We can adapt and improve if needed. We can keep trying, keep learning the business and honing our skills. We can start building our platforms, using social networks, and building a reputation in the literary world.

But most of all, we have to keep writing.

Torres-Toro, out!!! See y'all tomorrow!!!

***Image found on Google Images. This post is only intended to be used as an analogy in correlation of the music industry with the writing world and is not in any way meant to comment on the literal public figures used as examples above. ***


  1. Kristen this was an amazing analogy! You are so talented to see the parallels and convey them so beautifully. Your theme rings true: What we do is a non-stop learning process and we can only get better if we listen to the feedback. Great job!

  2. Excellent analogy. I think you hit it on the head, with who each judge represents. :)

  3. Simon as the literary agent...poor literary agents! :D So much of this journey is about risk. We can sit at home, have four unpubbed novels and call ourselves a writer and we still may be, but are we letting the world see what we write or do we hold onto it like "my precious"?
    Great analogy.
    ~ Wendy

  4. Kristen, that was entirely too awesome. You did a fantastic job with this analogy! Thanks for sharing it with us, because it makes so much sense while encouraging us as the same time.

  5. That was just perfect. I love how you really got down to what each of these people would represent in the publishing industry. It's hard sometimes to look at agents or publishers as more than just names or random people but they know what they're doing and most of them REALLY care, too.

  6. Thanks! I'm so glad it worked!

    No... not "my precious"! :0) Can we use the creepy voice too?

  7. I love this analogy!

    Despite the utter intimidation of the judges and have to face literary giants, the truth still remains that they are for us. It is simply a matter of helping reach our full potential.

    Thanks Kristen!

  8. Great analogy. It really breaks it down in an understandable way. Thanks for sharing. (Oh, I haven't forgotten about the words you gave me. I'll be posting about them next week.)

  9. LOL Loved this!! Especially since I love Idol too! I wondered what kind of role anyone thought Ellen might be--good point about the reader.

  10. You made me smile, laugh, shake my head AND fear the thought of finishing my WIP...ha ha! Niiiice! I loved the analogy with them!

    Many hugs today,

  11. There are definitely a myriad of people we tend to want the approval of, not only in the craft of writing, but in life in general as well!! My perspective may be a bit different from you amazing novel writers, since I tend to concentrate on devotionals...When I began devotional writing a few months ago, I got caught up in the battle between writing what I thought others would want to read and writing what God was laying on my heart. You guessed it! I decided that pleasing God was most important. He would be responsible for bringing the people my way to read the entries.

    Thanks for the post, Kristen!:)