How was your weekend? Mine was good. I ended up going home to pack some more things up and cuddle with my poodle. I'm happy to report that my new bookshelf is now full! Hoorray!
I feel like every day I get more and more used to being here. It helps that I've been involved with AIM for over three years and have spent the past four months driving up and spending a couple days a week in my new hometown. Still, the first week was full of emotion. I take a while to adjust, so I'm just taking things as they come and trying not to overreact.
So, one of the aspects of my job is arranging travel for our teams. It's a little more involved than just using Priceline.com (love them!) or something because there are a lot of other issues to work out and spreadsheets to make. We hope to send up to 300 students to up to 15 different countries this summer. It's complicated tracking that many people across the globe! Last week a salesman with an airline visited us and gave his pitch on why we should consider sending our trips with them. I can't give any details, but I'll tell you that this was a carrier I'd never heard of and never flown on. It's not well known in the States.
I was intrigued as a seasoned traveler and as a potential client. And as a former college student who battled her way through Intro to Speech (don't even get me started on how horrible that professor was--it was the only negative review I ever gave in college), I was interested in the actual art and format of his presentation.
Probably the most compelling thing about this meeting was how this man knew his audience. He did his research before coming to meet us. He introduced himself to each of us and then remembered our names. At the very beginning of the presentation, he asked each person what he/she needed from this airline in terms of our programs (locations, number of passengers, etc.). He wrote down our comments and referred to them throughout his talk, calling us by name when he needed to. Whenever he came to a point where he needed to explain (or just wanted to impress us), he referred to past clients of this airline, clients we as missionaries recognized. These were specific examples. And since I'm positive this airline's clientiele exists of more than just Christian organizations, I'm sure these examples were custom-designed for us.
We need to know our audience as well. As authors in a specific genre, people come to us with different needs for a story. Some want intrigue, others romance; some a thrilling chase and others a deep literary discussion. They all have different reasons for what composes a story, what makes them pick our books up in the first place, and what will keep them coming back. Stories are personal--not just to their creators--but to those who read them as well. Readers invite our characters, plots, and words into their homes, minds, and hearts. They quote them, discuss them, give feedback, and hopefully recommend them. But to attain that treasured spot on their shelves and in their minds, we need to know what they're looking for. And we need to meet those expectations.
The elements are different for each genre. I'm not so much talking about branding here as I am about the Story in the form of Romance, Mystery, Women's Fiction, etc. I'm one of one of the few who right now has no desire to write outside of her genre (women's fiction). That removes some conflict for me. I can pinpoint mine, savor it, and study it at the same time. Because I am my own audience, I know what I'm looking for--what makes my heart race when I read a certain line and what plots leave me disappointed. My hope is to create a stronger story each time.
So much goes into this--voice, word choice, plot, characterization, setting, etc. We have so many options available to us in how we craft our novels. Most of us in the blog world hope to see our books on the shelves. We love to write and will keep doing it no matter what, but we don't feel called to write in a vacuum. If we did, we wouldn't be building our platforms, creating an online presence, and studying the craft. We want an audience, preferably one that keeps coming back. To do that, we have to get to know them.
What do you do in order to know your audience? What are the specific ways you engage your genre?
See you Wednesday!
3 hours ago