(With a tip of the hat to the Inside the Actor’s Studio)
First Name: Sarah
Age Range: 21-40
Occupation: peer tutor at the JCCC Writing Center
What occupation (other than yours) would you like to try? Fiction and poetry writer
What sound or noise do you love? Purring cat
What sound or noise do you hate? Insistent meowing of cat wanting to go outside
What is your favorite word? Bizarre
Fiction or Nonfiction? Fiction
Genre? Speculative fiction, but paranormal urban fantasy is a particular favorite.
Ebook, audio book, or physical book? Physical book unless I can’t get it that way.
What makes you choose a book to read? Author? Cover? Blurb? It has to look and sound entertaining. Being an author I’ve already read helps, but if the concept is intriguing that’ll do.
Recommendation(s)? Laurell K Hamilton, Kim Harrison, Writing the Other by Nisi Shawl, Fast Girl by Suzy Favor Hamilton, Impossible Things by Connie Willis, Troublemaker by Leah Remini.
What makes you put down a book? Boredom or slogging through a book like it’s a chore.
What are you reading now? Just finished Dancing and Wounded by Laurell K. Hamilton, which are only available as ebooks.
Do you re-read books? Yes, frequently. The more stressed I am, the more likely I am to be re-reading instead of reading a new book.
All time favorite book?Rilla of Ingleside by L. M. Montgomery.
If heaven exists, what would you want St. Peter to say? Glad you’re here or it’s good to finally meet you. Something along those lines would be nice : )
Sarah Worrel completed her associate’s degree at Johnson County Community College. She graduated from the University of Kansas, where Sarah enjoyed her job at the KU Writing Center. Sarah loves working at the JCCC Writing Center and also takes Digital Media classes at JCCC. Her short stories have appeared in Coal City Review and Ad Astra, while her poetry has appeared in 365 Days: A Poetry Anthologyand at 150kansaspoems.
Thank you, Sarah! I know I’ve added several titles to my TBR list. How about you?
Time and time again you’re told to identify your reader, to write what your reader wants to read. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could look into a crystal ball and find the perfect reader for your book?
Have you tried to research what the reader wants? An internet search will give you more than 29 million results! Are that that many things readers want? Yes and no. The things readers want are greater than the number of readers. So what’s a writer to do?
Learn the basics.
1. We are born storytellers. Our sense, or need for, story is inborn. Need proof? How about 40,000+ year old cave paintings? How about the questions we ask? How was your day? Did you see the whopper I caught? Did you hear the whopper I told?
1. Understand that your job as a writer is to tell a story about a character who wants something desperately and to make her struggle to achieve that goal.If there is no struggle, no obstacles, no opposition, there is no story.
2. Learn how to craft a story, There is tons of advice out there on the wild web. Don’t just go with web learning. Find books by authors whose stories you love. I have a list of resources here.
1. If you don’t have a mailing list or anything in print yet, look at your own reading habits. Pick one of your favorite books and look it up on Amazon. Look through the reviews for that book. What did the reviewers love? What did they hate?
If you’ve already got books out you can do several things.
Mine your mailing list. What can you learn from the names and addresses? What can you learn from comments left on your blog or emailed to you?
Interview your readers. Or, look at the reviews you’ve gotten. Did your readers love your characters but think your setting was weak? Did your readers love the secondary characters? What did they not like? Careful with this one, you’re not looking for negative reviews, you’re looking for what your readers didn’t like or wanted to see more of.
2. Know the genre of your story. But my book is a blend of several genres you say. Sorry, you have to pick one that is your primary genre. Why? Because when you go to buy a breakfast food at the grocery you don’t go to the this-and-that aisle. You go to the meat section or the cereal aisle, then you make a selection. So you choose one primary genre and you make certain the obligatory scenes for that genre are present. Help your readers find your story.
Can’t decide which genre is your primary? Go to Amazon or other book sellers and look at the descriptions of books that are like yours. What’s the genre? Still can’t decide? Get a refresher on the basic genres and try again.
3. Study the bestsellers lists. No, don’t follow the trend. Read the best sellers in your genre. Figure out why readers love those books. Don’t copy the books, but take the elements that make them popular and use those elements in your own fiction.
Refine. Refine. Refine.
1. Improve your craft. Always. Get feedback from peers and professionals. Learn more about the craft.
2. Practice. Practice. Practice.
3. Listen to your readers. Always. That doesn’t mean give them exactly what they say they want, it means listen. Honor them by writing the best story you can with the elements that they love.
There are hundreds and thousands more references available to you. Reach out. Search for them. Get to know your readers. Your readers will thank you.
To help us all get to know readers better, I am running a series of Reader Interviews (with a tip of the hat to the Actor’s Studio). These aren’t limited to my readers. I’ve asked friends, family, anyone who reads to take part in this. Please help me thank them for their time and candid answers by reading and commenting. Look for the first in that series next week.