Writing

What Does Reader Sarah Want?

Reader Interview

(With a tip of the hat to the Inside the Actor’s Studio)Sarah Worrell, author

First Name: Sarah

Gender: F

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 Anthology and at 150kansaspoems.

book, 365 Days Poets

~~~~~

Thank you, Sarah! I know I’ve added several titles to my TBR list. How about you?

Would you like to be included in this series? Click here to download the Reader Interview as a pdf. Click here for the Reader Interview as a word document. Or simply comment below, answering all or just one question.

As always, thank you for reading!

What Does Reader Rob Want?

author Rob Chilson

First Name:  Rob
Gender:  
Male
Age Range:
61+
Occupation:  
Retired (very tiring)


What occupation (other than yours) would you like to try? 
Never gave anything but writing a thought, past the age of say 7


What sound or noise do you love? 
Many-many.  Rain after drought.  The onset of a thunderstorm in hot summer weather.  The laughter of children.


What sound or noise do you hate? 
Whining, especially of children, but even of cats


What is your favorite word? 
Too many to list, I love words.  Easier to list least favorite, but I can’t think what would be worst.


Fiction or Nonfiction? 
That I read?  Both.


Genre? 
Usually SF/fantasy in fiction, sometimes a mystery; history, bio, autobio, and recent events in nonfiction


Ebook, audio book, or physical book? 
I still prefer a physical book, partly because my Kindle’s index is messed up.  It only lists half a dozen books, though if I remember title or author I can pull up the others.  But who can remember them all?  Also, the physical book will still be readable, whereas magnetic memories are very frail.


What makes you choose a book to read? Author? Cover? Blurb? 
Any or all of the foregoing, and other things as well:  reviews, recommendations, etc.

Recommendation?  Anything by James Schmitz.  I also like Jack McDevitt, Jack Vance, Matthew Hughes, and a whole bunch of classics, Heinlein and all that.  


What makes you put down a book? 
Bad writing, lack of logic, inaccurate characterization or observation.  If’s well-written but merely dull, I’ll probably go on, but I’ll never re-read it.  A good book bears re-reading.


What are you reading now? 
Currently re-reading C. J. Cherryh’s “Chanur” series.


Do you re-read books? 
The good ones, yes.


All time favorite book? 
Too many to list.  There are a hundred in the top ten, even.


If heaven exists, what would you want St. Peter to say?  
“Welcome!  The library’s that way.”

~~~~~

Hi! This is Lynette again.

I love that last answer, don’t you?

Now I have to confess, Rob Chilson is my co-author and a dear friend. He and I wrote three White Box novellas, two of which were published in Analog Science Fiction, Science Fact Magazine. He graciously agreed to take my little questionnaire. Here’s a photo of us from a few years back.

Lynette M Burrows & Rob Chilson

Want to know a little more about Rob? Here’s a portion of his bio:

I was born at home in Oklahoma, after my mother spent part of the morning hoeing in the garden. It was a pretty old-fashioned family even for that time (1945) and place. My father was a scarecrow. We subsequently moved to California, where my memories begin. I remember the first flake of snow I ever saw. (It disappeared before I got a good look at it.) Since then I’ve lost track of snowflakes; we moved back to Missouri (my mother’s natal state) when I was eight, and I have been a confirmed Midwesterner ever since.

I decided, about age six, that I wanted to be a writer. I even wrote a couple of stories. I concluded that I was not yet ready to be a writer, so postponed it until I was grown up. At age eleven, I concluded that I now knew enough to be a writer; for instance, I now understood improper fractions.

Read more on his website: http://www.robchilson.name

Better yet, buy one of his books. One of my favorites is his spoof on horror comics called Black as Blood.

You are a reader (or you wouldn’t be reading this blog). Would you like to be included in this series? Click here to download the Reader Interview as a pdf. Click here for the Reader Interview as a word document.

What Readers Want

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? crystal ball by Jeffrey Beall

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?

2. Learn about the psychology of story.

3. Learn what a story is.

Tell your best story.

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.

3. Hone your craft. Learn to write a scene.

Learn who your readers are.

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?

Use tools like the ones this post suggests.

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.

 

Image courtesy of Jeffrey Beall via Flickr.com