If your goal is simply to write from your heart and you don’t care if you ever connect with millions of people, then this post is not for you. But if in your heart of hearts, you want to have a story that affects millions of lives, then I hope you find this helpful:
The best marketing tip I’ve ever received was simple: “write a buzz-worthy book for your audience. Know who your audience is and write specifically for them, don’t worry about anybody else.” As I continue to interview some amazing authors, authors I look up to that have sold millions upon millions of books, they all have one thing in common. They write for their audience. And they write a buzz-worthy book.
What’s a buzz-worthy book? This doesn’t mean, believe it or not, that the book needs to be written well. However, it does mean you need to be a phenomenal storyteller. There’s a difference. 90% of the Forbes highest paid authors are not known for their writing ability. In fact, critics often tear them apart but their millions of fans love them. So, they’re doing something right.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t study your craft or that you shouldn’t care how you craft sentences. What I am saying is that we’ve all read books that we thought were so poorly written that they read like a 5th grader wrote them but the storytelling was compelling. Poorly written as they were, we were compelled to know what was going to happen next. We loved it so much, it struck something in us and we had to tell everybody.
How do you know if your story is buzz-worthy? You know because when people read your book, they tell their friends and family about it without you having to ask them to. It’s something they want to share. In fact, they cannot wait to tell people about it. Now, that can be because it is so well-written that it’s like hot melted butter over freshly popped popcorn but most of the time it’s not. Most of the time, it’s because it touches their hearts or it makes them laugh, or what you have to say, they can relate to so much that they want to spread it everywhere. And most of the time it’s a story or a scene that makes them say to themselves, “Hey, you don’t see that every day!”
Can you say that about your story or your scene? If not, and your goal is to reach the masses, maybe that’s something to think about when you’re rewriting or polishing.
You don’t always know what that’s going to be. And sometimes, it’s better to write as many stories as you can because eventually one is going to click with your audience.
The thing is, you don’t have to please everybody. No matter how big you become, not everyone’s going to like it. All that matters is that your audience loves it.
If you’re writing for yourself because you have a story you’re passionate about that you have to say, go for it. And don’t let anyone stop you. Maybe you’ll catch lightning in a bottle. But if your goal is to reach critical mass, then you have to do what the big boys do, and that is, write for their audience. They don’t care what the critics say because the handful of critics are not their specific audience. Their audiences may be teen girls, or men who love thrillers, or house wives in Nebraska or African American business women. They know exactly who their audience is and what they want to read and quite frankly, they give it to them.
They know what their audience’s greatest fears are and their dreams and what breaks their hearts and what gives them chills down their spines compared to other audiences and they write for them. They allow their audience to live out their fantasies and their fears vicariously through their main characters eyes.
That’s the difference between a well-written award worthy writer and a writer that is a blockbuster bestselling novelist.
One way you can tell if your story is buzz-worthy is releasing a great chapter, simply send it to 5 people that you think will “get it”. If they love it, then they’ll be so excited that they’ll spread it everywhere. You won’t even have to ask them to. In fact, if you have to ask them to spread it for you, then you know it wasn’t buzz-worthy. Don’t be in such a hurry to send it to literary agents or to ePublish it until it’s buzz-worthy for your audience.
If your audience doesn’t get it, the 5 people will give you feedback and you can tweak your story, then send it to 5 more; wash and repeat until people (your exact audience) loves it so much that they are spreading to like wildfire without you having to ask them to. That’s when you know you have something buzz-worthy. Same process as you would do if you’re trying to create a buzz-worthy viral video.
That doesn’t mean you’re not a great writer, if no one’s getting it or no one’s spreading it. It just means, it’s not the type of chapter or story that they’d want to spread. Keep tweaking the chapter until it is buzz-worthy enough or abandon ship and work on another chapter or even another story. Eventually, you will write something buzz-worthy.