Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dear Readers: What Do You Want?

By Glenys O'Connell

Readers, what do you want?

In the words of the Spice Girls (which dates me, no doubt) tell me what you want; what you really, really want?

I mean, take books for example. We writers sit at our computers, or pens and notebooks, or chalks and slates, and we pour out our hearts and souls. Then we send those words out into the world, after fussing over them like mother hens, and wait. And wait. And wait. Sometimes there's a kind word from an editor or a publisher; sometimes there's a contract.

And all too often, there's a rejection.

Which, try as we might, we do take personally. Who could help but do so, after all we've given up – time with family, lazy days in the sun, movies and tv, reading other writers' books, dinner dates and trips out – in order to write those words that are so unappreciated.

And the worst of it is that those editors, publishers and agents that we rely on so heavily for a yeah or a nay, these people are only human. Stories are subjective – I might love a particular writer's work, someone else might hate it or worse, be indifferent.

Stephen King, my hero, was told his work was 'not commercial'. That not commercial writer has sold millions of books, and his work has been made into television shows and movies.

J.K. Rowling, creator of the breathtakingly popular Harry Potter books, was told that kids today weren't interested in dragons and wizards and magic. 'Nuff said.

Somewhere, out there in the Great Unknown, are editors or editorial assistants or publishers' purchasing committees who are crying into their beer for turning down the next great thing. At least I hope so.

So it seems these days that it is the readers who have the final say; the readers who spread the word about King and Rowling and many other bestsellers – once a publisher decided to take a chance on an unknown writer.

You see, readers know what they want.

There's a story about George Sands that says she began to write because she couldn’t find a book that interested her. The same is said of Louisa May Alcott, author of my girlhood favourite, Little Women and the sequel, Good Wives. But just like Rowling, they kept right on writing. The readers found them, and the rest is history.

So, readers, what do you want? What stories light up your lives, or leave you afraid to go into the dark basement alone? What inspires you? Makes you laugh, makes you weep? Lifts your mood and makes you feel better when your world is in chaos? A Love that makes your toes curl?  What, in fact, would you say are the ingredients of that Next Great Thing? Or even a book that you'd love to read?

The Internet is full or how-to advice for writers. I'm as guilty as any other blogger or article writer; I teach creative writing to would-be writers. I'm glad to say that quite a few have gone on to be published.

But to me the burning question isn't what is selling today; not what formula works to make a book successful – the very existence of such a formula is a fallacy.

The real question can only be answered by you, Dear Reader: What do you want?

Right about now you may be wondering what this has to do with the current theme of this blog: Organization.  The answer, of course, is absolutely nothing.

I always wanted to be a rebel!

Glenys O'Connell is the author of several mystery & romance novels with good reader reviews; her long-awaited (in her dreams) book based on her creative writing course: Naked Writing: The No Frills Way to Write Your Book, will soon be published. Her 'brand' is Romance Can Be Murder, which tells you a lot about her.... Learn more here.


Jannine Gallant said...

As a reader, I want a story that I'll love in a voice I can listen to forever. It doesn't matter if it's suspense or historical or creatures that go bump in the night. It has to be well told, keeping my attention from beginning to end, with characters I care about. As a writer, I hope I can deliver the same. I'm not a reader of fads or trends. I'm very curious to hear about the rest of you. Thanks for a thought inspiring post, Glenys!

Laura Breck said...

Wow, congratulations on publishing a craft book. I'm impressed - and I want to read it.

I heard a prediction that 'small town' is the new 'vampire.' We'll see? (How about small town vampires?)

Barbara Edwards said...

I want a story that grabs me by the throat, twists my heart and ultimately leaves me satisfied. So get out there and write it!
Great post, Glenys.

Jerri Hines said...

I think you should write, write, write away. Do what you love. Love what you do.

JenaGalifany said...

If the author didn't make me angry, scared, sad, happy or in some way stir my emotions, they didn't do their job. It doesn't matter what the story line is, make me feel it or live it. Don't leave me hanging, though. I don't like heights.

BTW, It's good to know there is a rebel in the group, too. =)

Alison H. said...

As a reader, I want a story and characters that become my reality while I'm reading. Any genre will do. My greatest satisfaction as a writer comes when readers tell me they read one of my books in one night because they couldn't put it down. That means I did my job and sucked them in to my reality.

Margaret Tanner said...

Great blog. For me, nothing beats a good historical romance. Dark tortured heroes, Wuthering Heights comes to mind., but if any of the historical information is incorrect, I can't read the rest of the book.



Viola Russell said...

I want to be taken where I can't go on my own. By that, I mean that a love story might transport me to unknown depths or historical novels might bring me to the times of knights and ladies. if it's a thriller, I want to be scared when I turn the lights out that night.