Don’t you hate commercials? Why can’t someone watch an uninterrupted TV show from start to end? Well, someone has to make money, that’s the current consensus I guess. They buy “air time” (They buy air? hmm… did they watch Sesame street?) and that pays for the cost of broadcasting what passes these days for “content”. O k then…
Welcome back folks. Let me just finish that (seemingly unrelated) rant so we can get back to literature… I especially “like” radio commercials. I spend about 30 minutes every day in the car and I love radio. But 15 of these 30 minutes are “air time”. Especially irritating are the commercials for all of these miraculous life enhancing products. You know which ones… “lose 250 Lbs in 5 days”, “Enlarge your….”, “Make her happy pills” and all that.
To begin with, it sounds bogus. Probably is. But then they use a nice little tactic to urge you. “Limited number of jars available” or “call in the next 5 minutes”. Let’s say I was willing to buy the crap they were promising to begin with, don’t they think that running the same add that says “Call only in the next 5 minutes” 3 times in a span of an hour would expose their lie?
You might ask yourselves, why am I sharing this piece of trivia over the web. I could have just whined about that to my wife and get it out of the system.
But then, I’d miss the opportunity to link this to writing
What’s that got to do with writing? Well, we are all in the field of advertising. Yes. We promise to sell the reader an experience. We tell him “Hey, join my hero on his journey. Care for my hero.”
It starts with the book title. If your title is purposely misleading or completely unrelated (Even as a result of oversight), why would the reader consider this different to any “enlarging pills”? Not only will you hurt yourself by giving the book the wrong title, thus spoiling at least part of the reader experience, you’d be broadcasting false advertising.
The cover is another way to send the wrong message to the reader. A good advise I heard from many is to go to a book store and find the shelve where your book might be on in the near future then browse the covers there. Do not copy. It’s not cool. But definitely get an idea of what works. It works on more than one level. There’s the “genre” to consider. How many two-headed dragons devouring a dead goat in the middle of a chaotic urban scenery did you see on the “Romance” isle? I thought so… another is, again, what is your book about?
The same goes for the rest of the book. You send your hero on a journey. Just by that, you promise the reader that the hero will change, learn, develop, do something meaningful. if anything, please make sure you deliver on that promise. Otherwise, a title given to you by Isaac Asimov and a cover hand drawn by Picasso with a dedication to your mother will not be enough to fix that frustration the reader will feel IF he finished reading…
I hope I was able to deliver on what I promised on this post and you know I’m working hard to deliver on my novel. Easier said than done eh?