A Writer’s Gift–What’s In It For Me?

Cynthia Ruchti

Blogger: Cynthia Ruchti

A writer’s gift. What’s in it for me?

In a few days, beautiful wrapped boxes or tissue-paper jammed gift bags will be handed to friends and family. The recipients may not express it, but their subconscious thoughts are likely, “What is it? What’s in this box for me? Will I like it? Do I need it? Will it surprise me? Will it be exactly what I expected to receive?”What's in it for me box

What’s in this gift for me?

It’s also a question writers are compelled to consider.

That question is a vital premise that’s often missing in book proposals. But it’s never absent from the minds of readers and publishers. For some readers, the thought isn’t articulated, but it guides their purchasing and reading habits as well as their actions after reading. Do they feel a compulsion to tell others about the book? To finish it? To forget it?

Often listed as “Takeaway Value” in proposal format, it’s more than that. But Takeaway is a good starting point.

Readers have virtually unlimited options for use of their time. And nearly unlimited options if they choose to use some of that time reading. They read because reading offers them:

  • Relaxation
  • Enjoyment
  • Insight
  • Education
  • Hope
  • A thrill
  • Joy
  • A way to process and/or express what they’ve experienced or are experiencing
  • A means of expanding their world
  • Expansion of their worldview
  • Foundation for their faith
  • Exploration of faith
  • Empathy growth
  • A space in which to think
  • Support for their cause or beliefs
  • A new approach to their cause or beliefs

Not a comprehensive list, but it’s obvious readers rarely open a book for the purpose of killing time. Time killers abound in other forms.

writer's gift reader

Whether fiction or nonfiction, readers read because of what they hope to get out of the writer’s gift and the reading experience.

But many writers remain unaware of the importance of that consideration as they write and as they create queries and proposals.

Clearly expressing what a reader can expect to take away from the reading experience sets the proposal apart and piques the interest of agents and acquisitions editors.

Having that takeaway in mind as we write keeps us conscious of the reader–the end goal of our story.

Samples:

  • Readers will finish this book with greater courage that they won’t unravel, if they’re hemmed in hope.
  • The reader will understand that when God mends, He doesn’t just patch us together. He makes art.
  • Readers will take a deeper look at the aftereffects of neglect on a marriage, and what it costs to find reconciliation.
  • Readers will emerge from the reading experience with workable solutions to their clutter crises.

What takeaway (no spoilers) awaits the reader who opens your gift of writing?

 

 

25 Responses

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  1. Angie Arndt says:

    Wow, that’s a pretty tall order! But as I think about how I choose a book, I do want an experience, encouragement, or at the very least someone else’s viewpoint. There’s a bit of escapism in my choices, but it’s also a quest for learning. As Johnny 5 the robot said in the 80’s movie, Short Circuit, “More input! Need more input!”
    * Here’s my wish for those who read my books: Readers will be encouraged to persevere in the face of adversity and find that life can still be full of joy.
    * Speaking of joy, Merry Christmas, Cynthia!

  2. God has expanded my writer’s heart to include those who find reading to be hard work. Half of American adults read at or below the 8th grade level. I try to put adult Christian concepts into simple words. I don’t write exclusively to those who struggle to read, I write simply so that they’re not excluded from the audience. This is from my book proposal:
    * “I envision reluctant readers starting with my simple blog posts, moving on to Bible studies, building up to an entire book. Many of them have long doubted their reading ability. Brick-on-brick, I want to build their confidence and open windows of opportunity for their engagement.”

  3. Well, that on finishing one of my books they want to buy the next one, that would be good.

  4. Seriously, hope that the takeaway is an answer to that which I face daily: “I’m scared. Please help me not be.”
    * It not a fear of death; more a fear that my hope and morale will not stand against whirlpool of life gone horribly wrong, dreams and goals and very essence of what I thought I was pulled down into abyss by illness, pain.
    * What I read now only shaped to give heart for the fight, and changes daily. Hope that what I now write, postcards from hell, as it may be, does same.
    * Sorry about type o’s. Not doing too good, can see them but no go ing back to fix.
    * Merry Christmas all! 🙂

    • Cynthia Ruchti says:

      I think many of us read to help us give “heart for the fight,” even if our battles are far different from one another’s.

      • That’s for sure Cynthia! That’s why I am writing what I write, because back in the day the only one writing what I needed was Joyce Meyer. She was the only one who “got it” because she lived through a life of abuse and learned how to overcome. She explained things, and still does, I’m a down to earth, practical manner.

  5. Carol Ashby says:

    I’ve read two of Andrew’s novels, and I can tell you what their message is. God loves us so much that, no matter how deeply wounded we may be, He can bless us with second chances that lead to happiness.
    *If anyone here has been encouraged by the words of our own Barnabas, I think getting the Kindle version of one of his novels today would be a lovely way to say thank you to the brother so many of us love.

  6. A great question, Cynthia! Hmmm …. you made me go look at my book proposal. Well, this is what I came up with:

    A college professor once told me: “Your faith will never be mature until you have seriously considered walking away from God.” He said it usually happens between the ages of 14 and 20 and is absolutely vital to one’s growth as a believer.

    This book is about that moment.

    • Cynthia Ruchti says:

      I can’t tell you how much this encouragement means today, Kristen, as I pray for those in my circle of influence and family.

      • Doubt and struggle are such a vital part of a real and vibrant walk with God. I was blessed to hear that early in our ministry with teens. And looking through the Bible, at how God’s people struggle and doubt and still choose God, and at my own life, I see that it is true. God wants the real us, not the perfect imagined us, but the real deal. I’m so glad to be able to pass on my prof’s words to you, so glad such a small collection of words could be an encouragement. Here is more of the story if you are curious.
        For my professor, that moment came when he was 21 years old and his toddler lay in the ICU from a head injury that was all his fault. He wasn’t watching closely and his son fell through the sliding hole at the fire station where he worked…and then the child next door, who had the same injuries as his little boy, died in the night. Do you still believe God then?
        For me, that moment came when I was 14, a frozen instant on a car ride home. A moment of reckoning, a moment that only I saw but was vital to my faith. I am so glad it came early. Seven months later I would find myself uselessly preforming CPR on my Dad after an accident with the generator that powered our remote home. Do you still believe God then?
        That is the moment we all come to and it is a key part of our faith. God bless, Cynthia. Your loved ones are in my prayers today, too. You’ve reminded me to pray for mine as well.

  7. Carol Ashby says:

    I’m writing a series, so I’ve had to spend some time thinking about the underlying theme that unifies all of them.
    *Readers will experience the joy that comes from the power of Christian love and forgiveness to open the hearts of lost souls and lead them to their own faith in Christ.

  8. It’s interesting how we sort as we read, I like books that have threads of wisdom throughout, not just a main takeaway but many small takeaways . . . that sometimes end up as a quote in my journal. I’m currently writing a novel about the longing for identity, that addresses the inner need to know who we are and why we matter. I hope it meets a deep felt-need, the need for significance. I believe God created humankind with this very human need in order for us to find it satisfied in him. Although the novel is not overtly religious, the protagonist says a lot of whispered prayers. Going to go into the psyche with this book for that’s where we live but don’t know we live. I’m so used to writing nonfiction where one builds on the book’s premise and promise that this will be a brand new challenge for me (but exciting). Looking forward to 2018.

    • Cynthia Ruchti says:

      In many ways, a novel, too, builds on a premise…but the characters discover that premise as they take their journey. 🙂 And yes, many small takeaways. For proposals, though, editors will expect a clearly communicated overarching takeaway. It’s a challenge!

  9. I write to give back part of the pleasure and knowledge reading other people’s writing has given to me. I’ve been blessed to learn that some of my articles and one book I wrote have made differences in the lives of people who read them, and hope that has also happened for others even though I’m not aware of it. I want my writing to encourage lots of readers to face their fears, get stronger faith, and to accept and understand people who are different, especially those with Special Needs.

  10. Ok, great request Cynthia, because we need to have the takeaway n sight throughout our writing of our books.

    For me, I would say, The reader will come away knowing that God indeed can take the deepest hurts of our lives, the most painful moments, and worst betrayals and weave it into a life of beauty and purpose when we trust him to do things that only His Spirit can give us the courage, strength and insight to do.

    Merry Christmas all! My sister called me for the first time since being in the hospital! God is working in these dear family members who prior to this had distance themselves from God. It has been and continues to be a miracle, one I have been praying and fasting for over a very long time.

  11. The takeaway value of my novel is that God is not only our Redeemer, He is our Rescuer; we cannot go further from God than He is willing to reach.
    I am hoping those who open my gift of writing will takeaway a more intimate knowledge of that truth.
    Merry Christmas to you, Cynthia and to all the Books & Such Literary Management team.

  12. Linda Wilson says:

    Hmm…wish I’d read this earlier!

    Everything I write should have a message that is for the betterment of others – be that the reader, the subject of the written material or related others.

    After 36 years practicing Clinical Psychology I’m not going to stop sharing messages that are intended to be helpful to someone, just because I now choose to do it in written format rather than face-to-face.