Blogger: Michelle Ule
Filling in for Wendy, who is at the International Christian Retail Show.
Articulating Reasons for People to Read Your Book
“Why should I read your book?” The rotund man with a trim mustache was on his fifth or sixth glass of wine, but we’d finally moved the dinner conversation around to me.
I didn’t recognize him; as far as I knew, he was merely another guest at the fashionable party I was attending at a sprawling beach “cottage” on Stinson Beach.
(We were required to wear all white. Yes, I felt like an actress in The Great Gatsby).
I didn’t expect the question, and I stumbled. I hadn’t even had a glass of wine!
While the rest of the table watched politely, I tried to remember my “elevator pitch.”
My questioner leaned closer. “Has it got good hot sex, violence or anything else of interest?”
I could answer that question. “No.”
“Then what’s the point?”
I went mute.
My personal patron of the arts (aka my husband) stepped into the breach and discussed the drama of the story, the complexity of the characters, the important plot points.
The questioner sloshed his wine glass and then asked who owned the adorable baby sitting on my lap.
A two-month-old got me off the hook
With him, but not with myself.
I’ve puzzled over the question ever since. Why should that elegant, San Francisco socialite–whom I’ve since learned runs a tiny publishing house–read my Civil War novel?
Why should he read your project?
Wise King Solomon advised, “of the making of books there is no end.” For this reason, it’s important when we write a story we create as unusual a tale as possible. It behooves writers to ask themselves what they hope to prove in the writing.
What’s a potential reader’s personal “take away”?
If a reader can’t find something in the story meaningful to themselves–whether they realize it or not–I’m not sure a novelist has done them a service. Click to Tweet
My Civil War story turns on how a woman copes with setting aside her personal ethics to marry a bandit for the “Cause.” How does she cope with what her marriage does to her soul? When he is killed while under investigation by the Army for impropriety, how does she emotionally work herself back to spiritual peace, particularly since she is on the war’s losing side? How does she reconstruct “normal” when all of life has turned upside down?
I’m personally interested in questions like these, but would a drunk man at a fancy dinner be?
But he probably should read my book.
Addressing the question why should someone read your book is one of the sections of a proposal writers should consider carefully.
A novel is more than a story; what themes are you examining? We shouldn’t be writing polemical novels that shove our point down the reader’s throat if we’re trying to entertain, but nuance and deeper meanings can turn even a simple novella into a thought-provoking work.
What makes a book worth reading? Click to Tweet
What about you? What is the underlying concern behind your project? What is your reader take-away?
In one simple sentence, why I should read your manuscript? 🙂 Click to Tweet