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 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:
- A thrill
- 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.
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.
- 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?