Oh, boy. Guess what I got yesterday afternoon. My editorial review letter on Violet Dawn. All 16 pages of it. That’s right. Sixteen. Yikes.
Actually, I’m thrilled and a little scared at the same time. Scared at having 16 pages of things to consider and fix. (Five or six of which are major things, the rest minor to little details.) Thrilled because I know, at the end of the process, I will have a much better book. I always do. God love those editors! Nothin’ beats a deep, hard edit for an author. I tell you the truth—if you receive a “fix these two little things and we’re good to go” editorial letter, be wary. In my opinion, a good editor’s gonna find lots of things to fix, no matter how great an author you might be.
At any rate, I shall certainly stay out of trouble for the next couple of weeks.
Back to branding. I wanted to pick up from yesterday and tell you a little about how I went through the assignment Tom Morrisey gave us to do—filling out the questionnaire about my “target reader.” At first, I had trouble with this. Anything I thought of, I immediately rejected as not good enough. (Sheesh, no wonder I have trouble plotting.) When we broke into groups of three and talked about it, the other two in my group helped me get a handle on things. I’ve also thought more about this exercise since then, and revised my findings somewhat.
Remember that the bottom line of the exercise was to decide upon two things: (1) the one-word value for my product, and (2) the phrase that describes my community of readers.
Cara said something interesting in her comment yesterday regarding her mindset when she reads one of my books or other suspense novels: Probably a mix of escape, adventure, and learning something, too. I've never been a forensic artist. But I like to learn about it while I try to outsmart the writer in solving the crimes/mystery.
This resonates with what I came up with regarding my reader. For the one-word value for my product, I’ve ended up with: Dramatic. I think readers come to my books expecting that roller coaster ride, intensity of murder conflict and character emotion, and twists. I think my readers envision themselves (as they read my book) adventuresome, action-oriented, able to handle tension, strong even when they’re spine-tingled. And one more important thing, as Cara mentioned. They see themselves as intelligent puzzle-solvers. They know I’m going to try to catch them off guard through a twist or two, and they’re looking to figure out that twist ahead of time. If they figure out the twist, they’re proud of themselves. If I fool them, they’re more than willing to grant me kudos for it.
The phrase I’ve ended up with to describe my community of readers is: More than meets the eye. (Actually, one of my group members might have said this first; I can't remember.) I’m going to continue to think on this, and maybe I’ll refine it, but I think it hits the mark pretty well. It’s an aggregate of various words that describe my readers, such as: rollercoaster riders, puzzle-solvers, unbridled, daring, adventuresome, learners, confident. My readers may be quiet computer techs during the week, or moms, or teachers, etc., but when they approach one of my stories, those words are what they become. They are multi-faceted people. The “More than meets the eye” phrase refers both to these levels of layers within my readers and their twist-solving approach to my stories, for they know that within the plot there’s more than meets the eye.
The cool thing is, after I went through this process, I saw how the answers do fit with my “Seatbelt Suspense” brand descriptor, and the tagline, “Don’t forget to b r e a t h e . . .”
From this exercise, I’ve come away with a better idea of who I’m writing for. Who I’m trying to please as I plot that next book.
BGs, I’d love your feedback on this. Do you think I have it right? What would you add? Disagree with?
After all, I’m used to a hard edit.
Read Part 5