This week I’m pleased to present a post by Carrie Spencer, part of the “faculty” of Romance University, which along with Wordplay was one of 2012’s Top 10 Blogs for Writers. Today, she talks about what fiction authors can learn from reading non-fiction books.
In order to be successful in the restaurant business, you must provide good customer service. This isn’t just refilling an empty tea glass or picking up dirty plates. Instead, you have to know what your customer wants—are they here for a good time? A quiet business dinner? A fast meal so they can get back to work?
Who cares? You don’t work in a restaurant, you’re a writer. And so am I. And I’m here to tell you, you need to provide your readers with the same customer service I provide to my customers. Let me explain.
|Image by Andy Roth|
Look at Janet Evanovich with her Stephanie Plum series. The book covers are bright colored, with big bold letters. Each read is guaranteed to be fast, fun, and entertaining. Now look at Stephen King. His book covers are dark, ominous. When reading a Stephen King novel, you’re almost guaranteed to sit up late at night, turning each page faster and faster, horrified yet enthralled.
What would happen if Janet Evanovich suddenly decided to toss Stephanie into a horror novel? Her readers would be shocked, and hate mail would be written. She’d lose readers. Why? Because she didn’t provide what the customer wanted. What they expected. When I buy an Evanovich, I expect to have a belly laugh or two, something to brighten my day and giggle about later.
When someone comes into our restaurant, they know they’ll get good service, a drink they’ll be happy with, and a plate full of delicious food. If we suddenly started serving Asian fusion rice paper-wrapped salmon with seaweed, our regular customers would be horrified. They’re expecting a rib eye and mashed potatoes.
This doesn’t mean you always have to write a romcom and can never change. But if you do, you have to give your regular reader some advance notice. You can write under a pen name as Nora Roberts did when she began her series as J.D. Robb. On a book that is part of a series, you can write “A Stephanie Plum novel” on the cover to differentiate it from Janet’s new Wicked series which features a different style of cover and typeface.
Providing customer service is part of my every day life. You, as an author, will need to make it part of yours as well. Make sure your reader gets the satisfaction from your novel that they are expecting and that they walk away pleased with their purchase. And more importantly, that they will buy from you again.
Now, do you care for fries with that?
About the Author: Romance author Carrie Spencer belongs to Romance Writers of America, Yosemite Romance Writers, Romance Writers Online, Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal Group and was a former Girl Scout. She works as a restaurant manager, jewelry and website designer, and is learning how to use a flat iron. Her claims to fame include: lifting 50-pound bicep curls, stirring up a mean Mai Tai and concocting an even meaner Long Island Iced Tea. She lives on a farm in Iowa with seven cats and her English husband.
Tell me your opinion: What should readers expect from your "brand"?
Related Posts: The Best Writing Advice
Is Authorial Voice Different From Character Voice?
Should You Ever Use Unusual Narrative Forms
Story by K.M. Weiland