Okay, confession time. I’m going to tell you something that often gets me in trouble, but I hope you will understand my motive is to encourage you.
I do not like all the books I read—even bestsellers.
Phew! There! I said it! Now please don’t hate me because you think I’m some haughty, know-it-all, elitist author. Really. Who am I? I’m not even published.
Sometimes, it’s just that I don’t relate to the characters because of my own history. Other times, it’s a matter of clashing with the author’s voice. Or maybe the book is not written using my primary perceptual style—kinesthetic.
Though this could make an author wonder if I wouldn’t like their book, why should this encourage them? Let me explain …
Last year, I engaged in the Snowflake Method class offered by Randy Ingermanson on the ACFW course loop. In that class he stated the belief that most people will NOT like your book. For some reason I thought he gave the percentage of 80%, but when I quoted this number to other writers they were aghast.
“Eighty percent of people will NOT like my book?”
I got such strong reactions from authors I started to question my memory of the statement, so I cornered poor Mr. Ingermanson at the ACFW Conference in Dallas and asked him what number he quoted. His brows drew together in thought. “I don’t think I gave a number …” Suddenly I felt like an idiot. “ … but let’s look at it.”
There I stood, in awe, as Mr. Ingermanson, in true former-physicist fashion, began rolling off numbers of populations and figures from bestsellers—calculation, calculating—to come up with a percentage in the mid-nineties of people who would NOT like a bestseller. So you could imagine the stat of those who won’t like the work of little-ole-me.
Humbling? (Well maybe, if you think everyone should like your book) Or is it?
The truth is, if a bestseller does not need ninety-some percent of the population, why should I? In fact, this idea should give us relief! I don’t NEED to reach ninety percent. I only need to reach that audience for whom God has called me to write. My target market.
But there is soooooo much more to think about with this idea … and the reason I printed the Bible verse above. Because the jealousy spoken of in that verse comes from an “us vs. them” mentality, rather than working together to enlarge the kingdom of God. Members of the synagogue couldn’t listen to what Paul had to say, not because it was blasphemous (the word “jealousy” being used), but because it took attention away from them.
One of the things that astounded me most when I first joined American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) was how helpful so many of the members were when I asked questions on the loop or needed feedback with a manuscript. I did not sense that others saw me as competition, but fellow sojourners in the work. I liked that. They could help me reach the audience God had planned for me, and I could help them reach the audience God had planned for them.
You see, I don’t NEED to like your book. And guess what? YOU don’t need me to like it, either. If God has called you to the ministry of writing and I’m not your target audience, that’s okay. It’s why I love to support other authors—because their work will reach where mine cannot, furthering the Kingdom of God in ways my book will not. That’s what makes it RIGHT if I don’t like your book. In fact, if we all wrote for the same audience, it’s likely we’d be preaching to the choir. Don’t get me wrong, the choir can use a lesson or two, not to mention encouragement, but sometimes we need to touch beyond.
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Connie is a 2012 Genesis semi-finalist for Women’s Fiction. She was awarded an Honorable Mention in the Winter 2012 WOW Flash Fiction Contest for her entry, Why Not to Kiss on a Park Bench (aka. Harold and Violet). Come visit her on one of her other blogs: