Why different is better than better (authors, pay attention)
"Write to the market," say the experts to the writer.
"There's a hungry crowd out there. Give them what they want and your book will be successful."
The lesson is that, what worked before will continue working as we move ahead. Keep writing those zombie vampire romances topping the charts this month and watch your sales rank soar.
You know the saying, "the map is not the territory"?
Here's a new and improved version:
The map isn't the journey.
The map in your hand codes all the information about the territory into a single unit. It's all laid out right there in front of you.
It's nothing like that when you make the hike, is it?
You can't see everything all at once. There's a surprise around every corner.
The map might make you think you've got it all figured out.
But maps can be wrong. The landscape can change. There might be a grizzly bear on the path you need to take.
When you write to the market, you're looking behind you. You see what worked. Stress on the past tense.
That's reading off the map. The safe, easy, simple, secure approach to artistic creation.
Those bestseller trends you're chasing didn't happen because the writer looked at what was working.
They happened because somebody got the bright idea to wander off into the unexplored spaces.
They had the courage and the vision to write a story that was different.
Bucking the trends instead of chasing them.
In direct marketing, there's a saying that goes like this: "Different is better than better".
If you want to sell a better pain pill, you don't tell the buyer that it's better. Nobody wants a better widget.
Instead, you offer them a different widget.
A widget that doesn't work like the other widgets. A widget that won't do the same things in the same ways.
A new opportunity always pulls better than a tweak to the stuff they already know.
The problem with unique and distinct is that you can't tell in advance if it's going to work. Lots of things are unique and never gather up attention.
Writers have a simple solution for this. Write more books. Tell more stories. Find your audience. Somebody will like your work. There's an audience for almost anything.
But you won't find it if you dilute your unique point of view to sell to what you believe the market wants. Let the market decide that.
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