One of These Things is Not Like the Other

Okay, so I'm giving away my age probably to some extent, but I'm guessing at least some of you, like me, know what follows the line in the header today. You also know it comes from a song on Sesame Street. For those of you who aren't familiar, the gist of it is that one of four items is not like any of the others. It might be an orange vs three apples or three blue items vs a yellow one for example and the exercise reinforces shapes, colors etc.

Somewhere along the line, that lesson often also turns toward the idea that it's not good to be that one that's different. It's better to be in the group of the same. And there are times when that concept can serve you well. There are times when we don't want to stand out in the crowd, or when we need to go with the flow. However, there are also situations when that strategy is detrimental instead of helpful. I'm pretty confident you've experienced one or the other at some point and likely each multiple times in your life. In publishing, you'll find most of the time you'll need to do a little of both.

First, particularly if you're hoping for a publishing deal, your book needs to be alike in that it falls into a recognizable category or spot on a shelf. If it's supposed to fit a certain genre' it needs to fall within expected norms of what a reader would expect from that style of book. Go to far to one side or the other and you may only have a fringe audience that won't make it widely marketable, which for a publisher means, it won't sell enough.

That said, the crazy thing is at the same time the book needs to be that one yellow one among the blue ones. It's good for it to stand out because it gives a reader who has hundreds of choices an incentive to pick yours over the others. If they like it, they'll also recommend it to others instead of saying something along the lines of "it's like most of the other ones you've probably read".

It's a very tricky balancing act to be sure. Does your brain hurt just trying to understand and apply all that? Here's a little help :-)

Good Writing & God Bless,
Cheryl Pickett

No comments: