The Duck Test

May 18th, 2005 · 3 Comments
by Booksquare

The latest post over at BookAngst 101 (we hear Mad Max will be appearing at a blogging panel at BEA in a costume; we are so hoping for a giant white bunny, but we’ve had dreams crushed before) is like the duck test. It looks like a rant, feels like a rant, walks like a rant, but sounds like a whine. Not that we’re going to complain as we found it fascinating reading. At the very least, we learned that sending a DVD showcasing our brilliance to publishers might not be a good career move.

The author is writing for a market that doesn’t exist. It seems like it exists — you can see dozens of books on the topic when you enter a bookstore — but it’s really a chimera. The author is under the impression that people really want to understand the complexities of the human soul. We don’t. When it comes to dissecting the reasons why men don’t put the toilet seat down, it’s not real psychology we seek, it’s escape. Our hapless author is a victim of his own experience and wisdom to the point that he’s forgotten his audience.

Who wants to know about personality types or problems that prevent men from committing to women when you’ve got all kinds of off-the-cuff unqualified authors who will be happy to give you the benefit of their limited real-life experience? Have you read some of this realtionship advice stuff? I mean, way too much of it is just embarrasingly amatuerish in style and content. And yet, it sells. Publishers buy it and so do readers.

We cannot offer advice on how to sell a book for a market that doesn’t really exist*, but would suggest that market research isn’t always a matter of identifying gaps on the shelves.

* – Not true. We can and do all the time. Our advice is worth exactly what you pay for it.

File Under: Tools and Craft

3 responses so far ↓

  • Karen // May 18, 2005 at 11:42 am

    Reading the guy’s whi . . . uh, rant . . . made me wince. I feel for him, really I do. But blaming a lack of success on your own gushingly, and lengthily, described virtues never quite works.

  • Booksquare // May 18, 2005 at 10:06 pm

    Yes, many of these stories make one wince. However, I have a sick fascination with my species and believe in sharing my obsessions. Also in reminding people that certain things should only be done in private — or with trusted friends without blogs!

  • Susan Gable // May 19, 2005 at 5:45 am

    It’s a whine. First we had to suffer through all the comments about how great and wonderful he was. Obviously the world cannot see his genius.

    I’d also go as far as to say this was a “literary non-fiction” vs. “genre non-fiction” whine. Those of us who write genre fiction are very familiar with the literary vs. genre/commercial fiction bickering that goes on.

    But the writer of the rant/whine said:

    “Nobody wants to be bothered having to read fascinating, complex stories of men with commitment hang-ups, as they struggle to understand themselves and find they’re way toward intimacy. Today’s readers—both men and women—want their prescriptive answers in a gulp-down form, something they can drink like a slush—not something they have to chew on.”

    That’s very similar to what the literati say. “No one wants to be bothered to read my fascinating, complex story, something of literary nutritional value. No, they’d rather have junk food in the form of genre fiction, stuff that’s no where near as well-written as my beautiful literary prose.”

    I guess it comes down to the fact that the average person doesn’t want to be impressed by the writer. They want their facts (non-fiction) or they want their story (fiction) and they want the writer to stay invisible, stay out of the way of what they’re looking for.

    And I guess I’m one of those average people. (G) That doesn’t mean that I want/condone hacky writing. But I’m not interested in being dazzled by craft. Get to the meat of it. Tell me a good story. Or tell me what I want to learn.

    Oh, and may I also point out that quite often, romance readers ARE reading fascinating, complex stories about “men with commitment hang-ups, as they struggle to understand themselves and find they’re(sic) way toward intimacy.”

    Maybe this guy needs to write a romance novel. LOL.