“Art is a container for your feelings.” Jane Friedman, according to David Gaughran.
We all know that the best books make you feel. It doesn’t matter whether those feelings are happiness, sadness, excitement, anguish, or disappointment (unless it’s disappointment that the book wasn’t better). But a good book, one that captures you and doesn’t let go, lets you feel what the characters are feeling. It brings you into the world of the book and you experience it as if you were the protagonist. It is the very best feeling. It is what brings us back again and again.
But what about the feeling the author had when they were writing the book? What do you feel?
Do you feel that excitement, love, anguish, or whatever? Do you experience everything your characters do as they enact your story? If you do, you are writing from your heart. You’re writing with honesty and emotion. And it’s quite possible that you’re writing in a deep point of view.
Readers will be able to feel that. They will know because when you feel what your characters are feeling your writing… well, it’s just better. I have always found this to be true of myself.
If I don’t feel the action, don’t feel the emotions, my writing is not as good. The story is not as honest. The point of view is not as deep.
But David Gaughran in a newsletter he sent out a while ago (and I only just finally read after it had been sitting in my inbox for far too long), points out that you not only need to feel when you write, but when marketing your books you need to think about how you want your novel to make your readers feel.
This was a mind-blowing concept for me.
Always, when I’ve written ad copy, I’ve come at it from the question “How can I draw readers in, make them like the protagonists, and become interested in their story?”
I focused on making the reader interested in the story and the characters. This is great and it’s what a lot of marketing gurus tell you should do. Use enticing language. Use active verbs and adjectives. Make the reader feel as if they need to find out what happens in the book.
But what about, if instead of doing that, we did what Gaughran suggests. Instead of appealing to the reader’s interest, you appealed to their emotions? Instead of telling them what an exciting book you’ve written, tell them that they will feel the thrill of the chase or romance between the hero and heroine, the anguish when it seems as if all might not work out happily, but the relief and joy when it does. Tell them that they will go on an emotional roller coaster or a gentle slay ride of romance.
When put this way, I stopped to think about how I wanted my reader to feel when they read my books. In specific, I thought about my recent book In Lieu of a Princess (which is going to be free August 11–15th). I need to write some ad copy for this book in anticipation of it going on sale. I figured out that I want the reader to feel awe. I want them to be jealous of Lou, the heroine. I want them to feel as off-balance as she does as she tries to keep her identity hidden and navigate the new-to-her world of royalty. And I want them to feel just as scared and nervous as Lou does that she is going to be discovered to be the imposter she is.
So, how can I convey all that in ad copy without telling, but rather, showing?
With a picture of a sumptuous drawing room (one that could be inside of a palace). Add to the picture, an image of a woman looking around in awe or possibly looking nervous.
The copy I wrote: “Just how long can someone impersonate a princess before they’re caught? Long enough to keep both the impersonator and the princess alive. Long to enough to fall in love.”
The other books in the same series will be on sale at the same time, so I did the same thing with the second book, Princess on the Run (which will sell for 99cents).
A picture of a horse-drawn carriage, preferably from the point of view of the driver. “When you’re running for your life, you might not think there will be time for romance. But then, you might be wrong because love is the only thing that can save the day.”
I haven’t yet worked on what I need for the third book, A Prince Among Spies (which will be $1.99), but I’m working on it.
I don’t know that these ads will work, but I’m going to give them a try. I’m going to see if I can appeal to how the reader will feel if they pick up the book and through that entice them into doing so.
So, how do you want your readers to feel when they read your novel? Think about it!