I recently read several articles from authors detailing their book launch successes and failures.
I was hoping I’d click on the blog post and there’d be some magical to-do list that I could follow and quickly propel myself up Amazon’s best-seller list on my first launch day. Unfortunately there was no such list…
But as I continued reading I started noticing a common theme. Writing a good book, simply wasn’t good enough anymore.
I think Jeff Goins said it best, “What I’ve learned from watching other successful authors is it’s not enough to write a good book. You have to write one that’s interesting.”
Now that is interesting.
The Theory of Interesting
Several years back – 1971 to be exact – Murray S. Davis wrote a great article about the sociology of phenomenology. If that’s a lot to swallow, then think of it more as the theory of interesting.
According to Mr. Davis, “Interesting theories are those which deny certain assumptions of their audience, while non-interesting theories are those with affirm certain assumptions of their audience.”
He goes on to breakdown interesting into twelve categories.
As an author of fiction I found some of these categories to be, let’s say, less functional than others. So, I started breaking these categories into broader themes that I could easily apply to my writing (or re-writing).
Interesting is not routine.
The average American spends 77% of their day (including sleep) on routine things. Your mind is normally on the routine, interesting takes your mind off the routine.
Most people value their leisure time, of which they have on average, 4 hours per day. Your book is competing with their time for television, sports, and other hobbies.
At IndieReCon 2015, H.M. Ward talked about the golden trifecta: cover, blurb, sample. This is what draws in a new reader. You have very little time to hook a new reader, so at the very least they need to be interested by your golden trifecta.
Ultimately though, that’s not enough. As writers, we can’t afford to be forgotten after the first book. We can’t afford to be routine, or we’ll end up losing lifelong readers.
Every author needs to up their game, get creative, and make your book the farthest thing from routine.
Interesting denies the truth.
We all hold certain truths or assumptions. But what if your truths are only perceived truths or half-truths?
Think of some of the greatest plot lines of all times: Fight Club, Inception, The Matrix. They all question the current state of reality. They question a truth that you take for granted. And long after you’re done watching these movies, you’re thinking about them. You’re asking yourself, “Did the top stop spinning?”
Books are the same way. In order to be interesting, in order to keep your reader hooked even after they’ve read it, you’ve got to deny the truth.
Just be careful not to go too far.
“An audience will consider a proposition to be non-interesting if , instead of denying some aspect of their assumption-ground, the propsition deniest hew hole assumption-ground.” – Murray S. Davis
Essentially, don’t go around telling people everything they always thought was true is actually false.
Interesting identifies local themes that are also global.
My dog is a weirdo. Seriously. She sleeps on her back with her paws pointed straight towards the ceiling. And when she sleeps, she sleeps like a rock. I literally lifted her head up the other night as she slept, and she didn’t even open her eyes.
I thought this was hilarious, so I posted to a Facebook group I’m in about Carolina Dogs. As it turned out, there were actually a lot of other owners that had similar experiences. And they all loved sharing about their dog’s own specific sleeping quirks.
When you can find themes like this that are near to your heart and expose them as something that we all experience, you’ll know you have a great book.
Interesting turns bad into good.
When I first read this, I immediately thought about the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon that helped establish many erotica books and authors at the top of the charts.
I know everyone says the popularity doesn’t have to do with the content of the book, but rather the multitude of Twilight fans. But the point to be made is it took a topic that is typically not discussed out in the open and made it mainstream.
How? By turning something bad into something good (at least in the eyes of many).
Unfortunately this may be the most difficult category of interesting to master. But a lot of new adult authors are starting to perfect this.
How will you make your next book interesting?
Mr. Davis concludes his research by stating that one must be careful not to go too far. There is a fine line between crossing weakly held assumptions by your audience, versus strongly held assumptions.
That’s the great treasure of being an author. You get to draw the line in the sand. Just remember, your readers will determine if they want to cross it with you.
Ideas? Share in the comments.