Over the weekend before last, I had a fabulous experience reading a small sample of my memoir to a workshop of my fellow writers. Some of the participants were students from some of my previous classes who knew at least a little of my story and had vested at least a little personal interest in my success. Others were totally new to me. The workshop leaders were professionals at the top of their game.
After hearing some of the pieces I grew a little nervous. There were some really good writers in the bunch. Many of the styles were quite different from mine, both in content and in execution, and they were well received.
If you haven’t noticed my style of writing is, well, to say it’s unique to me is to say I’m like any other writer who stays true to his/her voice. But, in my case, my voice is something of an eclectic mix between conversational tone and an unusual choice of words. I’m still the only one I know who’ll put thus and y’all in the same sentence. Thus sounds overly formal to most people (but we really don’t have a good word to replace it). And y’all sounds too informal to most people (even though it’s the only plural you in the English language, at least to my knowledge). Of course, that’s just one example.
Anyway, the point is that my style and my voice work, but not for everyone. So, seeing how well received some of the pieces were made me worry that my style would not be appreciated.
Boy was I wrong! They really liked both of the samples I brought in. The one-page sample made them curious and evoked emotion and was altogether well received!
So, what does this have to do with marketing?
Well, in order to sell books, you need readers. In order to have readers, you need to satisfy those early movers who are willing to risk giving you a try. So, how do you know if what you have will satisfy those readers? You test them. You seek out opportunities to have your work read (or, in this case, to read your work to them) and you see how people react.
Some reactions will surprise. Some reactions will disappoint you. All reactions will inform you. It’s worth the risk.