Blast from the Past: Readership and Worldview

A text-only version of this article appeared in my GoodReads blog on July 11, 2009.  I think it’s still applicable today.  Enjoy!

pinocchioI read a fascinating book last week: All Marketers are Liars, by Seth Godin. Now, Godin doesn’t really think marketers are liars; what he maintains is that they tell a story about a product that we believe, whether or not it is so, because it fits into our particular worldview.

A worldview, according to Godin, is not something that you can change with facts, or a better product than some other guy. So, he says, you need to figure out how to pitch your product to people who share your worldview. In other words, you need to figure out how to tell the story to people who will believe it.

I share all of this because lately I have been spending some time in an on-line forum focused on historical romance novels. As you know, In The Eye of The Beholder is exactly that.

Let me tell you something, friends: this group has been an education to me.

One of the reasons I wrote In The Eye of The Beholder is that I was tired of reading the same book with a different cover. I found romance novels to be formulaic and had really grown tired of them. The heroine would inevitably be a 20-something virginal bluestocking, and the hero would inevitably be a handsome man with a dark secret in his past. They would hate each other at first (or they would love each other but some horrible circumstance would keep them apart for a good portion of the book) … but eventually they would come together and live Happily Ever After.

Every. Single. Time. It was like the publishers handed out a template to authors or something.

So, anyway, there was a question posted on the group about whether people expected or wanted a Happily Ever After in their romance novels. With few exceptions, the answer was a resounding “yes” — that they bought these books expecting certain things, and Happily Ever After was one of them.

vision-154854_960_720That’s when I grasped something I hadn’t thought about before: people buy books because they fit into a particular worldview, too. People who really like the romance genre want to know that those elements of the story that I describe will be there.

What I figured out, as a result, is that I needed to figure out how to pitch my book differently. Claire, my heroine, is in her 30s during most of its action … and she’s no virginal bluestocking, as those of you who have read the book have reason to know. She’s not a typical romance heroine, and Erik is not a typical romance hero.

I think that there is a definite historical romance audience out there for this book, and I think that there are some other audiences for whom it would be a good “pitch.”

How does your worldview help you decide which books you buy? I’m curious to know your thoughts.

(Both images used in this article are in the public domain.)

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