By Erin Mitchell
I’ve done a lot of listening this week. Some talking, too, of course, but it has been a time to listen. To stories, to commentary, to opinions, to even some music.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that communications / marketing / publicity are not one-way endeavors. When you’re excited about a book especially, it can be quite tough to sit on your hands and just listen. The thing is, the listening is how we learn. It’s how we come to understand our audience, to know what connects with them, to better comprehend how they receive information and what incites them to make that all-important book purchase.
Ok, so in all this listening, what, pray tell, have I heard?
People are frustrated—some are even angry—and we want revenge. Everyone, to a greater or lesser extent, is frustrated by the world around them. News this week has been maddening—and very sad—for just about everyone on some level. As often as it emerges in the actions of those around us, frustration and anger is even more apparent in the written word. Kindness is at a premium. Hell, there’s even a TV show called Revenge that is apparently raking in the ratings. Our society seems to cherish retribution cloaked in justification. Some even consider it noble, a service to their friends and loved ones, whether on a grand or personal scale. I fear we are losing the quality of compassion completely, forgetting that no, we don't necessarily have to take that measure we think is utterly essential because it has an impact that we might not be so proud of when (if) the fog clears.
We’re looking for stories that speak to our spirits. I’m not talking about holy-roller stuff here, but rather that each of us is actively seeking stories with which we can connect for some reason. Just about any reason will do. Publishing gets an awful lot of flack these days (this was, after all, the week of Karen Wright, about which I’m still giggling), but you need only peruse this very site to see that publishing is full of brilliant people who are contributing to helping stories find their readers.
We share experiences. I have never read any of the Hunger Games books. Haven’t seen the movie. Don’t intend to do either. But I really don’t need to because I’ve been listening to people talk about it. Am I missing a fantastic story? Maybe…but I prefer to hear this one though the plethora of voices out there.
We have A Day for just about everything now. Today is National Puppy Day. Now, I love puppies just as much as the next girl, but really?!? Were I to write a book, I would definitely pick A Day and claim it. Speaking as someone who was involved in having National Sunflower Day created and officially declared by the United States House of Representatives (on behalf of a cereal company, no less), I can promise you it’s really not all that hard.
Every time I take a minute to listen, I learn something brand spanking new. Having completed more than four decades on this planet, I’m still amazed at how much there is out there to learn. And I’m grateful that you took a few minutes here to listen to me.