The Search Begins With You
Tatjana Soli spoke several times during our interview about the need to stay true to the story you are trying to tell. This is perhaps doubly true in literary fiction where the tension between commercial viability and artistic intention can make for heated writer/editor emails. Soli took the position – a position reiterated by editor-turned-author Brando Skyhorse last month – that in the end one has no real control over how many copies one’s book will sell, but a writer does have control over whether she tells the story she most wants to tell. I have to agree. I also happen to believe that you are more likely to attract a larger readership the more firmly you hold to your narrative vision, whether that vision is literary or otherwise. Imagine for a moment the entirety of the world’s reading population. This is too vast a number to picture. But you aren’t trying to attract all of these people; you are only seeking those readers whose own interests, curiosities, desires, ambitions, and perspectives most closely align to yours.
How do you reach those people? By being authentically you. Let’s imagine all those people are not looking for a story but a piece of fruit – to be precise, a Braeburn apple. They are searching the world for the best Braeburn apple they can find because for reasons they cannot articulate to anyone else, they love the Braeburn above all other fruits. If you hand one of these people a Granny Smith, they may eat it, but they won’t love it. They love Braeburns, and once they find the genuine article, they will, by some means or another, let all the other Braeburn lovers know where to find this fruit they have sought for so long.
Your story is a delicious Braeburn apple, but only if you tell it authentically. If you try to please the lovers of all apples, or of all fruits, you will only succeed in creating something washed out and unrecognizable. You must allow those people who want to read your story to recognize it. You don’t have to know who these readers are, or what they look like, you only have to know they are out there, and once your story finds its authentic form, distinct in ways large or small from all other stories, then and only then will your audience find you.