As I mentioned in yesterday’s Tuesday Review Day, I’ve recently completed my Bachelor’s Degree in English. It’s been a long time in the making, but it was important that I finished it. I love to read and write, and being able to study multiple genres in depth has made me not only stronger in both areas, but more confident.
I’ve got dreams of becoming a published author, and one of the things I’ve been questioning in depth more recently is why those authors who have such vast success succeed the way they do. Why have series such as The Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games, and Harry Potter gained such cult followings? Harry Potter and The Hunger Games topped NPR’s 100 Best-Ever Teen Novels list, with The Hobbit and LOTR coming in at 5th and 7th places respectively (see my post on that here). What is it specifically that makes them so successful? I came across this infographic on the News Watch section of National Geographic’s website that explains some of that.
Starting from the top, we have the averages for what men prefer vs. women prefer in a protagonist (male and female, respectively), average number of pages, and which group is more likely to finish a book (women). The second section, Genres, shows that literary fiction and science fiction are nearly identical in terms of popularity for men and women, respectively. The final section, labeled Readers, gives an idea of what readers are looking for in terms of price and shows some stats relating to completion rates for different age groups and total pages.
While this may not give a person a cut and dry answer as to how to write a book or what to write about, it gives a good picture of what readers are doing and looking for and can help determine a list of questions to ask when finally approaching the task of writing a book. One of the most important pieces of advice I’ve received from professors over the years is to know your audience, and this bit of information here demonstrates the accuracy of that.
On our final day of class, my last professor gave us one last bit of advice. He advised us to take risks and do something outside of our comfort zones. For some that might be taking a leap out of a plane, but for others, like me, it might be sitting down and tackling that dream of becoming an author. If I write a book that I’m happy with and it ends up being unsuccessful, will I be disappointed? Sure. But will I still be proud of myself for doing it, for finishing what I started? Absolutely. And in my mind, that’s what’s most important.