It's really hard to see our writing with professional detachment, but we all know our feelings about coffee, Pepsi, and spaghetti sauce.
It all comes down to taste.
Your manuscript cannot be the perfect Pepsi. There is no perfect Pepsi. There are only perfect Pepsis.
Intrigued? Watch and see why your book can't, and shouldn't, be loved by all your crit partners, all agents, the whole general public.
Take it away, Malcolm Gladwell!
Can't view Malcolm's talk: Choice, Happiness and Spaghetti Sauce? Watch it here.
1. People don't know what they want, but it is our job as writers to give it to them anyway. :)
2. "There is no perfect mustard or imperfect mustard. There are only different kinds of mustards that suit different kinds of people." Once you have perfected your manuscript, there will be crit partners/agents/readers, who don't like it. It doesn't mean that your manuscript isn't awesome.
It may mean that your manuscript is old world tomato sauce, and that the people you have been showing it to prefer spaghetti sauce with tons of visible solids. :) Your job as a writer is to use all your clues to find the crit partners/agents/readers who prefer the taste of spaghetti sauce with visible solids and see what they think of your manuscript.
We don't have the time to create different versions of our manuscripts. So we need to be specific when we search for our audience.
I have to add a personal caveat here--and that's that I do find value in receiving a crit from someone who doesn't read in my genre. As long as I know their tastes going in, it is extremely useful to me to hear their feedback.
3. It's all about taste. I know this on some level and have been told this in different ways along my career. But comparing books to food REALLY brings this idea home to me. We need to study and embrace human variability--embrace the diversity--in order to find the fans which will love the taste of our book. I don't want to write a book which appeals in a mediocre way to all. I want to create a book which is loved by some.
So, what do you think? Does this idea make it easier to think, when facing a rejection from an agent, that that agent prefers the taste of Pepsi and your manuscript is a Coke?
(Of course we need to make sure our Coke is the best tasting Coke it can be.)
What are your takeaways from this TED talk? What do you do when you are faced with a crit from someone who clearly doesn't like your book? How do you find your true audience? How do you handle the querying process? How do you deal with the rejections?
I will be the first to admit that I love weak, milky coffee (preferably with a nutty flavor).
I'm so hungry for some spaghetti smothered in garlic mushroom Prego sauce. I think I'll go make some. :)