A small town near where I live does a big spread in the county newspaper every December with ads from all the stores under the headline, “Shop Locally.” A nice sentiment, but that’s all it is. Why? There is no “because.” The merchants give no one a reason to shop locally. If they said the prices were lower, the merchandise unique, the stores specially decorated, or even that the clerks were friendly, people would be more willing to spend their Christmas dollars in those places, but as it is, all the merchants are saying is “shop here” and nothing more.
“Because” is the most important word in marketing, and that goes for books, too. You tell your friend, “You have to read this book because . . .” Without a because, the plea to read is just that, an empty plea.
Nonfiction is easy. “You have to read this book because it tells you how you can get rid of that big lump on your neck without cutting off your head.” (Okay, a silly example, but you get the point.) Fiction is harder. Saying, “buy my book because it’s a romance like every other romance you’ve ever read only different,” might work. But what if you don’t have a romance?
Two of my novels are being released next month by Second Wind Publishing, and I’ve been trying to figure out the becauses.
Buy More Deaths Than One because . . .
Buy A Spark of Heavenly Fire because . . .
And that’s as far as I got. My books don’t easily fit into a genre, which is the type of book I like, but when it comes to selling them, it’s a drawback. So I have to look to the story to find the because.
More Deaths Than One: Bob Stark returns home after 18 years in Southeast Asia to discover that the mother he buried before he left is dead again. He attends her funeral and sees himself married to his college girlfriend. Is his other self a hoaxer or a doppelganger, or is something more sinister going on? Even worse, two men who appear to be government agents are hunting him for no reason that he can fathom. With the help of a Kerry Casillas, a baffling young woman Bob meets in a coffee shop, he uncovers the unimaginable truth.
A Spark of Heavenly Fire: In quarantined Colorado, where hundreds of thousands of people are dying from an unstoppable disease called the red death, insomniac Kate Cummings struggles to find the courage to live and to love. Her new love, investigative reporter Greg Pullman, is determined to discover the truth behind the red death at all costs, until the cost – Kate’s safety – becomes more than he can pay.
The because is in there somewhere. I just have to find it.