Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Brand Loyalty

How many stories are left on the shelves, how many things
are unseen? Image attribution.
I drive a particular kind of car, wear a particular kind of shoe, drink a particular kind of soda. Most of us do. We have preferences. Music, art, movies, actors, clothes, food: we all like what we like and we have our reasons for liking these things.

You may shop at a store because you think the quality of their products is what you want and that's your default store. Right? I mean, you acknowledge this, don't you?

So what I want to bring to your attention today is that there may be stories you're missing because you have a preference for a particular author or genre or whatever. I tend to like and read the same authors over and over. My home library is filled with books by Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, and Robert Heinlein. I used to have a lot of Anne Rice, but I've divested myself of a lot of her later works. To me, the quality of story - not the writing - no longer appealed to me. It's not bad, that's not what I'm saying. It's just not for me any more.

Instead, I've discovered authors like Lev Grossman, China Mieville, and Richard Kadrey. I've stretched myself out to read a couple of anthologies and found one that I like edited by a couple who have similar tastes in SF to me. I sometimes step out of my preferred genre to read authors who I might not have before: Jim Thompson and Alex Grecian. (Full disclosure, I've met Grecian several times and we have friends in common. He's a nice guy. You should read his books.)

I didn't read a lot of Ray Bradbury when I was a kid and I should have. As an adult over the last ten years or so, I've embraced Bradbury like everyone should. He doesn't necessarily write SF, but great fantasies or flights of fancy that appeal to the child in me. I don't know that I would have appreciated the work as a younger man, but now in my 40s I get it.

Working at a company for 22 years and starting over at a new one is indicative of the kind of change I'm going through. I bought a new brand of shoes, too. I'm broadening my horizons.

If I can do it, so can you. When you're looking for a book to read, don't go to your usual bookstore (online or brick and mortar), instead head over to your local library and browse. We don't do enough of that these days. That's how we discover new things that we don't know we like until that moment.

Do you remember the moment when you first heard the song that became Your Song? Do you remember when you went to a theater and saw the movie that you bought on DVD (or blu ray now) and watched over and over? I bet you do. How about the moment when you first tasted your favorite food or drink?

Chase that moment, seek that thrill. Don't settle for what you know, reach out and find something new. Not all the time, necessarily, but more often than you do now. Be daring. Find something you like and share it with others. Listen to your friends who are trying to share with you.

The effect of this is that you will be supporting a wider variety of creators and entrepreneurs. The result of that is that other creators and entrepreneurs (including authors like me) will have a wider audience and be encouraged to bring new, original things into the world. That's a benefit for everyone.

But that doesn't mean you have to abandon what you like. All I want you to do is branch out and find another brand that may fit with you. You can do it.

I know you can.

No comments: