You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.
A number of Years ago I went to an event where I was getting a reward and I naively did not realize that I would be asked to speak at this event. Fortunately I was not the only person who was getting awards that day and I had time to think of what I was going to say as each of the other two recipients of the awards spoke of their accomplishments leading up to the award. As I took the podium, I realized that I stood there to receive the award because of the efforts of the members of the audience. In my speech, I told of where I had been before the efforts that the members of the audience offered. I then stated what the audience had done for me to bring me to the place where I was as I stood there on the podium. It was as much their efforts that had brought me to that podium and that award as it was my efforts.
The audience wanted to know that what they were doing made a difference in someone else’s life and I was telling them that they were making a difference in mine. I not only made them feel good about their work, but I inspired the newspaper reporter covering the event. When the news hit the papers, the other two recipients were simply noted as having stated their accomplishments. I, on the other hand, was quoted. Even though my speech was impromptu, it made a bigger difference than the ones who probably spent hours polishing their speeches all because I considered the audience that I was addressing and made my speech not about me but about them. I gave both the audience and the newspaper reporter what they wanted. They wanted appreciation and inspiration. I gave them both. I didn’t realize that what I was doing was offering them a benefit rather than a feature of their work.
Features Versus Benefits in Nonfiction
As I am writing my nonfiction books, I am always lookig at what features my book is offering. Each chapter of my gardening and natural living books demonstrate features. that matter concerning that piece of nonfiction. What is the difference between features and benefits? A feature is what something is or does. A benefit relates to feelings created in the individual related to that feature. For instance, in both books–Simply Vegetable Gardening and Help From Kelp–one of the features that I demonstrate is how useful kelp is in preventing blossom end rot in tomatoes. The benefit would be a big juicy red tomato freshly picked from the backyard garden, sliced and added to a bacon lettuce and tomato sandwich. Are you salivating? is your mouth watering? Can you almost taste the tomato on the sandwich as you bite into it? Would having home grown tomatoes from your garden made into a sandwich be satisfying to you? (Of course, if you’re not a fan of fresh tomatoes, you might not feel this way about them, but you get the idea.)
You can also capitalize on the fact that by growing your own food, it benefits you by lowering your food costs with the added benefit of serving healthier, chemical free food to your family. As you get deeper into these benefits, you’re no longer simply selling a book, you are offering a better life for the reader who applies the priciples (features) of the book.
Features Versus Benefits in Fiction
It is much easier to understand the features versus the benefits in nonfiction, but can this principle be applied to fiction?
Yes, it can and should. By knowing what the benefits of your book are, you will be able to better utilize your features.
So what are the features of your book? Some people might say that the fact that it is in print or is available through digital access is a feature and it is. Too often our marketing doesn’t go beyond this point. Buy my book, you say, based on the blurbs on the cover. These blurbs again usually whet the appetite for the reader, but these are still features rather than benefits. So what are the benefits?
One of the first benefits that I came up with in my search for the benefits in my ficiton was in seeing what a person does when he or she gets a book. I picture a person (woman usually) sitting in front of a fireplace in an overstuffed chair with a throw across her lap reading a book while to her left I see the rain pelting on the window, but that still does not go far enough. Any book of fiction offers a chance to get away from the humdrum of ordinary life for a while.
Often clues to the benefits of our books can be found in the genre that includes our books. Look at some of the categories–mystery, suspense, romance, adventure. All of these give the reader a certain feeling about your book. Again, there are a lot of books in these categories that can relate these same feelings. So how can we further show benefit of our fiction?
The benefit that you are offering as a fiction writer must dig deeper than simply being a book that you are selling or a book of a certain genre. Your book and the blurb about your book must offer a unique reading experience. You want to get your potential readers sucked in so that your book is a must read for them. Your description must evoke femotional responses in the reader and most of the time one of those feelings must be empathy for the protagonist.
Donna Brown is pastor at Faith in God Church 1 1/2 miles south of Brandsville, Missouri on Hwy 63. Sunday services are at 10 am and Wednesday night Bible Study at 6:30 pm. As Author Cygnet Brown, she has published a nonfiction book: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener
She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga. The next book Book IV of the Locket Saga: Sailing Under the Black Flag will be out in the near future.