If you can’t you explain what your readers should take from your book in a sentence or two, you might not have a consistent theme in your story.
Has anyone read your book and said, “Nice story, but what’s the point?”
Your theme is critical to creating a story people care about. Good or bad, we want to feel something about fictional characters, and want to know what happens next. If your theme isn’t strong, many readers will just put the book down, and never finish reading it. Unless your intent is to create a statement on a controversial topic, your theme will be an overreaching concept. Some common themes are: love, fear, revenge, friendship, war, good vs evil, and sacrifice.
Your theme (or themes) should flow naturally from your plot and generally indicates the ‘voice’ of the book, which dictates how your characters react. If your action junkie heroine suddenly decides to take up knitting instead of her BMX, you have either lost your action theme, or your book is for Family Life readers. Either way can work, but your character’s actions and ultimately your target readership might change. If the point is to show how she readily settles into a ‘traditional’ life style, then you probably aren’t going to attract Action & Adventure fans.
Everyone knows their genre, but theme is just as important for your classification and marketing. For example, your next Romance novel could be historical, paranormal, LGBT, or comedy. But it is highly unlikely that the same reader will want to read a book from each of these categories.
Your cover design and back cover blurb will reflect not only your story, but also the target audience. Even if your vampire couple hangs out on a sunset beach, using that as your cover design will not encourage paranormal readers to pick up your book.
If you know your theme, you can effectively position your book to gain the most readers, either in a store or online. Giving it a proper BISAC Subject Code enables your book to be searchable with similar books. You probably don’t browse the general fiction list to find a book, and neither do your potential readers.
Know what you want people to think about your overall topic, create compelling characters to make them feel it, and your fans will beg you to finish the next book.
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