Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Friday Night Death Slot

Once upon a time, there was a hit television show that was moved to Friday night.

The end.

No, really.

The original Star Trek's cancellation had a lot to do with being moved to Friday night. Why is Friday night so fatal for television shows? That one's easy. Most people have a lot more exciting things to do on Friday nights than sit at home and stare at a screen, no matter how good the show is. Today, things like DVR and Tivo are close to making the death slot a non-issue (but not quite.) The concept is still true, though. Watching a good show at home is good; dinner and a movie or a party or whatever is better. Want an alternative to shows? Movies on cable. Aw yeah.

The best way to slip into obscurity is to be just good enough to have readers. Not readers who are particularly interested or pulled in, but readers. They picked up your book because Books-a-Million or Barnes & Noble slapped a label on it claiming that it's "for fans of [insert famous book series with tons of subsidiaries]" and stuck it in a special bay for two weeks. They want their fix of something and their paperback version of whatever has either been lent out to a friend, read too many times, or come apart at its dry, gluey seams. They buy your book, they read it for a taste of their obsession, and possibly never pick it up again. You've given them exactly what they want, and unless you were memorable about it, they're not going to bother when the next installment hits the shelves.

So what got me thinking about this? Well, it was actually Abra Ebner's blog. (You remember I've reviewed three of her books in the past.) On the right side of the landing page of her blog is a little picture that says "Books Like Twilight" and leads to a website that I believe is no longer working. But really, all I needed to see was the name of that link. Apparently, there are people who are looking for some lovely, good enough fiction that will give them their Twilight fix. And there are also authors who will provide that, just to get readers. Just to be good enough, in terms of sheer concept.

So what would you rather be? Good enough? Riding on the coattails of a swiftly passing fad and fading into obscurity before you ever had any notoriety? Having young reviewers on Amazon ranting that your book, your baby, wasn't as good as Twilight/The Hunger Games/Percy Jackson?

Be the best, always.

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