Several days ago, Becky Miller posted over at Speculative Faith on The It Factor, the elements which make us want to choose one novel out of the enormous sea of potential reads. She listed five factors which often play a role in book selection, and I’d like to add another, one I believe significant–the literary sweet spot.
The term sweet spot originated in the early 20th century and referred to the place it was most effective for a bat to connect with a ball in order to get the best results. Now it’s come to refer to the optimum place for a certain action to occur. This relates to fiction because we all have our sweet spots, those elements in stories which form a strong personal draw, the hooks that are effective to draw us individually toward a tale. We all have books that optimally align with our tastes, positioning us to likely buy them regardless of other factors.
For example, I love fairy tale retellings, especially of Beauty and the Beast. Others may be tired of that story and its renditions, but I enjoy seeing the basic motif taken and explored in a variety of tales. So the mere mention of fairy tale elements or Beauty and the Beast will grab my interest. For others it might be time travel, faeries, dragons, Arthurian lore, or any personally intriguing story element.
This becomes more interesting when many individuals share a sweet spot. The vampire craze illustrates this on a grand scale. Though the market became saturated to the point that many editors and agents became wearied of the subject, readers demanded more and books continued (and still continue) to sell. Vampires became a sweet spot for countless individuals, and it shaped market trends.
So when considering what makes a book stand out to a reader among the vast stacks that exist, I don’t think the personal sweet spot can be ignored.
What about you? What sweet spots do you have? How much do they play a role in your novel reading choices?