Fun in the hot sun, or is it?
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At the end of May this romance writer set off on vacation with my intrepid spouse, MIL, two teen-age daughters, and one teen-age niece. I learned a lot.
I learned not to go to Florida at the end of May unless you stayed at the beach. We’re from Colorado. Denver has an average humidity of somewhere around 54%. Orlando’s average humidity? Somewhere around 74%. (Disclaimer: I looked at several different sources and they actually had different numbers, so that’s why the inexact science. Fiction writer, not scientist. These are my best estimates of the internet sources.)
If you are used to humidity, then you don’t really notice it. Unless you come out West where you complain about parched skin. But if you live out West and you go on vacation to a hot, humid place, then you wilt. Tough, able to go without water in the hot sun, you add that humidity and we become whiny, exhausted, and difficult. Very difficult.We wilted like the Colorado wildflowers we are. Add in that no one wants to eat the same thing or ride on the same rides and I’d rather take three-year-olds to Disney. At least they fall asleep and you can stuff them into the stroller. Maybe abandon them at the stroller parking. Teens follow you around and you can’t lose them.
We still had a great time and I’d go again, just not in the hot months. And I learned something else. I learned that the parks all did some things well. Disney had the food lines and quality of food down much better than Universal. The food service at Universal sucked. However, Universal had better lines for the rides. They had more shade and they had more entertaining things to look at as you went through the lines. They work their express lines differently. Universal’s overall ticket price is much cheaper than Disney’s, but you purchase an Express Ticket that moves you to the front of the hour long lines. Well worth it on a hot day, but it adds up when you buy it for every member of your party.
Disney let’s everyone use the Fast Pass, but you have to go to the ride ahead of time and get a ticket to come back at a certain time when you will get to skip the longer line. Only one Fast Pass at a time, so you spend much of your time figuring out how and when to get your Fast Passes.
So what did I learn overall? And how does that apply to writing and books? I learned that you need to check your customer service with real customers. And even if you have a guaranteed
riderreadership, you need to still make them happy. These parks are crowded, but if the rumor gets started that you might as well go to a local park as go to a bigger park, then attendance will drop. It doesn’t matter how big you are, all customers are important.
Of course, I’m just a little fish in the big pond of publishing. But they are still good lessons to remember. Sometimes I hear bigger authors say they can’t change anything or learn new craft because this is the way they write and too bad! Well, I hope that’s never me. I hope I always want to learn new things and tweak my writing. I hope I’m always ready to change, despite the crowds who might someday flock to my books. Some writers are afraid to try new genres and in the process get left behind. Once again, I hope that’s never me. I hope I’m always ready to try new things, ride new rides, and change my ways. Change is not easy, but it is the essence of life.
And in the spirit of keeping my customer base happy I’m trying something new with The Dark Huntsman. I have a few hand picked beta readers who have said they would read it and answer a few questions. This way I’m hoping to get a non-writers viewpoint before publication. Does reading The Dark Huntsman feel like standing around in a hot line, or do you feel like you are zipping around the park on an Express Ticket? Would you read it a second time? Would you recommend it to friends?
I don’t think I’ll be heading back to the big parks of Florida anytime soon. Not because they weren’t fun, they were, but simply because this was our last park vacation for a while. Next one is going to be just my hubby and myself and we’re going to the beach. No kids, no long lines, just sand, sun, and romance!
How do you please your customers? Are they readers too? What about in other businesses or things you do in life? Do you ask questions, take surveys, or do you simply hand them their plates and call “Next!”?