Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Perception is Everything

Wednesday, 10-10-07

The other day, deer wandered into the forested area behind our house. I first noticed them when I went outside to toss a few peanuts to the waiting wildlife. The forest creatures and I have our routine down pat.

“Bird” shows up, perches on the railing of my porch and begins tap-tap-tapping to let me know he’s ready for Peanut Time. As soon as I open the door, he flies up to an available branch. He waits as I tap-tap-tap on the peanut, then responds by tap-tap-tapping on the branch. I toss the peanut—he flies down to snatch it up with a gleam of victory in his beady little eyes. Hah! The squirrels wait, waving their itsy paws as if to say, “Here! Throw it here! I’m open!”

So there I am, offering up peanuts and babbling to my wildlife friends in a cutesy voice when I realize a doe and two fawns are watching me with bright, curious eyes. As my furry and feathered friends gather up the peanuts, the deer apparently conclude that the strange-looking Peanut Lady is Okay.

They heave themselves up, trundle over and slurp up the cracked corn and sunflower seeds I have on hand.

Yum. *smile*

Humans aren’t much different. A child will carefully observe what their parents, siblings or peers find acceptable before giving a cautious nibble.

Readers are pretty much the same. Which is why so many authors despair over the anonymous query letter, the ubiquitous slush pile. Honestly, who here hasn’t read a novel by a NY Times Best Selling Author that made your stomach roil? Some are fabulous, some are pure crap. But they sell. Because Perception is Everything.

Agents and editors are just as human as the writers they represent. They’re more likely to tune in with an open mind to words written by someone they like. Some agents will come right out and tell you that they love to be flattered. Which I can certainly understand, who doesn’t love a good ego stroke? Yet it also destroys the happy illusion inspired when Miss Snark, the uncontested Queen of Blogs, stated repeatedly that Good Writing Trumps All.

Science has proven the mind filters out much more than it lets in. Sensory perception is inexorably linked to mental perception. We distinguish between pleasure and pain, between experiences we consider pleasant or horrid, based on our preconceptions. How else to explain the lure of regional delicacies? *heh-heh*

Marketing is all about creating a sense of familiarity and comfort with unknown products. And let’s get real, if you expect that something will be enjoyable, the chances are much better your experience will live up to that expectation.

Perception is Everything.

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